As much as we love to see a breathtaking event in a far-flung locale, the logistics involved with destination "I dos" certainly aren’t as dreamy as the end result; even the most well-heeled traveler may need to call in backup when there are wedding plans on the itinerary. Nevertheless, couples with wedding wanderlust should have no fear, with the right travel professional at your side a blissful bon voyage is but a phone call away. Enter: the destination wedding travel agent.
What Is a Destination Wedding Travel Agent?
A destination wedding travel agent is a specialized travel advisor who will help handle all of the travel-related logistics for your destination wedding. They are well-connected to resort wedding teams and well-versed in a destination’s marriage requirements.
As both the wedding and travel industries make a roaring return, we turned to one of the leading trip planning companies focused solely on romance travel to help you find the perfect travel agent match. Below, Jen Avey of Destination Weddings Travel Group shares why you should hire one of the pros and how to find the right one for you.
Meet the Expert
Jen Avey is the vice president of marketing for Destination Weddings Travel Group. An established leader in the destination wedding and romance travel industry, Destination Weddings has planned over 25,000 custom events over the last decade.
Wedding Travel Agent vs. Wedding Planner
We asked Avey to help sort out the roles of these experts to help determine who you need on your team when planning a destination wedding. But first, what exactly does a destination wedding travel agent do? A destination wedding travel agent does everything that a leisure travel agent would do and then some.
"Beyond booking you and your guests’ accommodations and airfare, a destination wedding travel agent will act as a liaison between you and your resort venue’s onsite wedding team," says Avey. "[They] will also be well-versed in each destination’s marriage requirements, as well as wedding packages, ceremony, and reception venues in each destination, so their resort recommendations will be much more tailored to your wedding needs."
The current outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. As the situation remains fluid, we’ll be sharing tips and stories from industry experts to give you of-the-moment advice and help you navigate wedding planning today. For the most up-to-date guidelines and latest on travel restrictions and requirements, check the CDC and U.S. Department of State websites.
Although these travel agents go above and beyond your typical trip planners, it’s important to understand that they don’t replace your wedding planner or onsite coordinator. "Your destination wedding travel agent and wedding planner work together to create your celebration," says Avey. "These two roles are both vital and work in tandem with each other to make sure your destination wedding is covered from start to finish."
Avey further explains that these agents are typically based stateside and are in charge of helping you select the best venue based on your budget, style, and preferences. They also book the travel arrangements for you and your guests. Your destination wedding planner, however, will be onsite at the venue and is in charge of the day-of details on your wedding day. Prior to that, they’ll provide you with wedding package options to secure your flowers, photography, décor, tablescapes, day-of timeline, and so on.
Reasons to Hire a Destination Wedding Travel Agent
With the ever-changing travel restrictions of a world reopening coupled with the omnipresent nuances of wedding planning, there’s no doubt you’ll save yourself time, stress, and dollars by bringing in a professional. Avey shares a few key perks to consider as you decide whether you need a destination wedding travel agent.
They have deep expertise in the destination.
These agents have expertise beyond compare when it comes to knowing which location is right for you. "They’ll be able to narrow down the right destination and venue options, so you don’t have to be overwhelmed with this initial, yet vital, choice right off the bat."
They can access exclusive promotions.
These professionals have exclusive access to promotions you may not be able to find on your own or that are only available directly with the resort. Avey adds, "The cost savings alone is a huge perk!"
They can save you hours of time (and stress).
Above all, working with an agent relieves you of the time and stress it takes to plan an international or far-from-home celebration. "Having someone in your corner as a go-to resource for both you and your guests will alleviate any unnecessary planning headaches that are sure to come if left to plan a destination wedding on your own."
They are free to hire.
Who wouldn’t jump at the chance for free help when it comes to wedding planning? Perhaps one of the greatest perks is that all the benefits a wedding travel agent provides come at no additional cost to the couple. Because most travel agents work on a commission-based sales model, they do not charge a service fee—meaning they are 100 percent free to hire.
If an agency is charging a service fee, it’s usually in the form of an upfront deposit that will then be applied to your final cost. This is typically used to qualify the couple and ensure they’re serious about planning an event as opposed to looking for free advice to take elsewhere.
Destination Wedding Travel Agent FAQs
Like any part of your wedding team, it's important to feel like your travel partner is aligned with your vision and expectations ahead of your commitment. Avey shares what you need to know about hiring a travel agent who specializes in weddings including when to bring them on and how to know if they are the right fit for you and your fiancé.
When should you hire a destination wedding travel agent?
Once you’ve decided to have a destination wedding, you should hire a destination wedding travel agent immediately. "The primary job of this professional will be to help you choose the perfect location and venue for your celebration, which is one of the first things you should secure in the planning process," explains Avey. "So, the earlier you start talking with an agent, the better!"
How do you find the right destination wedding travel agent for you?
As with any vendor, it’s strongly recommended that you do your research and talk to a few agents before making any commitments. Avey always suggests looking for customer reviews or testimonials first to get a feel for who the agent is as a person and if they’ll be the best fit for your needs. She advises that it’s best to be paired with an agent who has expertise in what you’re looking for, "whether that’s an all-inclusive destination wedding in Mexico, an adults-only celebration in Europe, or an elopement and honeymoon in one!"
What questions should you ask during a travel agent consultation?
In your initial consultation, you should get a feel for how the process works from start to finish, so you can understand what to expect out of the agent during the process. Once you have a few venue recommendations, Avey recommends asking why they recommended each venue and what makes it a great fit for you. You may also want to ask for photos and testimonials of real weddings your agent has planned, specifically at the venues they recommended.
Above all, Avey says, be sure to ask about the terms and conditions around your partnership as it pertains to securing group space or room blocks at a resort. The importance behind knowing the difference is mainly because a reservation that is booked within a group room block comes with different sets of terms and conditions (as well as benefits) compared to a room booked outside of the group. "It’s vital to understand those differences, and a destination wedding travel agent will help you navigate all of these nuances," adds Avey.