Hot tips: Wedding travel
Congratulations on making one of the biggest lifetime decisions you will ever make – to get married!
Now starts what could be months of planning a wedding. If you have chosen to marry overseas or have a ‘Destination Wedding’ it doesn’t have to evoke feelings of dread! If you follow a few simple rules a destination wedding should be as special and fantastic as you imagine.
#1: Start planning early
Organising an overseas wedding can take many months of preparation rather than the perception that it can be done in a matter of months! In fact, the actual wedding ceremony can be done in a relatively short time the couple should allow 12-18 months minimum to actually book the resort/venue. Just as in a domestic wedding situation popular venues book out several months in advance and many Pacific Island countries don’t allow weddings on a Sunday. A non-refundable deposit would be required and these vary between properties.
It is important to remember that when booking a destination wedding you are competing with overseas couples. Save-the-date cards are crucial. Send them off to your guests as early as possible allowing them to book time of work and budget; this will also give you as the couple an idea of who is really keen on coming so you can work on numbers. When deciding on your length of stay you will need to factor in certain issues such as organising paperwork and the legal requirements of getting married for your destination; your Wedding Travel Specialist can help with this.
#2: Use an Expert
Employ the services of a professional Wedding Travel Specialist. Whilst internet sites are great for getting initial ideas when it comes to pulling off an extraordinary destination wedding, only a creative, informed professional with experience and local contacts can make sure it all comes together without any heartache! A Wedding Travel Specialist will have extensive knowledge in the wedding travel industry; as well as having relationships with key resorts along with both independent and resort wedding travel planners. This ensures you receive premium packages and services. If issues or problems do arise they are the experts in solving them.
An IATA bonded travel broker/agent should share your vision and in turn provide you with a personalised tailor-made package; including flights, accommodation, transfers and activities. They will act as the go-between between you and the local wedding planner who is on “island time” and may be slow to answer queries. A good Wedding Travel Specialist will often be able to answer your questions in a timely manner and if not give the local planner a ‘hurry on’ so you get the finer details sorted with the least amount of fuss and stress. It is important to advise your guests to book through one source so you get the best deals possible; it should be as simple as advising your guests of your Wedding Travel Specialist’s details and leaving the bookings to them!
Tell your Wedding Travel Specialist your expected budget. They will then be able to suggest destinations/resorts that meet your requirements. Decide what sort of wedding you envisage, how many you think might come and what that guest list will be like; are there likely to be children or elderly? Are you planning to stay at the same place for a honeymoon or go somewhere else? Do you want to include arranged activities for your guests?
The most important thing regarding your budget is to be realistic but flexible. Make sure it is affordable for your guests. Getting married overseas is cheaper as guest lists are often considerably smaller and you avoid inviting people you feel obliged to invite. However, if there are guests you really want to attend your wedding that may not be able to afford it you may need to include them in your budget.
#4: Ask for help/Bridal Travel Registry
You’ve made the decision to get the help of a Wedding Travel Specialist but what about paying for the wedding. You may be getting help from parents so it is a good idea to find out exactly how they much they are going to contribute as this could have an impact on the budget; both positive and negative! Gift registries were once considered bad manners but nowadays are perfectly acceptable. You may think it is a bit much to ask those guests who are attending the wedding to contribute but for those that cannot attend it is a good way for them to help you out.
One of the points to remember is that the amount of the gift is never disclosed so there is no embarrassment to either party. Some Wedding Travel Specialists offer cash whilst other offer vouchers to be used for future travel and often there will be a cost to administer it. Treat is a bonus because no one knows the exact amount you will receive until just before the wedding so don’t count on it!
#5: Travel Insurance
Don’t think of Travel Insurance as an afterthought. As with any sort of insurance no one likes to think of things going wrong; but that’s life and sometimes things don’t go as planned! Make sure you have covered yourselves for the unexpected and purchased travel insurance as soon as your plans are finalised.
Most of the comprehensive policies include cover for ‘Loss of deposits’. You may have paid a lot of money in deposits that you stand to lose if you don’t have cover. Think “can I afford to lose this money?” If the answer is ‘NO’ then ask your Wedding Travel Specialist for details on a comprehensive travel insurance policy.
#6: Plan for Extras
Now is not the time to penny-pinch! You want this to be the most special, memorable day of your lives and in order to do this you need to plan and perhaps pay a bit more than usual. Whilst an overwater bungalow would be lovely perhaps don’t pick it for the entire stay of the wedding, if you are on a budget, but as a treat for your honeymoon for a couple of nights.
In addition to your pre-paid package you will need to allow for extras such as food & drink, activities, shopping, spa treatments, taxes & tipping that sometimes apply. A good idea would be to add 10% to the total of your budget for any unexpected costs. Pay for as much as you can in your local currency with your Wedding Travel Specialist as foreign currency transfers can be costly and you often have no comeback if you book direct!