I would never malign Fargo by saying it is not a lovely place to have a wedding, but there are some things the jewel of North Dakota simply can not provide. Tropical birds. White sand beaches. Seawater so warm you can’t even feel it. For those, you have to have a destination wedding.
Planning a destination wedding can feel like you’re herding cats. Navigating your own air travel is challenging enough, but ensuring that grandma and grandpa make it to Cancún on time takes heroics. Knowing whether your marriage will be legal in a given country requires research. And the internet, as potent as it can be, isn’t always reliable. Sometimes a resort doesn’t live up to the expectations set by its website.
There’s a lot at stake on the biggest day of your life. That is why if you are planning a destination wedding, you would do well to take advice from Lisa Brasgalla of Vows In Paradise of the Travel Travel Group. The local travel advisor has the better part of 20 years’ experience, and destination weddings are her area of special expertise.
“I’ve found my niche,” said Lisa. “I’m a very organized person, take pride in my job, enjoy working with couples, and above all else know how to throw a party! What I love most, though, and which makes everything worthwhile, is seeing the photos and hearing the stories when my clients return home.
“Any destination wedding plan starts with a lot of questions. Where do you want to go? What is your vision for a perfect wedding? Will it be family-friendly, or adults-only? When are you going? That last question is especially important if you’re traveling somewhere tropical. A lot of Midwesterners don’t think about hurricane season!
“One of the most important things to consider is whether you want a legal wedding abroad or just a symbolic one. Every country’s marital laws are different. In Mexico, for example, a couple must arrive four days prior to the ceremony and even take a blood test! I usually advise my clients to take care of the legal marriage in the U.S. first, and then have the meaningful ceremony afterward.
“Picking a great venue is crucial, and with enough research you can find something that fits what you want exactly. Because I’ve toured hundreds of resorts across the world, I’m able to make recommendations. I also save couples from picking a resort that I would never stay at myself!
“Once I understand what a couple’s dream destination wedding will look like, the hard part of my job begins. All of the guests book their flights and rooms through me, and I make sure they each have the documents necessary for travel. I closely monitor the weather, flight delays, and cancellations, especially since most destination weddings are held in the wintertime. When a blizzard or some other problem pops up, I see that everyone still gets to the hotel on time. Usually the couple doesn’t even know I’ve rearranged their guests’ travel arrangements until they see them at the wedding. It’s a good job for a control freak like me.
“I would much recommend relying on a travel advisor over a service like Expedia or Orbitz. If you have a problem like a room with a view of the ice machine instead of the beach, or even something last minute before the ceremony, talking to a call center employee is not likely to resolve it. But a good travel advisor has built up working relationships with countless resorts, and knows their staff personally. I see things through — my job isn’t finished until everyone has returned home safely!”
Working with Lisa is like going to one of those fancy restaurants that pledges to make any dish you could order. Do you want to get married in a medieval Irish castle? Tie the knot while scuba diving at a coral reef? Treat one hundred North Dakotans to a secluded beachside ceremony in Pa Tong, complete with live polka music? It’s not only incredibly convenient to entrust the complications of a destination wedding to a travel advisor. It’s also fun to watch them find an accordion player in Thailand.
If you are planning a destination wedding and need help with the campaign, you can ask Lisa anything at (701) 526-1855 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Her office is located at 1700 42 St SW, Ste 1000 in Fargo.
By David Scheller