Destination Weddings ~ Ask lots and lots of questions

Today, I’m going to talk about destination weddings and what questions you should ask during a site walk thru at a resort. I have planned lots and lots of weddings in Chicago but when I go somewhere outside the US, I ask the client to take me with them on a two day site scouting trip or I send my clients with a really good list of questions to ask so we can talk about their findings upon their return.  And of course, I ask them to bring their camera and use it.

Things to ask the resort/hotel/venue as you scout a location for a ceremony /reception ….

  1. Ask to see the ceremony location. Is there more than one option? Make sure you take pictures and look at the overall flowers, things that are around this area. And make a note of it.
  2. Is it windy were the ceremony will take place? I know this one is crazy, but you want to be prepared in case you need to re-think the veil altogether or be ready for the attack of the veil (on you!) during the ceremony.
  3. Are there any other weddings happening at the hotel on the same day?
  4. Is a microphone provided for the ceremony? If you are outdoors in an open area, you will need one.
  5. How will guests know where the ceremony is taking place? Are there directional signs provided by the hotel or is someone letting guests know where to go?
  6. Are chairs provided? What type of chairs? Ask them to show these to you, are they acceptable. Take a picture of them.
  7. Is there a platform provided for the ceremony as an altar? If so, take a picture of it.
  8. What kind of flowers (if any)  are included in the wedding package?
  9. How early do they start to set up for the ceremony?
  10. Make sure that the amount of guests coming will fit in the ceremony area. Therefore, ask what is the maximum amount of guests that can be seated in the ceremony area comfortably.
  11. What is the back-up plan in case of rain? When does a decision have to be made if plan B has to be put in place  due to inclement weather?
  12. What are the areas for the cocktail hour? Who ushers the guests to these areas?
  13. What are the tables and chairs provided for the reception? Round or Rectangular? How many guests can fit per table? What are the sizes of the tables? You need to know this in the event you rent linens.
  14. What are the linens provided for the tables? Floor Length or Dinner Length (Half way to the floor)?
  15. What does the silverware, napkins, dishes and glassware look like? Ensure sure these are in good condition…. No chips or cracks.
  16. Can we have a choice of entree?
  17. How long does dinner usually take once guests are seated?
  18. What is more cost effective? Full Bar or Drinks on Consumption ( Believe it or not, it varies )?
  19. What kind of wedding cake flavors are offered? Which one is the most popular? Can they make a wedding cake? Ask to speak with the pastry chef. Not every pastry chef knows how to make a tiered wedding cake!
  20. Since we are having guests stay at the hotel…. Can the hotel put welcome baskets in the guests rooms prior to the guests arrival to their room (Preferred) or do they hand it over to the guests upon check-in? Is there a cost for this? If so, what is the cost?
  21. Can we do a food tasting at a later time if the hotel/resort is selected?  If so, make sure you take pictures of every plate before you eat it. If they say no, make sure you take a trip to the hotel restaurant for dinner. Order a few items off the menu and sample the food. Does it look appealing (is it hot, flavorful, is there enough food)?  This is important, bad food is just that… bad food. Guests remember good food.
  22. Are there any vendors that are not allowed to work on site? If so, who are these vendors. Some hotels control what vendors are allowed on site, so make sure you ask.
  23. Do any vendors have to go thru (be paid by) the hotel or can the couple hire the vendors directly. Also, it’s a very important question. Most often than not a few properties like to markup the vendor costs so it’s important to ask if the vendor can be hired directly.
  24. Ask for a tour of the hotel….. check out the guestrooms, spa, workout facilities, restaurants, etc.
  25. Ask yourself, do I get the warm and fuzzy feeling about this place? If the answer is no…. keep looking.

Make absolutely no assumptions, ask questions and don’t apologize for asking them.

Does anyone have any questions?!

Tomorrow…. hiring destination wedding vendors and what to expect.

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