By Ashley Peters
Daniela and I were discussing destination weddings and how they are so interesting, unique and often logistically baffling to those having not participated in one. It dawned on us that there are likely many individuals out there curious about the idea of pulling off a show stopping destination wedding to somewhere relaxing and peaceful however feel the process would be anything but. Let’s assume you’ve decided ( or are seriously entertains the idea ) to have a destination wedding and bring some vendors with you. So, as a bridal hairstylist let me shed some light on this type of a wedding and provide inset from my first hand experience.
While this is my view and experiences; not all vendors may operate identically to my actions I do believe this is a good guideline and starting point even when speaking to other types of vendors. To start you may be wondering why I’m even qualified to speak on the subject. I’ve participated in multiple destination weddings in various countries and a wide variety of venue styles. All with special needs to take into consideration such as electrical, transportation, weather, etc. I’ve travelled … a lot and I absolutely love it. Destination weddings allow me to combine two of my greatest loves making for a pretty fantastic career. All of this brings me to my first piece of advice when picking a destination stylist: pick someone who genuinely loves what they do; both travel and their trade as a vendor, (in my case hair).
Ashley at a wedding in Croatia as we recently featured
Traditionally I always say to pick a vendor who loves what they do because then they will be genuinely excited about your wedding. You don’t want someone who is bored by weddings and is in it purely for profit. The same goes for travel. I love to travel; anywhere and everywhere. Some people are not fans of travel, flying, layovers, navigating in foreign languages and so on whereas others, (myself included) see it as one big, exhilarating adventure. So what does someone’s personal opinion on travel matter? Chances are if they are not a fan it will read through as they drag their heels, possibly complain and likely surcharge for random things seen as an “inconvenience”. Someone who loves travel likely has experience as well which brings me to my second point: experience matters.
While many vendors dream of doing destination weddings as a pseudo vaca it’s anything but. Granted everyone needs to start somewhere but perhaps it’s best if experience starts with their own travel versus on your wedding. There are certain unique things to consider when traveling abroad that can be logistically critical. These are things a vendor may not realize unless they’ve experienced it. When it comes to hair for instance I need to take into account the electric and so I have a dual adapter and converter not to mention all of my tools are rated to work globally so no short circuiting curling irons on the day of. I need to consider the reliability of electricity in very old buildings such as actual 13th century Italian villas and therefor providing a backup of cordless tools pre-charged. This is just the tip of the iceberg. It doesn’t include what I can bring in a carry-on, back up purchasing locations for products if my baggage was to be lost, the weather at the location, and so on. There’s so many things to consider and that’s just relating to my craft not even the logistics of traveling such as the specific airports, transportation and more. Needless to say, pick a vendor who has experience or at the very least traveling abroad.
So how do you even go about requesting a vendor to tag along on your big day. Simply ask. Some vendors (including me) publicly advertise that these types of weddings are in our wheelhouse. Others are open to the idea but don’t spotlight it. Either way you simply need to ask. The interesting thing is that since destination weddings are such a unique venture and no two are alike it proposes an open field of conversation and negotiation. There may be guidelines and vendors still need to be fairly compensated for their time and talents but since it is such a wide open frontier this really works to the couples’ advantage. So when reaching out give the usual details such as introductions, date, and make sure to mention where the wedding will be.
Make sure you are clear about being open to discuss their proposition to potentially work together.
What exactly is up for negotiation? Well, mainly it all revolves around price, payment format and what’s included. When it comes to flights, and accommodation the couple can either purchase an agreed upon choice for the vendor or the two parties can come to an agreed upon value and simply pay that amount for that aspect. In either case all parties should be in agreement for the chosen flight times, airport and lodging. Make sure to also consider transportation. Will transportation be provided every step of the way or will the vendor need to transport themselves? If they are transporting themselves it’s the similar conversation as with the flights. If the couple is providing transportation make sure the vendor has all the appropriate information such as contact information, meeting points, timeline etc. Also consider whether food will be provided or if will be paying a per diem. Finally getting to the topic of payment for services. Traditionally with weddings, vendors are paid for exactly the services as is. For example with hair it’s per style but for destination weddings there’s the option of per diem. Instead of charging per style I offer a day rate where for the entire day I am at your call for any hair needs, including touch ups throughout the evening. This way my brides receive more but I’m still compensated. You may even want to see if the vendor is willing to provide services for the rehearsal or day after brunch if applicable. As you may have noticed in general things can be itemized or a lump value, (including per diems) and of course there’s always the option of combining techniques. Either option can work seamlessly and comes down to preference on all parties.
In my experience the most important thing to remember when coordinating a destination wedding is clear lines of communication. A well laid plan always makes any wedding go smoother but with more moving parts it’s even more pertinent. Don’t assume everyone’s on the same page and don’t be afraid to ask questions. As a hairstylist who has been a part of countless destination weddings my goal is for you to be happy, stunning and stress free so anything I can do to make that happen is an option. Having those open conversations will help everything be better than a fairytale.
Do you have more questions about destination weddings? I would love to hear them . Any way I can help plan your dream would be a joy.
Ashley Peters is an American based hairstylist, author and business owner. While many of her brides are stateside she is available for destination weddings worldwide. She is passionate about animal advocacy, connecting through travel, art and always learning something new. When her hands aren’t in hair you’ll find her on a hiking trail, with a good book or off on a crazy adventure with her husband, pups and soy vanilla latte in hand. Read Ashley’s articles