The Do’s and Don’ts of Organizing Your Destination Wedding

Sarah Carpenter, Destination Film Wedding Photography

Photo: Sarah Carpenter, Destination Film Wedding Photography | Stylist: Meggie Francisco

Turks and Caicos Reservations interviews Meggie Francisco, a Dallas-based wedding planner who has cultivated an international reputation for designing local and destination weddings.

We’ve heard that destination weddings are sometimes cheaper than “conventional weddings” held closer to home. Is this true?

Destination weddings are often more affordable for lots of reasons!

Resorts offer strong wedding packages to attract brides, grooms, and all their guests to the location, and these packages are often inclusive of many things that you wouldn’t get at home in the states. For instance, food, beverage, service costs, linens, china, glassware, and even decor are sometimes all included in a destination wedding package.

Another reason that destination weddings can be easier on the pocketbook is that they naturally help to slim down the guest list. Would you feel pressured to invite all your coworkers to your wedding if you held it at a banquet hall at home? Sure! Would you feel the same pressure to add those people to the list for a weekend in swimsuits with your closest friends and family? Probably not. In this way, you can celebrate with those who are most meaningful to your life as a couple, and reduce your headcount tremendously. This means less food and beverage, fewer centerpieces, and even fewer invitations! Cost savings about when you choose a destination wedding.

Resorts also provide perks for destination wedding guests, right?

Of course! Going to a destination wedding as a guest is so much fun. You get to enjoy a vacation with friends and family that wouldn’t typically all be together in such a great location, and you get to celebrate the marriage of the bride and groom. It’s a very meaningful experience!

Resorts often offer special privileges to destination wedding guests, such as attractive room rates at luxury properties that they’d never be able to secure outside of a group celebration, access or discounts for private golf and spa experiences or excursions, and more.

What are some of the most unique weddings you have organized?

I recently planned a an organic, romantic wedding in Cabo San Lucas with gorgeous shades of blue. The ceremony was on the beach under a flowing arbor draped with gray and blue chiffon and stunning flowers, and the reception was at a sky pool location overlooking the entire resort!

Now I’m working on a cozy soiree coming up this January in Lake Tahoe! The bride has fantastic style – we’re decorating with large swags of gorgeous greenery and classic creamy white blooms. The wedding will be on a terrace with a huge fireplace facing the ski slopes, and it will be so sweet – snow or shine!

I love that my job takes me to such different places around the world to serve my unique and darling clients.

What’s a good way for the bride and groom to manage stress in the lead-up to the wedding?

Don’t procrastinate! During the planning process, there are lots of little things that can build up and become completely overwhelming, such as choosing special songs for the reception, creating a family photo list, or assigning guests to tables.

As soon as a task comes up, get the information you need to complete it, and do it! At the end of the process, you’ll feel so much more relaxed.

Is there a right way and a wrong way to save costs when planning a wedding?

Never skimp on the core components of the experience. Your guests may forget about your centerpieces, but they’ll always remember good food, beverage, service, and entertainment. Make sure you are offering a solid experience in these areas.

Also, if you’re planning a destination wedding, make sure you bring on a great photographer to document the whole weekend. There will be so many special moments that you want to remember later – in their full glory! Saving costs by hiring an inexperienced photographer is never a good idea.

One of the best ways to save money on your wedding is to treat all your decor with a high/low approach, which is also a great strategy for building your wardrobe or decorating your home! Pick important focal points, such as the ceremony arbor or the head table, and go all out to create your dream vision! Scale back everything else – your guests will be just as delighted with lovely candles as they will with a large, expensive floral centerpiece.

Besides, if you invested in the right photographer, they will make everything look stunning, no matter what! All you need is a loving couple and a breathtaking location to make award-winning wedding photographs.

What are some trends right now when planning weddings?

Clients are looking for a soft, classic, romantic look in their photography – which I love because it creates timeless photos that my couples will cherish forever!

I’m also finding that clients want to incorporate elements that are unique to them, such as bringing in a two-step dance teacher for a southern wedding reception, or customizing their table names to be places where they’ve vacationed together.

What else should couples keep in mind when planning a destination wedding?

Since guests will be spending a great deal of money and vacation time to attend a far-flung wedding, couples who are hosting destination weddings should be prepared to be understanding when valued friends and family members can’t make it. Remember that you can always celebrate over a private dinner when you return from your honeymoon!

Also, research all the marriage laws of your chosen location well in advance of the wedding. It may be easiest to get legally married in your home location, and then do a symbolic ceremony at the resort. None of your guests will be any wiser!

Meggie Francisco Events is based in Dallas, Texas, and is known across the United States for organizing local and destination weddings.

“We are passionate about strong customer service and beautiful design,” says Meggie, “We strive to be there for our clients through every step of the planning process.”

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