DIY vs. Don’t Even Try: Let’s Talk International Destination Weddings

 

There are no rules with a destination wedding.  Not today, not anymore.  Freedom and style, especially for international brides, trump conventional ‘rules.’  The way it was done before still holds some merit, the only difference is that now it’s connected to deeper cultural traditions, the merging of different backgrounds and a real respect for new multi-cultural traditions. That said, it is pretty important when jumping into an international meeting with real brides about destination wedding plans to really get to the heart of what a bride needs to know must be established. Recently speaking to real bride Faz Abdul Gaffa, who intends on having a ceremony in Singapore and also one in New Jersey, it was important to break the ice and give her sound advice that can help her make a decision she feels good about.
So, at 10:00am EST and 10:00pm Singapore time, Faz greeted me on our first Google+ Hangout session with a bright and open twinkle in her eye with that blazing question that every bride-to-be should ask herself and someone else: do I really need a wedding planner? The answer is YES, an overwhelming yes. With limited time for our first e-meet-and-greet, we had plenty of territory to cover. As Faz had already decided on a private yacht in the Singapore harbor overlooking its skyline as her first wedding location, we moved on to the save the date announcements. I suggested that these be sent out as soon as possible, 9-12 months are ideal. The formal invitation should be sent out anywhere from two to three months ahead of your wedding date. Let’s not forget to list your URL on your invite so guests can go online to your wedding site and find out information on places to stay, special rates, location maps, airport transport, etc. Ceremony locations and timelines of your multiple events should be listed among other guest information. As you can see during the second part of our conversation I literally had so much to squeeze in to ensure she knew all that happens during wedding planning that you may notice Google+ Hangouts simply stopped switching the camera between us both and just focused on my attempt to fill her in.  With weddings, there is simply so much to consider.  Imagine, if one 24 minutes Google+ Hangouts session seems to be a lot, what happens once the ball gets rolling with vendors, flowers, guests, accommodations, officiants, etc.
Faz has a vision of a stylish, intimate to medium sized wedding and is considering inviting the same wedding guests to travel to both international ceremony destinations.  I felt compelled to let her know that what actually sounds like one wedding, in this case, is actually two and that this is why getting those save the dates out the door sooner than later was very important. Multi event locations can become very costly and time consuming for your guest and can take a lot of planning on their side as well. We do admire her pazazz but from experience we know that planning has frustrated countless brides in the past. Brides should be free of this burden because the level of stress is literally the opposite of what our bride should feel on her wedding day splendor. It’s a conversation that marks the beginning of a trusting relationship.
To hear Faz tell the story of how she met her fiancé, John, at a Halloween party shows the joy she feels about her approaching nuptials and the love she has for her partner, but I find it’s pretty important for brides to understand that there is a craft to wedding and event planning. Our job is to incorporate your personalities, vision and dreams into your wedding and to take care of every detail, so you don’t have to. Whether it’s day of coordination, partial planning or full planning, for anyone planning a memorable event, let alone planning a wedding (or two!), we don’t only create for the sake of the host or bride and groom to look their best amongst their family and friends.  We become the creators so that couples can enjoy guests and the magic they envisioned. Though the decision making process at this stage can cause some anxiety, it’s not as black and white as many think.  For brides who are reconsidering planning their own event (in lieu of articles like this), who don’t have access to a gratuitous budget, we actually created Weddings in a Box package, an all inclusive must-have kit for those deciding to elope or who prefer to have an intimate ceremony with a special touch but without the ongoing details of a full scale wedding.  With this option brides can keep a close relationship with an upscale planner but from a consulting perspective.  Ahhh, the power of choice.
Faz is a young professional in love, who should be absolutely hassle free on her big days.  Directing her own multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-destination wedding when she’s never done it before is like refashioning the engine of a rare car without all of the parts.  With one year from her weddings, Faz will now have to decide if she will weather the DIY wedding planning storm or if she’ll consider other options.  She can pick up where we left off once she chooses a date. Well, two dates.

About Marc Wilson:

Marc Wilson is the Guest Lifestyle Editor of World Bride Magazine, a 2013 Big Apple Award nominee and the Founder and Creative Director of Weddings by MWD Lifestyles.  Marc’s company, MWD Lifestyles (formerly Marc Wilson Design), is a full scale wedding, event design, production and planning company with destination partnerships and capabilities and has grown to be the name in the decor and events, weddings and destination industry it is today.  Marc’s fifteen years within the events industry has resulted in national and international recognition and, to date, MWD Lifestyles has worked with Rolex, Hugo Boss, Martha Stewart Weddings and MGM Metro Goldwyn Mayer.  Marc’s work has been published in Grace Ormond Wedding Style, Design Bureau, New York Weddings, Manhattan, Essence, Weddings by Design, The Knot, Brides and Town&Country. FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest.

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Destination Weddings: 101 Class Is in Session with Marc Wilson

 

Dashing down to meet destination partners in from the Mayan Riviera and then onto the Four Seasons before meeting about a wedding back at the House of MWD, leaves me little time for creative luxuries.  Even on days when the weather is perfect, time is of the essence.  So many details go into the planning and presentational meetings with our brides. From our studio trove of various style, size and colored vases, like the standard clear glass bowls or the elegant blown cylinders from Poland to wonderful mirrored glass cubes that sparkle, to even the colored glass in luster finishes. Our team pulls from in-house stock of party wares to reviewing style boards created just for our bride and groom to review.  On perfect days, I arrive to the House of MWD only to find I’m not satisfied with the color swatches and realize, I have to go all the way back down to the fabric district for swatches to my liking.  With beads of sweat and one eye on the clock, I snatch the swatches and dash up to greet the bride-to-be.

I’d liken this presentational meeting with our bride (and sometimes the mothers of the bride) and groom to a shopping spree, of sorts, down elegant Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. It’s where we begin to talk about how the overall theme is interpreted for the event.  It should be a feast for your eyes and a tactile experience – which allows the bride to immerse herself in this experience.  Items usually tucked away in our display cases are now laid out on sample linens, to be picked up, sorted, discarded, coveted – now all a part of the decision making process.

Here’s some of what to expect at a planning meeting:

  • First – do your homework!  Pull photos of both your likes and dislikes from magazines, Pinterest, weddings blogs, etc.  Create your “look book” – keeping in mind sometimes what you don’t like is more important than knowing what you do…
  • Arrive with your questions in hand.  Your planner will have already given you a checklist to review – this will help streamline some of your concerns and needs.  Be forthright about any uncertainties related to selecting and styling your wedding.  Be willing to talk about the nagging or difficult issues that could become stumbling blocks later in the planning process, even if they seem small at the moment.  Once you actually identify them, fun begins.
  • Take notes during the meeting – and bring your calendar!  It will be imperative you and your planner stay on the same page throughout this process.  You’ll want to be sure those antique Moroccan vases arrive on schedule.
  • Be prepared to discuss your budget. The budget is a key element in the design process – providing direction and guidance for both you and your planner.
  • Anticipate change. Your favorite flower may not be in season on your wedding day.  Your “look book” color palate may clash with your venue. All of your co-workers respond YES to the RSVP.  Changes start with the first planning meeting.
  • Be ready to spend time at the meeting.  Once needed conversations are had about creative aspects and the overall design, it’s time to delve into the matter at hand – shopping!  This is literally a time to select as our team notes which items, textures, styles and shapes seem the most appealing to the bride.  Don’t be surprised to spend 2 or more hours.  In my case recently, 3 and a half hours later.  It was worth it because what the bride said she felt matched with how she looked: crystal clear.

We encourage every bride to be herself – everyone has their own sense of style, let us help you develop yours!  From our first conversation, we stress how the planning and design process is here to support the bride – and groom!  Don’t let weddings “over-exposure” keep your personal style from coming through.  Equally challenging will be all of the family and friend’s expectations for your special day.  Your planner is here to help and may often be the first line of defense.

So you’ve finished your first planning meeting… what’s next?  Expect to have some homework.  And remember, until you’re married to your husband, you’re married to your planner!

About Marc Wilson:

Marc Wilson is the Guest Lifestyle Editor of World Bride Magazine, a 2013 Big Apple Award nominee and the Founder and Creative Director of Weddings by MWD Lifestyles.  Marc’s company, MWD Lifestyles (formerly Marc Wilson Design), is a full scale wedding, event design, production and planning company with destination partnerships and capabilities and has grown to be the name in the decor and events, weddings and destination industry it is today.  Marc’s fifteen years within the events industry has resulted in national and international recognition and, to date, MWD Lifestyles has worked with Rolex, Hugo Boss, Martha Stewart Weddings and MGM Metro Goldwyn Mayer.  Marc’s work has been published in Grace Ormond Wedding Style, Design Bureau, New York Weddings, Manhattan, Essence, Weddings by Design, The Knot, Brides and Town&Country.