Posted Thursday, October 4, 2018 at 4:26pm by Zen Recreations
How to Have a Destination Wedding That is PERFECT (and Stress Free)
Zen Recreations juggles, plans and organizes travel for groups all the time, but weddings are our most enjoyable challenge! Getting everything just right for families and friends traveling abroad is “even more special than special,” so we’ve condensed a few tidbits of absolutely soul-saving wisdom for your “We Do” destination wedding.
Haven’t started planning yet? That’s actually wonderful because we can cover a few fundamentals first.
Start by diligently mailing your invitations even more in advance than usual – at least three months beforehand! You’ll need to give your guests time to plan and organize their trip.
For such a special trip make sure your guests have plenty to do by planning events for the whole weekend—and maybe a few special treats, before and after as well. A welcome dinner, rehearsal dinner and brunch after the wedding, is standard practice.
Elevate your event with little personal touches like written welcome notes for your guests on arrival with a little gift that is fitting for the location.
Exotic destinations are a beautiful solution when the bride and groom are from very different places, making “neutral territory” a natural choice. A destination wedding will bring families and guests together for more than just event time, too; everyone will experience exotic spaces for the event itself, but mealtimes will be in new and interesting restaurants and something new and interesting is always just around the corner.
If travel is more than half a day you’re likely to have smaller attendance, but those who make the trip are the family and close connections you really want to be with. But be prepared! Some may surprise you and take the opportunity to visit and have a mini vacation, too, so stay flexible until you hear from everyone.
DIY or Hand it off?
Handling some wedding preparations yourself is a great way to make sure things are just perfect and perhaps you can save some nice stacks of money here and there – but it’s easy to generate O-my-God-sized to-do lists by taking it all on yourself, so tread with care. (Every single ditsy little thing will take more time and effort than you think!) Our biggest single piece of advice is “don’t be shy about asking for help!” Bridesmaids, close family and friends are your “home team” and they are sure to be lifesavers at every turn.
If you can do something yourself well in advance, go for it. As your magic day gets closer, delegate, delegate, delegate! And whatever you do, don’t bake the cake!
Hiring a Pro without Breaking the Bank
Wedding planners exist for their (professional) ability to make reality match your dream. Their phone list contains every resource you could hope for, plus back-up plans galore – and those are all things you’ll have to dig and search for.
But yes, you CAN get this expertise on a DIY budget! You can hire up a consultation or two from a pro to cut through the confusion and get good recommendations from their (huge) Rolodex. Then you can then tackle that big to-do list with good focus and purpose…
You can also ask vendors for recommendations and they’ll bend over backwards to help. The florist probably knows DJs, photographers, locations, musicians… well, you get the picture. You’ll still have to negotiate contracts with each vendor, but referrals will make for an easier time finding them.
If you are planning to travel, don’t just buy tickets, either. Ask the pros for help because they’ll often land you some great savings; you won’t spend an extra dime and you’ll get what you want. Vendors love nothing better than to help, since that helps them secure your business!
Plus keep in mind that traveling with Zen will earn you reduced business class fares for added comfort. Zen will help you manage room upgrades or changes, taxes, cancellations and change the number of people without constraints. With a pro on your side, you won’t be limited to a “cookie cutter” resort experience, either.
One little but very important (and sometimes overlooked!) detail: If your marriage documents are issued in a foreign country, you just need to make sure you also record them at home. Do your homework! We even advise having an added simple civil service at home just so there is no doubt whatsoever that your marriage is properly recorded where you live!
So what can you expect if you hand it off?
- Zen does the heavy lifting to make sure every moment is memorable and worry-free:
- You’re met on arrival and the chores of arrival/departure are handled for you.
- Your Zen travel rep manages all the details and is always ready to help with anything.
- Every meal is selected from well-tested resources for service, value and quality.
- Accommodations are always in excellent and reliable hotels—at a reduced price.
Anticipate Challenges and Overlooked Details
Keeping in mind that missing tiny details is always likely, it’s also true that things can only be more error-prone when you’re handling plans long distance and by email; there are plenty of chances for miscommunication. What will you do if the band doesn’t show up? What if it rains?? Those kinds of issues loom large, but the little things will trip you up, too. Who puts out the place cards? Who gathers up everything at the end of the night?
No matter what your budget, a well-studied check list and repeated bits of research along the way is definitely the order of the day. (It’s totally OK to wander about with a clipboard or day planner with “My Wedding” scrawled on it!)
Most airlines will hang a carried on wedding dress, but this may not be the case every time. It’s actually a good idea to have the dress lovingly packed by a professional to carry on without damage, and don’t check your wedding dress! If the bags get misplaced, and it’s “the dress” you don’t want to be chasing
down lost luggage!
With high-value items like a special dress, it’s even worth noting that some places don’t make it easy as pie to cross borders. Mexico may have a ban on items from China brought into the country for resale, for instance, so it’s smart to bring receipts, remove labels that could be suspect.Be prepared, as customs officials may have questions. A little trick is that friends and family can help carry your valuables and make sure they have receipts that don’t total more than $300, to reduce customs fees.
Scoring the perfect music is about more than liking the band… Musicians who often perform at weddings and receptions are a worthy investment since you can be more certain of success. (Failing to appear is one thing, but what if the singer decides to crack a few really off-color jokes?) Details are important here, too: Who cues the band? What’s the right song for a father-daughter dance?
Zen is knowledgeable and here for you; we’ll help you get the best performers and DJs whether you’re in Prague, Montenegro, Costa Rica or Mexico, and all above-board with good contracts.
Making Everything Fun
Why not add a “you are there” feeling to the reception by hooking up your camera to a screen so guests can watch the action live? Put a series of questions on the screen to prompt folks to interact with the camera, too! “How long have you known Alice and Sam?” or “Isn’t it a blast to all be together on vacation *AND* at a wedding?” You’ll have plenty of fun footage to play with later, and it will all be done for you “on autopilot!”
Having a big family gathering is a great excuse to make some videos everyone will want a copy of, too. Have someone record grandma and grandpa telling stories, for instance, and be sure to ask for family members to share their own videos with you, too.
For professional looking production on your own videos, consider investing in a “lavalier” microphone. These remote miniature microphones clip to your clothing and supply much better sound than the camera microphone.
For a great wedding favor, you could even consider having someone make a few copies of the raw ceremony and reception videos onto memory cards or DVDs for guests to take home right away!
Keep an eye on the weather especially if you’re planning a Caribbean wedding during hurricane season! The NOAA has an advisory page kept up to date at
What Time Should Things Start?
For an evening wedding you’ll have to work backwards, planning things from when the sun sets. The perfect atmosphere will be having your guests starting dinner just as the sun is setting. It will be one of those “oh, this is lovely” moments! Subtract an hour for cocktails and another hour for the wedding and you have your start time.
Photography and Videos
It’s perfectly fine to have family members or friends take pictures on your special day, but think twice about having them be your only resource. Not only will a pro work steadily instead of participating, but professional results will nearly always simply be better.
If your budget is simply too tight for a pro you can ask everyone with a camera to take photos as they can and make sure you get a lot of solid commitments to help. (Just think; 93 million photos to choose from will at least give you better odds of a few good shots!)
If you really want a superb video, too, you can borrow and set up some cameras on tripods. Once again, chances are you’ll get something usable when you edit later (as long as you’re willing to do the work). Surprisingly, capturing the audio nicely can be a big challenge, so approach the do-it-yourself idea with some caution. If you think of your photos and videos as “back-ups” to the professional, you can only improve your results!
PS - There’s a good reason why reception tables often have one-time cameras set out for guests!
If you are up to the challenge of editing, like to keep things uncomplicated and need some simplified software, Ulead Video Studio is worth a look for Windows and iMovie for Mac. It’s simple and makes movie editing easy; you have a decent chance of making something quite elegant!
Want to capture a romantic moment? Set aside a few minutes to shoot some romantic talk and hugs during the “golden hours” at sunset or just after dawn. The lighting is naturally gorgeous, tinged with pink and gold, and everything looks more scenic when the angle of the light is low. Just a few minutes outside at such a moment will make a beautiful ‘keepsake from the heart’ moment for your video or photo album!
Budget savers and fun ideas abound! You can save money by sticking to in-season flowers, using the bouquets from the ceremony as centerpieces at the reception, and you can wrap small potted flowers or plants as centerpieces and give them away as favors afterward.
Flowers are a fun chance for the “team” to come together, perhaps with a little floral workshop, a group trip to the florist or a bouquet-making get-together.
Dropping the Stress Level
Keeping the stress low means a happier day from start to finish, but the final days before your wedding will be hectic. First and foremost, get enough rest and have your time pre-planned in easy to understand chunks. The key to lower stress and higher happiness levels is… delegate as much as you can!
To that end, even asking most folks to contact you via email will free up your time and keep vendors from interrupting. Better yet, delegate someone else for vendors to contact on the wedding day. Don’t be afraid to hand off issues by the bushel basket-full to the best man or maid of honor, including your phone!
No matter how well planned, your wedding is unlikely to be 1,000% perfect, so decide that’s OK in advance; lay off the caffeine, breathe deeply, relax and enjoy!
We’re here to Help!
Don’t forget, for a destination event we’re a message away! Drop us a text note Facebook or call us with whatsapp or Toll Free 1800 900 9176 and leave a call back number, if you’re interested in exploring a destination wedding in Montenegro, Czech Republic, Costa Rica or Mexico.
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