Ride a ski lift to the top of a mountain for a spectacular vista view for your wedding, wander through a meadow carrying a bouquet of wild flowers, ride in on a horse to a red barn country wedding, take a cinderella carriage to your Victorian mansion, say “I Do” before a picturesque alpine lake or in a glamorous winery…all these possibilities and many, many more are open to you in my own communities… North Idaho Mountain Lake Country and the Sonoma County Wine Country of California. Other regions around the US including national parks and vacation resorts are wonderful places for destination weddings. The options are as varied as your imagination.
So let’s get started. If you already have an area you would like to explore, skip to the next step, if not you can google, talk to friends, and talk with a travel agent. Gradually, you will be able to narrow down a general location to focus on and specific resorts you want to consider. We will visit a good number of possibilities in the future. For this blog, however, we will concentrate on what to do when you have a venue (resort/location) to consider.
After reviewing the resort/location website, call them. Ask for the wedding coordinator or event manager for the resort. Have her send you brochures. Then ask the following questions:
- What makes this particular resort unique or special for a wedding?
- Number of guests accommodated for an indoor wedding/outdoor wedding?
- Number of hours allotted for wedding/reception?
- Cost of facility for wedding/reception?
- Is reception catering offered through the venue or is an outside caterer needed?
- Would you please send menus and prices for your catering options?
- Layout of the wedding area/reception area.
- Is there a gazebos for outdoor weddings or other accoutrements?
- Does the resort offer any embellishments for a wedding or reception?
- Dressing areas for the bride and groom?
- What happens to an outdoor wedding if it rains?
- Parking facilities.
- Is alcohol permitted? What restrictions or permits are needed to serve alcohol?
- Are there any other permits or reservations needed?
- What facilities are available for the music? Is there an extra charge for microphones, etc.?
- What accommodations are available for the bride and groom before the wedding?
- What accommodations are available for guests?
- Does the resort have a wedding planner? Or who would be my primary contact person should I book this resort for my wedding?
- What tasks does the resort wedding planner take care of?
- Does the resort offer a list of resources for a wedding such as local florists, minister, etc?
- What are the state requirements for a wedding license? Is there a waiting period after the license before the wedding?
Gather your information. Plan to visit your favorites if possible. Then before you make your reservation at the resort of your choice, consider hiring two possible support people.
1) Hire a wedding planner local to the resort (if one is not provided by the resort or if the resort wedding planner does minimal). Since you live far away, the local wedding planner becomes your eyes and hands to be sure all the details come together for a sensational day. She is worth the cost. Ask the resort if they have a list of wedding planners. Then call and interview each one to see if you have a good rapport.
2) Contract with a travel agent to set up the resort booking, block rooms for the wedding guests and plan your honeymoon for you. Why use a travel agent for this when you can do it yourself? Because an agent can a) take this burden off of you b) negotiate a group rate, c) be sure your guests are in the same proximity of each other at the resort, d) find a lessor expensive hotel near the resort for budget minded guests, e) find a nearby vacation rental house if a large family group want to stay together in a house, f) provide a contact person for your guests and g) arrange tours (sightseeing, wine tasting, river rafting, etc) for your guests who want to come early or stay late to enjoy the area. She can also make a smooth transition to your honeymoon.
A note about travel agents: Some charge a fee to assist you, some do not. Some, like myself, require a deposit which is applied toward your reservation when you book, thus the services cost you nothing. The travel agent services are paid for by the commission on the booking from the resort.
Fee based travel agents charge from $50 to $350 to arrange guest travel plans. They can be well worth their fee if you need a great deal of assistance in your travel plans or if you are going to a far off exotic location. Check your local agent to determine if their services are of value to you.
For your education, after 911 the airlines canceled travel agent commission on airfares. Also, the budget hotels such as Motel 8 do not pay commissions. So if your agent books these for you she is doing so as a courtesy or may need to charge a fee to cover her time.
Just a few actual incredible places to have a Destination Wedding in the good old USA coming up next, so check back soon.