Thursday, August 28, 2014

Lessons and Tips for Planning a Maui Wedding

Graham and I have spent the last nine months planning our destination wedding over e-mail and phone. (And by that I mean I have.)

Wedding planning, whether it's a Hawaii wedding or not, is an eye-opening experience. You learn a ton about yourself, your family and friends, and the wedding planning process.

Tips and lessons for other Maui brides:

  • Slow down. I was in such a hurry to cross things off my to-do list in the beginning of the process that I didn't take enough time to really think some things through. This is especially true when it comes to the guest list. I sent Save the Dates to people I had lost touch with because I thought that was what I was supposed to do. If I could do it again I would wait longer and send out fewer Save the Dates. I also ordered favor bags months ago when I thought the guest list would be longer. Over time more and more people have bowed out for various reasons. (We understand, it's a big trip.) But I could have saved a little bit of cash if I had waited until right now.
  • Do things your way. Who says your wedding has to be like everyone else's? I have to remind myself not to feel pressure to impress others. This applies to the music at our reception. We won't be having a dance floor or a DJ because we opted for a dinner reception at a local restaurant with an amazing view. A dance floor just didn't seem feasible given the number of people going vs. the cost. I did initially worry about whether guests would be disappointed, but I tell myself that those who matter don't mind, and those who mind don't matter. (Plus I'm sure they'll be entertained by the musician at the ceremony and the sound system playing our own tunes at dinner.)
  • Don't get carried away with Pinterest. I love the site as much as the next person, but I think it creates unrealistic expectations about what your wedding should look like. Either 1. You spend a lot more money on the details by having someone take care of them for you or 2. You spend a lot more TIME on the details. And with a destination wedding, you have to think about how you are going to transport all those details and favors. (I'm packing them in a suitcase.)
  • Be prepared to be a travel agent. People want to know when airfare prices will go down. Family and friends want to know whether a certain hotel rate is a good deal, and they want to know when you buy your ticket so they can buy theirs at the same time. (I guess it's so you don't back out and leave them with a ticket to Hawaii, I don't know.) I do think you should provide help with lodging suggestions and securing hotel blocks for discounted rates. Wedding coordinators can also put guests in touch with a travel agent, though we didn't go this route.
  • Ask the Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau for help. They can provide you with free information about vendors and venues. They will also send up to a certain number of free maps and postcards for welcome bags. (More are available for a small fee, and they ship the information to you for free or the lowest cost possible.) 
  • Don't be afraid to ask for a discount. Always ask if there is a more affordable option, especially for things such as flowers. Tropical flowers are obviously going to be more economical than blooms such as roses, which aren't native to Hawaii. 
  • Be patient with vendors. Wedding vendors usually focus on the weddings they have coming up next, so while they respond to all queries, sometimes it will take a day or two to hear back. Brides like me can get nervous and want immediate answers, but just know that a quality wedding coordinator will assist with everything you bring up as soon as possible.

Are you planning a destination wedding? What did you learn?