Choosing a Destination Wedding Resort and Travel Agent that you Love.
Hello newly engaged couples and couples who are finallllly getting around to starting their destination wedding plans ! Welcome to my corner of the internet. You can read more about me and what I do here but in the meantime – Let’s dive in ❤️
By the time couples reach out to me, they have to usually already done a ton of research by themselves. We are millennials right? It’s what we do. And even though I applaud your go-getter spirit and I’m often quite impressed by what you manage to find – I want to start off this post with something loud and clear. At first, It is more important and find a travel agent that you love than it is to find a resort you love. I say that with love and confidence because I know that if you find a travel agent you love/connect with, finding a resort you love will be a lot easier!!
OK, so how do you find a travel agent that you love? I’m so glad you asked 😉
My absolute favourite way to get to know whether or not a couple and I are a good fit is either meet in person or chat on the phone. Don’t get me wrong I love a good email conversation and after we start to work together it is more than likely that all the communication will be done via email. I know it can be hard to work something like a phone consultation or in person coffee date into your already busy schedule – I get it! The beginning work though, happens a lot quicker when we can talk. We can get on the same page (or realize we never will) very quickly!
When you meet your travel agent it kind of feels like your meeting someone you’re going to be dating for a year and a half – you probably know within five or 10 minutes whether or not you’re on the same page – am I right? And you DEFINITELY know if you are going to be comfortable introducing them to your family and friends!
Trusting a Stranger on the Internet
Finding someone you trust is so, so important. And if you do find someone you think you can trust, please trust them. I love the internet but it can make it hard to trust people when there is contradictory information everywhere. As a former destination bride I just want to start by saying I get it – 100%. And of course you can never be too careful on the internet! If you do happen to see something online that is different than what your travel agent told you, my advice would be to just talk to them about it. Openly communicate as though you are on the same team because you ARE. And remember, there are always two sides to what you read on the internet so if you trust your travel agent, accept their response and move on.
You may meet up with a travel agent and instantly know they are “the one”. You may need to reach out to a few different ones before finding the one and that’s okay too. Honestly I was going to have a list of questions you should ask your travel agent I thought instead I will give you a list of questions you should ask YOURSELF after you meet them:
- Did I feel like they really listened and understood what we were looking for?
- Do I feel like I can trust them (read above why this is important)?
- Do I feel like they had time for me? Did they take the time to educate me or are they more matter-of-fact (and what’s my preference?)?
- Did I get the feeling like my wedding is important to them?
- Would I feel comfortable recommending this person to both my great grandmother and also my hipster cousin?
- Do I want to date this person for the next year and a half?
I know I can be a little too “head in the clouds and go with your gut” for some people, so if you are still not convinced here are a few other more analytical things you may want to consider:
- Read their reviews! And I don’t just mean look what they’re ranked out a five. I mean if they have one star reviews, does the reviewer sound like a crazy person or do they have a legitimate concern? How did the agent/business react?
- Do they specialize in Destination Weddings or just offer them? Are they going to help you sort through the wedding packages or do they just provide group quotes? (I am not saying one is better than the other but you need to know what you want matches what you are getting).
- Do you want them to communicate with the resort for you or are you happy with them simply introducing you to the wedding coordinator so you can have full control of the wedding plans? Again, either is fine depending what you want – I personally offer different packages based on the level of service my clients are looking for! And even then, I am hesitant to say “level of service” because even though someone may chose my free package because they want to communicate with the resort directly – it doesn’t necessarily mean they are trying to save money either! Some couples are more comfortable with a higher level of control and some couples choose to higher a wedding planner IN ADDITION to a travel agent and on-site wedding coordinator. It really IS up to you!
After (and only AFTER), you find a travel agent you love, you can truly start the resort finding process ! I know there is a tendency to try and find the right resort while you are still deciding on a travel agent but I would strongly encourage you to wait. Do some research if you want to, but don’t feel committed to a certain outcome. You don’t know what you don’t know!
Let me pause here and tell you a story from when I was a destination bride.
I had an unrealistic budget for travel (I didn’t know any better and didn’t find someone who would educate me instead of just telling me it was unrealistic). Even though all the travel agents I met with kept saying the same thing, I was determined that I could find a resort that would fit that budget. I went around from Travel office to travel office wondering what resorts each of them would recommend and trying to get the lowest possible price. Guess what? I was very misinformed! Fun fact: travel agents almost always give you the same price!!
I look back at my travel agent hopping experience and cringe a little bit. Mostly, because I wasted a lot of people’s time knowing they were not the right fit for me. That being said, I also take it as a lesson for why It is so important to take the time to educate my couples on how Destination weddings work. Instead of adoption an “I know best” attitude – I mean for the most part travel agents do know best but that’s not really the point.
OK now on to what I KNOW you came here for: Choosing a Destination Wedding Resort that you love ❤️
Basically, what it comes down to, is you need to find a resort that match these three criteria:
- They have a wedding package and wedding location that you love and could see yourself getting married in OR if you are willing to go offsite to have your wedding (there are BEAUTIFUL off site venues as well so if this is something you are considering, this point need not apply).
- The resort has important features that you love and consider a priority (bonus points: if what you want and what your guests want are the same thing)
- Both of the above points have to be tied together with travel and wedding packages that fit UNDER yours and your guests max travel budgets!
If right now you are thinking , “but a lot of resorts don’t post detailed wedding information online” then guess what? Your busted! You didn’t chose a travel agent first. We have access to allll that information and if we don’t have it on hand we can request it for you! I know my own google drive folder has 100’s of Resort wedding packages. Trust me, we got this!
Does the Resort Offer Wedding Packages and/or Locations You Love?
OK so now you’re looking at the wedding packages. Hopefully you see right away if they have wedding packages that will work for what you are envisioning and if they have wedding location that you love.
The main point I want to make here: is take a look at the packages and locations offered. Is the beach the only option? Are you okay with that? Do they offer more private or unique locations? Do you want to consider one of those? I LOVE beach weddings but they are not always private! You may get a few lookie lou’s in the back of your wedding photos. Most of the couples I work with end up having their ceremony on the beach but their reception somewhere more private. That is NOT what you need to do, but it may be something you want to consider? It is your wedding and you should get what you want after all!
Then look at the packages: the biggest thing to notice here is WHETHER OR NOT the package includes a private reception!! Please do not overlook this. Some resorts DO NOT offer private receptions. If this is a deal breaker, move on to the next one!! If it is not private, you are looking at a restaurant reception which is basically a reservation. No toasts and no dancing! Again, may or may not be a dealbreaker for you and that is okay! You just need to know what you are getting into it.
I am going to end this section with few cliches:
You get what you pay for.
If something seems to good to be true, it probably is.
Keep in mind that most wedding packages include about 25 to 30 guests so if you plan on having a bigger group going – don’t be discouraged it doesn’t necessarily mean that the resort will not work for you. That being said I offer a lot of advice on this and my next post where I talk all about money so make sure to check this out more in detail.
Does the Resort Have Features You Are Looking For?
Now, does the resort have features that you and your guests want? I know a lot of people’s initial reaction when I ask them what they want out of a resort is that they don’t really care. They just want to hang out on the beach and drink mai tais all day. That is cool! That’s basically your job as a destination wedding couple. That being said I think you’ll be surprised at how many thing that you actually do care about.
For example, do you know that not every resort offers nighttime entertainment or a disco? There may not be a place for you and your friends go dancing! Maybe you think that won’t matter and that’s OK but keep in mind that your wedding reception will likely only go till 11 PM so you might want somewhere to go after or maybe not, no judgement here. Just food for thought! If the last two resorts you have been to have had a disco – you might assume they all do!
Have you been to an all inclusive?
This might be easier if you stayed at an all-inclusive before because you might have a better sense of what you like to do and what you don’t want to do but that being said don’t feel like you’re at a disadvantage if you’ve never been to an all-inclusive people I’ve never been to announce this at our always my favorite clients because they always love it. Let me repeat: if you have never stayed at an all inclusive before, I am confident you are going to LOVE it.
Mega Resort or Boutique Style?
Do you prefer big resorts or small resorts? You might think you don’t have a preference but I guarantee that you do! Here are a few things to consider:
- Do I mind long walks or waiting for carts? No seriously. Some big resorts have carts but some don’t and walking or waiting can be a real drag when you want to have that beach bum life.
- On the other side, Do I like to have a lot going on? If you do, a small resort is going to seem less “special” and more boring. Mega resorts often have more activities and things going on to cater to the wide variety of guests they attract.
- Child friendly? Although many big resorts are starting to have “adult only” sections (to keep up with the demand, mega resorts do tend to be more family friendly.
- Do I want to chose somewhere where my guests will constantly run into each other? Or do I want to chose somewhere where my guests have a lot of options to do what they want?
Neither option is good or bad. Usually, the best destination wedding hotels fall somewhere in the middle. Younger guests tend to favor bigger resorts with a livelier atmosphere. Your grandma will probably prefer something with a little less walking! Big resorts also tend to be a bit more budget-friendly so your guests may also appreciate that. Smaller Boutique resorts tend to be higher end. You know your guests best!
One Last Thing (Before I Talk Money Next Week).
I just want to touch on one last point. I know I might be making it sound like you should get everything you want. And I really do think that and want that for you! But I would be in big trouble if I didn’t also mention that the bigger budget you have, the more options you will have. I really don’t want you to have to compromise! But I also want you to be realistic. Please don’t have a long list of must haves with a low budget. MANY people do chose to have a destination wedding to save money – there is nothing wrong with that! You can DEFINITELY have a long list of “would be nice to have” with a low budget. Does that sounds fair? Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about this!