Do I need my own Planner for a Destination Wedding?
Absolutely! In fact, I think it's actually more critical for destination weddings due to the complexity involved with marrying in a foreign country. The rules, the regulations, the paperwork, the language, understanding their nuances and the list goes on.
Interestingly enough, I've had friends and couples question the need for a wedding planner when the resort offers a co-ordinator, so I'm going to address it in this blog.
Did you know that most resorts book multiple weddings per day? That means your co-ordinator is busy running between several weddings on your BIG day. Why should you have to share? This is one of the key reasons you need a planner whose sole focus is your wedding. A wedding is a very busy day with lots of moving parts and requires a dedicated resource to ensure things run smoothly.
The first step is to understand the legal requirements for that destination. Some locations require you to be on land a few days before the wedding. Some require blood work to be completed before you can get married and they have to administer it.
Then you need to determine the type of ceremony. Symbolic or Legal? If you choose Legal, it means that you are legally married in that country and that comes with more requirements and paperwork. Symbolic is more straightforward and often the option selected by most couples. A symbolic wedding means you are legally married in another country (usually in your home country) but your service takes place in destination. With a symbolic ceremony guests are usually unaware that the couple is already married.
Your planner can help you navigate through all of this especially if they specialize in destination weddings. They can tell you exactly what is needed and help assist with getting the paper work completed, and over to the resort.
Once the legal stuff is out of the way, your planner is working with the resort co-ordinator to iron out details related to the wedding day. I would say I exchange an average of 200+ emails with the resort co-ordinator when planning a destination wedding. There is usually a lot of back and forth. That's right, planning a wedding takes a lot of time especially if you want things done correctly and sometimes language becomes a barrier. I recall having to reach out to my friend at the Mexico Tourist Board to have her translate something into Spanish for me because the co-ordinator was not understanding my question. Hey! It happens. :)
Your time is valuable and the only time the planner should be reaching out to you is when a decision is required.
In addition to working with resort co-ordinator the planner is working with you to manage the other aspects of the wedding like establishing and managing the budget, managing the milestones, providing recommendations for bridal stores, giving suggestions for favors, etc... This is where your wedding planner provides a wealth of knowledge and steers you away from pitfalls. The resort co-ordinator will not help you with this.
Once the majority of planning is complete (typically a month before the big day) a meeting is booked with all parties (clients, resort co-ordinator and planner) to go through all details. This meeting takes place in destination.
In my experience, most properties do not conduct the wedding rehearsal the night before, so that's another item your planner would take care of. Going through the rehearsal is important because it allows us to iron out any kinks and get everyone on the same page. Definately not a step that should be skipped.
With planning complete, we move into the "big day" and this is where your planner kicks into action. They are there to help you and your guests with whatever is needed and make sure the wedding goes according to plan. Here are some of the things I've helped couples with on their day.
getting a sewing kit because the flower came loose on the dress
finding the photographer
locating vendors who did not arrive
dealing with unexpected guests that need a table setting
locating the parents to deal with an urgent matter
correcting the DJ when he played the wrong song
locating the resort coordinator when the food is taking too long
moving the centerpieces from the dinner to the reception tables (the resort wouldn't do this)
arranging the seating plan
and so forth...
In summary, the resort co-ordinator takes care of "the day" but the planner takes care of the entire wedding process and any post wedding details. The goal is to work together as a team to ensure the day goes off flawlessly. We each have a job to do in making it successful and we need each other.
Happy Couple + Happy Guests = AMAZING Wedding!