Be the BEST Destination Wedding Guest with These Tips
Someone special is getting married! Your wedding couple has invited you to this once in a lifetime celebration, but they have hired a travel professional to help them bring it together in the least stressful way possible. They want to enjoy the journey to their big day and they also want to know their guests are in good hands... Destination wedding etiquette can be confusing. Here is how you can help by being an awesome guest!
1 - RSVP EARLY, OR AT THE VERY LEAST, ON TIME!
Although a destination wedding requires an earlier RSVP than that of a traditional wedding, letting the couple know and committing to your room as earlier as possible will help the wedding couple start to think about their wedding events and wedding day based on the number of people attending.
Trust me, the couple knows that they're asking you to spend money to come celebrate their love in a far off location, they want to throw you an epic celebration. To do that, they have to know whether you will make it or not so they can also budget accordingly. Even though you will be staying at an all-inclusive resort, weddings are at an additional cost to the couple.
2 - BOOK WITH THE WEDDING GROUP
You’ve been invited to a destination wedding! How fun! The best gift you can give this special couple is to book into the wedding group room block. Here is why…
A destination wedding has a lot of moving parts, and a lot of that is guest logistics, questions and concerns, travel documents, hotel requests, to name a few.. All of which has been handed over to their trusted destination wedding professional. Your wedding couple wants to know that you are taken care of and have a point of contact with experience to see you through until you’ve returned home.
A contract has been signed by the wedding couple, which has financial commitments to the hotel. They have made a deposit with the hotel to hold rooms for a set period of time for you to book into. Booking outside of the group has financial repercussions for the couple. This ends up being a disservice to couples.
To select the hotel hosting their wedding, the wedding couple puts 7-9 weeks of planning into choosing the best resort that not only meets the needs for their wedding dreams, but also meets the needs for their guests in a variety of ways.
Your couple’s travel advisor worked with the hotel to arrive at a group contract which includes special rates for the wedding couple’s guests, group inclusions to enhance the celebration events and most importantly, earns the couple ‘credits’ from the hotel to use toward these special events. Without these credits, these events can become costly as they are not part of the all-inclusive plan.
When you decide to book outside of the group, the wedding couple does not get ‘credit’ for those bookings. This results in your wedding couple having to come out of pocket to fill the gap.
Here is a secret: Out of sincere appreciation that you’ll be traveling for their wedding, the wedding couple won’t tell you the above because they don’t want to stress you out. But when you venture outside of the group and book on your own it causes the wedding couple extra work, money and stress.
Do them a solid: If you do find a rate online that appears to be better than the rate on your wedding couple’s website, present that to your couple’s selected Travel Advisor. They will do their best to work with you and try to provide a solution so you can book within the group.
Let’s talk about the benefits of booking into
the wedding group for guests!
Group rates are negotiated for you and while it may not look like a huge savings upfront, those rates are locked in for your benefit until the RSVP date. Meanwhile the public rates continue to rise based on supply and demand.
Your rates include more than just your hotel stay. A portion of it goes toward your stay, taxes, fees, gratuities, wedding events and your transfers in destination to and from the hotel. Guests staying outside of the room block will be charged a fee by the resort to attend wedding events. Fees to attend wedding events vary in price from $75- $150 per person, for each event.
Let’s chat about 3rd party travel sites, like Expedia. These sites were created to resell inventory that hotels can not otherwise sell themselves. It’s the left over and sometimes the bottom of the barrel. What does that mean? It means you can have the construction view, the parking lot view, and any other undesirable location whether that be due to noise, location or view.
Bottom line, the rooms have to be sold. On arrival, when you have a complaint about this poor placement, do not expect Expedia to be there for you. They are fully aware of what they are selling. While you may have a terrible room location, the resort is probably beautiful. Do you really want to spend your time and hard earned money on hold for hours to fix the issue? Probably not, so do yourself a favor and book within the room block. You just got yourself a travel agent - and that person is totally accessible.
When resorts are oversold, and YES that does happen, guests from 3rd party booking sites are the first to be turned away at check in. You are displaced, frustrated and now have to head to a sister property. This can be avoided by booking with the group. The wedding couple and their travel agent can not do anything to help in this situation. Nor do they want to be put in a place where they feel helpless during their wedding week because they can’t help you.
Guests booking outside of the wedding room block do not have access to the travel advisor that is in the know about all of the wedding events. You also lose that accessible travel professional in the event that there is a hiccup in your travel plans. It happens, but when you hit a bump in the road, you will be required to call a customer service center that is unfamiliar with your trip because you are just a number waiting in a queue. Your travel advisor is a quick text or email away during emergencies.
3 - IF YOUR PLANS CHANGE PLEASE NOTIFY THE COUPLE
On average the destination wedding process is about 12-18 months long. From the time that you RSVP to the wedding a span of 9-12 months can go by. Life happens! People get married, start families, begin new careers, etc. So it happens - nobody will be upset with you for letting them know. Waiting can cause the wedding couple to be responsible for your room cost. This also helps them maintain an accurate headcount.
4 - CONSIDER TRAVEL INSURANCE
The rates that are negotiated for you are special rates with group amenities/ perks available to the couple to help them plan their epic celebrations that everyone will enjoy. These rates are non-refundable. This is known to the couple and is disclosed in your quote, terms and conditions, and disclosed on the wedding website. Please protect your investment by purchasing travel insurance. It is your guarantee of a refund if something pops up that makes you unavailable to travel.
5 - LEAVE WEDDING GIFTS BEHIND
Your wedding couple will be most appreciative of this gesture, trust me! While it’s such thoughtful way to let them know you care, bringing a gift to a wedding out of the country can cause undue stress to the couple as they will be responsible for transporting it home, among many other things they already have to bring back with them.
LASTLY - HAVE AN AMAZING TRIP!
What an incredible way to spend time with loved ones - enjoy every second! If your thing is getting out and exploring, do it! If you’d rather be a beach bum or enjoy the resort amenities, do that! However you choose to spend your time, relax and have fun doing so. After all a destination wedding offers an experience you just can’t replicate with a wedding at home.