A couple gets engaged and begins planning their wedding. They quickly decide they want to get away for a destination wedding but aren’t sure where they should go. The whole world is their oyster, or is it?

With the world to choose from, how is a wedding planner to recommend just the right place? What should they keep top-of-mind?

Destination Weddings by ALHI  asked wedding planners for their advice and here’s what they had to say.

Establish the Budget, Get a Feel for the Vibe

Understanding the feeling a couple wants to maintain throughout their ceremony, reception and entire wedding weekend is essential, said Aviva Samuels with Kiss the Planner. Does the couple want a luxury or more casual experience? Do they like the mood of a relaxed island, a quaint small town, or a cosmopolitan city?

Similarly, establishing the budget is critically important. The difference between affordable luxury, approachable luxury and ultra-luxury makes a big difference when considering properties, said Oniki Hardtman, founder and creative director of Oh Niki Occasions.

Understanding Local Climate, Choosing Time of Year

The time of year a wedding takes place plays a critical role not only in the weather during the event, but also the rates of the venue. Establishing an area’s climate is more than just knowing the temperature and how much rain a location gets during a particular time, but also the appearance and feel of a location. While a destination during the off-season might still have favorable temperatures and sunshine, the grass might not be as green on a venue chosen for its lushness, Hardtman said. Those smaller details can make a big difference.

Consider Logistics

Ease in getting to a location is critical to the success of the overall wedding experience. How many flights and layovers are involved? What kind of ground transportation is necessary and how accessible is it? Will guests need to get visas? All those considerations are critical when determining if the location will be practical for the couple and their guests. 

Keep Guests Top of Mind

Planners and couples should consider the guests first and foremost and be appreciative of the effort required to be present on the big day, Samuels said.

“One of the biggest mistakes a planner can make when recommending a destination to their couples is to choose the destinations that works for the couple but doesn’t work for the bulk of their guests,” Samuels said. “If these guests don’t have lots of free time, aren’t willing to travel a far distance, or are not keen on taking a flight that has complicated connections, there’s a good chance they won’t come. And for other guests, if there aren’t enough budget-friendly options, that could be a dealbreaker. If everyone on the list is a cherished family member or friend and it would be a disappointment to the couple if they were unable to attend, then choosing a destination that is easy to get to from most locations and offers accommodations with multiple price points is essential.”

Encourage Flexibility

Couples often request an all-inclusive venue, but Hardtman said many couples become open to properties that have a European plan when she points out they will be hosting multiple private events and there will be few times guests will have to pay for food and beverage out-of-pocket. This greatly expands the venues a couple considers and opens them to unexpected finds.

Hardtman also said many couples are expanding their considerations of European destinations beyond Italy and France to include other locations like Portugal that haven’t had as much visibility in the past. Other sites in Europe might resemble the Amalfi Coast but come at significantly less cost and put a wedding with such a look and feel within reach.

Manage Expectations

Planners should also help couples keep in mind that some things simply might not go entirely as planned.

“Couples often have certain expectations for their wedding destination, but in reality, they may not find everything to their standards,” Samuels said. “It’s important to bear in mind that the same experience can look and feel very different in different locales. What they expect might not be what actually takes place…it’s a good idea to be prepared with softer expectations.”

Keeping realistic expectations regarding the weather is also important and having a solid “Plan B” in place to accommodate for less-than-ideal conditions will go a long way to making sure the event is successful despite possible setbacks, Samuels added.

Considering all these factors will help ensure couples end up at a destination that provides them with a wedding weekend suited just for their tastes.

“Ultimately, the key to hitting a home run is through incorporating both partners’ interests and vision, communicating expectations, and keeping practical matters at the forefront of the planning process,” Samuels said.

Learn more about Destination Weddings by ALHI.