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. Less Deposits. One deposit of between $100 - $1,000 will normally reserve the venue, photography, ceremony, reception, photobooth, floral, etc. If you hosted 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 guest 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). Additionally, Just Book It Travel will negotiate the very best travel deals to ensure that couples obtain the best rebates and concessions that can be used to offset the cost of the wedding itself.
1. Just Book It Travel can 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 negotiating terms and setting up your room block 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. Ask us to show you an example wedding website.
3. Just Book It Travel will keep you and your guests informed and up-to-date on any wedding updates. As people RSVP, we'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. 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 pay their balances in full, and that's totally ok.)
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 guests is our pride and joy. Retaining the best travel coordinator and wedding coordinator is the most essential thing that every couple planning a destination wedding should take into consideration. Additionally, we are very proud of our Price Match Guarantee. You'll always pay less by booking with Just Book It Travel.
7. Just Book It Travel charges a one-time non-refundable service fee for travel planning and/or wedding coordination services. This will be discussed during your free consultation. Some destination weddings that are more complex will require a larger up-front retainer.
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, Shonte 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 couples that know exactly where they want to get married, we will recommend a resort based on the vibe that you're looking for. We highly recommend setting a 'max' per-person guest budget and 2 tentative wedding dates - this can help you to narrow down the date/destination/venue very easily.
It's 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 soon in advance do we need to reserve the venue?
This is a MAJOR advantage of having a destination wedding. I, Shonte, 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 100 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.
How many people can we invite?
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 Desti-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?
Do. Retain a reputable squad - There are tons of travel agencies around, but not all specialize in destination weddings. And some may say that they do and don't, so be careful. Retaining an amazing travel agency is crucial and it will save you time, money, and efforts down the line. Destination Weddings are a specialty niche area of travel coordination that requires expertise, relationships, and most importantly - passion! (Not all travel agencies are created equal in this regard).
Do. Consider also retaining an independent wedding coordinator. This person will have the ability to start wedding planning and helping to arrange your intimate details immediately. Most resorts on-site coordinators do not proactively start wedding planning with couples until 90 days prior to the wedding. Your independent coordinator can serve as the middle man between you and the resort, get answers for you quickly, and they can be there for GAME DAY to ensure that everything that you'd planned and dreamed of for the past year or so comes to life! They will work side by side with the resort's on-site coordinators on your wedding day! :)
Do. Set a realistic budget and ask your travel agent or wedding coordinator the question - "Realistically, how much wedding can I have on $XYZ budget?". We love Pinterest, but be careful! :) Remember, we can plan weddings on any budget!
Do. Be kind and be patient :) And remember that there are not many REAL emergencies when planning a destination wedding. Your wedding is not tomorrow and not next month, and with destination wedding planning - your every dream can come through as long as its in the plan at least a month prior to your wedding. So have a sip of your favorite cocktail and allow us to do the heavy lifting. We got you!
Do. Choose your date and location before jumping to plan out the actual wedding. Deciding on a date and location is the biggest decision you'll have to make!
When can guests lock in travel pricing?
As soon as invites go out. Just Book It Travel can make that happen very quickly for you!
Can I reserve a room block at the resort?
Yes, we recommend room blocks to ensure fixed pricing, availability, and rebates for our wedding couples. Ask us about Room Block 101. We developed an entire Q&A for brides and grooms to learn all about room blocks in preparation for this milestone of wedding planning.
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 less vendors. You can make the selections and they will execute it for you and handle all communications with each of the vendors. You can 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! (We recommend an independent wedding coordinator to assist you as well. The resort's on-site coordinators do not typically start planning in the nitty gritty until you're 90 days away from Game Day)
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).