Planning the perfect family destination means juggling a lot of moving parts. It's best to work with a professional travel agent that specializes in family travel and has lots of experience with group travel. Their experience will help to insure everything goes smoothly and everyone is happy.
A wedding is such an important celebration of life and love. First and foremost it is the most important day in the life of the bride and group. A destination wedding is meant brings families together. Every family is different with different lifestyles, needs and wishes. Planning a family destination wedding isn't just about travel arrangements. It's making sure the needs and wishes of the bride, groom and everyone they invite exceeds their expectations.
Traditional wedding planning normally starts with the couple picking a date and venue. With a Family Destination Wedding the travel planning needs to come together first before selections like chicken or beef and table cloth colors can be picked out.
A family Destination wedding usually begins with a consultation with your travel agent. Your agent is going to want to hear your thoughts and plans regarding several important topics. Knowing what to expect with these discussions will help you to be prepared and know what questions to ask. Here are 10 tips to keep in mind as you start planning...
1. Location - Anything is possible. Often it's hard there are so many choices, it's difficult to decide. Some couples have their hearts set on getting married in a castle. Others want to exchange vows with their toes in the sand on a beautiful beach at sunset. Others may have no clue exactly where they want to have their wedding. They just know his family lives in Boston, her family is in Phoenix and they need to find a place in the middle that will make everyone happy. Your travel agent will be happy to offer suggestions or simply make your dreams a reality.
2. Style - If money was no object, what type of wedding celebration is your heart's desire? Knowing your wishes and dreams will help keep us focused as we go through all the choices. Would you prefer a formal event or a casual fun filled gathering. Are you looking for total togetherness or free time on your itinerary. Maybe you want a Disney Wedding so you can be kids again along with your kids. Having a vision for what you're trying to accomplish is even more important if you have a specific destination in mind.
3. Ceremony - Do you want a religious ceremony, a legal ceremony or a symbolic ceremony?
- Religious ceremony means your union is blessed by a minister, priest, rabbi or all of the above depending on your religious beliefs.
- Legal ceremony is officially recognized by the local authorities where your marriage takes place. Local laws in your wedding destination may dictate when the couple must arrive to take care of marriage licenses, blood tests etc.
- Symbolic ceremony is like a vow renewal. It can look and feel like a real wedding but it is not recognized legally by local authories or religious institutions. Many couples elect to have a legal or religious wedding at home first and then gather their families all together in an exotic local for a symbolic wedding celebration.
4. Children - If either the bride, groom or both have children from a previous union, then co-parent permission may be necessary. It's recommended that we sort these points ahead of time to save any last minute angst or disappointments.
5. Travel Documentation - If you are planning on having your family destination wedding in a foreign location, chances are you will need passports. Research will need to be done to determine if you or any of your guests need any visas or health checks.
6. Guest List - It's helpful for your agent to have a copy of your guest list to help keep track of RSVPs. When creating your list it is helpful for your agent to have families grouped according to their departure city, sleeping arrangements (how many adults/kids per room) and the children's ages at the time of travel.
If any of your guests have special needs like mobility, health or special dietary needs, it's good to know this during the planning stages.
7. Accommodations - If you're only inviting the immediate family then perhaps a private villa would be ideal. If you plan on inviting 300 people then a 100 room resort won't work. If you looking for an all inclusive resort where everyone's food, drinks (alcohol included), resort activities, evening entertainment, tips and taxes are all included in the price. All inclusive resorts are mainly found in the Caribbean and Mexico. If you're looking to have your wedding in Florida or Hawaii, then we'll have see about catering and sightseeing to a regular hotel package.
It's also important to select a resort that will have facilities and entertainment that will keep everyone comfortable and happy. Will your guests need baby gear or a kids club for little ones. How about teen activities, handicap accessible rooms or do you want a golf course on site?
8. Picking A Date - If it is important for your children or other children to be part of your wedding then chances are you will need to work around school calendars. This may mean a creative solution when it comes to fall foliage wedding photos.
9. Budget - A frank discussion about finances is an important step in the family destination wedding planning process. Who will be paying? Will the two of your be paying for everyone? Will parents be picking up the tab or contributing? Will your guests each be paying your own way with the hope that the bride and groom will travel for free?
10. The Wedding Planner - Once all the travel logistics have been put into place then it's time to connect with the wedding planner. Most resorts that cater to destination weddings have a person on staff that handles all of the wedding details...ceremony, music, meals, spa appointments, the works. If you choose to get married at a private estate or a public beach, your travel agent can help connect you with a local wedding planner or authorities to help with these details.
Couples may or may want to arrange special activities for their littlest guests. Kids clubs or private sitters can help with child care during your ceremony and/or reception. You may want to add kid friendly entertainment to your reception or add special touches to your ceremony to help your incorporate your children and blend your new family. These details are just a couple of examples of what can be done to customize your destination wedding for your family.
As you can see, decisions made for one tip could influence the outcome of another. This is what we mean about a lot of moving parts. For example, if you MUST have your wedding at a specific resort, your wedding date may be determined for you by their schedule and availability.
Planning a family destination wedding can quickly become overwhelming. For most people it will be your first and only time planning such an important event. Again, this is why having an experienced travel agent on your side is SO important. We have done this before...plenty of times. Our experience and knowledge will help to keep you focused, making the right decisions at the right times. This will save you time, stress and money in the long run. We're here every step of the way giving you guidance and answering all of your guest questions. It's our job to make sure your family destination wedding exceeds both your expectations and those of your guests.