Destination Weddings: Going Above & Beyond

Destination Weddings: Going Above & Beyond

What does it mean to have a wedding concierge for your destination wedding? Here & Beyond recently sat down with the Weddings by Funjet team to find out.

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H&B: What are the advantages of having a destination wedding?

“In the States, people expect a traditional wedding, so you feel you have to do that. With a destination wedding, there are no expectations. That’s very freeing.” — Kristen Godfrey, Weddings by Funjet director

“You can incorporate cultural elements. You name it, they can do it… even an Indian wedding with a big ballroom reception.” — Brittany Wahhab, concierge

“You can have the larger reception but still host a private meal for family. You can do it the next night, and no one minds. The options are endless; you can put your own spin on it.” — Ashley Grossmann, concierge

“You can do aerial photos with drones, a spiral aisle for the ceremony, live streaming for people at home. I really like alternative receptions… a bonfire, a catamaran cruise, a steel drum band. There are so many creative ways to spend that quality time.” — Karmen Schmid, concierge

“In Puerto Vallarta, I went to a flea market with the bride and her mom. We picked up embroidered bags, tequila and candies for the guests. It was such a fun, Mexican twist.” — Paula Coffaro, concierge

H&B: What are the most common misconceptions about destination weddings?

“People don’t realize that you can have a full, elaborate wedding ceremony and reception, and it doesn’t have to be on a beach.” — P. Coffaro

“That it doesn’t have to be on a weekend. And you really can personalize it.” — A. Grossmann

“It’s not just one day. Your whole vacation becomes your celebration. Also, we have the ability to help you arrange your preferred type of religious ceremony.— K. Schmid

“Some people panic about the timeline for planning their wedding, but you can call us three months in advance. Really, you can call us 30 days in advance if the hotel has the date available.” — K. Godfrey

H&B: What advantages does working with a wedding concierge offer?

“We’re your peace of mind. One email or call to us, and we can respond quickly.” — Lisa Pearce, accommodations specialist

“We’re advocates for you. We go to bat for your needs, we help you prioritize, and we have the ability to negotiate on your behalf.” — K. Schmid

“We help the properties focus on the guest experience, which means we might get customized amenities based on the couple’s priorities.” — Carisha Bell, accommodations specialist

“If something goes wrong, we navigate it and fix it. We care deeply about the entire experience, and we become friends with our brides. There’s trust. It’s not just about turnover, and that’s so special and unique.” — K. Godfrey

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H&B: Can a couple have a concierge on site for their wedding?

“Absolutely. It’s an additional charge, but for some couples, it’s worth it. It depends on them and the amount of family support they have. If we’re on site, we can answer questions, diffuse situations and make sure everyone’s having a good experience.” — K. Schmid

“We can manage the details the bride doesn’t want to think about—welcome events, tying bows on chairs, and so on. People often tell us they love having someone on their side who can help make the process less stressful and confusing… and who can even avert disaster. In one case, two brides would have had competing mariachi bands within view of each other because, on paper, it was two venues. We resolved it, and our bride never knew.” — K. Godfrey

“We manage the vendors, attend the meetings with the hotel teams, handle the guests, put all the pieces together and ensure follow-through. We can add elements on site if necessary. We’ve even stepped in as flower girls and translators!” — B. Wahhab

“Hotels won’t deviate from the checklist, even if it’s not working well in real life. We have been through the entire process with you, we understand what you want, and we know how to coordinate with the hotel’s on-site team to make sure it happens.” — P. Coffaro

“Sometimes things go wrong, but that factor can be so much worse in destination. We’ll work closely with the on-site team to resolve issues and come up with solutions; the couple doesn’t need to get involved. They can simply focus on their big day.” — A. Grossmann

H&B: What challenges might couples face when they plan their own destination weddings?

“It can be difficult to know which hotels will be best for you. This team is very connected and has firsthand experiences in these places. We’ll find what will fit your budget and provide the experience you want, based on your priorities.” — K. Godfrey

“We can identify a budget hotel that has a phenomenal wedding staff. These can be hard to find on your own. Also, our accommodations team handles the travel details, provides updates, confirms guest bookings and follows up; brides don’t want to have to deal with that, especially the last-minute issues that arise. And, the team gets people excited with tips like the best drink to order at the swim-up bar.” — K. Schmid

“We explain everything to the guests, because it’s their vacation too. We suggest excursions and sightseeing opportunities. We talk about transfers and transportation, letting them know what to expect. We anticipate their needs.” — C. Bell

“Some guests are nervous about traveling, and we reassure them. I’ve also helped with packing lists.” — L. Pearce

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H&B: What makes a successful concierge?

“Be open-minded. Put yourself in their shoes, even if it’s not your style. And know the trends. For example, rustic weddings are hot right now, and you can do that in destination for 150 people, for less than $10,000. ” — A. Grossmann

“Be a problem solver. You have to be sensitive, and you always need to have a plan B and C, because you never know how they’ll respond.” — K. Schmid

“Each of our concierges has a unique way of doing things. Paula handles our intake; she’s fantastic at matching a couple with the perfect concierge for them.” — K. Godfrey

H&B: What kind of feedback do you get from newlyweds?

“I had a bride who was a very experienced traveler, and she’d been working on her wedding on her own for weeks. She reached out to me because she was overwhelmed, lost and having a hard time getting the right information. In one week, we narrowed down destinations and brand. The following week, we secured her wedding and requested her room block with negotiated rates; the hotel was amazing, helping with rates and group policy negotiations. In the end, I was really able to make a difference, and take care of her in a way that no one else could.” — K. Schmid

“One couple reached out to me six months later to say they’d made the best memories of their lives at their wedding. The groom’s mother had passed away since then; at the time, I’d encouraged a mother-son dance. It was a pivotal moment, and very touching. I’ve also had guests come back to me, wanting their own destination weddings. That’s such an honor.” — B. Wahhab

Heather Steinberger

Heather Steinberger is an Associate Editor for Here & Beyond, where she writes feature stories, interviews experts for in-depth Q&As and insider articles, and covers a variety of news items and vacation trends. Heather holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and she has been a professional magazine editor/writer for nearly 20 years, with articles appearing in nationally circulated titles such as Backpacker, Boating, Cabo Living, Islands, Sailing and Sport Diver. Her work has taken her from the United Kingdom and Germany, to the Mexican Caribbean and the Sea of Cortez, to Fiji and the Kingdom of Tonga.