Owner / Travel Designer / Certified Destination Wedding Planner
My husband and I had a destination wedding 11 years ago when it was still pretty novel. I walked away from my very toxic corporate career in 2013 after returning from a birthday trip to Puerto Vallarta. I booked my first destination wedding that year.
First things first, how are you coping with COVID-19?
I have been one of the lucky ones because, with weddings, the choice to reschedule is not overweighed by the thought to just cancel. Clients want to get married. It has been easy to get them to decide to reschedule. What has not been easy is the uncertainty of whether we have selected a date far enough in the future. I can only hold firm to the fact that they all need to make sure insurance is purchased once the new reservations are confirmed with the tour operator. I will be talking to my small business advisor about options for the next few months shortly and actually plan to expand this year. This occurrence makes it clear that my team and I will be very busy this fall.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into the industry?
Well, my educational background, I have a Bachelor of Arts in Interior Design and I was previously a Construction Project Manager. I have always been interested in hospitality and tourism. I even looked at the program at Ryerson before I left for Michigan State University. I moved to Orlando and worked as an Imagineer in the Architecture and Design division of Walt Disney Imagineering. My husband and I had a destination wedding 11 years ago when it was still pretty novel and we travelled every few months ever since. I walked away from my very toxic corporate career, with absolutely no love lost, in 2013 after returning from a birthday trip to Puerto Vallarta. I booked my first Destination wedding that year.
What made you decide to specialize in destination weddings, honeymoons and babymoons?
While creating my business plan, two things were very clear for my vision 1. To sell predominantly group travel to a) build my business and brand and b) potentially have higher gross sales and earnings. 2. To create a life-cycle for my clients to promote continued or multiple bookings. We either start from honeymoon or destination wedding and move onto babymoons and any other specialty group events such as sorority anniversaries and golf trips.
What are the hot destinations this year for destination weddings and why?
At the last few bridal shows Costa Rica, Los Cabos, St. Lucia and Barbados have been on the list. Marketing from these tourist boards through tour operators and media has really been a big factor. The growing trend of destination weddings has made it so that approximately one out of three clients have attended/been invited to an event in Cancun, Riviera Maya or Montego Bay. The intention is to have the most unique, personable and memorable wedding your friends and family have ever been to… at the lowest cost possible.
Really try to find brands you trust to fit all categories in order to provide an option to the client you really want. I make sure that each year I re-evaluate who I recommend for budget, moderate and luxury options. You should never be stumped.
What are some of the hotels and resorts that you work with that offer unique options for couples?
Everyone has something different to offer but right now I am loving the offerings at Marival Resorts. They have a very robust wedding package that includes up to 70 guests for US$1730. It includes photos, a three-course reception and a mariachi band.
And while almost everyone can customize your wedding, Sandals and Beaches feature and wedding accessories are easy to sell because the pricing is easily accessible, and everything is itemized. This makes it simple to sell the entire package to a potential couple. Plus, the reception dinner can be as low as US$14 per person.
Last, but not least, are AMResorts. With such a robust portfolio, even if your clients have objections to certain destinations, there is always an AM property you can offer. Their weddings departments and have created such amazing Pinterest pages for their properties that clients feel they can truly make their weddings and extension of themselves when they see the possibilities.
Are there any interesting trends you are noticing when it comes to destination weddings or honeymoons?
I am receiving a lot of request for group honeymoons where a couple is added to a small travel group of friends. Kind of like an alumni association of newlyweds. It’s a great way to enjoy a vacation with friends around to socialize with and to continue your celebration after the wedding. It also offers a couple who have different interests on vacation an opportunity to have a friend to tag along with when one wants to go on an excursion and the other prefers mezcal tasting.
What advice do you have for aspiring destination wedding agents?
Really try to find brands you trust to fit all categories in order to provide an option to the client you really want. I make sure that each year I re-evaluate who I recommend for budget, moderate and luxury options. You should never be stumped. Product knowledge and site knowledge are important to close sales. Make sure you familiarize yourself with wedding requirements for the countries you claim you specialize in. Know your worth in every sale and don’t be afraid to select your clients.