While it is far from being over and done with, the era of COVID-19 lockdowns is coming to a close. Slowly, the world is beginning to open up, and people are starting to think about travel again. You know this is true as airlines are bringing back those pesky change and cancellation fees! With travel returning, this also means that destination weddings are starting to pop back up.
If you’re looking to jump in and get on the destination wedding planner plane, buckle up for a wild but rewarding ride. Destination weddings are exciting, exotic, and always keep you on your toes.
But how do you become a destination wedding planner in a newly reopening world? Well, beyond knowing your destinations and being a fan of travel, there are a few essential things to consider. Find out more below.
How to Become a Destination Wedding Planner
When it comes to being a destination wedding planner, there are two main things to consider. First, you need to be comfortable planning weddings that have a lot of moving parts. Quite literally in this case, the party will be traveling.
That brings us to the second bit: familiarity with popular destinations.
Whether you want to specialize in a single location like Jamaica or wish to have various destination options for your clients, you need to know everything you can about each destination. That doesn’t mean just researching online—it would be best if you actually went there.
Write it off as an expense and head to the destinations you want to offer your wedding clients. Find the best restaurants, the perfect vistas for wedding photos, and make important contacts with vendors.
It will require a bit of networking on your part, but having professional relationships with people at the destination will make planning these sorts of weddings much easier in the long run.
If you happen to live in a destination wedding hub, taking advantage of pop-up weddings may be a great way to bolster your business. Couples vacationing may be interested in getting married on their trip. Keep options open for impulsive fiances and adventurous couples.
What to Focus On With Destination Weddings
Because of the travel involved, most destination weddings are smaller affairs than your average wedding. This means your priorities as the wedding planner are going to shift. Your focus for destination weddings should be on the location, space, seating, and even travel.
Most destination weddings are multi-day affairs. After all, if a couple has people flying into Hawaii or the Dominican Republic, chances are everyone will want to grab some beach time. As a destination wedding planner, it’ll be your job to plan not only the wedding day itself but likely the entire trip, at least to an extent.
Clients may ask you to arrange the flights and hotel. Perhaps they are interested in an all-inclusive resort, or maybe they want to rent a giant Airbnb. There are many options, so knowing precisely the kind of experience your clients want is extremely important.
Make sure you ask all the pertinent questions during the initial consultation. One of the most critical questions will be if the couple is getting their marriage license at home or at the destination itself. There are different laws and certificates needed for every country and even every state.
Make sure you know the legal ins and outs of the destination in which your couple is getting hitched. This also relates to officiants. Is it a religious or secular ceremony? Specific locales require specific things, especially when it comes to religious traditions.
Do your research!
Budgeting as a Destination Wedding Planner
Even if the wedding is small, short, and sweet, it will still be expensive if it’s abroad. Travel costs money, and when there are multiple people involved, the flights add up quickly. Never mind the lodging and wedding services.
When talking to your clients about their destination wedding, make sure to be very clear about their budget. You’ll be creating it for them, and you’ll need to be precise and realistic about the costs of things they may want. Chances are they will need to temper their expectations once or twice.
Flights will probably cost the most, especially if the wedding party will come from different locations. If the couple wants to go first-class or business class because it’s their wedding, that’s fine, but make sure to price out other options for them to be crystal clear about the price differences.
Depending on the location, services for their destination wedding may end up being cheaper than they would be back home. However, this may not always be the case. Many resorts that do destination weddings will have their own contracted vendors, which are most likely to be on the pricier end. Working with locals and small businesses at the destination can help a client’s budget.
Having good contacts at popular destinations will help you offer alternatives to couples with big wishes and smaller wallets. Make sure you have services like florists, DJs, and caterers in your back pocket for a variety of budgets.
Don’t Forget to Try On the Travel Agent Hat
If you have traveled extensively and know exactly where you want to offer destination wedding planner services, then you’ve probably got a great handle on things. However, if you aren’t as well versed in the international travel landscape, you’ll want to change that.
Working with a travel agent may be of benefit to not only you but also to your clients. While it will be vital to familiarize yourself with the travel industry as a destination wedding planner, make sure you’re not putting pride over practicality.
Travel agents are paid to get the best deals and meet as many travel goals as possible. Say you have a couple who want to have a cruise ship wedding, make sure to get in touch with some trusted travel agents who specialize in cruises, to try and get a cruise package deal.
This will put money in that agent’s pocket, and thus they will be more interested in a business partnership with you in the future.
Most Popular Destination Wedding Locations
While where people can go for weddings post-COVID-19 isn’t the same as pre-pandemic, many places are allowing tourists in with proof of vaccination or a mandatory quarantine. The most popular locations are likely to change as more of the world re-opens, so keep abreast of destination wedding trends.
That said, the most popular locations for destination weddings tend to be tropical in some sense. It’s why the Caribbean and places like Bali and the Maldives are such hot spots for couples.
Hawaii, Jamaica, Tahiti, the Dominican Republic, Bahamas, Bermuda, and Fiji are all very high on the list for destination weddings on islands. For a non-island destination, look to Mexico, Florida, Panama, Belize, and most of Europe.
Become the Destination Wedding Planner of Your Dreams
There’s a lot more planning and budgeting that goes into a destination wedding. However, the places you’ll get to go and the experiences you’ll help to create can be some of the most rewarding in the entire industry.
Know your destinations inside and out, have the contacts to make unique weddings happen, and give your business an exciting international boost. Do all of that, and you’ve got it made.