Planning a Destination Wedding

Planning a Destination Wedding

Say “I Do” to a hassle-free wedding planning experience with Weddings By Funjet.

Image courtesy ROMANZA Photography

“I really wanted to feel like we were on a tropical island with bright colors and lush greenery all around us. I wanted our guests to feel like they really DID end up at a tropical destination wedding.”

Erika Odde and Derek Sibrel. Photo by Lindsay Marcus

Some women dream of planning every single detail of their wedding day. But not Erika Odde. In fact, planning a wedding was the last thing Erika or her fiancé, Derek Sibrel, wanted to do when they got engaged May 12, 2017.

“After the engagement, we both were overjoyed,” Erika recalls. “But then we both thought, OK, now we actually have to plan this wedding.”

The idea of spending all their free-time booking venues and finding vendors made the two busy professionals cringe.

“We both knew we were either going to hire a wedding planner or find someone to take charge,” Erika says.

With help from Weddings by Funjet wedding concierge Kaitlin Brierton, Erika and Derek got both.

“Funjet was the best thing to ever happen with our wedding,” Erika jokes. “Even though I didn’t want to plan every detail, I needed to know every detail was perfect and what we had envisioned.”

Kaitlin loves being able to help couples plan the details of the day, leaving them feeling excited, not stressed, about saying “I do.”

“If we can be that calm, go-to person throughout the process, it helps keep the stress levels down,” Kaitlin says. Not only does Kaitlin act as the contact for anything wedding planning related, she and her team help couples handle every detail of the day, from selecting a destination and booking the resort to communicating with the various wedding vendors and finalizing the guest count.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t some planning and decision-making the couple needs to do along the way. It can just be easier—and more enjoyable— with someone like Kaitlin outlining the steps for creating a truly customized and memorable destination wedding.

“First, I want to know what they are most interested in. What type of scenery? What kind of activities? And not just for the wedding, but also outside the wedding,” Kaitlin explains.

She also considers the distance between the couple’s city of origin and the destinations.
“Because that will affect their budget,” Kaitlin explains. “If you’re in San Francisco, we’re probably not going to send you to Jamaica because it would be too expensive and time consuming.”

For Erika and Derek, Panama Jack Resorts in Playa del Carmen, Mexico was the ideal location for their early spring wedding. With a mission to encourage their guests “to be a traveler, not a tourist,” and “embrace adventure,” Panama Jack Resorts in Playa del Carmen, Mexico offered the combination of relaxation and play.

“Guests can decide what their adventure will be,” says the resort’s Wedding and Romance sales manager, Gina Johnson. “They can stay on property and take advantage of our amazing restaurants, bars, spas, kids clubs and daily activity programs. Or venture off and explore ancient ruins, zip line through the jungle, go scuba diving…the possibilities are endless.”

The resort also happens to be steps away from the area’s famous Fifth Avenue, home to local artisans, shopping and nightlife.

“However, destination weddings can be overwhelming, especially when most resorts don’t start planning with the couple until four months prior,” Kaitlin explains. “Many brides find that too close, so we step in and take care of them before then.”

“One of the nice things about a destination wedding is having vendors on-site,” Kaitlin says. “Most resorts will have a preferred officiant, an on-site photographer, as well as a preferred vendor list for all the other options.”

But couples aren’t limited to just those choices thanks to Weddings by Funjet’s extensive network.

“Outside of that, if they are looking for something really different, we have a wealth of knowledge and contacts,” Kaitlin adds.

As for the guests, Erika wanted the wedding to feel like a vacation. That meant making the entire booking and traveling process hassle-free.

“While I’m working with the couple going over wedding decisions, there is a second team working with their guests,” she explains.

A customized website with information about the wedding and the resort, as well as activities on property and around the area, doubles as a booking page.

“They can book their trip right there, and we can keep track of the guests to let the couple know who is and isn’t booked,” Kaitlin says.

And while destination weddings have a rap for being expensive, they can save brides money in other areas. Like decor.

“There is no reason to blow the budget on excessive floral arrangements. It takes away from the natural beauty of the environment you are in,” Kaitlin advises. “What I love about this wedding is the simple and natural design.”

Erika wanted to incorporate palm leaves wherever she could, which organically create a very soft, natural appearance. A trio of musicians will accompany the couple and guests as they mingle during the cocktail hour. Strings of white lights hang above rectangular tables, casting a romantic glow over the reception.

“It all feels very intimate and beautiful,” Kaitlin says.

Now Erika can focus on enjoying the moment instead of worrying about last-minute details. She credits Kaitlin and the Weddings by Funjet team for helping her keep her sanity during the planning process.

Says Erika, “From the first phone call with Kaitlin, I knew she was going to get me through planning a destination wedding and take on any speed bumps along the way.”


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