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Kim Sayatovic

Destination Events vs. Local Events

Wedding planner Kim Sayatovic on the pros and cons of destination versus local events

When people think of a destination event, they usually have visions of faraway paradises and lots of traveling. However, a destination event doesn’t need to require a plane ride to get there. In fact, it can even happen close to home!

Oftentimes, I’ll tell clients to plan a “staycation” and pretend that they’re tourists in their own hometown. For example, there are many suburbs in the Chicago area, and some residents don’t make it to the downtown area very often. But just because you can drive there doesn’t mean it’s not a destination.

Who is the ideal destination client?
When working with a client, the decision between hosting a destination event or a local event largely depends on the size of the event and the budget. If I can tell a client is stressed out about adding “obligation invites” to the guest list, I often suggest a smaller destination celebration.

For example, a friend of mine was planning his wedding and knew getting married in the United States would mean a guest list with over 500 people, whereas an out-of-the-way locale could have a smaller guest list with only his closest loved ones in attendance.

I find that many of my destination clients are couples who don’t live in their hometown and know that their families will have to travel anyways. They figure that the family will be on the road regardless, so they may as well have everyone meet up somewhere fun and unique.

Considerations for planning
For event professionals, of course, it’s always preferred to plan something in your local market. You’ve already developed relationships with industry buddies that can often save the clients time and money. It’s easier to be able to drive over to your florist friend and see something in person, rather than over Skype or FaceTime.

For clients, it can also be easier to plan in your hometown, as you can meet with all of your vendors in person and take in all of their knowledge of the area. However, with video calls, Internet access, and relatively inexpensive travel, planning something away from home isn’t a challenge like it once was.

With that in mind, it’s important to consider what the clients truly want out of their event. Keep in mind that a destination affair requires the host to travel, as well as the guests.

If your client doesn’t want the pressure of traveling, it may be best to stick with a local celebration. A destination event also requires more logistics than a local one, as a forgotten tux can easily be solved close to home whereas a faraway destination would mean hoping to find a local tuxedo store. If they don’t mind the travel or planning, be sure to tack on extra days to the trip in case of travel delays. Have them show up on-site at least a couple of days before the main event.

For many, there’s nothing that beats the beauty and exoticness of a destination celebration--it is truly an experience to remember. However, for others, the planning considerations or the fear of family members not making the trip might mean a hometown event or a "staycation," as I suggested, is a better choice. It all depends on the client’s preferences.

Kim Sayatovic is the founder and chief creative officer of Belladeux Event Design, a full service wedding and event design firm based in New Orleans.

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