If you’ve embarked upon the challenge of creating a destination wedding, you’ll realise quite quickly how much harder it is to finesse the details with suppliers without being ‘on the ground’. From refining the ceremony location, to choosing a florist that isn’t just Instagram-worthy but is known by the locals to provide quality, to ensuring you’re not getting slapped with a ‘tourist tax’ at every turn… there’s a lot at stake.
We spoke with destination wedding planner Gemma Osborn, of Gem Events Management, about what to look for and expect in a destination wedding planner. Gemma spends most of her time managing weddings in Margaret River, Australia; and has also been on the ground in locations as diverse as forests in California and mountains on the South Island of New Zealand in the past couple of years.
Elle +Adhira: Gemma, tell us about you!
Gemma: Having grown up in the hospitality industry, and living in the beautiful region of Margaret River for most of my life, I began working on weddings and events when I was just 18. Eventually that involved into creating my own business five years ago. In that time, I’ve had the pleasure of working with a large number of amazing weddings, concerts, branded events and festivals; and have been fortunate enough to see my work featured in local and international magazines, like Hello May.
E+A: What inspires you as a wedding and event planner? How do you keep your work so fresh, and avoid bridal cliches?
G: I love to encourage everyone’s ideas and personal flair, so I can weave them in to create a genuinely unique, custom wedding for every client. Trends are always noticeable each year, which is not a bad thing – as it makes items and services readily available and affordable. But it’s important for brides to consider what it is that they would like, and would want to see – not what everyone else is doing.
E+A: What kinds of weddings or brides benefit most from having a wedding planner?
G: Anyone would benefit from having a wedding planner! Leave it to the professionals! Most brides have a full time job, a family to look after, or something that takes up most of their precious time. With wedding planning, time is of the essence – and knowing where to start and who to contact is everything.
Those brides that don’t live close by – like those planning a destination wedding – perhaps benefit the most. Having someone that lives in and understands the region well is vital.
E+A: What should a bride-to-be look for when choosing a wedding planner?
Everyone is different, so firstly you must be able to connect emotionally and personally with your planner. After all, this is a very special and personal day – so you need to be able to approach, communicate and trust your planner with total comfort.
Practically speaking, choose someone that offers a package that works for your budget.
E+A: Which other wedding industry creatives do you admire?
G: I admire a lot of amazing professionals that work within the wedding industry. All the outstandingly talented florists, photographers, caterers, designers, hair and makeup artists – we’re so lucky to be working with such a rich array of talent right now.
We have a fantastic team of suppliers in the Margaret River region that I love working with and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to my clients.
E+A: Being based in Margaret River, Australia, the weddings you plan are very often destination weddings. What advice would you give a bride and groom considering a destination wedding?
G: Firstly, be sure to check dates before you lock anything in – as accommodation around large events and public holidays can be prohibitively expensive and difficult to secure.
Research the area so you can give your guests recommendations early on for places to visit, things to do, and how far from the airport your location is – all of these factors will help them get excited about making their journey to your big day a reality! A wedding website is obviously a good way to communicate this.
I’d also suggest that you ensure you can visit the area and the venue before you book anything. Not all brides do this – but I find it’s a guaranteed way to avoid disappointment.
And of course – hire a locally based wedding planner.
E+A: A wedding planner sees everything that goes down before and on a wedding day. As someone who’s there for it all, what advice would you give to brides to have their best day possible?
G: The biggest thing is making sure you have nothing to stress about on your wedding day. You should be able to enjoy it even more than anyone else there. Give the little jobs to other people and have the professionals do the roles they specialise in.
Try not to make things complicated. The easier and simpler your wedding is, the more relaxed you will be. If you are marrying the person you love, that is all that matters in the end.