Wedding season is upon us - and it’s a time of year that keeps Nichole Winter even busier than usual.
Nichole is the owner of, and chief travel planner for, Destination Vacation. This full-service vacation and travel planner and Central Minnesota Wedding Association member sends people all over the world while remaining based right in Becker.
When it comes to planning your honeymoon or even a destination wedding, you needn’t look any further than Destination Vacation; Winter’s got over seven years in the travel industry, and fourteen years in wedding planning under her belt.
We met up with Nichole recently to learn a little more about the honeymoon and destination wedding aspect of her agency, her strategies and what she advises clients to keep in mind to ensure the most unforgettable honeymoon or the wedding of a lifetime!
Her professional experience, plus her infectious enthusiasm and passion for her work, make her the perfect go-to gal when it comes to talking about a how a travel agency can take care of all the details, big and small, and make the wedding planning process more manageable.
START THE PLANNING IN PERSON AND PLAN EARLY
Often, couples have a similar general idea of where they want to go, but with a few differences. Winter listens carefully and generates suggestions for places that might “split the difference” and make both people happy.
Suffice it to say, she says this conversation often steers her clients toward a completely different destination.
If you’re planning your honeymoon, you can start your initial contact via phone or email but ultimately an in-person meeting goes a long way establishing a relationship that will only add to your confidence. If you’re going to use an agency to plan your destination wedding you should meet face-to-face for the initial consultation.
Winter says this piece is essential; she often sends folks on trips to foreign countries, which can involve a lengthy passport application process for couples and their guests. Planning early also gives couples the ability to get time off from work well in advance. Plus, she says weddings are full of minutiae; buttoning up the plans early takes care of one more task in advance of the big day.
Why Meet In Person?
When meeting with destination wedding clients in person, Winter gets a strong read on how much of a grasp they have on what they want their weddings to be; this allows her to present ideas and options the couple maybe hasn’t considered yet. She likes to discuss past travel destinations, things the couple liked (and didn’t like) about those trips, and what they want to experience on their first voyage as a soon-to-be-married couple.
While she busily consults on all kinds of other trips all the time, Winter likes to limit how many destination weddings she tackles in a given year. She devotes a great deal of time and energy into planning destination weddings; organizing the travel and reservation plans for a large group is a highly coordinated effort, and some of these weddings are over a year in the making.
CONSIDER A TRAVEL AGENCY
When it comes to visiting a new place, most of us tend to use the internet and our own tastes and judgment to figure out the itinerary. While this might work for a European backpacking adventure, Winter says it’s not really ideal for a wedding trip.
Winter helps her clients select their destination with personal experience. She’s been to many of the places where her clients go, getting to know the intricacies and draws of each.
START WITH YOUR PREFERRED LOCATION
Winter says, often times, a couple’s honeymoon is their first vacation and they don’t know what to expect when it comes to cost. Winter says she likes to first present “good, better, best” options. Once her clients know what they prefer for a location, she can then go about her honeymoon travel research to find the best options and trip packages that work for their spending expectations.
SO, WHERE DO YOUR COUPLES GO?
Naturally, I couldn’t let Winter go before asking her about the most interesting, popular, etc. locations she books. As far as far reaching locations go, Bora Bora and Tahiti - a pair of French Polynesian islands in the South Pacific Ocean - are a couple of the most remote and exotic. Nichole has booked many trips to Hawaii and Costa Rica, which she suggests for the more adventurous couples. The eastern Caribbean’s Saint Lucia is a spot Winter calls “extremely romantic,” in part because of a host of adult-only resorts to choose from. And as far as popularity goes? Winter sends more couples to Negril, Jamaica, than any other spot.
Destination Vacation is a four-time recipient (2011-14) of the Vendor of Distinction Award for providing Exceptional Wedding Services from the Central Minnesota Wedding Association. She comes highly recommended by the CMWA, so we urge you to give her a call to learn more about how to make your honeymoon or even a faraway wedding the one of your dreams.