Once upon a time, there was a wedding planner from San Antonio. She’d just gotten home from planning a destination wedding in Tulum, Mexico, and her thoughts were filled with memories of all the other beautiful weddings she’d planned in Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Hawaii, and all across the United States. Her name was Tracy French and she’d been planning nuptial celebrations through her business The French Connection for nearly 15 years. But it was thanks to two different stints on two different TV shows that Tracy became known far beyond the Alamo City for her destination wedding planning expertise.
“Destination weddings are completely different than weddings at home. There is a completely different atmosphere and they are almost—less stressful. Especially when you have a wedding planner with you, separate from the resort,” adds the former core planner for Style Network whose work was featured on the hit shows Whose Wedding Is It Anyway? and Married Away. “You’re having an experience over a few days rather than just a few hours. Guests are excited from the moment they step off the plane, and you get to have a fun-filled weekend with your closest family and friends. It’s an amazing experience—more intimate and so memorable.”
Naturally, the first thing couples often ask about destination weddings is the cost. Isn’t jetting off to Dominican Republic more expensive than staying home in Texas? Not necessarily. “You can definitely do a destination wedding for less than a wedding in the states, though sometimes you’ll pay just as much as you would for a stateside wedding. The difference is in the experience,” says the A-list planner with Destination Weddings & Honeymoons magazine. Essentially, the difference is in the guest list. For a wedding at home, you have a certain look and style you want to achieve, but then you also have 200 near-and-dears you want to invite to the party, while at a destination, you can still achieve that look and style with an intimate few in attendance, plus enjoy the add-ons of beautiful beaches, fun excursions, and incorporating your honeymoon trip.
The most important step to take first is deciding on budget. How much can you comfortably spend? Then consider where you want to go and reach out to an expert destination wedding planner such as Tracy French and The French Connection. Just be sure you’re hiring someone who’s actually planned destination weddings and not someone who says they can plan a destination wedding. “This is very important because there are a lot of ins and outs when planning a wedding out of the country and guests are traveling internationally,” Tracy says. The French Connection provides client references—brides who are more than happy to talk to prospective TFC clients—and directs prospectives to the website, which features photos of destination events Tracy and her team have actually planned.
The second thought many couples have is: where do we even begin? If you’re here in San Antonio and your wedding venue is down in southern Mexico, how in the world do you find vendors and plan all the details for your special day, plus make sure your guests can get there and will have plenty to keep them entertained once they do. Again, that’s where Tracy and her team at The French Connection step in. “We do our best to take the stress out of planning,” says Tracy, whose years of bringing repeat business can often incentivize resort contacts who might otherwise be on island time. “When you’re in school or working, it can get hard, and that’s where having a planner is really helpful. I have relationships I can lean on if I need to or if I run into challenges. I can navigate for my couples and then simply report back.”
Tracy also knows what to expect and what to take into consideration. She always makes sure clients understand that (while more and more people are traveling—and with the whole family, no less) far fewer guests will typically show up than who originally RSVP or than you originally estimate. That’s just the nature of travel. She also guides her couples when determining the destination, reminding them that ease of travel does mean cheaper travel, so if you’re spending more money on airfare, you have less to spend on the resort. And then, of course, there’s timing—when it comes to destination weddings, decisions are made much earlier because you have to allow your guests plenty of time to plan and save. “That’s another reason why working with The French Connection is good, because we are wedding planners but we’re also a travel service. I’ll communicate with each guest and make sure they know when and where things are happening.”
Knowing that destination weddings are absolutely possible is really what Tracy wants future brides and grooms to know. She loves the energy when planning nuptials abroad, adding, “Everybody’s happy, everyone’s on vacation and not stressed. I love the fun and excitement everyone feels at a destination wedding.”
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