Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Meet the Expert: Steve Kemble

In this week’s Meet the Expert column, we interview one of America’s top wedding planners and self-styled “America’s Sassiest Lifestyle Guru.” He’s hip, he’s funky and he’s none other than Steve Kemble. Steve is a star of several TV shows on the Style Network (Whose Wedding Is It Anyway and Married Away), We (Platinum Weddings, Married By the In-laws, and Bling on the Bride) and ABC (Extreme Makeover: Wedding Edition). He’s also the author of the Dash of Sass Blog (note: this isn’t totally wedding related).

What Trends do you see in destination weddings for 2009-2010?

The strongest trend that I am seeing in destination weddings is that couples are taking their guests' travel expenses more into consideration when selecting their destination. In years past, a couple would select a romantic and exotic destination that they had always wanted to go to, without giving much thought to how or if everyone else would be able to feasibly and economically get there. Given the current economic state of the world, I feel the trend of selecting a more budget (yet still romantic and exotic) conscious destination to travel to for all of the guests will continue to be a very strong trend.

How are the needs of engaged couples changed over time? What are they looking for now that they weren't looking for a year ago?

I feel couples today are planning their special day truly for themselves. In the past, couples were planning their weddings based more on family or cultural traditions and customs, than what they really desired. Today, couples are selecting arrangements for their wedding that truly represent themselves, versus doing what simply may be trendy or hip at the time, or related to family traditions.

If a couple is on the fence about having a destination wedding, why should they consider it?

Not to continue all the doom and gloom about the economy, yet a destination wedding can be a sound financial decision for a couple that is struggling with how they are going to pay for the wedding of their dreams...especially if they are in a big city! A destination wedding allows you to cut your guest list drastically. You can leave off a lot of business associates and friends of friends. A smaller guest list allows for a more lavish affair! Additionally, destination weddings are perfect for the couple who has family and friends scattered all over the country. If these people are going to have to travel to your wedding anyway, why not have them travel to a wonderful, fun and romantic destination to share in your big day!

What is the single biggest source of wedding drama that you see and how can couples minimize it in destination wedding planning?

When planning a destination wedding, the biggest source of drama I see is when couples select a destination they are not familiar with. As I tell all my couples, a destination wedding takes a tremendous amount of trust, or you will have an overwhelming amount of stress! To alleviate the stress, I encourage the couples to travel to the destination a minimum of one time and engage the services of, and trust a planner in the destination of their choice. In addition to having a planner in the locale of their wedding, I feel it is equally important to also have a planner to work with them at home. The advantages of having a planner in the destination are numerous. Most importantly they will help you with language and cultural barriers in addition to knowing the best vendors in the destination. Additionally, a planner in the destination will be able to help you with the best all inclusive rates at local hotel properties because you have to remember the local planner most likely plans numerous weddings at a hotel property or other venues in their home destination, whereas you are only planning your one wedding. Local planners are volume buyers and can get you the best price possible. Personally, I feel there are no disadvantages to engaging the services of a local planner in the wedding destination.

What is the most interesting and unique destination wedding you ever planned? What made it so memorable?

The most interesting and unique destination wedding I have ever planned was in Ireland. Not only is Ireland one of the most beautiful and romantic locations in the world, the couple had Irish ancestors so it made it even more special. What made the wedding so memorable was that the wedding was held in a historic castle. I actually stayed in the castle along with the couple (all in separate rooms of course!) for three days prior to the wedding. Is there anything that could be more romantic than getting married in a castle in Ireland! Additionally, the castle was located in a very small town and everyone in the community celebrated the wedding of this couple they did not even know! We went from pub to pub dancing and singing with all the locals, Irish rugby players included! It was amazing, you would have thought it was the wedding of royals! The bride said she truly felt like a fairy tale princess getting married in a castle!

What is a good size to strive for in a destination wedding?

I feel the best size for destination wedding is 80-100 guests'. This is a very manageable and cost effective size for many fabulous resorts and venues around the world.

In light of the economic climate, how are couples adjusting their destination wedding plans to cope?

They are reducing the size of their guest list and are selecting destinations that are more reasonably priced.

What is the next big thing in destination weddings that you see couples doing?

I am seeing more and more couples incorporating the traditions and cultural of the destination in which they are getting married into their wedding ceremony. Additionally, couples are doing projects with their invited guests in which they are giving back to the local community. I anticipate the aspect of helping the local community and the people that live in those destinations in some way, as the next big thing in destination weddings!

What is the single best piece of advice you would give couples prior to planning a destination wedding?

A Save the Date card is critically important if you expect your desired family and friends to attend! Most people will need to plan ahead for budget reasons and additionally to request vacation time from work reasons.

1 comment:

Cathy Colbert said...

Another great idea for destination weddings sending an invitation that contains all the pertinent information the guests will need, from hotel accommodations to itineraries and what they will need for that particular country along with your wedding website. If you can find a booklet type invitation to hold all of it together, it will make their lives much easier. Think passport invitation-not only does it give homage to a passport and is perfect for a destination wedding, but some invitation companies, will add as many interior pages as you need to hold all the information your guests need for the big event!