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Wedding planner Gabrielle deMelo believes destination weddings are a great choice for those seeking an exhilarating alternative to the chapel. "Destination weddings are exciting and romantic -- they are dreams turned into reality in worldwide, unique settings," she says.
Her advance-planning tips will help you get the practical stuff out of the way so you can focus on what matters the most on your big day -- you!
1. Find the right assistance
If you don't know how to make your vision a reality, enlist a professional instead of doing hours of research.
"Choose a reputable travel agent or wedding planner who has the experience and who specializes in destination weddings," deMelo advises. "They will recommend the best hotel and destination that will match the desires of the wedding couple and guests."
An experienced wedding planner is a one-stop solution to all your wedding worries, offering services ranging from budget management to inspiration sessions. However,
relying on the hotel coordinator at your resort to pull the event together may leave something to be desired.
"It's hard to plan and make decisions about the details over email with a hotel coordinator who doesn't have the time and who might not understand the couple's vision of their wedding day," deMelo says. Seek out someone who has the energy and know-how to make your wedding a dream-like affair and you'll get what you pay for.
2. Be on top of deals
Soon to be newlyweds can cash in on perks like hotel room deals and group travel -- all it takes is some well-informed research.
"Book early and receive an early booking discount," says deMelo. "Many airline carriers and cruise lines offer specials for passengers who book early and pay in full by a certain date."
Make note of the deals you find in your research, writing them down in chart form or in a notebook if it helps you stay organized. And supplement your own research with professional advice. "Consult a travel agent who specializes in group sales to assist in negotiating a discounted air and hotel rate," deMelo advises.
Page 1 of 2 -- Discover the perks of planning your destination wedding during the off-peak travel season on page 2
3. Plan during off season
To increase the likelihood of getting a good deal on travel, be mindful of your planning dates. "Some of the best deals and accommodations are available during off-peak season. One week can make a big difference," says deMelo.
From April through October -- the off season for resort travel -- wedding vendors are eager for business, which means couples can negotiate better prices more easily. The only disadvantage of an off-season wedding is the possibility of less than ideal weather. If you don't mind the risk, make sure the site you choose offers a Plan B for your outdoor terrace or beach ceremony.
4. Provide lots of guest-friendly options
Taking time off work and flying to an exotic locale adds up, and the spending doesn't stop at the airport. Your guests will appreciate any options you can provide to offset their expenses.
"Offer guest rooms at a variety of price points so that guests can find accommodations that suit their budget," deMelo advises. See which hotels offer a wide range of suites, and if your single friends are interested, try to make it an option to buddy up with a roommate. Also keep in mind that some hotel companies have sister resorts in the same area at different price points that can be combined into a single package.
5. Be self-sufficient
Bringing your wedding dress on the plane and having it remain wrinkle-free is no easy feat. Be prepared for anything that might happen by bringing your own damage-control supplies.
"Do not assume there is an on-site hotel dry cleaner that specializes in formal attire. Find out in advance if the hotel offers this service. If not, bring your own iron or steamer," deMelo advises. "The irons and steamers available at the resort may be dirty, so it's best to bring your own, in any case."
The same goes for makeup and hair supplies. "Bring your own cosmetics and hair products. Don't wait until the wedding day to find out that your hotel does not have a spa or hair salon."
You will have a lot on your mind while planning for your wedding, but don't forget the travel aids necessary for any trip. "Always book travel insurance, and take photocopies of your passport and travel documents in the event that they are lost or stolen," deMelo notes. "Also find out whether you need plug adapters and power converters."
Other than that, have fun, try to relax and enjoy your exotic nuptials!
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Plan the most beautiful wedding you can imagine with expert tips and helpful advice from our special wedding planning guide.