Planning a destination wedding reception can be a whole lot trickier than planning an at-home reception for one reason. Simply put: you aren’t there in person to make all the decisions, on site. So how do you plan the perfect destination reception from hundreds of kilometres away? Here’s some advice to help you through.
1. Let go. It might be difficult (especially for all those type-A personalities out there), but put your trust in your wedding planner. Typically, a wedding or romance expert from your resort/property will be in charge of your event. And guess what? They know what they are doing. They are local and know the ins and outs of the local wedding industry. So while it may give you heart palpitations to hand the reins to someone else, trust the process. It may actually help you enjoy your wedding day even more
2. Establish an itinerary beginning with your arrival to the property. Do a site tour and figure out what you’ll do after the reception dinner. Depending on the number of guests you have, you may have an entire event space set aside for you, with music and entertainment. Or, maybe you are heading to the resort disco for some drinks and dancing. Whatever your post-dinner activities will be, set them in stone so everyone knows what to expect. Ask your planner for their suggestions for what best suits your group’s needs.
3. Arrange a tasting when you arrive. Sample menu items, along with wines and signature cocktails, if possible. Be considerate of your entire group when making your selections. And be sure to bring any food allergies to your planner/chef’s attention.
4. Bring small décor items with you, to personalize things a bit more. Place cards, napkin rings or menus, for example, are small, easily-packable items than can really add to your tablescape. Or maybe some old photos of you and your partner. Don’t go overboard, shipping boxes of décor ahead of time (resorts don’t love this as they don’t have much space to store your decorations, plus dealing with customs can be a pain).
5. Go local if you do favours. Small bottles of rum, locally handcrafted jewelry, coffee beans or glassware. Make the items small enough that they won’t take up your guest’s luggage space. Your guests want to experience the country they are visiting, so there’s no point in bringing favours from home.
6. Ask about entertainment available at the property. Resorts tend to have many talented people on staff – from piano players, to singers, to fire eaters and dancers. There might be a way to have someone do a private show during your cocktail hour or dinner.
7. Get all the costs up front. These can be considerable. Upgrades to meals, alcohol, entertainment and décor will be extra. You may have to rethink your florals or cake, but whatever you choose will end up being beautiful. Get all costs in writing (preferably before you leave Canada!).
8. Allow guests to change for the reception. Chances are you’re in a tropical location that is still hot, hot, hot in the evenings. If guests want to change from pants to shorts, or heels to flip flops, so be it. Brides and grooms should feel free to do the same!
Get more tips from our Reception Planning Guide!