Modern day destination

Gordon Becker Photography Margaret River wedding photographerPlanning on a modern day destination wedding? Then take note because we have the Top 10 Tips to take you from mere thoughts in your head to an expertly organised wedding event.

These days personal touches, videographers, photo booths, guest interaction, a more involved groom and a “if you can dream it we can do it” mantra from event stylists mean that today’s weddings are anything but cookie cutter.

Put it down to a generational change, people getting married later in life and knowing exactly what they want or the rise of the hipster but there is now an emphasis on bringing a personal touch to each wedding and creating a memorable experience for guests.   And choosing a destination location is key to creating that memorable experience.

Wills Domain - John Rice Photographer - destination wedding

Couples choose a destination wedding to create something extraordinary for their guests, an unforgettable journey rather than just one day to share with friends and family and often to capture the drama and beauty of the region in their photographs.

Weddings are about making people’s dreams come true. Every bridal couple has a vision of how they want their day to be and destination weddings can deliver on many fronts because it is an experience not just a moment.

It is opening up a place in the world that is special to the couple, for whatever reason, and sharing it with the people who mean the most to them. It is an out-of-the-ordinary adventure for all and often a first-time experience for interstate or overseas guests.

Navigating the decisions of a destination wedding is no different to having to make all of the serious decisions about a wedding near your home. You just have to be better prepared!

Wills Domain - John Rice Photographer - destination wedding

A popular choice for the modern bridal couple is to create a website for their guests which outlines a variety of accommodation options, local scenic attractions and can even be as detailed as finding the best local hotspots for coffee, bakeries, dining, surfing spots and walking trails.

It is also a good idea to think about what type of shops are in the local area and what you will or won’t be able to access for any last-minute necessities. Put time into researching what shops are nearby and the opening hours.

The homework you do in the lead up to a destination wedding helps in making your dream event something to be remembered. And this includes researching who you will use as suppliers such as hair and make-up, florist, event styling and photography.

If you don’t have your own team you want to bring with you and you are trying to save on costs then choosing local suppliers means you save on travel and accommodation expenses for the suppliers.

Functions manager for Wills Domain winery in Margaret River, Rachael Everett, said events ran more smoothly if the venue and suppliers had a good relationship.

“The biggest advice I can give is use suppliers who your venue knows and who know the venue well. I promise, if you use a supplier your venue recommends, then planning your wedding will be a piece of cake!” she said.

Wills Domain - John Rice Photographer - destination wedding
Before choosing a destination venue Ms Everett recommends the following preparation.

“Firstly decide what your main priorities are if it is food, wine, music, styling, a view or the sunset,” she said.

“Have a number in mind and always tell the venue you are considering your biggest number of guests, let the RSVP be the final decider. You can’t always make a venue bigger and fitting tightly into a space can be unpleasant for guests and the smooth running of service. A good venue manager will be honest and send you somewhere more suitable if they can’t accommodate the numbers comfortably or be comfortable with changing your dining experience maybe from formal to cocktail to make the venue work.

“Decide if you are looking for a venue or a function room. The difference is the amount of style you want to incorporate. A blank canvas or something with character that already reflects your own style.

“And another consideration is what will be on at the time? Brides and grooms do not need the extra pressure or cost of trying to accommodate family and friends during some of the region’s biggest events of the year.”

Ms Everett said although bridal couples were not always able to visit their chosen destination venue prior to the big day, it was now possible to set up Skype meetings to help develop the relationship with the function manager in the lead up. If you were able to travel to the venue then three times was the magic number to visit prior to ensure everything ran smoothly.

John Rice Photographer, Margaret River wedding photographer

“Visit firstly for a site inspection and to book in your date,” she said. “Two months prior to have a sit down and run though with your function manager and decide on the menu and the third visit, make it a week or day before if possible, to iron out any last minute issues.”

Destination bride Kate Loxton-Sim said if you were bringing your own personal decorations or gifts for your guests then make sure they were in boxes or tubs and clearly labelled to easily transport and access once at the destination.

She also advised having a copy of your own running sheet and transport to take your guests home.

“Create a running sheet with all of your suppliers contact details and when they’re arriving and when they are bumping out for example — sometimes your venue will do this for you but make sure you have a really detailed version yourself that you can share with the co-ordinator from the venue on the day,” Mrs Loxton-Sim said.


  1. Consider the region and what big events may be on at the time. You don’t need extra pressure or cost trying to accommodate guests during the region’s biggest annual events.
  2. Before visiting and choosing your venue decide what your main priorities are — food, wine, music, styling, a view or the sunset?
  3. Have a number in mind and always tell the venue your biggest number of guests.
  4. If possible, visit the venue three times prior — once for site inspection and locking in the date, two months prior to choose your menu and a final “week before check” to iron out any last minute decisions. If you can’t visit prior, then Skype!
  5. Create a website or list to include with your invite with accommodation options and hotspots.
  6. Photography locations — find a setting that has a good variety of textures and keep it down to one or two spots and fix timing to capture the best natural light.
  7. Use local suppliers (hair and make-up / photography / florists / stylists) to save on travel and accommodation costs. Liase with your venue to see who they work with.
  8. If you don’t have a wedding planner label boxes/tubs with all your theming/decorations to transport and create a run sheet with all your suppliers contact details.
  9. For styling — Instagram-stalk all your suppliers to see previous work so you can refer to examples when briefing them on your style.
  10. Organise transport to take guests home as finding a taxi at the end of the night could be difficult in the location.

John Rice Photographer, weddings in the Margaret River region

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