I've been torn about sharing this because, well, most of you who follow me might think I have the most fun and glamorous job ever: Destination Wedding Planner. I'm not saying it's not true at times but holy smokes, there's a lot more to it than airport lounges and wine tastings.
The destination wedding trend
More and more couples are looking for nature-inspired places where no other couple has been before in order to have a unique and experiential wedding day. I don't blame them. Who wants to share the same wedding venue as their best friend? No one. This is also true for wedding vendors. They are excited to work if new cities, remote areas and places they have never photographed before and can now add to their portfolio.
Over the last few years, I've seen wedding professionals of all sorts change their Instagram bio to stuff like "will travel for free", "always up for a destination adventure", "based in LA but will travel anywhere". Hey, I 100% did that too but boy do I wish I knew a little more about what that actually meant.
Pricing yourself correctly
Pricing will forever be a hot topic in the wedding industry. As solopreneurs and small businesses, we constantly struggle with finding our perfect price point. For whatever reason, we also struggle with feeling guilty when we choose to charge more than the average vendor in our category. Here's the thing, if you're diving into the destination wedding world, not only should you be charging your standard rates but you should also be taking into considering the following expenses:
- International Health Insurance
- Car Rental fee + proper insurance ($250+ for one week)
- Vaccines (I just got Hepatitis A&B and it was $100 for 1/3 shots)
- Accommodations for more than just the 2 days around the wedding
- Flights ($800+ for international)
- Checked bag fees ($50-$100 per bag per flight)
- International plug converters ($20-$50)
- Sim card for your phone + international plan ($100+)
On top of these expenses, if you're choosing to fly all the way to Iceland for a wedding, you're probably going to want to spend more than 2 days there. While you can't have your client pay for your pre and post wedding activities, you may want to make sure you have enough money to do fun stuff while you're there!
So, with all of these expenses, offering a free service in exchange for your travel feels covered by the clients, might not be a very viable solution. Trust me, I tried it. Sure, you get to experience an amazing new country with some paid expenses but while you're out there you're still working hard and going home with a lot less money that you started with. From here on out, I charge a fee for my services + travel. It's not cheap!
New cultures + laws
Something I was very naive about when I first started doing destination weddings was how different wedding planning became from one country to the next. Not only was the marriage license process a lot different but the way you actually contact wedding vendors is not always like we do here in the US and Canada.
I remember once reaching out to 3 florists over email for a wedding in Croatia and receiving a very rude message through WhatsApp from one of the florists saying something along the lines of "how dare you contact my florist friends, we all work together and if you reach out to me first I will work with you on this proposal but now I will not because you reached out to other people". Wow. So I guess we don't have get to choose between more than one florist?
On the other hand, we hired an officiant in Croatia who was so incredibly helpful when it came to sourcing vendors! I also reached out to a local wedding planner to get her option on a few venues. If she would have charged me a consulting fee, I would have 100% given it to her.
I sound like such a negative Nancy about destination weddings but I really just want to be real with you. It's not always as glamorous as it looks like on Instagram. Also keep in mind that travel time + jet lag are REAL and huge time sucks. It takes me weeks to recover from my destination weddings which means I can't book as many "full price local weddings".
That being said, having a job that allows you to travel the world is incredible. I try to take time on every trip to say a silent "thank you" to the universe for allowing me to do this. If the right opportunity arises, I will continue to take on destination weddings but will always crunch numbers before I agree. You have to make work for you lifestyle!
Choosing your wedding vendors
Lastly, a quick word to all you fun couples who are scrolling through IG looking for their dream wedding vendors. Do try to find someone who is well traveled and has some experience with destination weddings, especially when it comes to your wedding planner. The reason I say this is because a lot of your vendors (both local and destination) will be asking your planner ALL SORTS of questions and he/she need to have enough knowledge to advise you properly.
So I hope this didn't scare you off from becoming a destination wedding vendor but I do hope it made you re-think a few things, including your pricing structure. You are SO worth the knowledge and expertise you bring to your clients' destination wedding. Charge your worth, friend!
Photos by Laura Goldenberger
Published by: Gabrielle Pinkerton in Wedding Business
Tags: Croatia Wedding, Destination Wedding, destination wedding planner, destination wedding planning, destination wedding tips, destination wedding vendor