A big part of the destination wedding experience for our clients is the scouting trips. For us, we recommend a minimum of two scouting trips, however we have some couples who consolidate this into one trip and others where we visit the destination three to four times depending on the size and scope of the weekend. It’s all about what’s needed for success and what makes all parties the most comfortable. As you plan your own destination wedding, I wanted to share the tasks we recommend accomplishing on your own  scouting trips.

The first scouting trip should be all about finding a venue and exploring the culture. It’s this trip where we schedule back to back visits to venues to look for the location that fits our ideal guest count, aesthetic and offers a travel experience guests will enjoy. For instance, when scouting in Italy, while there’s hundreds of amazing locations to choose from, we may want to opt for Tuscany if the couple wants a weekend all about food, wine and laid back Italian hospitality. Or we may want to check out Capri if we’re hoping for a beachy escape paired with day drinking, fresh seafood and a more playful side of Italy.

In addition to finding THE spot, I recommend building time into the schedule to explore the local culture including visiting open air markets, dining at local favorites and trying regional drinks, sweets and more. This will get you inspired for how to approach design on all levels from aesthetics to menu to guest experience and more.

We recommend using the second scouting trip to really hone in your vision with the vendors. You should accomplish the following on this trip:

If not for every event, be sure to have at least one food tasting with your wedding caterer. Before arriving you should have several conversations with your planner, chef or catering team about the vision for your wedding dinner. The food at the tasting should be reflective of the items you’ll be serving at the wedding.

If you’re working with a local floral team, this is a great opportunity to schedule time to do an in person design session where you’re able to review your tablescape design and possibly bouquet, depending on your agreement. We take this a step further and ensure we have linens, rentals and more on hand so our clients can get a full vision of the dining experience and highly recommend you do the same when possible.

If working with a local hair and makeup team, be sure to get some time with them during scouting to try out your look.

Just because you’re planning from afar, doesn’t mean you should miss out on any of the fun stuff. Be sure to schedule a cake tasting with a local company and ideally try flavors you can envision actually serving at the wedding.

Revisit the venue or venues you’re having your events at. Use this time to get more specific on things like timing, layout, flow and more.

While not necessary, it can be nice to meet your photographer, officiant or any other local vendors in person.

While one to two trips is typically enough for our couples to feel comfortable, we often take a third scouting trip on our end to manage logistics, work through the nitty gritty of the production, double and trip timing, smaller details and more. Depending on the destination, culture and more, this may or may not be necessary, but worth keeping on your radar if you’re hosting a multi-day production.

As always, if you have any questions related to planning your destination wedding, do hesitate to leave them in the comments below or to email us at hello@bethhelmstetter.com.