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5 TIPS to Make Planning Your Destination Wedding Easier

1-Give yourself time! 

Nothing is more stressful than doing things last minute.  VIP Vacations suggests that 12-18months in advance is best to begin the process of finding the perfect destination and getting prices.

Save the dates can be sent once everything is set and this also allows your guests to save money.  VIP sends our wedding couples a detailed calendar that has “to do” lists and time frames of what should be taken care of at a specific time prior to the wedding.  Many resorts book up early and the most coveted times/dates are often snatched up a year in advance.  I find that the happiest wedding couples got the date they wanted early, received an early saver group rate on their hotel rooms and gave their guests plenty of notice so many of them could attend.

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2-Enlist the help of a destination wedding travel agent

One of the key reasons VIP has such rave reviews from our wedding clients is because we are truly here to help relieve stress and guide you through the whole process.  Having been a destination wedding bride, I can relate to what my couples are going through and give them REAL expectations so their hopes do not turn into disappointments.  For the past 15 years, I have been planning and assisting couples in planning destination weddings and though some things have changed, the basic questions are still the same.  I also think that finding an agent who is enthusiastic about weddings is key!  I am very passionate about weddings that passion continually drives me to look at the new trends, visit the new resorts and keep up to date on everything wedding related!   If you are currently looking for an experienced destination wedding agent, make sure you look at their qualifications, reviews and testimonials from other wedding couples.

VIP Vacations, Blog, 5 tips to make planning a destination wedding easier, save the dates

 3-Prepare a back-up plan for bad weather

Getting married in paradise doesn’t always mean that mother nature will be on your side.  Having a backup plan just in case bad weather strolls in, simply makes the planning easier.  Sudden surprises and rush decisions are never a good thing where weddings are concerned! Before you commit to a specific resort or even destination, check the weather forecasts for the predicted amount of rainfall during the month you are traveling and ask the resort if there is a backup location.  Resorts often photographs of their inside location that they can send you so you can prepare a plan B!   I also love the website which is a techie version of the Father’s Almanac.

4-Know the legalities and deadlines for paperwork

It is easy to get wrapped up in the wedding planning and forget the deadlines for completing the wedding paperwork.  Many destinations have fees if you turn these  papers in late and sadly some destinations do not allow paperwork after a certain time prior to arrival.  If you are planning a legal wedding, it   is best to start getting all of your legal paperwork and documents together so you are not rushing around or spending more money to get documentation expedited.

VIP Vacations, Blog, 5 tips to make planning a destination wedding easier, save the dates

5-Remember your guests

The best destination weddings usually result in happy people sharing fabulous memories.  If you keep your guests in mind and plan meeting times, excursions, and group activities, then you not only share memories together but you are also considered a gracious hostess!  Welcome bags, welcome letters and being aware of food allergies is another way you can make your guests feel special.

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Save the Dates or Invitations or Both?

When you are planning a destination wedding, it is often difficult to send out invitations 6 weeks prior and actually expect people to attend.  Emily Post need not remind us about the proper timeframe to send out invitations.  Throw the rules of years ago out the window when you are planning a destination wedding as this new trend has very little guidelines that are written in stone.

Normally, a Save the Date should be sent at least 6 months prior to the travel dates.  This will give your invitees time to save and schedule vacation time.  If you have reserved a block of group space and your wedding is well over a year away, it is fine to send out a Save the Date.  Your save the date should also include how your guests should make their reservations.  VIP Vacations will customize 100 Save the Date post cards (we have over 30 designs to choose from, or help design something new and we can upload an engagement picture too!) and we will send 100 out to you for free.  On the back of the save the dates, we often put this wording:

We would love for you to join us.

We have reserved a block of group space as special rates.

For reservations and prices, please contact our travel agent,

Jennifer at VIP Vacations

(and this is where we leave a phone number and email address)

I normally also try to make sure the date is listed and the island but not the resort.  This allows your guests to reach out to us and not just fly off and book their accommodations on their own.  Remember, many group blocks give added perks for wedding extra’s, so it is really important for your guests to book into the wedding block.  Should a sale be offered, VIP will make sure to get the best room rate and revise the group block.  I also mention that if “for reservations, please contact” because many guests who receive a save the date, sometimes actually believe it is a trip the bride/groom have decided to pay for and that is why they are getting a save the date.  This is embarrassing for not only the guest, but also the bride/groom so we try to tactful make it known that “prices” are available.

We also suggest that about 3-4 months prior, you send an email to any invitee that you know wanted to join the group, but still hasn’t made their reservation. A nice nudge can be done by sending them a wedding webpage link you might have with a wedding website company or at VIP, we create a personal wedding webpage and link for you (for free too) and we can send that to you to email or we can even email whoever you wish and ask them if they saw the page (we would insert the link) and ask if they were interested in attending. Many guests feel that it is a nice reminder and it is not pushy at all.

Finally about 75 days prior to the wedding, if you wish to send formal invites out, this is a good time to do so. Normally, group space needs to be paid for 60-45 days prior, so this would still give the procrastinator an opportunity to make their reservation. At VIP, we email you a spreadsheet each time someone makes their reservation. We know how important it is to know which guests are planning on attending. We get so excited everytime we send a new spreadsheet!