When your best friend gets engaged, life gets stressful. As the bride’s best friend, I quickly realized that I had the unofficial job of being her right-hand planner. Most brides get their own professional wedding planner, but that person won’t be around to help with little decisions. Plus, as great as wedding planners are, they don’t know how to plan my best friends destination wedding like I do.
I was going to be the one she texted or called when she wanted to celebrate a success or vent about something that was frustrating her. The key to be a good planner and friend is to listen to what she wants, balance it with what she needs and help make her dreams come true. Read my list for other things that you’ll find go along with the journey to planning your friends destination wedding.
Where your best friend wants to have her wedding will affect everything. Certain spots around the world are more expensive than others. The beach location she’s drooling over may be more money than she originally planned to spend. That’s when I cracked my knuckles and got to investigating.
If your best friend has fallen in love with one location, there’s probably another place that looks just like it but has more pros than cons. Make a list to compare them, if you have to!
I wrote out what businesses in both areas could help make the wedding happen and how much they charged. I investigated how expensive both places would be for family to fly into. Then I showed her how much money she could save and what she could put that money towards, like her honeymoon or first home with her spouse. It totally opened her eyes and was worth every phone call and internet search. She became way less stressed about money and the entire wedding in general.
Guest lists are a guaranteed punch line and plot point of any movie that has anything to do with weddings. No bride wants to hurt anyone’s feelings, so everyone ends up on the first draft. It’s getting through the second, third and fourth drafts that requires a lot of effort. I knew my best friend would struggle to not include people because she has so many people she loves, but she also couldn’t afford to let every single person be invited.
I made her think about each guest or group of guests separately. A single person might be able to afford a plane trip out to your friend’s destination wedding, but a family with a ton of kids? If it’s not a place you can drive to, people are going to struggle to get to your friend’s wedding. Add on hotel costs, where they’ll eat and what gift they’ll get and being a wedding guest rack up quickly.
There are easy ways to narrow down a guest list, and everyone will find something a little different that works for them. I helped my best friend work through three lists to narrow it down. The first had guests on it that had to be there. The second was people she’d like to be there. The third was a compromise of the two.
Some brides really struggle with this because they have large families and friend groups. If they really can’t narrow it down, introduce the idea of live streaming the wedding. It’ll ease the pressure to send an invite to everyone, plus you’ll get video of the wedding without hiring a videographer.
This is a big part of what a professional wedding planner can’t help with. They won’t know what makes your best friend laugh or get upset. They don’t know your friend’s limits with stress. You do! Be there for your friend by watching them closely. If they don’t look like they’re dealing with the wedding planning process very well, it’s time to step in.
I noticed that when it came down to choosing the table toppers for her reception, my best friend reached her breaking point. She had been focused on planning and deciding things for so long that burned herself out. If I could have gone back in time, I would have asked her to take a break.
Breaks can be anything from getting your nails done together to having a binge-watching session with some pizza on a Friday night. Or if money is the root of the stress, do something free like a walk in the park or an at-home yoga session. It’s always good to break out of your mindset when it’s reaching an unhealthy level of stress or anxiety. It’s even harder to see when you’re at that point if you’re the one feeling it. Be an advocate for your best friend and help her balance her stress with some fun.
Trying to help plan your best friend’s destination wedding is no laughing matter. I’ve learned so much about the wedding planning process that I’d never have thought of before. It’s been a bonding experience for the two of us and by being there for her, I feel way more prepared for when it comes time to plan my own wedding.
Destination weddings require more thought about where you’ll be and what’s in the surrounding area because you won’t know it as well as you’d know someplace close to home. Never feel afraid to do more research, call for quotes and ask for help. The more you know, the better the wedding planning will be for you and your best friend.