When you first enter the wedding industry, you are often eager to book anything you possibly can. We've all been tempted to work those crappy weddings for the promise of something, anything, you can add to your portfolio. The novelty wears off fast though. If you have been dreaming about how to book destination weddings and elopements, you are in the right place. In this article, I'm going to share with you how to get destination wedding clients.
As a wedding planner for over 13 years, I've learned a thing or two about booking the kind of clients you want (you can read more about my journey here if you are curious)! My wedding business, which I sold in 2019, started in Connecticut. When I met my now-husband, I eagerly started booking weddings in his destination where I now live and love – the dreamy little island of Barbados! Today, I am going to share with you 6 steps you need to take to book more destination weddings.
1) Make sure your website and branding make it CLEAR that you offer destination wedding and elopement services.
I know that it sounds too good to be true but sometimes simply saying that you offer destinations wedding and elopement services is enough to have people book you. Don't assume that your ideal customer automatically knows that you are ready and willing to book their destination wedding. We are going to talk more about how to attract destination wedding planning couples in the next few steps but you need to start here first. After all, what's the point of attracting destination wedding planning couples if your website and branding isn't going to seal the deal?
At the very least, advertising destination wedding services prompts wedding couples to start a conversation. Even if they don't end up booking you for a destination wedding, you never know if they will send referrals your way. When it comes to branding, be clear over clever. If you are dreaming of becoming a destination wedding planner, make it clear in your marketing!
Select 3-5 destinations you want to be known for. Don't worry, this list can grow over time.
I know, I know. Nobody ever wants to commit to their niche, right? If you have been dreaming about destination weddings, chances are you also have dreams of travelling the world and exploring many different locations with your wedding couples.
Bear with me while I hit you with a cliché like “Rome wasn't built in a day”.
When you first start to advertise that you were open for destination wedding business, focus on just 3 to 5 destinations that you really want to be known for. Once you become the go to wedding authority in your space for those destinations, you can start to expand to even more dreamy locations.
Research venue options that your ideal client would be interested in. If you don't know who your ideal client is, you need to grab my Client Cocktail!
Seriously, let me just insert a shameless plug here. You may think you have a pretty good idea of who your ideal client is, but after teaching hundreds of wedding pros how to create their ideal client avatars (and the feedback I've received), I can guarantee you that you don't know them as well as you think you do.
They are NOT just somebody between the ages of 30-35 with a household income of $200,000/year who loves shopping at Nordstrom and frequently drinks Starbucks (or whatever you have written down in your notebook right now).
The first step to booking your ideal clients (destination weddings, elopements, or otherwise), is a deep understanding of what they truly value (whether they admit it to themselves or not). For just $37, my ideal client cocktail will be the best money you've spent on your wedding business this year. Marketing your business to attract ideal clients is a lot easier when you know EXACTLY who you are talking to.
Align yourself with those venues, resorts, cities/towns, and areas through discoverable content like blog posts, Pinterest Pins, and geo-tagged Instagram posts.
Once you have a deep understanding of the venues, resorts, cities, and locations that your ideal client would be interested in, you need to focus on creating as much quality searchable content that leads back to you as possible. Writing blog posts, creating Pinterest pins, and geo-tagging Instagram posts are a great way to get in front of what your ideal clients are already searching for.
I practice what I preach ya'll, after all – how did you find me today? There's a good chance it was through searchable content!
Don't let imposter syndrome get you! Don't worry if you haven't worked at the places you are trying to sell yet. Use stock images with credit if needed.
Who hasn't felt imposter syndrome from time to time? I hate to be the one to break it to you but as you embark on this new adventure to book more destination weddings and elopement there is a good chance that imposter syndrome my rear its ugly head.
If you are reading this blog post, and have made it this far, here's what I know about you: you are resourceful enough to figure things out as you go. Remind yourself of that often.
Book the Wedding Planning Clients You WANT
When I started my wedding business in 2007, I told my accountant I was planning on doing the first few weddings for free or very low cost so I could build my portfolio. The advice he gave me was pure gold and I'm sharing it with you today.
He said to me, “Candice, I don't know much about wedding planning but I do know a lot about home building. Often times, home builders enter the industry with the best of intentions, to do work for free or very low cost to build their portfolio. In reality, what ends up happening is that they get stuck at a certain price point and have an incredibly hard time breaking out of it because the work and their portfolio doesn't match the work they want to book.”
You need to start where you want to land. Boom, mic drop.
He might not of had any experience in the wedding industry but boy was his advice spot on. Looking back, I'm so glad I took the time to listen. I ended up building my business on a DIY wordpress website using janky stock images and replacing them as I got better and better. Compared to the stock images we have access to now, I have to laugh a little bit!
In your marketing, tell stories about what you WOULD do there as a wedding planner/photographer/vendor.
Now that you've gotten crystal clear, all that's left to do is spread your message far and wide and wait for your ideal clients to find you and book you. In your marketing, tell stories about what you would do there as a wedding planner, photographer, or other vendor.
Not quite sure how to effectively use stories in your marketing? Make sure to listen to this podcast episode!
For example, using a stock image of a beach, talk about how you recommend your customers book venues that have access to a private area of beach instead of in front for the whole resort to see. You have the inside scoop, of course (that's why you did the research first!). Another example? Share stock images of food and talk about how you help your couples choose a wedding menu. Seriously, the sky's the limit and if you don't have real weddings to talk about (yet!), that doesn't mean you can't share what you DO know.
How to Book More Destination Wedding Couples (+ Become the “Go To” Destination Wedding Planner)
Can you tell I'm passionate about getting wedding planners (and other wedding vendors) the businesses they have always wanted? Finding (and booking) your ideal clients is one of the things I'm known for. If that includes booking destination weddings, I am so glad that you found your way here. Below, you will find a quick summary of the 6 steps I recommend to book more destination weddings and elopements. This WORKS, ya'll.
- Make sure your website and branding makes it CLEAR that you offer destination wedding and elopement services.
- Select 3-5 destinations you want to be known for. Don't worry, this list can grow over time.
- Research venue options that your ideal client would be interested in. If you don't know who your ideal client is, you need to grab my Ideal Client Cocktail!
- Align yourself with those venues, resorts, cities/towns, and areas through discoverable content like blog posts, Pinterest Pins, and geo-tagged Instagram posts.
- Don't worry if you haven't worked at the places you are trying to sell yet. Use stock images with credit if needed.
- In your marketing, tell stories about what you WOULD do there as a wedding planner/photographer/vendor.
Bonus Step: DM me on Instagram and tell me when you've booked your first destination wedding or elopement customer!
Ready to book destination weddings and elopements? Add “Destination Wedding Planner” or “Elopement Photographer” to your portfolio? I'm excited to see what you do. Want to make narrowing down your ideal clients even easier? Grab My Client Cocktail! Inside, you'll learn how to attract, sell, and serve to your ideal clients. Whether they are dreaming of Italy or Mexico…
Explore More Resources
- How to Start a Wedding Planning Business
- How Much Should You Charge As A Wedding Planner? Learn How To Figure Out Your Wedding Planner Pricing
- How To Create An Ideal Client Avatar in Four Easy Steps
- Why You're Not Attracting The Right Clients and How to Fix It
- How To Become A Wedding Planner With No Experience
- Sign Up For Honeybook For Only $1!
- 4 Strategies That Will Help You Book MORE Of Your Ideal Clients