While the location sets the mood in a destination wedding, many other elements need to fall into place to make the day perfect. As many couples find out, choosing the right wedding vendors is not easy when their big day is taking place hundreds of miles away.
Helen Lubeley-Murray, Lubeley’s Bakery
Use the Internet to find reputable bakers, recommends Helen Lubeley-Murray. “There are plenty of bridal forums where you can ask questions of brides who’ve done destination weddings. You want to get a bakery that brides have used many times, not somebody who does something in their kitchen, and then when something goes wrong, they don’t have a back-up,” she says. “A lot of brides and their families mistakenly assume that when they walk into the
reception room it’ll be, Poof!, everything is beautiful. They don’t understand how critical cake delivery is,” she notes. “Most cake mishaps happen when entering the reception site. A good place should always have someone from the bakery staff make the delivery.”
Because so many variables are unknown in a destination wedding, especially, Lubeley-Murray says it’s best to have a planner. “They know who should make the cake, flowers, etc.,” she says. “Whenever a bride is operating from a distance, she really has to leave it in the hands of the people there.”
Lisa Macheca and Rachael Topfer, Hilton St. Louis Frontenac
The Hilton wedding specialists say that when planning a destination wedding, climate, budget and ease of travel should factor into the decision. And don’t overlook legalities such as wedding permits and local laws, the selection of an officiate, available activities for the guests, and how easy it is to find vendors if they’re not supplied by the hotel or resort. “Our best advice is to work with a planner who is well-versed on the region and its resources,” Macheca and Topfer say.
Trish Harkins, Ladue Florist
Communication is the key when planning a destination wedding, says Ladue Florist bridal consultant Trish Harkins. “Probably the best money you’d spend is to hire a wedding coordinator who you can communicate with, unless you and your mother go over there and plan it yourselves,” she adds. “It also helps to ask the florist to create a sample bouquet or centerpiece, and then have them email you pictures of it.”
Doing some online research can also give brides answers, Harkins says. “Look at photo galleries and testimonials from other brides. Ask for references. It never hurts to check with the local Better Business Bureau,” she adds. “Also, you’ll want to ask about delivery times, and if somebody will come to help pin corsages and boutonnieres and assist the wedding party in walking down the aisle.”
Janey Thompson, Berrybridge Formal Wear
There are styles and fabrics that lend themselves beautifully to outdoor settings, says Berrybridge co-owner Janey Thompson. “Vera Wang designs fantastic gowns with floating layers of practically weightless organza,” she suggests. “Chris Kole has a wonderful line called ‘The Cotton Bride.’ And Carolina Herrera has a gown called ‘Monet’ which has multiple layers of hand-painted organza that would be sensational in a garden setting.”
As far as transporting a gown to a destination, Thompson says the best way is to have the bridal shop ship it. “However, when a bride is traveling to where there’s no family member or trusted friend to receive it on the other end, carry it with you on the plane,” she advises. “If the airline is called ahead of time and the situation explained, arrangements can be made for the bride to carry the garment bag.”