A lot of wishful thinking goes on when planning a destination wedding, especially when it comes to budgeting, with many brides simply plucking figures from the air. “I want a fairytale wedding, with no stress, an amazing reception for all my family and friends and I don’t want it to cost over $10,000.”
Only when it’s too late do they realize the final bill may end up being double or triple that amount, or even more. At that point, the whole experience starts to go south, and what they were hoping would be the best day of their life, somehow fails to live up to their expectations.
This guide is to help make sure that you approach your destination wedding planning with the information you need up front, so you not only avoid all the pitfalls but have a wedding that really will be unforgettable for all the right reasons.
1. The Islands vs the Mainland
When choosing their venue, many couples are lured in by an enticingly low up front deposit. This first payment however is no indication of the final wedding cost, especially if it’s an island wedding. Everything, from the limes for your mojitos to the sashes for your chairs has to be brought in by barge, so everything is going to cost you way more than back home. Once you and your wedding party are on the island, you are more or less stuck there having to pay top dollar for every single meal, drink, and night of accommodation. Even just to get there and back, an average wedding party of 50 people will end up paying around $5000 in transfers.
Because so many brides share the same vision of an intimate, private ceremony under swaying coconut palms, the reality is it will be anything but that. You will not only be sharing your day with hordes of holiday makers but also all the other brides who have chosen the same date and same location as you.
Naturally, island resorts need to keep their rooms filled, particularly during the wet season months of January, February and March, so will happily take your wedding booking even if it occurs in cyclone season.
Villa Botanica is a private venue at the end of a gated estate located on the Whitsunday mainland. We only ever hold one wedding a day so the entire 5 acres property is yours exclusively for the duration of your stay. And because we don’t want anything to rain on your parade, we stay closed during the wet season. Best of all, Villa Botanica is an easy 10 minute drive from Airlie Beach, the gateway to the Whitsundays, with an extensive range of accommodation, dining and tourism options that cater to every budget.
2. Wedding Coordination
Why do so many coordinators give you the impression they’ll help you plan your wedding, then as soon as you’ve paid your deposit, just point you in the direction of a few suppliers and leave you to do the rest? The answer is simple. When you’re one of a 100 brides they’re looking after, they simply don’t have time to do any more.
Statistics show that some of the islands have a capacity for over 500+ weddings per year yet they have on average 4 maybe 5 coordinators per island to help each couple with their wedding. Which means each island coordinator could be looking after anything from 100 to 150 weddings a year, every year.
Villa Botanica only holds a maximum of 110 weddings a year and has 3 full time coordinators on board to ensure that the service provided for every couple is an amazing experience.
3. Wedding Suppliers
Think about how many suppliers you have to deal with in the course of planning your wedding: celebrants, hair and makeup, flowers, decorations, DJs, dress steamers, food, drink, accommodation, guest activities, child minders, transport and more. With no one taking charge of your coordination, it’s up to you to chase each one of them up, try and sift through all the options they send you and make sense of their quotes. Little wonder so many brides get overwhelmed and just want the whole thing to be over.
At Villa Botanica, we have invested many thousands of dollars and years creating “POPPY”, the only online wedding planning program of its kind in the world. At the touch of a keyboard, it brings together all of your suppliers and selections, even your guests RSVPs, and puts them at your fingertips so you can check up on the status of any aspect of your wedding, at any time, day or night. Add to that our coordination support team and you have all the tools, information and assistance you need for a relaxing, stress-free destination wedding. But rather than take our word for it, check our uncensored testimonial selfies and find out what real couples are saying about our weddings.
4. Your Guests
Destination weddings are a fantastic way to turn the biggest day of your life into the biggest two or three days, spent with the people you really care about in a magical, exotic location. The very idea of a destination wedding is so different and exciting, one in three Australian couples are now choosing to get married away from home. But very often the vision you have in your mind and how it all turns out are two very different things. The danger is you can suddenly find yourself becoming a travel agent, worrying about your family and friends, how they’ll get there, where they’ll stay, while you’re trying to plan an event that is taking place thousands of miles away, that you don’t have any experience with, with people you’ve never met. It’s a giant leap of faith and if you’re not careful it can easily turn into the most stressful time of your life.
At Villa Botanica we have also taken into consideration your guests and their needs as well. We have created an RSVP process on our website that connects all of your guests to our preferred suppliers to ensure they get personal service and also some amazing discounts for their accommodation, activities, childcare, car hire and more.
5. Wedding Day Expectations
Try and ask someone what your wedding is going to cost and watch them duck the question. “That’s totally up to you” is the usual response. Which isn’t very helpful when you’ve never done this before. Normally, most venues will wait until 6 months before your wedding to start organizing anything and this is when you see the costs really start to mount up. But of course by now you and your guests have booked all their flights and it’s too late to cancel. On average what most couples end up spending is double what they budgeted for. So that simple romantic $15,000 wedding on a tropical beach somewhere can easily end up costing $30,000. And because you decided to go for something “cheap”, it will be in a public place where you’re made to feel like just another number and not always the magical day you always dreamed of.
At Villa Botanica we give you your costs and inclusions for your wedding, up front. We believe you have the right to know exactly what you should expect when it comes to your wedding day costs so there are no sudden shocks when it’s all too late to change. Our philosophy is we will do whatever it takes to make this the most unforgettable experience of your life and that means providing not just an amazing wedding, but incredible value for money as well.
Do you have any other tips to help our readers? Please comment below, we'd love to hear from you!