Many brides, however, avoid taking trip, reasoning that it is just a waste of money (especially if you are on a tight budget).
As you will see below, a preliminary trip to the destination wedding location will not only save you time and money, but it will also ease your nervousness about planning a wedding from afar.
Once you know the vendors, and have see their work, you will be far more at ease leading up to the precious months before the destination wedding.
But don’t just hop on a plane and make the trip without planning what you are going to do there.
Plan before you go
If you are planning a wedding at an all inclusive resort, then you primary purpose of going to is to select a resort and to get to know the wedding planner. While there, the planner can go over the options they have for flowers, cake, photo packages, ceremony location, and wedding reception menus. Inside of a weekend, you will have planned your entire wedding.
If you are planning a larger more personalized wedding that is not at an all inclusive resort, then you are going to have a lot more planning to do. The purpose of going is to visit wedding vendors, develop rapport, and assess their work. Before commencing your trip, make sure you have a list of vendors you’re going to want to see. Call each vendor a few weeks before the trip to set up an appointment.
What vendors should you visit?
Ceremony and wedding location
This should be the first thing on your agenda when you go. Visit all the wedding locations (Beach, rotunda, banquet halls with a great view etc.) that you have considered and select the one that you love. If there is a place where you may want to go over the budget, it is in selecting the ceremony and wedding locations. You can cut back on other things later because the location of the wedding is extremely important.
In selecting a location, make sure you pick a place that resonates with the theme of the wedding itself. For example, if you are planning a destination wedding on an island, then have a beach wedding instead of one that is enclosed in a banquet hall. Or if you are planning a ski wedding, then make sure you say your vows atop the highest mountain they have followed by a quick ski ride down.
- Select a hotel for you and your wedding guests based on the criteria listed below:
- How close is the hotel to the airport? To the reception and the wedding ceremony locations?
- Do they provide complimentary shuttle service?
- Do they have connecting rooms for families?
- Do they provide complimentary rooms to the bride and groom for blocking hotel rooms?
- Do they give any additional perks like points?
- Are the rooms updated? Are there any rooms with have a nice view?
- What is the deposit amount? Are there any attrition rates? What is the cut off date for the room block?
- Can group reservations be made online so wedding guests don’t have to make international calls?
- Do rooms have a kitchenette? A mini refrigerator or microwave?
- What kinds of amenities does the hotel have? Pool, fitness room, spa, hot tub, hang out space?
- Is the hotel close to area activities? Is it downtown or far away from fun things to do at night?
For a list of things to look at when visiting a hotel, consider reading our hotel inspection checklist for wedding room blocks.
Call 2-3 florists to make appointments and ask them to make a sample bouquet for you. Some will make one for free and others will charge a small amount. Having a bouquet in hand, you can assess the care they take, and the quality of their work.
Hair and makeup
Take a image you find online or in a magazine and ask them if they can replicate it. Also, ask for references from previous brides so you can find out how easy they are to work with. This person will play an essential part in getting you ready so pick carefully.
Conduct taste tests when you visit a caterer. Also, ask the people at the wedding reception venue for recommended caterers and visit them as well. Taste test the food and ask for references. Also, ask them to give you a contract which you can look over once their references check out.
Most ceremony locations can recommend a good officiant of you have not found one. When you interview one, make sure they speak English that is understandable and also ask if they are willing to help you get the marriage paperwork done.
Eat cake, go to next baker, eat more cake, and then go to the next baker to eat even more cake. If you have trouble deciding, repeat the process over the following day. 🙂
You should ideally see at least 2-3 photographers. Compare their packages, ask for references, and then find out if your wedding venue has worked with them before. You can learn a lot about a person reputation from how other vendors view them so don’t be shy about asking around.
Tip: Ask every vendor if there are any questions you may have missed when speaking to them. In many cases, you will notice that the vendor mentions a few things that you had not thought of.
So what else can you do on this advance trip?
By day you can visit vendors, but at night consider doing fun things that you can recommend to wedding guests. Spend time doing things of various interest so you can provide some recommendations to wedding guests.
Also, consider shopping for gifts for bridesmaids and groomsmen. If you are visiting the site during the off season, then prices will be cheaper and vendors will be much more willing to haggle. You can also look for wedding favors during this trip.
Visiting vendors on a scouting trip is a great way to make sure your expectations are met on the day of the wedding. Many a bride has gone to their wedding only to find out that a vendor has done a poor job or just did not show up. Use the list above to check out vendors, and their references and your wedding will go exactly as you planned it.