Destination Wedding Planning – What to look out for when deciding on exclusive use of a venue for a very large group.
We promise to share with you real wedding experiences so that you will be aware and prepared if you find yourself experiencing something similar.
Today we are sharing a situation currently being experienced by a UK couple who had planned a 3-day wedding with a high amount of accommodation for their 120 guests for exclusive use.
The exceptional circumstances are of course Covid related.
The couple signed an agreement with their venue during the second lockdown in the UK and fully accepted the risks associated with a destination wedding in Covid times. This is important to mention as the couple took the risk to commit to an exclusive agreement when it was not possible to travel.
Signing the Agreement:
The agreement reflected 3 days accommodation at full capacity and also additional meals around the wedding day. The total cost for this was not insignificant.
The couple wanted to have everyone together on site. To do this they worked out an inclusive price for each guest for the 3 days to be paid into an account with a view to the couple making phased payments as they were the signatories on the agreement and responsible for the payments.
All good so far until….
60 days before the wedding a drastic drop in guests numbers due to the realisation of what is involved to travel to Italy, PCR tests, quarantine in the destination country and at home.
The fall out to this includes the emotional stress for the couple who are responsible for meeting the payments and the implications of those important penalty and cancellation clauses in the agreement. And yes this is something that can happen.
What you can do to lessen the impact of this kind of situation when planning a wedding with a big group and avoiding a crisis situation.
Large group exclusive use wedding abroad venues and the important questions you must ask:
- How are payments managed?
- What happens in case your guest numbers drop drastically?
- What is the cut off for changing from an exclusive use contract to booking a smaller block of rooms?
- What are the circumstances that the venue would pay back any payment instalments?
If paying for the venue involves passing a cost on to your guests make sure that they are aware that the payment will be required in advance and is non-refundable.
A drop in numbers before payments are made could mean that the wedding couple is liable for meeting the difference of the total price, if the venue is unlikely to have the opportunity for sell on of rooms released.
Read the cancellation policy and penalties paragraphs – put reminders in your calendar, specially for circumstances as we are experiencing with Covid. Individual country entry requirements can drastically affect a full turnout.
Take time to understand the penalties, which can be considerable in this case a tiered penalty system ranging from 30K to 50k. It is not just a case of losing your deposit, a penalty is applied if it is unlikely that cancellation of your event will allow the venue to resell the rooms, or claim back on food orders or if the exclusive agreement that you signed includes their inhouse restaurant being closed to external diners. All seen as potential lost revenue.
If circumstances mean you may have to change the format of the event – be certain about what it is you want to achieve, what are the compromises and non-negotiables for you?
Avoid continual changes and requests as this is one way to exhaust good will specially when the venue is willing NOT to apply any penalties for postponing from this year to next year. Alternative offers often come with an expiry timeline and will be priced according to month/season you may not have the luxury of a long deliberation period.
Schedule regular check-ins with both your venue and your guests and suppliers.
This will give you a feel for what is happening in the destination wedding location and also the mood of your guests and how they are feeling about the current situation.
Do not assume that because you have made the decision to move a date or change your event that the venue has availability for your preferred dates and that everyone is able to fall in with your plans.
Avoid a them and us approach. Adopting a partnership mentality will be advantageous to any solutions to be found. Your wedding is one of the biggest days of your life and sometimes you can fall prey to seeing things from one perspective. An immediate answer or action is not always possible when dealing with a large venue compared to a
small privately owned venue.
Panic strategies and arguments. This is a human reaction – wanting to state your argument and the reasons you feel that you deserve to have your money back. Remember that in most cases your issues and concerns are not that of your venue. We all want to feel heard and receive sympathy but if you are anticipating a full refund and flexibility when you are the one giving short notice, this may be readily given!
Need More Help
The above “Expert Tip” was kindly provided by our in-house Destination Wedding Planning Expert, Jo Daye. In a bid to to keep wedding planning simple, affordable, supportive and easy, Weddings Abroad Guide is collaborating with Jo to offer a “Virtual Wedding Planning Service” including 90 minute Personalised Wedding Consultations. The service is suitable for all stages of the planning process and is extremely helpful for those couples just getting started or planning their own wedding abroad. With over 14 years experience of designing bespoke weddings for international clients, Jo’s approach is to get you focused and to prioritise what’s important to you, guiding you on how to get the wedding you truly want. Having researched, planned and overseen many requests Jo is able to tap into a deep well of knowledge and actual experience, to explain with clarity what is involved and what things to consider. (We think her advice is absolutely brilliant and not to be missed)!