We have put together this list because we've realized that in the beginning stages of destination wedding planning, most of our brides and grooms have very similar questions.
As always, We love to talk - so text, call or email us at anytime to discuss these or any other questions that you might have - this list is a continuation, so check back frequently for updates :)
What are some of the benefits of having a destination wedding versus a domestic traditional wedding?
1. One Vendor - One Deposit. One deposit of between $100 - $1,000 will normally reserve the venue, photography, ceremony, reception, photobooth, floral, etc. If you did a traditional wedding, you would have to make separate deposits to each vendor and you'd have to manage each one separately to ensure that they are all in sync with each other during 'game day'. Just Book It Travel will listen to your ideas and dreams and recommend a resort that will achieve everything that you have in mind.
2. Save money! The average domestic wedding will cost between $25k - $50k depending on your appetite. The cost of a destination wedding can sometimes be COMPLIMENTARY if you pick the right venue :) Destination weddings allow brides and grooms to be extremely flexible with budget. If you set a budget, Just Book It Travel's free consultation will give you a good idea of exactly what you can obtain for it.
3. You get to VACATION with all of your guests. At a traditional wedding, you get to spend about 30 seconds with each guests because there's a 4 hour time frame of you entertaining, taking pictures, getting MARRIED, and just doing bride/groom stuff. At a destination wedding, you get to enjoy an entire weekend with your guests and family members that you haven't seen in a long time. Its like a weekend family reunion and breakfast, lunch, dinner, and entertainment are all paid for in advance, without worrying about how much spending money your guests brought along with them. Spending money is a bonus, but not a requirement at all-inclusive resorts.
4. Its SUPER EASY. You can literally plan an entire destination wedding in one sitting, if you wanted to! :) Just Book It Travel will guide you through the entire process from beginning to end. Just Book It Travel will ensure that your guests ALWAYS pay less than internet prices and obtain flexible payment arrangements. You will remain informed about your guest list. And your guests will receive consistent updates in regards to the wedding events and requirements of them (ex. dress code, welcome party, excursions, etc)
1. Just Book It Travel will serve as your Wedding Consultant and Travel Consultant. We will walk you through every step of the process, from recommending a resort to negotiating wedding packages, to ensuring that the resort is held accountable for all of their commitments.
2. Just Book It Travel will design a complementary travel website for each couple to share with guests. The site will incorporate any themes, hashtags, weekend itineraries, dress code, RSVP date, and pictures. We will incorporate all of your preferences into a FAQ page for your guests or into the main travel page. Here is an example of a wedding website that we've created for a "client". Click here.
3. Just Book It Travel will keep you and your guests informed and up-to-date on any wedding updates. As people RSVP, I'll send you a tracking sheet so that you're aware of who has made their deposit and also, who has reached out, but not formally RSVP'd as of yet.
4. Just Book It Travel will ensure that both you and your guests obtain very competitive pricing and flexible payment plans on travel arrangements. Let's say the cost is $1,100 per guest for the flight/hotel (all-inclusive) package. A guest make a $200 deposit and pay $100 per month between their deposit date and 30 days prior to departure to pay off their balance. The ability to make payment plans is HUGE, because it makes travel in general affordable for you and your guests. (Payment plans are optional, you'll have other guests that prefer to make a deposit and a lump sum payment 30 days prior to the wedding)
5. Just Book It Travel is very attentive. If there's ever anything that you can think of that we should add to our list of commitments, we are happy to explore the idea. Ultimately, we want to continue to be a market leader in concierge-level service on destination weddings and international group travel.
6. Just Book It Travel's dedication to brides, grooms, and their respective guest is a complimentary service. We do not charge a "service fee" or "consulting fee". Since Just Book It Travel primarily functions as that of a Travel Agency, any commissions are paid directly to Just Book It Travel by the airliners and hotels. Brides and Grooms should never pay a "fee" for their travel agent. Additionally, we are very proud of our Price Match Guarantee. You'll always pay less by booking with Just Book It Travel.
What services does Just Book It Travel provide? And what is the cost for all of the services provided?
How do I choose a date, destination, and venue? What is a common approach to this task. I dont know where to begin!
Many brides and grooms take different approaches. Personally, I wanted the most cost effective option for my guests. While there are some super exotic places that I would have loved to get wedding pictures in, I will have to 'honeymoon' there later with just the hubby. I decided that making our wedding trip affordable for our guests was most important to us. I was also determined to stay under $1,300 per person for the flight / hotel / transportation / all-inclusive package. Some of the most popular (economical) all inclusive wedding destinations are Mexico, Dominican Republic, and Jamaica. We had been to all 3, so we opened the calendar and decided on 2 different wedding dates and then checked our favorite resorts and flight pricing in all of those destinations and selected the cheapest option - BAM - Done. But for clients that know exactly where they want to get married, I will recommend a resort based on the vibe that you're looking for. I highly recommend setting a 'max' per-person guest budget and 2 tentative dates - this can help you to narrow down the date/destination/venue very easily.
How soon in advance do we need to reserve the venue?
Its best to reserve venues between 6 - 13 months in advance keeping in mind that Saturday weddings are in high demand. If you're looking for a complimentary wedding package, most of the FREE ceremonies can only be scheduled from Monday-Thursday, since Friday/Saturday weddings are so popular for the larger ceremonies.
How many people can we invite?
This is a MAJOR advantage of having a destination wedding. I was able to invite nearly 300 people to my wedding. When you're having a destination wedding, naturally, some people may not be able to make it. But you have to accept this. Some of my friends/family were not able to make it. Since the price per guest tends to be lower with destination weddings, we knew that we could afford up to 120 guests. Before sending out formal announcements to the larger group, we allowed our closest family friends to confirm their spots first. After that, we invited cousins, friends, close coworkers, and extended family members. At the end of the day, those that REALLY want to be there will generally make a way, especially if you make it affordable and give people Just Book It Travel's flexible payment plan options. For those that couldn't make it, we celebrated with them prior to the wedding via bridal shower, bachelor/bachelorette parties, etc.
What's the average cost of a destination wedding?
It just depends on your budget and appetite. We decided that $20K was our max, max MAX, so we spent $19.5K :) (Read our blog about Shonté's Destineys-Wedding here)
But just so that you know - most venues offer complimentary weddings, so no matter how big or how small your wedding is, I will make it just as beautiful for you. On average, most of the weddings that I've planned cost between $5K - $15K. One of the biggest factors that determines cost is the reception - if you're looking for a ceremony + private reception with a DJ, expect to spend at least $5k. If you are looking for a beautiful scenic ceremony and would rather dinner at an on-site restaurant and then party at the on-site disco, you will spend much less. I've planned all sorts of weddings and am promising to make yours just as beautiful and memorable. Remember - your guests have NO expectations. They are coming for the vacation and to celebrate with you, and with a destination wedding - the wedding itself is 5% of the actual vacation. We enjoyed a boat excursion with our guests, we partied at the disco with them nightly, we splashed them in the pool and beach daily, and we joined them for breakfast and dinner daily. Always keep in mind that with destination weddings, your guests will have the time of their life EVERY DAY, not just wedding day. The wedding is the ICING on the cake! (My husband and I still joke about having saved $19.5K and no one would have noticed LOL)
We are newbies to the world of destination wedding planning. What should we NOT do or what should we be careful of?
Never pay a "fee" for your travel agent's services. And never commit in writing to a certain amount of guests coming or to booking a certain amount of rooms for a "better deal" because it puts you at risk contractually by having to pay for any rooms that your guests don't book. This is how www.destinationweddings.com operates - The biggest factor - Your guests should never pay more for their travel than internet prices. Your agent should be able to beat the best internet rate available for an apples-to-apples trip. Your agent should also be able to have your guests make a small $50 deposit to reserve the room or $200 deposit for flight/hotel packages with flexible payment plans. These are tips that I tell all of my brides to ensure that they're not being taken advantage of and ensuring that there wedding makes financial sense for them. Using a travel agent should make wedding planning SUPER easy! My team will take over all of the planning and ensure that your guests have full access to us with their questions and inquiries. I tell all of my brides/grooms - Don't answer any travel related questions - give your guests my cell phone number, your travel web page and FAQ's, and my email address.
When can guests lock in travel pricing?
Since flight prices fluctuate frequently, prices are confirmed when each guest makes the initial deposit. A $200 deposit can lock in the rate for the flight/hotel package. If you have guests that prefer to book their own flights separately or to fly using airline points, the deposit for the hotel is $50 per person. Example: If Guest 1 makes a deposit in January and Guest 15 makes a deposit in April, they will likely pay two different prices, since prices are locked in at the time a deposit is made. The prices quoted to you are hypothetical prices at a particular point in time. Just Book It Travel recommends giving guests a 2-3 month booking window to make deposits on their flights and hotel rooms, especially to ensure availability.
Can I reserve a room block at the resort?
Yes, you can reserve a room block, but this would mean that a deposit would need to be paid in advance for the amount of rooms being reserved. If some of your guests decide not to come, you would be responsible for paying for their rooms, if they don't pay. Just Book It Travel advises to NOT sign any contractual agreements to book a certain number of rooms, unless you've collected money in advance for each of your guests. It is advisable that each guest reserve their own room, instead of the bride and groom being liable for cancellations. Just Book It Travel prefers that the bride and groom allow each guest to RSVP directly on the wedding webpage, and the bride and groom is not responsible for cancellations or for booking a certain number of guests due to the increased liability.
When can I start picking out my floral, decor, and other wedding particulars?
After the hotel deposit is made, the resort will assign an on-site Wedding Coordinator. This person is the wedding expert and will handle all of your intimate details. They can handle your photography, videography, floral, decor, DJ/MC, entertainment, food, desserts, lighting, photo booth, favors, gift bags, fireworks,etc. A huge benefit of having a destination wedding is that you can potentially deal with ONE vendor that will be responsible for handling everything for you. You can make the selections and they will execute it for you and handle all communications with each of the vendors. You write one check, and hold one person accountable. You can literally "show up" to your own destination wedding and everything will be handled for you, exactly as you've imagined. With a traditional wedding, you have to manage multiple vendors and vendor payments and deposits. With a destination wedding, there's typically one vendor, the resort!
What's the difference between a legal or symbolic ceremony? Which should I choose?
If you opt for a legal ceremony, this means that you'd be legally getting married during your destination wedding. Personally, I chose the symbolic ceremony for my wedding to avoid having to return to the United States and prove the legality of my marriage. It also saved us time and money because we did not have to arrive to our destination days in advance to satisfy the requirements of a legal marriage in Mexico. I checked with my local county's probate court to obtain the procedure for obtaining a marriage license and marriage certificate. So technically, we did not legally get married in Mexico, we got married in the presence of our family, friends, and our God in Mexico - which mattered the most to us. I can think of far more cons than pros of having a legal destination wedding (unless one of you are citizens of the country you've chosen for your destination).