Destination Wedding Planner author Alison Hotchkiss


Courtesy of Chronicle Books

Get the dirt on planning a destination wedding—from hidden costs to finding vendors to what you have to provide for your guests—from event coordinator and Destination Wedding Planner author Alison Hotchkiss. —Cari Wolfert

How does planning a destination wedding differ from planning a wedding locally?

There are so many more logistics involved. The first is travel—you will most likely have to fly and could even end up taking a second flight, a boat or a bus to get to the final destination. The next is importing/exporting everything you need for the wedding as you often have to clear those items with customs. Language barriers and local business customs in other cultures can also pose a big difference.

How can brides find great vendors if they won't be able to meet them until their wedding day?

Research and word of mouth is the best way to go. When asking for referrals, start with one vendor whom you have a connection with and get a good vibe from and then trust their suggestions...

There's more!

If you can't meet someone in person before hiring them for your wedding, be diligent about checking their references and ask to see a portfolio of past work.

What do the bride and groom have to provide for their guests when hosting a wedding away?

When hosting a wedding away it is common courtesy to host the guests not only at the wedding but also at the rehearsal dinner. However, I am seeing a new trend where couples are having intimate and smaller family dinners for the rehearsal, then are hosting a sweets and cordials for all of their guests to cut costs. You could also do a daytime rehearsal dinner and offer a BBQ or something less formal with beach games.

What are some unknown costs that brides run in to when planning a wedding away?

Not reading the fine print in your contact with your venue, hotel or caterer could lead to unknown or hidden costs such as hotel service fees, hospitality fees on top of the room rate and tax or additional staffing.

What is your favorite destination wedding spot?

Oh that's hard! I love Mexico because of the food, people, music and the culture—specifically places like Sayulita, Zihuantenejo and Rivera Maya. The island of Kauai in Hawaii is a beautiful spot and I often wonder why more people don't get married there. It's very affordable, tropical and romantic. I also enjoy Costa Rica, specifically Mal Pais, and I love Harbour Island in the Bahamas.

Get more information on how to plan a destination wedding plus, browse real weddings away.

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