Destination wedding brides and grooms frequently ship a lot of the décor, and other necessities, to their wedding venue ahead of time, especially if they're getting married someplace remote where they won't be able to find certain essentials. They spend a lot of time and money to get it there, and then the question becomes what to do with it after the big day?
If you're using a wedding planner, you can easily make arrangements to ship back whatever you want to keep — and anything important, like your guest book and cake topper — and have the planner dispose of everything else however she sees fit. Most hotels will willingly absorb anything you don't want to ship back, too, if you put it in the hands of the banquet manager.
Do-it-yourself brides and grooms are the ones in a tough spot — they spent a fortune to ship it all to their wedding destination, but is it really worth it to spend another fortune to mail back Mardi Gras beads (boxes of them) and bamboo fans? Probably not.
Here are five tips to consider ahead of time:
1. Plan to be at your wedding destination an extra day to mail things back to yourself that you want to keep.
If you got married on Saturday, you can't mail anything until Monday. If you need to leave, you need to make arrangements in advance (including how to pay for it) with a wedding guest who can take care of this for you. Ship packing tape along with your other supplies so you have it when you need it.
2. Don't try to sell anything to the property manager or the wedding planner — we already have it or we probably don't need it.
It's just awkward. If we see something we want, we'll be sure to ask you. You won't be at your wedding destination long enough to resell any of your décor to anybody else.
3. Find out where the dump is, when it's open, and buy big black trash bags.
Plan one big trash run the day after the wedding (or as soon as it's open), when all the cleanup is finished.
4. Prepare to be billed for leaving things behind that must be taken to the dump or given away.
If you've rented a private villa or chalet, you cannot just leave it all for the property manager to clean up, unless you've made those arrangements in advance, and paid for it.
5. You can donate some things if you research recipients in advance, contact them, and make arrangements.
If you're getting married on a Saturday, nobody is going to be available to accept the donation randomly on a Sunday. Use common sense and make sure your donation is something people would actually WANT to receive. A box of mismatched vases, cocktail napkins with your name on them, and a few dozen Chinese lanterns with burnt-out LEDs really have no value.
Sandy Malone is the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events, a full-service traditional and destination wedding planning company and Do-It-Yourself wedding planning consulting service for DIY brides and grooms based in the Washington, DC area. Sandy is the star of TLC's reality show "Wedding Island," about her destination wedding planning company, Weddings in Vieques. Sandy's book "How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional," will be released on March 1st, but is available online for pre-orders now where books are sold.