She’s done weddings for Mariska Hargitay and Jason Bateman, but L.A.-based wedding planner Yifat Oren’s says she’d rather be known for putting together celebrations for people like you—real couples with real (if substantial) budgets. We took the occasion of her recent appointment as wedding specialist for Capella Pedregal, a stunner of a resort in Cabo San Lucas, to ask her advice on planning a faraway wedding.
DW: What kind of couple is best suited to a destination wedding?
YO: A destination wedding is really for anyone who loves travel, wants to create a multi-day wedding experience, or simply loves the idea of having an experience that lasts longer than several hours. Couples from different cities or countries think of a destination wedding as a way to create a ‘neutral’ destination—-not in either’s hometown, but rather a new location they share a love for, a place to create memories together.
DW: What’s the biggest challenge of putting together a destination wedding?
YO: For me, not having my regular top wedding vendors in my backyard. We have very long, trusting relationships with vendors that go back years. Part of that advantage is they know how you work, anticipate your needs and can problem-solve. While we always love to embrace the local economy when producing a destination wedding, and we do just that, we often will face a learning curve with some vendors. Additionally, some brides may have a very set goal in mind for florals, fabrics, or food, but finding that in an exotic destination may not be easy or even feasible. We either discover a great alternative to all these things and produce as locally as possible, or in some cases, will ship in select things in (e.g. linens, decorative props). Also, logistics for a destination wedding can be daunting for the novice, and language barriers aren’t helpful! We are often responsible for all accommodations and airport transfers, which adds just another layer to all the other wedding planning and producing that already requires careful attention.
DW: What makes a resort a particularly good destination wedding spot?
YO: For us, a resort that is flexible and accommodating is probably the most important aspect. Many resorts are bound by their own corporate policies that can inhibit creativity. Location is of course a key piece of it, as many such weddings are about the place. And of course, whether or not a resort can accommodate certain size parties is a key factor. Capella Pedregal is a home run on all fronts. What makes the resort stand out comes straight from its mission—to truly cater to the specific needs of each and every guest. The resort works with each couple and their guests to ensure that what they expect is what they get, and then some. Not to mention, the extraordinary setting of Capella is unmatched in Cabo.
DW: Can you point to any red flags that would alert you that a resort wouldn’t be a good fit for your wedding?
Occasionally you run into management who prefers to say ‘no’ more often than ‘yes.’ That is an immediate red flag. We have done many site visits ahead of committing to a property, and have walked away due to a ‘no-can-do’ attitude, despite the location and beauty of a particular place. In the end, it’s the people, the staff that can help make a wonderful experience for a wedding. People are what make a destination wedding possible. If you don’t have that in place, walk away. Proximity also helps. If you have a lot of guests coming from all over the country, or the globe, you want a place that is fairly accessible no matter where you live. (Alternatively, if you are hoping to have a small destination wedding, but still need to invite more than you care to, find a destination way off the beaten track. You will inevitably have a drop-off in RSVPs.)
DW: Tell us about the wildest/most beautiful/most unusual destination wedding you’ve planned.
YO: Ahh… a client’s ranch just outside of [Utah’s] Zion National Park. I’ll never forget the color of those mountains at Sunset. Brilliant location and an epic, once-in-a-lifetime type of weekend to produce.
DW: Everyone has a budget, even people spending considerable money. What’s the best way to stay on budget?
YO: First and foremost, it’s important to determine how many guests you plan on having. Wedding costs are for the most part based on head count. Whether that is $250 a head or $2,500 a head, knowing the number allows you to plan accordingly. Decide which areas of the wedding that you may not want to compromise on. For example, some couples are foodies and what food is served is most important.
DW: Any fun celeb story you can share that won’t get you in trouble?
YO: Too many and too good to share.