DIY vs. Travel Agent: What's the Best Option For Your Destination Wedding?
Destination Wedding Planning Showdown
You’re Internet savvy. You’ve booked flights to Miami and a room with a view on South Beach, why shouldn’t you tackle destination wedding planning on your own? It’s not like you’re also knee deep in cummerbund colors, conference calls at work and hitting the treadmill to get back to your high school weight for the big day, right?
You’re convinced that handling your destination wedding will be cheaper doing it yourself (DIY, baby!), so you’re okay with spending your precious time comparing Trip Advisor reviews and decoding confusing resort package lingo.
But what if you’re wrong? What if your lack of time and experience costs you more cash in the end, or that sweet deal you found online included only two photos of the ceremony and no bouquet?
It’s a big choice, and these are the factors you should consider.
Type “Beach Destination Wedding” into Google and you’ll get 4,440,000 results, in 0.70 seconds no less! So, after two hours going through the first 20 links, you find an online travel package that fits your budget and your needs. Done!
But…did you read all of the fine print?
Like how that free wedding package that comes with your stay actually includes only a symbolic ceremony, which must take place prior to 9AM to avoid interrupting other guests’ use of the beach. Or you discover that the room you booked doesn’t qualify for the discounts on the wedding packages.
These unpleasant surprises can kill the wedding joy quickly as you sweat through your silk PJ’s worrying about how to fix your big day, miles from home without any help. That's why it’s so important to do your due diligence before booking a resort, a cruise, a wedding coordinator or any other part of your destination wedding.
And what does that due diligence involve?
Thoroughly researching forums and review sites to see what other newlyweds have reported about the different factors of your destination. Searching for authentic pictures of on-site ceremonies and receptions. Checking weather patterns to ensure you aren’t arriving during hurricane season.
Of course, all of this research takes time. Imagine if you were spending that time enjoying the wedding planning process, while letting an expert with years of experience handle the travel details for you.
A well-traveled agent can share with you their own personal experiences at the destination—their favorite places for fresh Ahi Poke in Hawaii, the secret B&B nestled in a lemon orchard in Italy that no one knows about, or which excursions at Jamaica’s Mystic Mountain truly live up to the hype and are worth the expense for your guests.
Great things come in small packages, or so we like to think when receiving an envelope as a wedding gift! Turns out the small things can also turn your destination wedding from a dream to a nightmare. These are just a few of the common mistakes that can occur when you DIY:
Incorrect details. It's easy to confuse times or dates when you book a hotel or airline ticket, especially if you're already stressed out from worrying about your wedding plans. For example, your hotel reservation may be a day off because you flew over the International Date Line. Likewise, if the name on your passport or ID doesn't match your plane ticket, you might not be allowed on your flight.
Forgotten documents and shots. A good agent will advise you on what documents, such as a visa, you may need to travel to certain countries, along with any necessary medical attention required to obtain your wedding license.
Misunderstanding the inclusions. Some online packages look like great deals, until you realize what’s missing from the package, the quality isn’t what you expected, or there are hidden fees that take you by surprise.
Travel agents won’t just double and triple check your information; they’ll handle the details you didn’t think of, like a car from the airport, pre-booked train tickets from Rome to Cinque de Terre, and snacks and bubbly waiting in your room after an overnight flight.
Plus they’ll serve as a go-to for your guests to get their travel right without pinging you every few hours.
Imperfect moments aren’t to be feared, as they often make our most unforgettable memories. But that doesn’t mean you want to be stressed when something does arise.
With a travel agent in your corner, a cancelled flight due to weather is no big deal, as they will work to get you rebooked as soon as possible. And likewise, a resort under construction can be rebooked in a jiff or rooms moved to your satisfaction.
So you can either spend hours on the phone fixing these issues yourself, or you can spend hours on the beach, Red Stripe in hand, letting your agent fight your battles for you.