Have you planned weddings at my destination and venue before?
A planner who knows the area, local customs and language will probably have an easier time pulling together all the details. And it's not necessarily a major red flag if they haven't done a wedding at your resort, but it is a bonus. Ask similar questions like: Do you know the marriage license laws? Are you familiar with popular area vendors like florists and makeup artists? And do you have any local ideas (like a mariachi band) that would make the wedding day extra special?
Which other wedding vendors do you like to work with?
This question will help you gauge their knowledge of the local industry—having go-to sources for things like local transportation and food should be pretty much a given. You'll want to be plugged in to their enthusiasm about their colleagues.
How does the contract and deposit process work?
Everyone works a little differently. Some planners will have you put down a deposit and sign a contract before you start talking vision and logistics. Others will present a plan to you before you sign. There are pros and cons to each, and only you can decide what works best for you. Either way, it's important you know how your planner works before you sign a contract.
When should you send save the date announcements?
The distance and accessibility of the destination can affect the timing of when to send invitations for the wedding; traveling to a far-off locale takes more time to plan than a three-hour road trip to the mountains. To be safe either way, send out the save the dates as soon as you confirm the details. The more time, the better: nine to 12 months is ideal and provides guests ample time to schedule travel plans and time off from work. Be sure to include information about the wedding destination — ideally via a link to your wedding website; so, guests can begin to plan.
When should formal invitations be sent, and what info should be included?
When it comes to your destination wedding invitation timeline, the average lead time for invitations is six to eight weeks before the wedding; however, destination wedding invites should be sent three to four months ahead of time. If you sent a save the date, an invitation is expected
With a formal invite, the emphasis should be on the invitation itself, so don’t turn it into a travel brochure; instead, list your wedding URL in the invite, and update all travel information online, including places to stay, group hotel rates, maps and airport information. Another helpful detail to include is the ceremony location (beach, lawn, etc.) so guests wear the proper shoes. Never include registry information (that goes on your wedding website). Since destination weddings often involve multiple events, create a card separate from the main invitation to invite guests to any additional celebrations (welcome cocktail, a golf outing, a post-wedding brunch). This way, you can include boxes to check on your reply card, which will make it much easier for you to track who’s coming to what. This will also let your guests know that the festivities begin before the wedding day itself so they can plan accordingly.
Should couples provide welcome gifts at the destination?
When guests arrive at the end of a long journey, it’s very gracious to have a little gift waiting for them at the front desk or in their room. This could be a beach bag filled with sunscreen and bottled water, a rustic crate filled with local snacks or a simple scented candle accompanied by a welcome note. Along with the gift, include a brief itinerary of wedding events for their convenience, in case they forgot to bring it. One tip: Give a gift that can be enjoyed during their stay (snacks, wine, sunscreen) or a suitcase friendly item that will be easy to take home.
Is the couple responsible for hosting pre & post wedding events like a rehearsal dinner or a farewell brunch? Who should be invited?
While these gatherings aren’t necessary, they are surely appreciated. After all, guests have spent money and taken time off work to be with you on your big day It’s good form to host a welcome or farewell party to show your gratitude.
Technically, there's no rule that says you have to invite every guest, but, since they're going out of their way to attend your event, and since guest lists for destination weddings tend to be smaller, excluding some guests doesn't really make sense. Also, be careful not to go overboard and plan too many activities. Book only one gathering beyond the rehearsal dinner, be it a beach-cabana day or a sailing excursion, so guests can relax and enjoy their vacation.
How does gift etiquette differ from at-home weddings?
Gifts tend to be smaller due to traveling concerns and money spent on flights and accommodations. To thank guests for going through so much trouble, a classy thing would be to tell guests their presence is their present.
Who wants to tote a blender to Mexico? Or home from Mexico? A polite line on the registry page of your wedding website should let guests know to send gifts directly to the couple's home or to a family residence, if the couple doesn't live together yet.