Destination Wedding Travel - Hawaii

Hawaii Wedding

The best thing about a destination wedding—next to the wedding, of course—is the destination. Who doesn’t want a serious and compelling reason to visit the Canary Islands? Who doesn’t crave a chance to tell the boss, “I must go to Hawaii”?

It is unfortunate, however, that everything wonderful about a destination wedding also has the power to make it overwhelmingly difficult for the wedding party and many of the guests. Thank the Great Recession for providing the answer to most of your problems.

Because the travel industry has numbered among the Recession’s principal victims, major airlines, hotel chains, cruise lines, and travel planners are offering deep discounts on group travel to the world’s most popular wedding destinations.

GroupTravel.com wisely advises, “With careful planning, patience, and a lot of communication between all parties, you can put together a group vacation that will be filled with good memories of fun times had bay all – and your friendship will still be intact after the vacation is over.”

They probably should have put “careful planning, patience, and a lot of communication” in bold, brightly colored print. If you ever wondered why so many people stress the value of long engagements, you now have your answer: Destination weddings take approximately as much time and coordination as manned missions to the moon. Wedding planners and blissful newlyweds advise…

Destination wedding travel for mom and bride

Mom and Bride

• This is not a democracy. One person ultimately must take charge of planning and managing the entire trip for the whole group. Destination wedding survivors encourage you to remember, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody’s happy,” but they also strongly caution this does not mean Mama should serve as trip coordinator.

Think of Mama as the CEO of the whole wedding enterprise, and the trip leader is some kind of V.P. Common sense would suggest the best man should assume this role, but he may have his hands full managing the groom.

The person who assumes this responsibility cannot just decide how the itinerary will go; instead, she must build consensus in the group, and then she must turn the concepts into practical plans. You see why communication and patience take-on such tremendous importance.

• Money matters. In the business of destination weddings, “critical mass” literally counts, because many group travel plans increase the discounts as the groups grow larger. At the first “tipping point,” groups of ten often qualify for free bride and groom privileges; at the next point, all airfare and hotel accommodations drop dramatically.

The trip leader must understand her role comes with some harsh enforcement duties, though. Saying “yes, I will attend” and paying for attendance are by no means the same thing. Trip planners who have survived with their families and friendships intact have set-up monthly payments and secured the travel money in its own bank account.

Disaffected and lonely trip planners are the ones who put the whole bill on their American Express cards and hoped they might collect later.

Destination Wedding Travel American airlines approach

American Airlines

• The airlines are your new best friends. American Airlines, United Airlines, and Alaska Airlines offer tremendous incentives for group wedding travel. All three offer special discounts off the lowest available fares for bona fide wedding guests—provided you have at least ten in your group.

The airlines naturally have special offers for people traveling from different departure points, but they offer the best prices for groups departing from one single city.

When a group travels together they benefit from no deposits, a set base fare guaranteed through a Special Fare Agreement, unlimited free name changes up to three days prior to departure and name changes for a fee within three days prior to departure, no ticketing fees, advance seat assignments, and no minimum stay requirement.

• Work the web. Then, work the agents. Assume that everything about your trip is subject to negotiation, and no deal is so wonderful you cannot walk away from it. The internet gives you all the information you need to play airlines, hotels, and travel planners against one another until you get to the rock bottom price.

If you have a hard-bargainer in the family, maybe she should serve as trip leader. Of course, once you have hit that rock bottom price, make sure you get all the details in writing, and carefully review the fine print to guarantee against nasty surprises.

couple-surfing-the-internet

Couple surfing the Web

• Seriously consider trip insurance. Travel experts typically advise against trip insurance when you charge your fares and hotel on a major credit card, because the card protects you against the same catastrophes insurance covers.

In the case of group wedding travel, however, the guidelines change. Very simply, you absolutely must secure trip insurance for this junket. You have at least as many reasons to do it as you have travelers in your party.

If all of this seems more than a little daunting, Vegas is always open. Happily married couples and their guests do agree, though, a destination wedding is absolutely and undeniably the thrill of a lifetime for everyone who takes the trip.

Find Deep Discounts on Destination Wedding Travel Planning a wedding and need a San Diego wedding venue? Ask Leslie Smithers–she has been planning weddings in San Diego for over ten years.

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