Beautiful Shore Lodge
This year we've really been honing in on what we love and what we want to do as wedding planners. They say that sometimes you're in the right place at the right time, and other times when we just relax our calling really is heard. In our case, we've learned that a destination bride is like whipped buttercream icing on lemon poppy seed cake in the summer (just ask Stephanie). Don't get us wrong- our local clients have us just as giddy, but we've had so many destination weddings (and destination, for us, encompasses both a wedding outside of Boise and clients planning their weddings from out of state or country) that we've adapted and created unique tools and processes to serve those clients specifically. In fact, over half of our clients are currently planning their weddings from out of state. This year we've been getting a lot of questions on how we've gotten into planning weddings from afar, so I thought this would make a perfect post; hopefully it will give you some insight on how we service these clients and guide them through the process.
Understand The Element of Emotion: Any bride is naturally going to be feeling some level of stress during the planning process. A bride that is planning her wedding either from out of state or planning a destination wedding will feel that even more so. As a planner you have to understand this and be proactive to it. The more information, contact, and communication you can give the better. We send our clients monthly updates on their checklists (this calms them knowing what has been done and who has completed the tasks) along with weekly, daily, and sometimes hourly emails and phone calls. Yes, we spend a lot of time with our clients, but for us, it works.
We also really had to streamline our back end processes. Every time an agreement is signed or a vendor hired, important dates are inputted into our systems; little things like being able to remind your client a meeting or payment is coming due can mean the world.
Take a Full Service Approach: For our destination clients, we rarely allow them to work with us on a level any less than full service. Why? Because we have just found this works the best. Believe me- we've tried it both ways; by managing and negotiating the contracts, hiring the vendors directly, and being the main point of contact throughout the process, it makes a world of difference in time and stress. And then consider the fact that we have to take care of everything on the client's behalf (sometimes we only see our brides once before the wedding!). Imagine the back and forth between two and sometimes three people (if parents are paying the bill)? For us, we found it was inefficient and added more stress than what was needed. This also puts us in control, and not in a control freak kind of way- more on this later!
Quality Over Quantity: Did I mention we spend a lot of time with our clients? This is exactly why we prefer the quality over quantity mentality. We purposely limit the number of weddings and events we take per year, and per month. If you have a bigger team, you may be able to take on more of a work load, but regardless, can't stress enough that if your client feels neglected, it is magnified by 1000% because they are feeling helpless and 2000 miles away.
Guests Are A Big Deal: One of the biggest differences between a local wedding and a resort or destination wedding is how big of a part the guests play. In any wedding, guests are traveling and scheduling, taking off work and pulling their kids out of school. Throw in the fact that now they have to travel to a remote location, it becomes more difficult. We have tailored our services to include special attention to guests attending the event, and they never go unnoticed. From welcome gifts to travel updates to a cookie on their pillow, brainstorming ways your company can help make their experience more meaningful will go so far. More on this in a later post as well!
What questions do you have about planning destination events? Was this helpful? Leave them in our comments and we'll answer any questions in a future post!
Finally- we have a question for you. We want our business and planning tips to become a regular session here on the blog, and we'd like to call it something more creative other than "Tips". We love Jasmine Star's Shooting Star series and Justin and Mary's Pancake Sessions... Have any ideas for us? Would love your input in the comments!