Just when you thought planning a wedding can be such a daunting task, try planning a wedding far from the comforts of home. This is where destination wedding planner, Joyce Bella steps in. From what it takes, to why you should hire one, to the best wedding destinations in the Philippines, we sat down with Event Planner Philippines‘ head planner and stylist for a chat.
TC: Can you tell us more about what a destination wedding planner is?
Joyce: First of all, allow me to define what a destination wedding is. Strictly speaking, it is a wedding held in a locale at least 300 kilometers away from the couple’s hometown, or in a different island or country. Some believe that someone who plans a destination wedding is automatically a Destination Wedding Planner but that would make almost all wedding planners one. When I attended the DWP Congress 2017, it came to my attention that a real destination wedding planner is a fearless individual who goes places (some they’ve never been) to plan and execute a wedding, which is basically what I do.
Since they have wider experience, they are better at dealing with vendors and suppliers, they have sharper eyes and stronger attention to detail. They also develop better negotiating skills.
A real destination wedding planner is a fearless individual who goes places (some they’ve never been) to plan and execute a wedding
TC: How long have you been a destination wedding planner and how did you become one?
Joyce: Back in 2015, while I was living in Bangkok and working as a Reservations Manager for a luxury villa rental company with destinations across Southeast Asia, I got offered to be a Destination Wedding Planner. Although I didn’t have any experience in wedding planning, I was already familiar with the destinations and some of the wedding venues such as the luxury villas that I got the chance to explore. I also had experience in dealing with elite clientele so it was a smooth transition. One of the requirements was to move to Phuket. As a person who loves the beach to the extreme, it was an easy decision. I said yes right away. Although we were based in Phuket Island, we often traveled around the country to plan weddings. I got the chance to plan weddings in some of the top holiday destinations in Thailand such as Phuket, Koh Samui, Krabi, and Hua Hin.
TC: What is it that you love most about being a destination wedding planner?
Joyce: Aside from all the travel perks and getting to explore different places, I love the constant newness of things. It’s like I always have a blank canvas waiting for me to create a masterpiece in. At the end of each successful wedding, you take a deep breath and bask in the gratifying feeling that you’ve proved that no wedding aisle is too far away. laughs
At the end of each successful wedding, you take a deep breath and bask in the gratifying feeling that you’ve proved that no wedding aisle is too far away
TC: Where do your clients come from?
Joyce: Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Europe, UK, Filipinos who are based abroad, and some locally based.
TC: What’s the most requested destination in the Philippines for weddings?
Joyce: Bohol, Boracay, and Palawan are often requested and that’s for obvious reasons. These islands are just gorgeous; they make a perfect backdrop for a wedding photo and serves as a romantic honeymoon destination too. But we also get a lot of requests for Tagaytay especially for couples from Manila and surrounding areas.
TC: What’s your personal favorite destination in the Philippines when it comes to planning a wedding?
Joyce: Bohol and Boracay are my two favorites.
I love Bohol not just because I’m from the island but because it is quite diverse as a destination. You don’t just get to enjoy the white beaches, but the island also offers plenty of activities and beautiful spots to discover, such as waterfalls, rice fields, rivers and of course, the famous Chocolate Hills. It has a lot to offer when it comes to nature adventure whether on the ground or on water activities.
When it comes to planning a wedding in Bohol, there’s no shortage of suppliers and vendors. Plenty of choices for venues be it an exclusive resort, luxury hotels, and even private villas. And for those who love to have a Church wedding, you can find some of the oldest and most impressive churches in the Philippines here.
Boracay, on the other hand, is just a tiny island, but only here you can find and enjoy the finest white sand beaches and crystal clear waters. I am not exaggerating. It really is the best white beach in the Philippines and even the world, no wonder it always tops the list.
When it comes to planning a wedding in Boracay, because it’s a small island, it’s really easy to move around. Suppliers and vendors are easily available too. Couples can also easily find some of the most luxurious hotels and resorts perfect for a lavishly extravagant tropical destination wedding.
Most destination weddings are done outdoors. You always need to have a contingency plan in case of rain, even for weddings in the driest months.
TC: What are some of the challenges you face as a destination wedding planner?
Joyce: The only challenge that is beyond my human capabilities is the weather. Most destination weddings are done outdoors. You always need to have a contingency plan in case of rain, even for weddings in the driest months. Everything else has a resolution.
TC: Any important advice you can give to couples who plan to have a destination wedding?
Joyce: Invest in a wedding planner. A wedding planner can help with many things in making your dream wedding come true; from concept and theme creation, selection and coordination of vendors and suppliers, up to the scheduling, rehearsal, and the actual wedding day coordination. The amount of stress that you will have to go through during the entire wedding planning process can be drastically reduced by simply hiring a wedding planner.
I also can’t stress enough how crucial it is to book the best photographer and videographer you can afford. As important as their style is, also look into their reputation and credibility with past clients. Capturing and immortalizing all the precious moments of one of the most important days of your lives is something you wouldn’t want to take a chance on. You want it to be enduring, lasting and timeless.
Joyce Bella is a Philippine-based destination wedding planner who has done and planned weddings in some of the most beautiful destinations in Southeast Asian countries including Thailand and the Philippines.
Featured photo by Alen Karupovič