Where Do We Go? How to Find Your Destination
When your client makes the decision to have a destination wedding, unless you know the perfect place right from the get-go, the task of finding the perfect site can be a bit daunting. After all, you do have the world to choose from. Here are some tips to help narrow down the world of options.
Talk and Listen
The very first people you will chat with when deciding where to hold the ceremony is with both the bride and groom-to-be. Together they need to talk with you about aspects of the wedding that will be unique to their relationship and what will be the perfect beginning of a new chapter in their lives together. Make some decisions together about the overall feel of the wedding day that they want the location to bring. Is the location going to be intimate? Is it a place that the two of them have dreamed of uncovering in an adventure together? Or does the location need endless beauty? Brainstorm the big picture, then research the ups and downs of all of the countries/cities that you are considering, including the nitty-gritty details of the law (for international locations).
Use your resources to their fullest capacity. Whether this be Pinterest, Google, or giving the city of choice a visit, scouting the location is the best second step towards choosing your destination country, state or city. Can you get to the city in question? Go for it. If your site in question is close enough for a weekend trip and if the trip will not add stress to the planning, why not go check it out? Especially if you are between cities, giving the cities a visit can help narrow the search.
If you can’t make the trip to the destination, start simple. For example, Google “Costa Rica wedding venues” or “Costa Rica wedding photographer”. Find a venue/photographer, or two, or three and take a look at their blogs and websites to see what options you have for possible wedding sites. Often at the bottom of the posted wedding photos, or in some cases in the description, the vendors will be mentioned and will help guide you to different venue possibilities. Have a question about a wedding they did? Shoot them an email. Most vendors are happy to help!
After you and the couple find your dream city, begin to contact your choice venues. Email or call the potential sites and ask them about your must-haves, rates, capacity, catering, etc. If you are unable to meet in person because of distance, use Skype or Facetime for your consultation. These are wonderful resources that we do not utilize enough! It helps to interact with the people you will be working with on the wedding day beforehand to be sure that the location, and staff, will be a good fit for your event.
Also, ask your potential venue for a portfolio of images from weddings at their location. Seeing what the space is capable of may help you and the couple visualize your design with friends and family celebrating at the site!
Think of the couples’ (and your) 4 must-have qualities for your location and stick to them. Examples: 150 person capacity, beach-front, hotel location or close-by (to be sure guests can stay the night on-site), and modern. If you have too many must haves, you will run the risk of a couple of dangers: never being satisfied and over-shooting your budget. Being flexible outside of these 4 must-haves will help you to get the most out of the location and venue.
Also be sure to keep a couple of dates in mind. The last thing you want is to find the dream location and have your specific day taken. Having 2-3 dates in mind will help when you find a site and your preferred dates have been filled, you can ask about the next dates as well.
Once you have gathered all of the information, it is clearly time to make the decision. You could spend years looking and the couple could change their minds over and over… but time is ticking. Decisions can be tough, but try to ease the couple into sitting back and enjoying the celebration and the planning process and to make the decision. Love a place? Commit to it!
Though this list is short, keep these things in mind when location hunting. It will help create stress-free planning and ensure that you find the location of your couple’s dreams. Happy planning!
For nearly two years, Caitlin Winklemann has been an integral part of the award-winning team at Clane Gessel Photography. A graduate of Western Washington University, Caitlin is an expert in marketing, public relations, and advice for future brides. Her favorite part of a wedding is the table decor and centerpieces, and her advice to couples getting married, ‘Prioritize and don’t be afraid of lists’.