If you’ve signed up for a wedding package, the services of a planner are probably included. If not, try to earmark part of your budget (about 10 percent of the total) for a wedding planner. She can shoulder the burden of researching, auditioning, and securing local suppliers — especially valuable if said suppliers speak English only as a second language. She is also the behind-the-scenes queen, creating gift bags for guests, greeting everyone at the airport, keeping people busy with fun activities once there, vetting special requests (babysitters, dry cleaners, and so on), and getting everyone where they need to be on time.
Remember, unlike a wedding in your hometown, guests are dependent on you once they reach the destination. Make sure you provide transportation to and from the airport, as well as to all the events of the weekend. Insist that bus drivers do a dry run of the route so they don’t get lost between the ceremony and reception.
You’ll need to scout and secure your key venues — church, reception, hotels for guests, rehearsal dinner venue — and local suppliers such as caterers, florists, and photographers. Next — or during a second trip — you’ll need to schedule “tastings” with your caterer, see sample bouquets from the florist, plan a hair and makeup session with a salon, and organise activities (golf, tennis, walking tours, museums) for everyone.
If you must hire your suppliers sight unseen, ask for a portfolio of pictures and at least three references. Be sure the references are people for whom the supplier did an event similar to yours. For example, a recommendation from a couple who had 10 guests doesn’t help if you’re inviting 100. Also ask for the names of other suppliers who worked those events and use them as further references regarding the company in question.
A good way to make nice with the local suppliers is to send handwritten thank you notes and even little gifts when you book their services. (Remember that they can literally make or break your wedding, and a little goes a long way toward getting them on your side.) During the event itself, it’s wise to have plenty of small bills on hand for palm-greasing, especially in foreign countries and resorts.
Bring your own pros. Don’t hesitate to fly in talent you trust from home for critical aspects such as photography, hair and makeup, and decor design (lighting, flowers). These professionals can work with local suppliers in a supervisory capacity to avoid any communication mishaps.
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idal party about the destination before you ask them to stand by your side so that they can gracefully decline if finances are tight.
by The Knot