Planning a Hawaii destination wedding can bring its own set of challenges and stress, but it also can be so much more fun, too! However, before you dive into all of the wedding blogs to find a wedding consultant right for you, there are five very important factors to consider first:

Christie Pham Photography

1. Your Wedding Planner Doesn’t Have To Be “In-House” To Provide Amazing Service
Sometimes someone on the outside can better provide the assistance you need. Experience IS important but it doesn’t necessarily mean the consultant who works solely at your chosen venue can deliver what you envision just because they work there. Perhaps you prefer a more unique approach, even assurances you are not limited to a few service providers. If your consultant is a true professional, they will take care of all of the necessary due diligence to ensure your day runs smoothly and their portfolio should give you a good snapshot of their polish.

2. Make Sure You and Your Wedding Planner Speak The Same Language
No, I’m not talking about speaking English. I am referring to style, expectations and personality! Hawaii’s culture is much different and slower-paced. A lot of destination couples don’t understand this and it takes quite a bit of frustration getting used to it. If you expect prompt communications as a characteristic of your ideal consultant be sure you hire someone who fits the bill. Be very clear on your expectations and don’t be afraid to ask them to give you an overview of how the planning process will go. And, make sure you and your consultant have personality compatibility! You are going to be spending a LOT of time with them, so it makes sense that you need to click from the start!

3. Know What You Are Paying For
It is also really important for you to understand how your potential consultant structures their pricing so you better understand how they will go about the process of planning your wedding. There are typically two formats – flat fee or percentage. The flat fee format is more transparent where you see a flat retainer fee and the services that are included with that fee. The percentage method is based on the service providers you hire for your wedding and your consultant charges a commission or percentage based on the providers’ contract amounts. While there is nothing legally wrong with this method and it is the norm in some areas (Maui, being one), it is certainly less transparent for you in understanding exactly how much you are spending on your consultant and when they only work with “certain vendors” you have to wonder who really wins here.

Rachel Robertson Photography

4. Package vs. Custom
It is important to ensure your expectations are being met during the planning process, meaning that the service you select meets your needs creatively, too. If you prefer your wedding to be tailored to your needs and vision, then a package service may not be the best option for you. Packages are predetermined with specific vendors and limitations in mind that fit the price point indicated. They are designed for ease and convenience for brides who may be too busy or not be interested in diving into the details and design of customizing their wedding other than passing along colors and menu selections. A custom service typically means that a proposal is put together based on your needs, vision and budget and allows for more control and collaboration over the design of your wedding. It is imperative that you determine for yourself which category most fits who you are and book the consultant who will complement your needs.

5. The Contract
When couples have never planned a wedding before, they may overlook the overall tone of the foundation for your relationship – the contract. Make sure the proposal and contract outlines exactly what services you are and are NOT getting. Don’t assume. If you are a detailed person, then a vague and generalized contract, and thus, that particular professional, may not be a good choice for you. If you are a little more relaxed in your wedding planning approach, then you might be more comfortable with someone who isn’t as efficient and detailed and goes with the flow.

While value and services are certainly important when selecting the consultant to assist you with your destination wedding, it is equally important to collaborate with someone who is compatible with your personality, communication style and expectations. This will ensure your planning process will be as fun and stress-free as possible!

Ms Gingham says: Sound advice here! If you want your wedding planner to be available to help you through the whole process then you need to specify or vice versa.

About Michelle of Michelle Garibay Events: “I am a California native but lived on Oahu for 5 years and even when I lived there, most of my clients were destination wedding couples. That is my speciality and who I appeal to. I am focused on destination weddings on Oahu, how to get the most out of your destination wedding planner, choosing the right venue and making the process simpler and more enjoyable for those couples planning from afar, and more. It can be overwhelming, but we are here to take the stress and uncertainty out of it!”