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5 TIPS FOR PLANNING A DESTINATION WEDDING

Planning a wedding in a beautiful, warm, sunny location—far from home—is a whole different ball game than planning one right where you live. If you’ve always dreamed of a wedding on a beach just as the sun is setting—maybe in one of the top three destinations for weddings: the Caribbean, Mexico, or Hawaii—but the planning part of it makes you nervous, relax and read these 5 tips for planning a destination wedding from an experienced destination wedding planner Lisa Waak from Travel Leaders in Chippewa Falls.

Plan way ahead. Begin inquiring about doing a destination wedding ten to twelve months before the date you wish to get married. Sandals Resorts and Karisma Hotels allow the bride and groom to visit in advance and make choices and decisions about the ceremony. Waak notes that this is a chance to “test drive your wedding.”

Work with a destination wedding coordinator. Let the coordinator’s experience save you time, energy, money, and headaches. The coordinator already has trusted contacts, is familiar with all the details of the venue, and can advise you regarding travel insurance, cancellation policies, and other details.

Be aware of local restrictions. “In Mexico you have to be there three business days before the actual wedding and you need a blood test. If you arrive on a Saturday, the first day you can be married is Thursday, with Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday as the three business days.” This can increase your lodging costs and may affect your travel costs as well—for you and your guests! Waak suggests getting married here in the States first, perhaps at the local courthouse, and then having a renewal of vows in Mexico. In that case, the three-business-day rule does not apply.

Consider group rates and packages. Typically, “with a group there are great discounts out there, as well as complimentary room upgrades for the bride and groom, cocktail parties, and rebates. For group rates, a group is considered ten or more people. Some packages can work well too, but packages for a destination wedding are generally for ten guests, so Waak advises that you consider that you may have to arrange a private reception in another venue, as the restaurants onsite often cannot accommodate more than ten guests for a dinner.

Remember that timing is everything. High season (read “higher prices”) is December through April. Hurricane season (read “weather worries”) is June through the end of October. Schedule accordingly. Regarding time of day for the wedding, Waak says, “I always recommend a wedding later in the day, for example 4:00 p.m. First, it is cooler than a 1:00 p.m. wedding, and sometimes you can get the sunset pictures later in the day too.”

For more information, contact Lisa at lisa@travelleaders-cf.com, call 715-723-9352, or stop in the office in Chippewa Falls.

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