10 Out-of-the-Box Tips from the Best Destination Wedding Travel Agents

by Cheryl Rosen
10 Out-of-the-Box Tips from the Best Destination Wedding Travel Agents

Photo: Shutterstock.com

Planning a destination wedding is a complicated process, so we asked some of our favorite travel agents to share their best insider insights to help keep brides-and-grooms-to-be on track as they plan their nuptials for 2018 and 2019.

Not surprisingly, they all suggested that you work not just with any travel agent, but with someone who has experience in this particular area; and who connects with you on a personal level, “who evokes in you the warm and fuzzy memory of the reason you want to get married in the first place, as Susanne Griffing Yonts of Any Seasons Travel put it. And expect to pay a fee.

But read on for 10 great ideas they came up with to help ensure a wedding guests will never forget.

1. Control the guest list—and the guests.
"The main reasons for a destination wedding is to have less stress—so keep the list small and intimate, and don’t try to please everyone. Focus on where YOU want to go and what resort fits your needs best. Make your initial arrangements and then discuss with your bridal party and immediate family before including anyone else. Then send out your Save the Dates with the travel agent’s contact info and try to direct all the travel logistics to the agent. It’s the agent’s job to answer the questions and take the stress off the bride and groom." 
— Susanne Griffing Yonts, Any Seasons Travel, Forest Hills, N.Y., and Tammy Levent, JustgoTrav

2. Bring the client for a site inspection.
"Many resort chains have packages where the couple and parents can visit for a nominal cost that can be applied to the wedding if you book it there."
Rolanda Chambers, Golden Voyage Travel, Baltimore, Md., and Teri Axel, Herricks Travel American Express, Woodbury, N.Y.   

3. Understand the difference between having a contract with your chosen resort and just being a free-style group.
"A contract guarantees there will be enough rooms for the entire group and rooms will be the same price. A freestyle group will allow guests to book at current rates with a slight discount but the resort will not hold rooms for all the guests. Guests who don’t book early may find the resort sold out by the time they decide to make a reservation and prices may not be the same for everyone."
— Helen Prochilo, Promal Vacations, Long Island, N.Y.

4. "Market" your trip to your guests.
"You have to create a huge amount of excitement around the trip and give them FOMO...fear of missing out. Tantalize them with images, descriptive words and a fun schedule of things to do."
— Shannon Cunningham LeBlanc, Paradise Vacation Escapes, Prairieville, La.

5. Carefully define the roles and responsibilities so there are clear delineations about who does what.
"Overlapping tasks just result in serious confusion."
— Rolanda Chambers, Golden Voyage Travel, Baltimore, Md.

6. Book early to give your guests time to make payments.
"Consider a mid-week ceremony when costs can be less and there can be more ceremony times available."
— Amy Balbirer Windham, Four Corners Travel and Cruises, Marietta, Ga.

7. Leave some time for yourselves.
"Don’t spend so much time entertaining your guests that you forget to be together alone as a couple," says Kari Mollan Valley, Stellar Travel. "In fact, consider booking someplace where you can move to another resort Use social media to engage with your guests and make them feel as though it’s their vacation as well."
— Kayla Gavin, Kayla G Travel by TPI, Newfoundland, Canada

8. Plan several events.
"In order to keep people involved and interact with all the guests (bachelor/bachelorette parties, spa day for the ladies, golf for the guys, post wedding brunch, etc.)."
— Kristi ZaverEmo, Your Dream Escapes, Fresno, Calif.

9. Take a look at cruise ship weddings that depart from your home port.
"A ceremony can be arranged on the ship before it sails, allowing some friends and family who can't make the trip an opportunity to attend the ceremony before sail-away."
— Toni Day, Toni Tours, Inc., Levittown, N.Y.

10. Do a passport check.
"Make sure your bride and groom and key family members have passports or are eligible to get them. Many states have an agreement with the State Department to withhold passports from anyone who has child support arrears."
— Rolanda Chambers, Golden Voyage Travel, Baltimore, Md.

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