Once you know you're going to have a destination wedding, you likely head over to Google and type in "destination wedding packages." And what pops up is astounding.
The first several pages are full of informational sites and the most popular worldwide resorts. All of them are talking about the value of wedding packages, why theirs is the best, how happy you'll be with theirs, etc.
But how are you supposed to actually pick from all these? Sifting through your destination wedding packages options isn't as simple as those sites make it out to be, but that's why you're in the right place.
This post will show you five different ways to eliminate some of the packages out there and help you find the one that's best for your wedding day. If you start early in your search process (like soon after your engagement), you won't be pressed for time and possibly make the wrong decision.
To help narrow down the destination wedding packages you can choose from, follow these 5 valuable tips...
1. Don't fall for pictures.
Almost every wedding website, resort, and venue is going to try to make their destination wedding packages look extraordinary. Lush foliage and clear blue water on the adjacent beach are eye-catching, but would that really be your backdrop?
Research online and read reviews to see if the location is as legitimate and as they say they are. Focus on what others have said about the quality of service, the value for the price, and the accuracy of the business's photos and locations. Feel free to investigate their business history, too (some may be on the Better Business Bureau site).
It may seem like a lot of time-consuming work, but we're assuming you don't want to end up on a non-private beach with large men and topless women walking by as you're trying to exchange vows.
2. Compare the package cost to the price of local vendors.
One reason why packages are so appealing is because everything's neatly wrapped up in one big package that doesn't require you to do much work.
However, there's a danger to the ease of some destination wedding packages: they're easy because they're overcharging you. Some locations will throw in extra fees and charges for their efforts to coordinate everything, when your wedding could have been just as beautiful if you'd hired local vendors individually.
In short, make sure a location isn't just charging you more because they can. They actually can be the better deal, but it's best to find out before you commit to anything.
3. Consult a travel agent or hire a destination wedding planner.
You may not want to invest the extra money in hiring someone to help you plan your wedding, but it's 100% worth it.
The services of a travel agent or destination wedding planner are invaluable at this time. Not only are they professionals who know their industry, but they'll also know which are the good resorts and which are offering good deals. They'll make sure you are picking a good package at a great location.
If you're hesitant to do all the work yourself, this is the best route to go.
4. Determine the packages' flexibility.
Maybe you were hoping to use centerpieces that aren't flower-based, like lanterns, but do you have that option?
Destination wedding packages vary in their flexibility. Some will allow you to change out elements of the package for different ones at no extra cost, while others will charge you extra for everything if you don't follow in their pre-determined package.
Flexibility isn't necessarily a deciding factor for all brides, but looking into this aspect could save you frustration later on.
5. Always sign up for insurance.
You might be able to avoid this if you were having a wedding in your home town, but if you're going somewhere that anything could go wrong, you need to be prepared.
It's always best to opt for destination wedding insurance. Make sure whatever destination wedding packages you're looking at will work with the insurance, because if one of the key elements of the package doesn't work out (say a chef calls in sick the day of your wedding), your location should be completely responsible for finding an alternative at no extra charge.
Insurance will help eliminate last-minute scrambles in a location you're unfamiliar with, which will save you a world of stress on your wedding day.
Not all destination wedding packages are created equal, and they're definitely not all right for your special day. That's why early investigation is vital in helping you eliminate and choose the perfect one.
And don't be afraid to play your final two choices against each other. Mentioning that you may be going with another location might convince your first choice to up their game by offering you a little more value for your money.
It is, after all, your wedding day. You should get every bit of extravagant value out of your destination wedding that you can.