How are destination wedding planners working with the constant changes to their clients' weddings in other states or countries?

How are destination wedding planners working with the constant changes to their clients' weddings in other states or countries?
Destination weddings have an extra layer of complexity when it comes to planning, and even more so in the current climate. Planners from all over the globe filled us in on how they are navigating the constant changes and supporting their clients.

The key is to keep all your guests informed at all times of the current travel guidelines.

As a destination wedding planner expert and author to The Knots Guide to Destination Weddings, we are constantly monitoring the situation for each island or country when it comes to COVID requirements and restrictions.

We are taking a monitoring approach and keeping our guests informed on a regular basis of what the travel requirements are for the area they are going to be traveling to. The situation is fluid and changes on almost a daily basis.

Most countries in Europe will not allow US visitors without special permission to travel to their country. Islands are varied in their requirements, most require testing 72 hours prior to arrival or proof of vaccine. Bermuda, for instance, requires a prior COVID test but they also test you upon arrival and then you have to quarantine until that result is received. You are then released from your hotel room. Some islands are more strict than others. Mexico and the DR are not cautious, but all US residents who have to travel back home must show a negative COVID test prior to returning to the United States.

The key is to keep all your guests informed at all times of the current travel guidelines.

JoAnn Gregoli

Owner

Elegant Occasions by JoAnn Gregoli, New York City, NY

The important piece to the entire experience was for me to maintain a level head and stay informed...

Last year, 3 of my wedding clients had destination weddings scheduled for April (Mexico), May (Puerto Rico), and October (Palm Beach).  I decided to connect with my colleagues from Europe to see how the pandemic was affecting their businesses and based on that conversation I started to reach out to each destination, especially Mexico and Puerto Rico to find out the status.

Neither location had any preparations to not move forward with the weddings, but at least I had started the conversation and we were working on options for our clients.  Once the borders closed and restrictions were in place, the communications for the postponements began.
 
Due to the relationships I had built as a destination wedding planner, I felt that kept me afloat and prepared to support my clients. The changes were many, but the important piece to the entire experience was for me to maintain a level head and stay informed, so that my clients could feel that they had someone they trusted to guide them along the unknown journey.
 
The one difficult part to the entire process was that every country had different rules, guidance, and expectations. Overall being equipped with the right tools, was key for me.

Jacqueline Vazquez

Owner & CEO

Lifetime Events by Jacqueline, Scarsdale, New York

We not only consider the destination of the wedding, but all of the locations the guests are coming from...

Covid19 adds many layers of complications to destination weddings, both domestically and internationally. Case numbers are changing daily, as are travel restrictions and rules. When it comes to destination weddings we not only consider the destination of the wedding, but all of the locations the guests are coming from and we have to keep in mind those travel guidelines and or restrictions. If the destination wedding location is open and hosting events legally, but guests are coming from a location that has travel restrictions when they return they may not come, as 7-14 days of quarantine is not possible for everyone making attendance a greater challenge.

No two weddings are the same, and even with local weddings we have so many international guests which factor into the decisions of the wedding.

Weddings are getting more complex in nature due to Covid19. Each state and country is working at different paces to vaccinate and open safely for events.

We are taking it month by month with our couples, and if they are not comfortable or confident they and their guests can get to and from their wedding without added burdens or costs then we are postponing to a time when we hope that will not be the case.

Jove Meyer

Owner | Creative Director

Jove Meyer Events, Brooklyn, NY

My advice to anyone planning a destination wedding would be to constantly stay informed.

It’s no secret that planning any sort of wedding throughout this global pandemic has been a challenge – when that is a destination wedding, said challenges become even more numerous and amplified. While as event planners we cannot predict the future, my advice to anyone planning a destination wedding would be to constantly stay informed. This means regularly checking the current CDC guidelines for the country as a whole (assuming your wedding is in the US) as well as for the specific state and municipality the wedding is in.

If the wedding is abroad, you’ll have to consistently check the US’ international travel guidelines, as well as the event and travel restrictions for the country that the wedding is taking place in. In this case, it is important to have a back-up plan in case the restrictions don’t allow your plan to come to fruition. Implementing the “hope for the best but plan for the worst” strategy would be a smart move here.

It also is super helpful to find groups of wedding and event planners on platforms like Facebook, Reddit, and Clubhouse, so you can chat with and compare notes, experiences, and restrictions with planners in other locations.

Brooke Weidenfeld

Founder | Lead Planner

Sunbursts & Stardust, Philadelphia, PA

It's ultimately important to minimize risk and to communicate clearly with all stakeholders...

Here in the beautiful Okanagan Valley, we are fortunate to be the in-demand destination for weddings! As one of the very few tropical locations in Canada, we expect that couples from all across the country will want to stay close to home while still experiencing that “resort” destination feel. The Okanagan has a sunny climate, dry landscapes and lakeshore communities celebrating that “laidback” lifestyle.

At Sherpa Group Events, we work with our couples to be as flexible as possible and have established relationships with key venues that understand the complexities of our current travel environment. It’s ultimately important to minimize risk and to communicate clearly with all stakeholders to ensure that we can deliver the best wedding experience, when the time is right.

Heather Sharpe

Event Producer

Sherpa Group Events Inc., Vancouver, B.C.

Planners put so much time, dedication, and effort in planning an event but nowadays safety remains a priority.

Hosting a destination wedding is always a big challenge. Can you imagine how this turned into these uncertain, unprecedented times?

Couples were forced to postpone their wedding and delay it for another year and now postponing again because it seems restrictions and opening borders is a really big deal.

Planners put so much time, dedication, and effort in planning an event but nowadays safety remains a priority. The big question is what date feels safe. We need to state that travel restrictions will remain in place, requirements for vaccinations, testing, quarantines or new variants (so many factors involved) so we should keep that in mind for working on backup plans from A to Z.

To be honest couples feel exhausted by the whole process and the wedding vendors are looking for reactivation alternatives so it’s extremely important to transmit positivity and hope and make them understand that their wedding will happen. They are surrounded by wedding professionals who are being flexible with all these changes, trying to find out what’s going on in different countries and states and how they’re dealing with last minute changes. The wedding industry is committed to adapt and transform, go on with the planning and foresee the unexpected. We have to face the fact that we cannot predict what restrictions will change in the short term.

In case things remain unclear and decisions need to be made we have to consider all the possible and maybe unpleasant scenarios considering traveling is limited and social events are not allowed or are facing different restrictions. Couples can get overwhelmed by the whole process and it’s now that planners should face all the essential aspects with the wedding vendors considering new cancellations and postponements after a very careful research.

It’s vital to have continuous updates with the couple, the vendors involved in the planning, your fellow colleagues who live abroad and can give you a clear view about how they’re dealing with the situation. Show the couple you are being as flexible as possible to guide and support them.

Jossy Quezada

Wedding & Event Planner

Jossy Quezada Wedding Planner, Lima, Peru

The rescheduling processes were smooth and painless, there were no extra charges, no rescheduling fees, no headaches.

Our company specializes in the exclusive destination weddings in the Dominican Republic and Mexico. Unfortunately, like everyone else, we had to face the multiple rescheduling of the destination weddings already. Luckily I have to admit that all venues and vendors that we have been working with so far in both countries have been extremely accommodating and supportive. The rescheduling processes were smooth and painless, there were no extra charges, no rescheduling fees, no headaches.

One of our couples had to reschedule their wedding already 3 times, you can only imagine how painful it is for the poor couple. Two times out of three the borders were closed in less than a month prior to the wedding. Our couple was devastated. And at that difficult time I was so grateful to the venue and all our vendors for being so understanding, supportive and accommodating, it really makes a huge difference for us as planners. I am so looking forward to the brighter near future when all borders will be re-open, people will be able to travel again and to celebrate their dream destination wedding. And as always, we are here for our couples to guide them through these confusing and challenging times!! 🙂

Fidan Ismayilova

Fidan Ismayilova

Founder

Designed Dream Events, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

We try to adapt to all of our couples' needs and work hard to find the fairest solution for the couple and the wedding professionals...

We think we can all say that it has not been at all easy. Here, in Spain, wedding professionals are making an enormous effort to keep up with all the postponements and keep all couples happy. At times it is really difficult because we are talking about weddings that have already been postponed three times. 

Some couples have opted for micro-weddings instead of their big planned party; others have decided to elope and have their planned wedding as soon as the situation permits the celebration and some have decided to cancel their destination wedding because they no longer want to move forward with it (luckily, these cases have been very few). Some have had to change a photographer or make-up artist because they were no longer available on the couple‘s new chosen date, but we, both couples and vendors, have been very flexible and understanding. 

We try to adapt to all of our couples’ needs and mostly we work hard to find the fairest solution for the couple and the wedding professionals because we know that this has been hard on everyone. We hold repeated meetings with our couples to keep them calm and constantly inform them on restriction modifications.

Most wedding professionals are now charging a fee for the second and third postponement because it is hard for them to survive after a year with hardly any income, especially for wedding professionals dedicated to destination weddings, due to the travel restrictions. To palliate the revenue loss, many vendors have started looking for other ways of income, or else it would be impossible to maintain their activity

We think that it is really important to understand both sides like we said above and find the best solution for couples and wedding professionals. Only by working together will we be able to find the best solution for both couples and wedding professionals. 

Eva and Sarah Samore

Owners

That'sAmore, Seville, Spain

Our advice is to focus on solutions & alternatives, stay safe & call a professional planner!

Hollywood Pop Gallery is an Events  + Destination Company specializing in Weddings and Milestone Events. It’s been a precarious year filled with ups and down for clientele along with the rest of the world. The CDC guidelines have become a moving target for Weddings and other related Events but we do see many states opening up again and we are thrilled to be a part of our clientele’s solution.

In an abundance of caution, we continue to advise on-site testing for all guests and vendors & consider much smaller celebrations. For those who prefer rescheduling closer towards 2022, we work on behalf of clientele to explore backup dates, place holds and establish deadlines for making decisions. The goal is to mitigate the financial damage and give our clients well thought out strategies for scheduling. Many countries are still on lock down so it is our job to advise when & where they may celebrate.

These events take months of planning and it’s a big expense. It’s not easy to cancel an occasion their family & friends can enjoy together. Our advice is to focus on solutions & alternatives, stay safe & call a professional planner! They will steer you in the right direction.

Brett Galley

Director of Special Events

Hollywood POP Gallery, New York City , NY

We have been working with each of our destination clients to put into place different plans going forward based on their region.

There are always layers of challenges while planning a destination wedding in another country and state, so throwing the added stresses of the on-going pandemic into the mix is certainly disheartening. To keep up with the continuous changes, our team actively watches the local government announcements from each destination we are servicing, so that we can do our best to keep up to date on the changes.

In addition, we have been working with each of our destination clients to put into place different plans going forward based on their region. These different plans take into account the current restrictions and the hopeful scenario for their wedding date and there is a due date with each plan to ensure that we are able to pivot and notify guests in a timely manner to change or cancel travel plans.

Renee Sabo

Founder and Lead Wedding Consultant

Urban Soiree, Boston, MA

The proper reply is it is all based on the destination’s government rules and regulations – which, YES, keep changing.

The proper reply is it is all based on the destination’s government rules and regulations – which, YES, keep changing.

All is possible – we wedding planners need to work MORE with the staff at the said hotels and have the trustworthy relationships work overtime with them.

It is still a RISK and I would not want it on my conscious – so I would not (at the moment) take any weddings on – too risky and I would not be able to live with myself should something happen.

It is frustrating, but better safe than sorry – so over all I will bite the bullet!

Daniela Caputo

Daniela Caputo

Owner/President

Montreal Event Planner - Daniela Caputo Event Management, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Being flexible, understanding and rolling with the punches are key to planning during a pandemic.

Destination wedding planners are adapting to local county and state guidelines as these emerge.  In California, as of mid-March, we have no guidelines that have been offered by the Governor.  As a result of this void, many of our clients have opted to move to other states for their smaller, less restricted nuptials.  Being flexible, understanding and rolling with the punches are key to planning during a pandemic.

Stephanie Cole

Principal Planner/ Founder

Cole Drake Events, Napa, CA

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