Best tips on planning a destination Wedding

Best tips on Planning a Destination Wedding | Storytellers Events mexico destination image by Selah Photography

We've asked a local Denver expert Cielle, the lead wedding planner at Storytellers Events to share some of her thoughts on destination weddings. Typically, when we think of destination weddings we think of Mexico, the resorts and the beach. If your destination wedding is in Colorado, France or a far land Cielle and her team have explored an avenue of planning destination weddings that only a specialized planner could touch. "We are some of the only planners that do what we do in the world."

Did you know that you can actually save money by having a destination wedding? That there can be a good and bad way to wear your hair on the beach and that not talking to your family prior to "saving your date" can be the biggest headache of planning? These destination wedding planners have some of the best tips on planning your wedding overseas.

Eifle tower destination wedding image by Kim Nodurft Photography

What are the benefits of a destination wedding?  My favorite benefit is that it is a memorable way to spend time with the people you love the most, in a beautiful location and for longer than just a day. It also creates a new vacation destination that you and your spouse can visit yearly on your anniversary- it’s a destination that will always mean something special to the both of you.

What many people do not know is that it can also save you money!

castle weddingimage by JM-Photo Art

Any recommendations on saving money? Many venues will include the wedding ceremony at no charge, and discount the reception hall and even the food with the booking of rooms for your guests. Do not hesitate to ask! When choosing a destination, try to pick their low season where there are not many tourists, but it still has great weather! This will make both the hotel and the airfare less expensive. If you do not know when this is, ask your wedding planner, travel agent, or hotel at the destination.

What are the headaches of a destination wedding? I think the biggest headache is everything that goes on in your head and the conversations you have with family and friends BEFORE you choose jump and have a destination wedding. Your family and friends will have a say, and figuring out what is right for you and your spouse is important. With this, coming to terms that not everyone you pictured to be at your wedding will be able to attend. Some couples love this idea, and some do get disappointed.

On the logistics side, if you are planning the wedding yourself, the headache comes with not knowing exactly what to book, how to book, finding and managing the vendors, the legalities and rules of marrying in a church vs. symbolic weddings, possibly communicating with people who do not speak English, and constant doubt that what you are envisioning is truly how it will be. This is exactly why we do what we do, to alleviate all of these stresses so that your vision comes to life without all of the doubt.

What are your five top tips for planning a wedding overseas? Don’t forget to plan transportation to and from the hotel for your guests- and remember to tell them the plan. Too often the guests assume someone will pick them up- but do not know from where or with whom. Don’t leave them hanging- it will only stress them out after a long day of travel.

Plan group activities for your loved ones. This can be in the form of a welcome cocktail hour, breakfast together every morning, a group tour of the area, afternoon tea, croquet on the lawn, a group cooking lesson (where you then eat the delicious food you created), a dance lesson, whatever you can think of...Stick with what you as a couple love to do, bring your guests into your lives.

Also, plan downtime. Do not fill every waking hour with activities. Your friends and family will want to relax and you will want to just lounge and spend quality time with them.

Many people dream of getting married on the beach- but they forget about humidity and heat. With both of those, you do not feel pretty, sexy, or romantic as your makeup is running down your face and your hair gets frizzy. Be sure to check the humidity and heat levels during the time that you are getting married (seasons are different around the world)- and if you can visit beforehand, please do.

Once you are there, have fun! It is about the people in your life celebrating your love for one another. That’s it. They will remember the memories of the entire event and the way they felt throughout. You will too!

colorado destination weddingimage by Selah Photography

How do I choose a location? My first question is always to ask if there is a place that is already special to the couple-, which could include family heritage, a special vacation the couple took together, or even someplace they have always dreamed of going. If they do not fall into any of these categories, then I ask the both the bride and groom to describe what they picture when they imagine their ceremony. Many couples will already have an idea…walking in the grass with meadows all around, walking barefoot in the sand with the water behind us, standing there together surrounded by vineyards, a castle…

Once I get their vision, we then narrow down based on budget, lodging, airfare, and distance you want guests to travel.

Why are you (Cielle) different as a planner? We are the only ones in the world who do what we do. Let me write that again- no one else does what we do.

We are your wedding planner through the entire process, not just a travel agent, not a planner you have never met in another country…

I truly care about creating memorable, unique, and special weddings for the couples, their families, and their guests. Because I am your liason between languages and cultures, the planning process becomes more fun and you are able to trust that your wedding will be what you envisioned.

France Destination Weddingimage by Kim Nodurft Photography

How do you recommend a couple chooses their photographer? Visit various websites and make note of the sites you are drawn to. There is a reason you are drawn to them. Go with your gut. Meet your photographer! Have a conversation. Do you love them? Do you want to spend more time with them? Do they make you feel comfortable? (Do they fit within your budget?) If you answer ‘yes’ to all of these, go for it!

destintaion weddingimage by Autumn Cutaia with Crystal Allen Photography

Coming from a photographers perspective, know that the stories are true. Resort photographers are a fraction of the cost but also a fraction of the quality. We believe that weddings are "emotionally intoxicating." It's the most incredible experience but can be so overwhelming it's hard to believe it is real. Make sure your memories are safe with someone you trust.

What is your favorite thing to do as a planner? I love the fun details!!!!!! I love creating the details that are unique to the couple and that commemorate guests so that each guest feels special. That- and alleviating the headaches and stress that planning a wedding can cause. Burden me with all of it, so that you can enjoy the process as much as possible.

destination wedding plannerimage by J Lucas Reyes Photography

What is your experience as a wedding planner? I have been planning events for over 13 years. It started as a hobby of mine, and I never thought I would create a career out of it. But I did- and I love it! All of it! And I would not go back (to the corporate world ;).

I have also spent years living abroad in Europe, with many summers spent in the Philippines. I love traveling and I understand what it takes to create an event in a different culture (with different rules and expectations), so it was a natural fit for me to focus on international weddings.

Tips for experience I've taken some time to poll some of my recent destination clients and their parents for their top tips on planning a wedding overseas.

-I wish we would have sent out invitations because later we found out that some people felt like they weren't invited.

-We opted for a destination wedding because we enjoyed Lyndsay's so much that we wanted to do it again and for the stress-free planning.

-I attempted to make my own flowers because I was worried about what they would look like at the resort but mine turned out horrible and the flowers at the resort turned out really beautiful. I would do it all over again, we had a great time.

-For the mother of the bride destination weddings are stress free and how wonderful to get to spend so much time with your family and friends and never have to cook or clean! Much the same for mother of the groom, and you can wear pants instead of a dress if you want. It is such fun to spend time with everyone. You get a lot of really quality time with friends and family.

-The photographs! Though it was an investment, I don't regret bringing Matt and Jackie along for a second. This was the best day of my life and I don't know how I could remember it so accurately without these images. We couldn't be happier.

Thank you Cielle of Storytellers Events for sharing your wisdom. Plan away!

fun wedding photographer image by Selah Photography