Hiring a wedding planner to assist with your destination wedding can be incredibly beneficial. Hiring an expert that can advise of the best venues and suppliers to use, in a different country is vital. Last weekend director Bernadette gave a Facebook live on questions to ask your destination wedding planner and general tips. You can view this video via Facebook here
Your first discussion will be whether to hire a planner based in the UK but who is experienced at destination weddings, OR a wedding planner based in the area and country you wish to marry.
Having a planner in the UK allows you to meet with them more easily and have face to face meetings before confirming a booking. A UK based wedding planner can also assist with a wider range of planning for you like helping with attire or wedding stationery. They may not always have actual knowledge of local suppliers (it depends whether they have organised weddings in that country before) so do ask them if they have experience in a) destination weddings and b) weddings in your chosen country. You will normally be expected to pay their travel and accommodation not only for the actual wedding but when viewing venues and suppliers prior to the wedding. It’s worth noting that sometimes you may actually end up using UK based suppliers for certain aspects of your wedding. This can be due to the calibre of supplier or it might work out cheaper to fly someone in. Your wedding planner will be able to advise what si the best solution for you.
The advantages of a destination based planner means they may have greater knowledge of the area, venues and suppliers. They may also be able to negotiate better deals with suppliers if they are using them more regularly. Invariably they have worked at most of the wedding venues locally so can advise or any pros and cons. Of course hiring a local planner means you do not need to pay for their accommodation or flights. And finally its highly likely they speak the local language plus english.
Places to find your destination planner:
The UKAWP directory
Recommendations by family, friends, travel agent, venue
Questions to ask your wedding planner
- 1. Check s/he has a legally sound business contract. A lot of planners abroad have self-written, vague T&Cs that offer no protection to either parties. Ask him/her to confirm that the contract has been drafted or checked by a practicing lawyer. And this needs to be in english so you can read thoroughly before signing. Please do not entrust anyone without first having a contract in place.
- 2. Check for public liability insurance. In some countries (i.e. Italy being one of those), getting wedding planning public liability insurance isn’t easy because insurers aren’t clear on the ins and outs of the job. Some planners give up on getting the insurer to devise something bespoke and are therefore not adequately covered for all eventualities.
- 3. Opening a client account is not allowed in many countries (definitely not allowed in Italy). Bearing this in mind, you should never move your budget to the wedding planner’s account (even if you’re tempted to save yourself multiple international BACS fees or to minimise the effects of exchange rate fluctuations). Being the planner’s personal business account you run the risk of losing the entire sum should the planner incur cash flow problems, declare bankruptcy or in the case of sudden death.
- 4. Ensure contracts with venues and suppliers are in your name and all payments to venue and suppliers are paid by you. This ensures you are covered and in control of your wedding, this also ensures complete honesty from both your planner and venue/suppliers. i.e no hidden charges or commission.
- 5. Check if the planner takes commissions from suppliers/venues. Most planners that do will avoid discussing this, or say no even when they do. As a general rule a destination wedding takes 150+ hours to plan. With the costs involved in running a business and in planning a wedding, getting paid £15/h and sometimes even less is simply not sustainable, unless the planner is running a hobby instead of a business. If a wedding planner seems too cheap take so time to question why. It might be the fee to you is low because s/he takes commission from suppliers and venues to “bulk” up their earnings. In these situations the planner will invariably only recommend those s/he receives commission from instead of the best one for you. One way to spot when a planner is taking commission is when the venues you visit refuse to discuss rates with you and ask you to discuss them with the planner instead. Often that’s because the venues allow the planner to add whatever markup she wants on top. Please note our members do not accept commission because integrity and honesty is so important for them
- 6. Ask him/her what kind of assistants s/he will bring on the wedding day. Do all those that are guest-facing speak English fluently? Are they just labourers or are they trained and/or practicing planners? It doesn’t necessarily matter either way but again you want to be in control of your wedding by knowing beforehand.
- 7. Speak to the planner on Skype to check his/her English fluency and make sure her written correspondence is fully comprehensible. If you get the feeling that his/her English level will make things tricky, or that when faced with pressure s/he will struggle to communicate with you effectively, do not book.
- 8. Find a planner that understands your culture and traditions, so that when you ask him/her something that holds a special meaning to you, s/he can truly understand and will find ways to help you accommodate your requests.
- 9. Affinity is a must. Due to the nature of planning a wedding abroad, you’re likely to spend several days visiting venues abroad together or meeting suppliers. Make sure you choose a planner you feel comfortable and have affinity with. While during the planning the professional line shouldn’t never be crossed, it’s important you recognise in your planner attributes that make you feel relaxed and comfortable, as you will be spending a huge amount of time speaking and travelling with him/her.
- 10. Have they organised weddings in that country before and if so ask for images and testimonials you can independently check (don’t assume a pretty website means they are experienced)
Please do not hand money over to any wedding planner for either the fee or the wedding itself without a contract in place first. Thank you to our Destination Ambassador Elisabetta for her assistance putting this article together
Phil Drinkwater Photographer (Member)
The Wedding Filmmakers (Member)