We love off the beaten path venues, but if it's your first time planning a destination event, you will definitely want to consider booking it at a full-service resort. You will be able to book all of your vendors, rental needs, and guest experiences in one spot.
"Being able to stay and host in one place provides clients with a deeper level of comfort. Our mix of accommodations allows for the wedding party to create their own special moment within the resort leading up to and after their wedding. The bride and her entourage can be in a large villa enjoying the day with champagne and passed canapés while being pampered by our COMO Butler. Guests will be able to reconnect and restore their mind and spirit - from group yoga and Shambhala Retreat spa treatments to active paddle boarding through the mangrove or snorkeling adventures. Then, cap off the afternoon with a relaxed picnic on the beach." - Thibaut Asso, COMO Parrot Cay
"Service from the property or venue’s staff can make or break a guest’s experience. If possible, spend a weekend at that property during the research process to understand their client service approach. Using an experienced event planner is a real asset for destination weddings because they have existing relationships with properties and have first-hand experience that can save you both time and money. They’ll know which property complements the style and interests of your guests as well as the overall weekend agenda." - Alison Laesser-Keck, Alison Bryan Destinations
What are some things that couples may forget when coordinating guests who are traveling from afar?
"Having a seamless and efficient transportation plan is paramount. Ideally, you want large groups of guests coming in at the same time who can ride together on chartered buses and boats. This will cut down on costs for you, but also give guests time to get to know one another better en route to their destination. Even if the information may otherwise be listed somewhere like a wedding website or a printed itinerary, assume they will still need support in real-time!" - Jacqueline Mattes, Ten Twenty Travel
Your guests have traveled from far and wide. Instead of hosting your event in one venue space at a property, book a few smaller venues so that your guests can travel throughout the property and experience different moments during their stay.
"Imagine an intimate ceremony by the Sanctuary Estate (the famous accommodations of Donna Karan), followed by a cocktail party on the piazza of the Terrace overlooking the island’s lush bougainvillea, and ending with a party at Lotus with a dance floor around the pool. COMO Parrot Cay offers endless creative options. Those unique moments will help guests feel like they are immersed in another world, versus a conventional ceremony followed by a sit-down reception." - Thibaut Asso, COMO Parrot Cay
One planning pitfall is agonizing over the comfort and fun your guests will have. Remember that first and foremost your guests are traveling to see you get married! Your guests will have a blast. Secondly, don't overthink the experiences. You booked this venue in this destination for a reason. Lean into the local community and unique experiences that the property itself has to offer.
"Celebrate the individual spirit of the property and you’ll leave your guests with a once-in-a-lifetime experience. At COMO Parrot Cay, couples have a diverse landscape to use in their own way. I’d encourage you to get creative at any property, considering the style and energy of the space." - Thibaut Asso, COMO Parrot Cay
Totes: Aloha Collection | Clean Fragrance & Candle: PHLUR | Sustainable Jewelry: Raven & Lily | Organic Beauty: Lumoir Skincare | Sunhat: GiGi Pip | Bandana: OZMA | Sustainable Cashmere Wrap: Naadam | Glass Water bottle: Ello | Non-toxic sunscreen: Babo Botanicals
It's no secret that the wellness movement has taken over the globe. Your guests are going to be treating your special day like a vacation, so send them a list of wellness-focused activities that they may want to book prior to their departure.
"Keeping with COMO’s wellness focus, we experienced a restorative yoga class, an afternoon at their Shambala spa, and lots of time on the beach. They have water sports, a one-of-a-kind kids ‘clubhouse,’ tennis, biking, and so much more." - Neillie Butler, Mariee Ami
The biggest stress when planning a destination event is having vendors who are not service-oriented. There is nothing worse than sending countless unanswered emails and phone calls.
"You can always improve the look and feel of a space, but service cannot be altered. At COMO, our needs were thoughtfully met at so many touchpoints and the importance of true hospitality was felt continually throughout our stay. We knew each of our dedicated staff members by name and they were invested in giving us a completely memorable stay from the moment we arrived. They paid close attention to small details that may otherwise go unnoticed. After the first evening together, our staff knew who in the group preferred sparkling or still, red or white wine. That’s true hospitality." - Alison Laesser-Keck, Alison Bryan Destinations
Another budget saving tip is utilizing as much of the provided venue decor and rentals as possible. Sourcing rentals from multiple different event companies can add up quickly!
"Candles, a few tabletop arrangements of native flowers, and fruit from their coconut farm perfectly accentuated the natural environment for each of the dinners we spent together. Find a venue with tables, chairs, serving wares, and lounge vignettes that don't need any dressing up!" - Liz Carbone, Fox Events
The whole point of a destination event is to get extra time with your guests. Try not to get caught up in the silly stuff and make sure you get time to party with your loved ones beyond your big day.
"If you’re having a multi-day celebration, the morning of your welcome party is a great time for the bride and groom to participate in an activity with their guests. Have the photographer come along to capture the fun!" - Neillie Butler, Mariee Ami