Interview with Destination Wedding Planner Michelle Rago

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Today we’ve got a very special guest stopping by for a chat with us about planning a destination wedding.  Famed planner and designer and our friend, Michelle Rago is here to share her insights to getting it done right!

Michelle is the author of the beautiful coffee table (and planning) book, “Signature Weddings: Creating a Day Uniquely Your Own,” and is even the spokeswoman for Google for Weddings!  But more importantly, she’s an incredible talented (and incredible cool) individual!  If you’re looking for a swanky city wedding in Paris or an I do on a deserted beach in the South Pacific, Michelle is amazing at all those little details and culturally rich ideas to impress your guests and enhance your experience.  I’ve been lucky enough to see some of her work first hand, and well, let’s just say I had to beg her to come on the blog after that!  So, what does she have to share with us today!?!?  Well…

JF: When it comes to destination weddings, what events are customary to plan for your guests?

MR: I have found the “traditional” events are a welcome reception or cocktail. I believe it is good form to receive guests properly when they arrive and I encourage my couples to create a nice experience. Following that, a “family dinner” and or a rehearsal dinner. We also typically have an event for the bridal party on one of the days. This can be anything from boating to a spa afternoon.  

Not that this will come as a surprise to you but I am a big fan of the post wedding brunch. People just LOVE recapping the wedding, especially at a destination wedding and the brunch is the perfect setting for this. I also encourage guests not to rush out on Sundays as this brunch ends up being one of the best “hangs” of the wedding weekend!

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 JF: How can you ensure your loved ones get the opportunity to experience and love the location as much as you do?

MR: I remind couples that this location is where their anniversaries will take place and hopefully they will bring their children year after year so they should truly drink it in. Sharing at least one relaxed site inspection with the couple so that they come to the location on their own terms is also key. It is a huge financial investment and the more time spent allows them to feel good about their choice and ultimately their spend. 

Lastly I pull them in on the wonderful discoveries that truly represent what I love about destination….that special sunset spot…the perfect lobster roll spot and of course renting them a vintage car to tool around in never hurts!

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JF: What are some creative ways to weave in your location into the event(s)?

MR: The most obvious and heart felt ways are through music, food and experiences. If you are in France…get a local cheese monger, a fiddle player and have a wine tasting pool side. At one of my favorite resorts in Mexico they make tortillas all day and circulate with trays of cheese and chocolate and of course the sweet woman who makes them is authentic as it gets! In the Bahamas get conch salad from Queen Conch and set a beach bar-ON THE BEACH-and just eat conch salad with your toes in the sea. 

Whenever you engage locals to share what they love and are most proud of about where they are from… Well that’s where the magic happens.

Stay tuned for part two of our interview with Michelle on the blog tomorrow!  To check out her amazing new site, see

All photos from today’s post by Christian Oth Studio.