In my experience, I often state that 90% of our clients are hosting destination weddings when in fact – if we really look at it – I don’t think we’ve ever seen a wedding that didn’t have a significant percentage of wedding guests traveling some distance.
Our criteria is short – these two questions:
1. Is a hotel block needed?
2. Are food / activity / transportation suggestions or coordination required?
Within that, it’s pretty obvious that 100% of our weddings necessitate this, no matter how large or how local either side of the wedding may live. Inevitably, no matter where in the wedding planning process you are – our clients get the inevitable “do you have any ideas on where we should stay” and “how far is X town/hotel from the venue?” and so on and so on. Rinse, repeat.
Suddenly the details of hotel room contracts, attrition, how many rooms, travel information, affordability, things to do, places to eat, photos, wedding party become part of the landscape. It’s my job to help our clients navigate this (in reality, this is a new phenomena thanks to our global / far reaching living + working world) and anything is helpful unless you’re heading to Mongolia or somewhere really out of the norm – I like to keep things simple and as stress free for our clients. From Austin, to Fredericksburg, to Indianapolis, to Santa Barbara to Sea Island, Georgia — this part of wedding planning is now part of our process and I definitely have some wisdom to share, as well as a project that I’m working on to streamline and expand on what it even means to engage with a website or other technology to support this very real reality of wedding planning in 2019. (But stay tuned for that…)
I’ll share a good example:
E + D were Aussies who planned a destination wedding for their nearest and dearest in NYC in the summer of 2018. They picked NYC because of the sentimental meaning it held for the two of them, and since the trip was a fairly significant one, it would also allow them to have a smaller guest count than if they’d stayed in Australia. (Also, there are some stunning photos I can’t wait to show you!). Through the process, they created a wedding website with all the details of travel, city/ neighborhood info, event info, and all that jazz. As planners, we set up a usual Skype call for them, communicated by email and WhatsApp and then as the wedding got closer, we got looped into group conversations on WhatsApp with the planning team (us), officiant, wedding party, photo/video team, and their MCs for the evening. It made sense, as this was the easiest way to get on the same page with their international crew.
Fast forward through the wedding, WhatsApp was a great way to communicate, everything went off without a hitch, the TNR team cried more than usual (in joy and love and wow), and we stalked and shared their collective Instagram for photos. Overall it was an effective combination to manage communication and keep everyone informed in a big, busy, traffic-delayed city. And in the end, everyone was serenading the bride and groom to “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”. It was pretty epic. Stay tuned for the video.
Needless to say, I’ve been thinking about thinking about wedding tech a lot lately, how we use it and how it can streamline our couples, guests, and planning team’s experience. But first here are five ……
1. HOTEL ROOM BLOCKS
Fun fact – we’ve seen that only 1/3 (one third!) of *couples* take advantage of room blocks, and while hotels directly often recommend blocking more rooms than that, it depends on their “attrition” rate. Attrition is the contractual amount that you are required to pay for, either through guests booking them directly or you paying the difference. Most hotels require you to an 80-90% attrition rate, meaning that out of 10 rooms, you must book / pay for 8 or 9 rooms out of that 10. Our recommendation: ask for “complementary” room blocks (usually no more than 10-15 rooms per night) that won’t require you to be financially responsible, or pick about 30-40% of your guest count in couples – and you should be safe!
2. EAT / DRINK / SEE / DO
A favorite of ours is for our clients to include a list of restaurants, bars, coffee shops (very important!), other specialty food options, any outdoor hiking, swimming, walking, biking opportunities, or other historical or fun monuments in the area. And if you’re feeling extra hospitable – break the eating options down into breakfast / coffee / lunch / dinner / dessert. Your guests will definitely thank you!
3. TRANSPORTATION ADVICE
Is your venue close or far from the closest airport or city center? Are there any sneaky or difficult things that your guests should know about – airport transfers that are often in different terminals, disastrous traffic at borders or during Fridays / Sundays, no ride sharing available, etc? Giving your guests the extra details on transportation details will help keep their stress levels low and the journey to your wedding more enjoyable!
4. THE GOOGLE MAP
Thank you Google! Wouldn’t it be amazing to have all of the main points (venue, hotels, etc) plus all the fun details of the weekend (extra events, your favorite restaurants, happy hour special, best coffee in town) all in one location? Most of you know that you can create your own google map with all of these things marked, but definitely remember to share it with your people!
5. WHATS APP / GROUP CONVERSATION
Fun fact, team TNR actually has group texts for the planning crew, the floral crew, and the decor / production crew running on wedding weekends. But instead of text trains, flipping everything to a singular texting app like WhatsApp allows you to keep everything in one place and possibly minimizes blowing up your phone. It’s been really handy for us to keep tabs on bridal parties, officiants, and photo/video teams — not to mention you can share documents, photos and videos leading up to the wedding day itself. We’re a big fan of this.
Bonus: what about an app that combines all of this together? Now wouldn’t that be easy…
So then the folks at Guidebook approached me to test out and give feedback on their wedding planning app software, and I think anyone who loves tech and optimization is going to love this. I’ll be expanding into this in upcoming blog posts, but suffice to say – what I like most about their framework is the ability to fold in a lot of the technology information (travel info, maps + info, communication, photo/video sharing) into one place. One. Single. Place. My overloaded phone screen and app landscape is already pretty excited about this.
That being said, a great idea can’t exist in a vacuum. I’m always interested in what couples, guests, or even other wedding professionals would like to see, what’s superfluous, and well, feedback. All the things, I want to hear about all of it!
Stay tuned to when I jump into the builder and start playing around! (and what my brain starts proposing for additional features (or app features) and the Guidebook team pets my head and says “not … quite yet, Liz, not quite yet”. I’m an ideas girl, what can I say… )
[This is a paid opportunity where I get to review and look at Guidebook’s system and how it may integrate and enhance our couples/guests/everyone’s experiences. All lists, knowledge, opinions are my own, and the folks at Guidebook have been champs when I start giving additional ideas on how their product could be even better. And trust me, there are some amazing ideas / opportunities coming out of this that I didn’t even consider! Win, win, all around.]