One of the key features of a destination wedding is that you will be getting away from your place of residence and even from your hometown for this event. While exciting, it does often make it difficult to plan and coordinate with local vendors who are specifically ready to work with you when you get to your destination location. Keep these tips in mind as you prepare for a destination wedding to ensure you will have clear communication throughout the process.
Get Contact Information First (And Save It!)
Before you ever settle on vendors, start compiling a list of preferred vendors for your venue and other vendors in the area, with contact information. No one wants to assume the worst, but having an extra caterer in your wedding planning documents can come in handy if some kind of lost record ever occurs. Take down as much information as you can about what they are known for doing well, what may not be getting rave reviews, and pricing. The harder it is to get a clear answer on pricing, the less trustworthy the vendors become; this doesn’t mean all vendors with hard-to-get price sheets are bad vendors, but good organization is a good sign!
Get a Phone Call Scheduled For Questions About Contracts
When you are ready to settle on a vendor, look through the contract they give you. If a vendor doesn’t think a contract is necessary, request that they get you one, even if it spells out only the most rudimentary of guidelines.
If Possible, Plan a Trip To Meet Vendors in Person
One way to ensure peace of mind is to plan a trip to your destination while you are choosing vendors. Yes, this is an added expense, but if you can manage the PTO and budget for the trip, you can turn it into a working vacation in and of itself. Meeting vendors in person is priceless: you can get a feel for the organization of their operation and get an honest impression of the people you are working with. If it isn’t possible to travel ahead of time and you need to book sight-unseen, consider asking for a video chat conversation, possibly to get a bit of a tour of the space, if it is a venue, or a live vision of the flowers/cake/food. It may seem strange, but you get to see body language, attitude, and organization through a video conversation.
Print and Save All Signed Contracts
This should be obvious, but when you are away from home for your wedding, having those signed contracts with you is even more important! Read them ahead of time so you know what kinds of fees are associated with the project.
Get a Progress Report at Least 4 Weeks From the Event
Asking for a progress report may feel like an overkill move, but when you are choosing vendors long-distance, this step can be a real lifesaver. Ask to simply have a quick phone call where you confirm that you are on the same page, that they have the final guest list numbers correct, and that all the documents and payments have been processed. You can catch small errors at this point, which can reduce stress later on and mean you still have time to rectify any miscommunications. If worse comes to worst and you must part ways with a vendor, finding another at a month out is hard, but not impossible; there are usually other florists that can be found, for example, on short notice.
If You Arrive Before the Wedding Weekend, Touch Base in Person
If you plan to arrive even a day or two before your wedding, try to find time for you (or a sister, or a friend) to stop by each vendor’s location and check in about the event. You can do this with some simple logistical questions or to drop off a day-of plan or some contact information; these check-ins don’t have to be a sign that something is wrong, but rather simply a confirmation that everything is going so right. By this point, you’ve done such a good job keeping in touch with vendors that there is nothing left to do but enjoy the wedding.
These strategies may seem intensive and time-consuming, but each individual step actually takes very little time, and takes far less time than discovering, last minute, that you don’t have the flowers, venue, food, or other wedding “ingredient” that you thought you’d booked. While it should be incumbent upon wedding vendors to be forthcoming, honest, and clear, you are better off taking out a little extra “insurance” in the form of signed contracts and updates as necessary. That way, once the wedding arrives, you get to lavish yourself with the luxury of a destination wedding and none of the drama of a misinformed vendor.