The wedding season is in full swing and with all of the love and romance in the air, planning a wedding is both exciting and exhausting. Many brides and grooms are getting their friends and family together in remote destinations to say their I do. From the beaches of the Caribbean to the vineyards in Europe, destination weddings are growing in popularity now more than ever.
But while destination weddings may seem like an attractive alternative for many, planning one can be a different story. I spoke with amazingly talented Mahla Pourshamsa from The Eventeur who helps answer some of the tough questions.
You help couples experience truly magical and memorable weddings. That sounds like a dream job! How did you get started as a destination wedding planner?
I was a traveler long before I found a career in travel. Finding a career in travel was a goal born of my passion to explore and wanting to immerse myself as deeply as possible in travel. The industry, the precision it ran on in the midst of the chaos it was and all it did for the world truly fascinated me. After much research, I applied at every company you can imagine to try and find a position from the ground up, on purpose, so I truly begin to understand the client’s perspective. It took no second thought to leave my secure career at the time and jump on this adventure, and never look back. I wrote my business plan that same week, and everything I did for the following 3 years was learn the ins and outs of the industry while working simultaneously in the event industry. There was a clear void in one of the biggest sectors of the travel industry: Groups! Specifically, weddings. There were companies that did either the travel portion well or the wedding side, but not one that combined both worlds and did it without compromising the client’s vision.
Destination Weddings are just as much about guests travel as they are about the wedding day itself. I made it my goal to bridge the gap and am proud of what we’ve been able to achieve so far.
What do you love the most about your work and what do you find the most challenging?
I absolutely love that no two days are alike. Constant change and learning to dance with it, although most challenging at first, has become one of the most rewarding aspects of my work.
How do you get the ideas out of couples so that they describe to you effectively their vision for the wedding day?
Destination Wedding planning is an entirely different world. The design process is so unique and so rewarding at the same time. Couples are not used to it and often point out how unique it is compared to the wedding planning process by family or friends at home. We approach the complete process, from guests’ departure to their return back home at once. That magical process of bridging cultures, removing borders and trusting an unfamiliar world is invigoratingly exotic and all couples react uniquely to that. Before we even get to the ceremony, all senses are on overdrive and we’ve had many opportunities to get to know our couples on a deeper level by learning about their travel patterns, family, friends and comfort level. We discuss travel, culture, smells, tastes and textures long before we discuss tables, chairs, plates and entertainers. Couples choose a destination wedding for a reason, finding out why is key.
When you are tasked with designing a destination wedding, what are your strategies for bringing it all together in a foreign country where you may not have all your resources at hand?
Knowledge and experience! Using our experience and keeping a transparent, realistic and honest dialogue with clients, so their expectations are met is key. We always incorporate the natural environment and luckily, most of our couples want to go that route as well. We are pretty well connected in countries we plan weddings in and have a pretty tight web of local vendors, if something exists, we know where to find it. We’re often told by vendors that we are the most hands-on planners they’ve seen, we’re truly immersed in set up so it helps take the pressure off and ensure we produce just what our clients asked for.
What is the most challenging thing when it comes to organizing a destination wedding?
Guests. Destination weddings are as much about guests as they are about the couple. Guests play a much bigger role than they do at weddings at home. While this is one aspect that makes destination weddings so wonderful, it is often the only source of stress for couples. It is often difficult to choose a hotel to suit your own personal holiday, now imagine choosing a hotel for 80 people, with different styles, budget, likes and dislikes. We don’t plan weddings where we don’t also take care of the guests travel and requests. We’re a concierge service for all guests travel needs and that takes a lot of pressure off our couples.
Do you have a signature aesthetic or personal style that you put into the weddings you’ve planned?
Effortless yet lush. I’m originally Persian, so growing up, guests were always a really big deal and going to my aunt’s house for breakfast was an opulent affair. Destination weddings can be very casual but I always find myself pushing my couples to add the little touches that elevate their guests experience.
How do you ensure a bride and groom’s personality is reflected in the wedding?
The Venue! In my opinion, it is the most important aspect of a wedding. If we get venue right, all the other ingredients fall in just the right place.
What are the three most important things to consider when planning a wedding?
Why are you having a destination wedding? Why a wedding at all? Know your guests! Care about them, and make them matter throughout the planning process. Enjoy the process! You set the tone for your event.
What’s trending now in weddings? What’s hot and what’s not? Any colors, themes or movements you are seeing?
Couples are becoming increasingly bold with their choice of destination, which we absolutely love! A few of our 2018 couples are getting married in locations none of their guests have ever been to. Talk about creating a once in a lifetime experience! Oh and rooftop ceremonies are back, and hopefully here to stay!
Mahla Pourshamsa – the founder, director and creator of The Eventeur Inc., a Toronto-based company that specializes in planning destination weddings and events of high-caliber. The team of professional planners and consultants behind this business are committed to establishing and continuing relationships with each of their clients. Their extensive travel experience to all the hidden corners of the world has greatly inspired how they approach design and has also shaped who they are as event planners.
Their events are one of a kind, authentic and refined yet always comfortable and approachable. The intention is to give you and your guests an experience you will love and remember for a lifetime to come. Instagram @theeventeur
Photos: Courtesy of The Eventeur