Updated: Jan 4
When you sign a contract for your destination wedding, you need to make sure you understand everything you're agreeing to. If you're coming in with fresh eyes you might not understand the way the deadlines are laid out for guest bookings, or how your wedding events are included in the overall costs. This brief guide is meant to point out some of the bigger things to keep in mind, but is by no means a substitute for an experienced advisor guiding you through the process.
Get Everything in Writing
First, the obvious but often forgotten detail: get everything in writing. This is a high stakes event and you don't want to risk details falling between the cracks because you got a verbal commitment and a vendor forgot what they said. This is also helpful for you to keep track of things in case you forget what has been booked and what still needs to be confirmed. This includes anything you agree on in terms of backup options and upgrades.
Flexible vs. Contracted Wedding Groups
When you're choosing how you want your guests to book their rooms, you have two options: Flexible or Contracted. Flexible groups can be sufficient for a small group, especially if you'll be in a smaller, boutique hotel. Your guests will book on their own and the hotel won't guarantee a certain number of rooms or that your guests will be booked near each other. If you are planning a wedding at a large resort, such as Grand Hyatt Kauai, Hawaii, I wouldn't recommend a flexible group. You are risking your guests being completely spread out which can defeat the purpose of a destination wedding where you want all of your family and friends close by and able to easily connect. You will also be opening yourself up to the possibility of one of your guests waiting too long to book their room and ending up with no room at all.
Don't Get Stuck Paying for No-Shows
Another benefit of a contracted group is that it can serve as a more realistic RSVP list. If someone RSVPs and doesn't book their room, you know they will end up being a no-show and before you get charged for it you can go ahead and cancel that room and adjust your final guest count. Alternatively, the biggest downside to contracted groups is that if you aren't mindful of the deadlines on the contract you can end up with unbooked rooms that are nonrefundable and will end up on your bill. If this is your first time looking at a group contract, make sure you ask questions and get a clear understanding of what you're agreeing to. This can quickly add up and could end up really affecting your wedding.
Hopefully this brief introduction to destination wedding contracts has been helpful. Of course there are many intricacies to the contracts and if you're anything like me, you want to be prepared and know what to expect. If you want to read more about common mistakes that are made when planning destination weddings, download my FREE guide below.