How to Plan a Destination Wedding
Thinking about getting married in a far-flung locale? Planning a destination wedding has never been easier, thanks to savvy resorts with full-time coordinators on staff and amenities from discounted rooms to an array of venues on-site that allow your guests to enjoy their vacation without ever leaving the property. Here, Laurie Taylor, wedding coordinator at Omni Amelia Island Plantation, offers her in-the-know tips for getting started.
What are the first things brides should look for when booking a property for a destination wedding? The most important thing to look for is an on-site wedding coordinator who you feel confident in handling your big day. In many cases, you will not return to the property more than once or twice before the wedding, so it’s crucial to have a go-to person who can answer all of your questions and be your eyes and ears as you plan from afar.
Should brides bring their own professionals from home, or do most resorts have a quality list of local vendors? Both have their benefits. If you have a band that holds special meaning to you or an officiant from your hometown, by all means include them in the wedding plans. But be prepared to pay for additional expenses such as airfare, accommodations and meals. Resorts typically have a list of top local vendors, but you should always ask your on-site coordinator for advice. Most likely, they’ll let you know who has worked well with the resort in the past, and this can take a lot of pressure off you to research and coordinate a first-time vendor.
Are there any additional perks offered to a bride planning her wedding at a resort? Every resort differs in the special accommodations they make, but most packages will include some sort of overnight accommodations and an in-room amenity for the wedding night such as champagne and strawberries. The Omni Amelia Island Plantation offers these items as well as an island hopper (four-passenger golf cart) for the bride and groom during their stay—a great way to travel around the 1,350-acre resort. The hopper can also be decorated for a special send-off at the end of the wedding reception! Many couples want their guests to receive a discounted rate, which will vary greatly from season to season, so take that into consideration when choosing your wedding date.
A preliminary site visit is obviously necessary before brides book a property, but is it also necessary to visit a second time? A second visit is not necessary but is highly recommended. If time or travel restrictions make a second visit impossible, all of the plans can absolutely be made over the phone and via email. However, a second visit is ideal in order to schedule a menu tasting and walk through the timeline and flow of the reception to really envision your big day.
What are some other elements brides should keep in mind before booking? Choose a property that has everything you need throughout your wedding weekend. When your guests are traveling from out of town, many will not have their own vehicles, so it’s great to be able to put together an itinerary that’s easy to execute and keeps everyone on-property. The Omni Amelia Island Plantation has plenty of options for on-site rehearsal dinner locations, a spa and salon with a bridal spa coordinator, 54 holes of championship golf, 23 tennis courts, brunch locations and more. Having on-site options available creates a stress-free experience for you and your guests.
Walk us through the lines of communication between an on-location planner and a bride before the big day. The majority of the planning will be done in advance of arriving at the resort. I recommend setting up at least one longer planning conference call prior to the trip to walk through each aspect of the wedding from start to finish. There should also be a brief face-to-face planning meeting upon the bride’s arrival at the destination to walk through the timeline and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Omni Amelia Island Plantation, 904-261-6161, omniameliaislandplantation.com