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Hi, I'm Michaela, the heart behind Lovely & Planned. This blog is all about elopements and destination weddings, but you'll also find general tips and advice on wedding planning. I'm so happy to have you here! Grab a cup of coffee and stay a while!

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How to Plan a Destination Wedding – Part 1: Reaching Out to Vendors

How do you plan an intimate wedding from afar? In this 3 part blog post series, about how to plan a destination wedding, we won’t go into timeline details, such as when you need to sort out your paperwork or when you need to reach out to a photographer. If you are interested in those topics, here is a great blog post for you: What to Do When You Plan to Elope – A Step-by-Step Guide.

But instead, we’ll look at how you can create your unique and perfect wedding day when you work with international vendors that you only meet on the day of your wedding. 

The three main points that we’ll cover in this blog post series are:

  • Part 1: How to reach out to wedding vendors.
  • Part 2: How to convey your vision and communicate with your vendors, so everyone is on the same page and knows exactly what you expect and envision.
  • Part 3: How to pick your wedding venue without being able to visit it.

So, let’s get to work and dive right into part one.  

How to reach out to potential wedding vendors

Step 1: Basics

When planning an intimate destination wedding, it’s essential to have your wedding basics figured out before reaching out to vendors. This means:

  • Your budget and any wiggle room [Related: How to Save Money Planning a Stunning Elopement]
  • Your date
  • Your destination
  • The approx. number of your guests (if you invite any)
  • A list of wedding vendors that you would like to book for your wedding, such as:
    • photographer
    • wedding celebrant
    • hair and makeup artist
    • florist
    • cake designer

It can also be helpful if you have already booked your venue, but that’s not a must (we’ll have a close look at how to book a wedding venue without seeing it first in part three of this series). 

Step 2: Vision

To search for the right venue and vendors, it’s essential that you already have a vision in your mind about the look and feel of your wedding. 

The easiest way to do that is to create a wedding mood board. Include inspirational images from, for example, cakes, bouquets, or shoes. However, not all photos necessarily need to have anything to do with weddings per se but should convey the look and feel you would like to create. Think cherry blossom tree to give the feeling of a light spring wedding or bold red lips for a glamorous wedding. Add a color scheme and some keywords that describe your vision in more detail, like warm, welcoming, vintage-inspired, or glamorous.

Here is an example of a wedding mood board created in Canva

Canva is a free online graphic design tool that is super easy to use, but of course, you can also create a mood board in PowerPoint or any other design tool. 

Another way to create a mood board is with Pinterest.

Expert Tip for Pinterest: Save all images on one board but have different sections for each category like flowers, general decoration, cake, tablescape, etc. Also, have one section, which is your overall mood board, that only includes your favorite images of each section. This way, you stay organized throughout the planning, and once you start working with vendors, you can communicate your style and ideas effortlessly to everyone. 

[Related: How to Choose Your Wedding Theme]

Step 3: Vendors

Now that you have laid the groundwork, it’s time to search for vendors.

  1. Start with a Google search using destination-specific keywords, like destination wedding photographer Amsterdam or wedding celebrant Dubai.
  2. Also search on Instagram using specific #s. For example: #destinationweddingeurope, #elopementamsterdam, #dubaimakeupartist 
  3. Once you have a list of potential wedding vendors, don’t just send tons of generic emails to every vendor you found. Instead, do thorough research first. Look at their websites and social media accounts. What’s your first impression? Do you like what you see? Does their visual and written content resonate with you? Do they have reviews, for example, on Google or Facebook, or testimonials on their website?
  4. Then narrow down your list to 3 to maximum 4 vendors per category that are your absolute favorites. 

Expert Tip: If you have found, for example, a photographer on Instagram that you would love to work with, look at their Instagram captions to see if they have tagged the vendors they have worked with before. The chances are that you will find other vendors you like from the same area! 

[Related: 7 Tips on How to Find the Right Vendors for Your Destination Wedding]

Step 4: Emails

Now, it’s finally time to send those emails.

When you reach out to potential wedding vendors for the first time, let them know that you plan a destination wedding and already give them some information. This way they know right away if they are a good fit for you and your vision.

Here is an email template that you are more than welcome to use and customize for your needs:

Dear [insert vendor’s name], My name is [insert name], and my partner [insert name] and I are planning a destination wedding. We want to get married on [insert day] in [insert city, venue, or country], and we are looking for a [insert vendor]. Because we like your [what you like about the vendor], we wanted to inquire about your services and prices.

Here is some more information about our wedding and what we are looking for:

  • Our wedding date:
  • Our wedding venue:
  • Approx. number of guests:
  • Style/Theme: (style e.g., laid-back, informal, semi-formal, formal; theme e.g., industrial, romantic, contemporary, rustic, vintage) – this is especially helpful when you reach out to a wedding designer, cake designer, or a florist

We are interested in: e.g.,

  • x-hour photography coverage
  • simple, unique, artistic, small, big, 1-tier, 2-tier… buttercream/ fondant wedding cake
  • x bridal bouquet(s) / x boutonniere(s) / x bridesmaid bouquets / x table centerpieces / wedding arch decoration
  • (non) legally binding / (non) religious / interfaith/ symbolic wedding ceremony

Please let us know if you are available on our wedding date and your packages/prices. Thank you, Name & Name

Optional: If reaching out to planners, photographers, or wedding celebrants, you can already ask if they have time to schedule a virtual meeting. If reaching out to designers such as cake designers or florists, you can already attach your mood board.

This is what it could look like:

Dear Jenna, My name is Chris, and my partner Taylor and I are planning a destination wedding and we want to get married on May 17 in Amsterdam. Because we really like your cake creations we wanted to inquire about your prices.

Here is some more information about our wedding and what we are looking for:

  • Our wedding date: May 17, 2023
  • Our wedding venue: TBD*
  • Approx. number of guests: none, it’s just the two of us 🙂
  • Style: semi-formal
  • Theme: romantic, city elopement with an industrial vibe
  • We are interested in a small but unique buttercream cake just for the two of us. 

Please let us know if you are still available and your average prices for a small buttercream cake, including VAT and delivery. Thank you, Chris & Taylor

*TBD = to be determined

Free Ultimate Wedding Planning Checklist. Are you planning an elopement or intimate destination wedding? Then download my planning checklist for free. From setting a date to writing those thank-you notes. It covers everything you need to know to plan your wedding quickly and stress-free without hiring a wedding planner. #lovelyandplanned

I hope this was already helpful in how to plan a destination wedding! Stay tuned for part 2 where we go into detail about how you can convey your vision and expectations to all your wedding vendors. 

If you have any questions in the meantime, I’d love to hear from you. You can get in touch with me right here or email me directly at michaela@lovelyandplanned.com.

Love, Michaela

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