Are you wondering what the difference is between a destination wedding travel agent and a destination wedding planner?
It’s okay to wonder. With internet information overload, it can be confusing to understand the difference between a travel agent and a wedding planner in terms of planning an international destination wedding. We’ll give you an easy-to-follow and understand summary below that will help you outline the key players and determine who you’ll need to make your day a beautiful experience. Let’s dive into the details!
What is a destination wedding travel agent?
Travel agents have been around for ages and have continued to stay educated on geography and all things tourism. In general, they work directly with clients by offering fitting travel itineraries, booking, and overseeing their travels. As travel experts, their job is to simplify the travel process and navigate the unknown on your behalf.
What will a travel agent who specializes in international destination weddings do?
Wedding travel agents are accustomed to handling international travel requests for weddings outside of the United States. Wedding travel is planned, booked, and coordinated on a larger and more detailed scale. In addition, travel is handled for the entire group and all of the guests who are traveling to your wedding.
Here are some key things a wedding travel agent provides and will do to assist with planning your wedding day:
- Ask probing questions to understand your wedding budget, your travel budget, your group dynamics, and your wedding vision
- Address travel questions and offer professional travel and logistics advice (including helping you find the right time of year, and desired and alternative wedding dates)
- Based on the above, suggest best fit regions and destination options
- Suggest the right destination based on your specifics – one size does not fit all!
- Provide wedding location options (typically hotel, resort, or villa) based on the above and explain travel and wedding requirements
- Provide wedding and group travel pricing for wedding locations on the consideration list
- Once ready, request the wedding and room block contract
- Explain and outline the terms and conditions around the wedding and room block contract
- Set up a booking system for guests to request rooms and make travel arrangements as requested by each guest
- Keep you informed on the RSVP list (list of guests booked within a group room block)
- Keep you within the terms and conditions of your wedding and block contracts
- Introduce you to the resort’s onsite wedding coordinator or wedding specialist (hotel and resort wedding team that will collect all the details and produce your wedding events)
- Offer excursion options for off-resort/hotel activities
- Act as a liaison, keep everyone informed and ready for travel
- Ensure travel is seamless and available to assist the entire group as needed
What is a destination wedding group travel specialist?
As outlined above, an agent who specializes in wedding group travel is a destination wedding group travel specialist. Yes, there are a lot of terms to keep up with. Planning travel on a larger group level is a little more intricate. Working with an agent who coins this specialty means he or she understands the dynamics of group travel when planning a wedding.
What does a destination wedding planner do that an agent doesn’t?
The planning process is not always cookie-cutter. Destination wedding planners are great at developing, planning, and seeing your wedding vision through to fruition. In fact, a planner who’s good at her craft, can take a cookie-cutter wedding package and customize it into a designed wedding experience. Having a wedding planner that you have hired to travel with you ensures that you will work directly with one person throughout the planning and design process, ensuring that you don’t have to directly deal with the probable resort’s change in staffing.
The resort’s on-site wedding coordinator represents the hotel, not you.
At some point, your agent will turn you over to the hotel’s wedding specialist. Your wedding planner will work for you, versus working for the resort. While there are some really good on-site wedding coordinators at the resort and hotel level that go above and beyond, the bottom line is: they work for the resort. Turnover is high. Truth be told, they can be here today and gone tomorrow.
Wedding planning is exciting! Here is a list of some of the things your planner will do that your agent may not do:
- Outline your wedding budget
- Offer suggestions to keep you within budget
- Help the couple realize their wedding vision
- Help the couple find a destination based on their vision
- Travel with the couple to scout wedding locations
- Develop a design based on the couple’s wedding vision
- Design all aspects of the wedding (ceremony, reception, and related events)
- Recommend wedding vendors
- Negotiate wedding contracts
- Travel with the couple for food tasting and vendor meetings
- Design layouts based on final guest count and inclusions
- Travel to the destination at the time of the wedding to ensure that all goes as planned
- Confirm wedding vendors and provide a timeline to all parties involved
- Schedule and facilitate pre-con with all parties involved
- Manage logistics and ensure it goes off without a hitch
Can a local wedding planner plan my international wedding?
The short answer is certainly. Planning a wedding internationally involves more details and logistics to manage. However, it’s not impossible. There are several important considerations to keep in mind.
- Is the wedding planner familiar with the destination or has experience planning events in that location? If you contact a wedding planner with a destination already decided, at the very least, make sure the planner is familiar with the area (holidays, customs, regulations, vendors, etc). These things can vary from country to country. Familiarity can reduce the window for added obstacles.
- Does the planner have an established network of vendors in the destination? Having a strong network of vendors can help with the planning and contract negotiation process. In addition to language barriers, there can be cultural differences in the art of negotiations.
- Does the wedding planner include clear communication channels as part of his/her process? Depending on the location and depth of planning required. Regular calls, emails, and video communication may be required. Understand this process from the start and understand the navigation plan for language barriers.
The right planner will have these tasks and more planned and outlined to share with you. Do your research, ask questions, and follow your gut.
Do I need an agent or a planner for my wedding abroad?
You’re looking for wedding planning help, but have no idea who you need or where to go. The next step depends heavily on where you are in the process. What are your non-negotiables?
For example, you may have your heart and mind set on a specific all-inclusive resort in a specific destination. If this is the case, you may only need a travel agent for your destination travels. In many cases, agents have access to promotions that you may not have access to or be aware of. At the very least, I suggest an agency to manage your guests’ travels. It’s not fun being a bride and groom and having to navigate through all the guests’ questions and requests.
On the other hand, you may know that you want a unique wedding but have no idea where. A travel advisor would be helpful in helping you realize the destination just as the wedding planner can help you realize the destination and suggest unique wedding options that are not at a typical hotel or all-inclusive resort.
Knowing where you are in the process will give you an indication of if you need a travel agency or a wedding planner. If you’re unsure, do your research and reach out to both. As you make connections, the answers will become clear. Either way, the perfect travel agent and wedding planner work together to make your dream wedding a reality.
Is it possible to hire one person to do both travel and wedding planning?
A one-source option is a huge perk. In addition to our service offerings, we have met several wedding planners who also provide wedding travel agency services. I think it makes your wedding planning process easier to manage and simpler to keep you abreast of the wedding details.
Many years ago, I coined myself an expert destination wedding planner. After decades of handling international weddings and travel planning for clients, I realized that it’s all about the process. Understanding this process early on and setting couples’ expectations keep the process outlined so brides and grooms know what’s happening and what happens next.
Have you seen our 7 Simple Steps for Planning the Perfect Destination Wedding? You can request it and download it here.
Do you think you would like to have a destination wedding but are unsure if you need a wedding planner or a travel agent who specializes in weddings taking place outside of the United States? We get it. Schedule a zero-obligation consultation with us. At the very least, we’d love to help you figure out your next steps. All things considered, we’d love to be a part of your wedding day. If we’re not a good fit, we’ll help you find the perfect wedding travel agent or planner to make sure your wedding is everything you imagined for your big day!