When it comes to planning weddings around the world, there are endless things to plan, book, and put into place. Of the most important, from a wedding planning standpoint anyway, are the destination wedding vendors.
If you’re based in New York but your client wants to get married in Jamaica, you can’t use your Manhattan vendors, right? No, you need to know how to find and work with vendors for every destination wedding package that you offer.
Destination weddings have a lot of pros to them over traditional domestic weddings. But, there is also a bucket full of new things to consider. Whether it is finding a local florist or ironing out the details of a luxurious hotel wedding package, you need to have your wits about you when it comes to vendors.
How to Find Destination Wedding Vendors for Specific Locations
The first thing to figure out is how to find vendors abroad. How will you find vendors in the countries and places where you offer destination weddings. To keep yourself sane, go location by location. This way, you don’t overwhelm yourself with research and trying to make contacts. You can really focus on finding the best people to do business with.
While some wedding planners may be willing to share their own vendors, chances are you will be starting with a clean slate when looking up vendors around the world. Begin by researching wedding vendors in the area and cross checking reviews from couples.
Social media is also a great way to find out which destination wedding vendors are the best. If a bakery puts time and effort into their Instagram game and highlights a lot of wedding cakes, that’s a great lead. You can search via hashtag, for example #CostaRicaWeddingCake or even just #CostaRicaWedding to start.
Looking for destination wedding packages is also a great way to find a ton of vendors. Oftentimes, vendors will have partnerships with specific packages. This gives you a lead on who is trusted and has a great reputation in the area.
If your Google-fu isn’t up to par, there is, of course, an easier way to go about finding destination wedding vendors.
Use Destination Wedding Vendors from the Venues
Chances are that if your clients want a destination wedding, they may very well be going through a resort or hotel.
These venues often have a list of vendors they work with exclusively. The good part is that all of this will already be taken care of in the contract. As a wedding planner, that is one less thing to have on your “to do” list.
The flip side is that you won’t have any control over these vendors. You won’t be able to personally vet them, especially if you’ve never worked with them or the venue before. While it’s unlikely there will be disaster given that wedding packages at hotels are typically hassle-free, there is always a risk.
Sometimes venues will have a choice of vendors to pick from. This will allow you to have a bit more say in your recommendations for your clients. Choice is always nice. One vendor’s style may not fit what the couple wants, but another from the list may be just right. Be sure to ask the venues if there are various vendors to choose from or if it is already set in stone.
Take the Time to Meet Your Vendors Abroad
You heard us: it’s time to pack your bags. While the pandemic has made video chatting software blossom and has connected the world in many ways, there is still nothing like meeting someone face to face. Not only will you get a better feel for them as a person, but if there are any sketch vibes, it is infinitely easier to pick them up in person.
Once you actually meet vendors in the destinations you plan for clients, you will start off with an enriched relationship. Because you took the time to physically be there, they know you are serious about your business partnership. You may be surprised at the perks that may be offered or the discounts tossed your way because you went the extra miles.
Also, when you physically go to the locations, not only are you on your way to being a destination wedding guru, you will have a better idea of what these locales can offer your couples. Who knows what you will find on your way there and back.
Don’t Forget About Language Barriers
Not everyone in the world speaks English. Even when it comes to weddings, there is a chance English may not be widely spoken. You will need to plan a little more to make sure the wedding goes off without a hitch regardless of who is speaking.
Is the wedding is in a country that speaks a different language? Make sure you have a trusted translator as part of your destination wedding team. They will be a valuable resource of knowledge, they will be able to facilitate communication much better than Google Translate.
Translators are always available for hire. Search online databases for translators in your destination and check out daily rates versus hourly rates. Do you need them on site? That is a much different cost than having them look over documents for you.
Keeping Up with COVID-19 Regulations
Never mind everything else that needs to be handled, the ever changing face of the COVID-19 pandemic will undoubtedly impact your vendors abroad and your clients’ weddings. Things can change on a daily basis, and while that is, naturally, extremely stressful, keeping updated and focused is key.
Certain locations, especially in different countries, are going to have different rules. If clients are looking to get married on a Caribbean island, make sure you know what is required for international travelers. Is it just proof of vaccination, or do they need to have a negative COVID-19 test within the past 72 hours?
Is there a mandatory quarantine period? If there is and it is two weeks, you need to ask couples how many people they think are going to go through with that just to attend their wedding. These are hard questions to ask, but it is imperative that couples looking to get married abroad understand protocols.
While it may be an added expense, having a COVID-19 coordinator may be the best connection you can make right now. It will be their job to keep you up to date on regulations, changes in crowd regulations, social distancing, and anything related to the pandemic.
While having a domestic coordinator may be easier communication-wise, having someone on the ground where your clients plan to get married will ultimately serve you better.
Remember to Budget Your Time (and Money) Properly
Planning a destination wedding and getting all the vendors booked can be a tedious process. Take into consideration time zones and exchange rates. Plus, whats the ease of communication when you are researching and looking to make contracts with local vendors?
Assume things will take longer with destination weddings, especially if time zones are more than a few hours apart. It can make a huge difference when it comes to doing business. What would normally take a business day may take two or three.
If you can, use video calling whenever possible. Don’t rely on email. You’ll be waiting longer for answer. Also, the back and forth may cost you time you desperately need to wrap things up.
The exchange rate is especially important. The budget your clients gave you may afford a certain caliber of decoration and amenities in one country may not be the case in another. Currencies fluctuate as well, so you want to keep your couples abreast of any major changes.
When it comes to paying in other currencies, always pay in the local currency. Don’t use a card and choose the option for dollars. Not only will the rate not be as good, you’ll likely be charged a conversion fee plus international fees.
Destination Wedding Vendors — You’ve Got This
Destination weddings are exciting and different and incredibly memorable. Having the right vendors to add to that experience is so crucial.
With these tips and your know-how, you’ll have nothing to worry about.