With over 700 luxury weddings and 14 years of cultivated cultural experiences to her carefully guarded clientele, Narelle Williams has fashioned the dreams of celebrities, dignitaries, rock royalties and entrepreneurs in numerous archipelagos of paradise. She continually travels to assess new venues to establish and build relationships with preferred resorts, an invaluable factor when you consider whilst dealing with multiple cultures overseas.
We got in touch with the founder of Global Weddings and upcoming Advisory Board member for the Destination Wedding Planners Congress 2019 about her advancement within the world of weddings and the sheer hard work as well as professional dexterity required to organize overseas marriages.
Who was/is your inspiration for setting foot in the wedding industry?
To be honest it wasn’t really about anyone that inspired me, it was more of an evolution from my travel industry career. I’ve always been passionate about travelling, which is something I got from my parents, so I must thank them! After becoming so well versed with the culture and lifestyle of locations like Bali, Thailand, Fiji Cook Islands and Hawaii from my travel agency, it ended up being a really natural progression into wedding planning in these amazing locations. The time was right to make the switch and I’ve never looked back. I love my job and working in these spectacular localities, which is a luxury many people don’t have, so I’m always grateful for this industry and what it has given me over the years.
What do you do differently from other wedding planners?
I think everyone has their own unique style as well as way of planning and we have a wonderful team with different skill sets that complement each other brilliantly. We have numerous rock solid procedures developed over the last ten years that ensure our events always exceed all expectations. Potential clients can obviously see a lot of risk in having a destination wedding, so it’s great that they can comprehend our track record and feel completely safe with us. However, when we are operating in a foreign country, on a secluded island it comes with its own unique challenges that get randomly thrown at you. Nevertheless, after so many years of experience we’ve seen it all and can find solutions on the fly, which is where I think we really stand out sometimes.
What are some of the latest trends in the wedding business that you follow?
Social media and influencers are a big part of our market research within the destinations that we consider ourselves to be strongest when it comes to organizing destination weddings. We are also looking at more ‘plant-based events’ and our couples are more conscious of eco-friendly and sustainable ceremonies. As many of our team our vegans themselves, it’s something we are looking forward to becoming more involved in, although it’s still only a very small market at the moment. Bali also has a very strong and positive culture towards these concepts so it’s a perfect fit for us. Several couples are also choosing to donate to local charities as opposed to giving their guests gifts.
How easy or difficult is it to keep up with changing trends in this dynamic industry?
There are many ways to keep up with the changing trends. Social media is a fantastic way to keep up to date with the changing trends of the wedding world. And when you are as addicted to viewing fresh wedding content as we are, it’s incredibly easy! We love our work and this industry, so it’s always a labor of love discovering new trends.
What are some of the benefits and challenges of hosting a destination wedding?
There would be a long list on both the benefits and challenges, however at the end of the day I do believe the benefits would outweigh the challenges. But if I had to pick just one benefit and challenge of each, I would say that a destination wedding has the potential to be a lot more unique and memorable than a local wedding. You only have one shot (hopefully!) so why not make it count. One of the challenges would be educating people that destination weddings are not the hassle that they used to be anymore, and in many cases more cost effective despite the scenic locations.
Which was the first destination wedding you planned? What were the hardships you faced? How did you overcome them?
It took place a very long time ago in Siena, central Italy’s Tuscany region. We didn’t have the legal information or suppliers readily available like we do in today’s day and age. Previously, it used to take a long time to arrange everything and we had to have a lot of perseverance for the excruciatingly expensive overseas phone calls. One of the hardest parts was the language barrier, we did not speak Italian and hence had to arrange a translator on our phone calls to various suppliers and vendors required.
How important are vendors when it comes to executing a wedding? Do you work with a specific set of suppliers or do you source local suppliers, if so how do you find them? Through research, recommendations or some other way?
Vendors are everything, they are the backbone of any wedding festivities. We only work with trusted suppliers in each destination that have been carefully selected from recommendations and word of mouth. We treat our suppliers like a part of our family and have the utmost respect for them. Also, owing to the fact that we have been operating in Bali for so long, we are always able to work with the best local vendors. When it comes to international vendors, we always conduct thorough research and are lucky enough to have a lot of friends in the industry throughout the world that we can ask for recommendations or references depending on our requirements. Although we usually work with and love our local vendors, we are always open to new opportunities from across the globe.
What is the most unique destination wedding that you have planned?
We once did a wedding on a little deserted island in Fiji. The logistics were a challenge as there was absolutely no infrastructure like power, lighting or washrooms. All of this equipment, along with the guests, had to be ferried over in tiny boats. Nonetheless, the end result was more than worth all the obstacles. Since this was such an unusual challenge, our bride had a really unique wedding on a gorgeous desolate pacific island that probably cannot be replicated anytime soon.
What do you think of the Middle East an emerging destination for weddings?
Couples are looking for places that are diverse and distinctive. The Middle East offers some incredible options along with remarkable backdrops for all kinds of weddings. The luxurious resorts and easy accessibility from all over the world are great incentives. With the Middle East being such a vast transit hub as well as an opulent location, and the growing popularity of destination weddings as the world becomes a smaller place, it certainly ticks all the boxes to be a destination wedding hotspot.
Having been an integral part of the DWP Congress over the years, how do you feel being associated with DWP 2019 which is going to take place in Dubai this year?
So excited! We know Dubai will put on an incredible and completely unique event. The DWP Congress has always been a yearly highlight for us, and we are really looking forward to this year’s event. We are thrilled to be associated on the Advisory Board this year and look forward to meeting all the other speakers and attendees. See you in March!
All Photographs Courtesy: Global Weddings