Many couples in the present time dream of having a destination wedding someday. A destination wedding is held in a far place from your hometown frequently in resorts or out of the country beaches, and the honeymoon is usually celebrated in the same venue. Though it may be a dream come true for the bride and groom, planning one can be daunting as well.
But with proper research and organization, planning a destination wedding is not as expensive, complicated, and stressful as you think. If you’re looking into planning your destination wedding soon, we will be glad to give you some tips and guidelines. But before that, you should know first the advantages and disadvantages of having one.
Advantages of Destination Weddings
In a destination wedding, you’ll get to say I do in a beautiful location and you will be able to have a wedding and honeymoon in one. It is also easier to plan because there are many resorts that have on-site coordinators who can take care of everything.
A destination wedding is also great if you want an intimate celebration with only your family and closest friends around. With that, it can also cost less compared to having a large guest list in a traditional wedding. Plus, some resorts are all-inclusive, meaning, you can get big discounts.
Disadvantages of Destination Weddings
One of the disadvantages of having a destination wedding is it could cost more if you invite many guests. Especially when you plan to do it out of the country because you also have to consider the exchange rate.
Also, the guests will have to plan ahead and pay for travel, therefore, there are some who may not be able to attend. Aside from that, there may be some difficulties in making your marriage legal.
Tips on Planning a Destination Wedding
If you’ve really decided that you want a destination wedding after knowing its advantages and disadvantages, then we will help you in planning. Here are some tips you can follow to be able to plan your destination smoothly.
1. Choose Your Destination
When you choose a wedding destination, you should pick one that is meaningful, like a beach where you’ve spent your childhood summers or maybe in the place where you first met or where he proposed. If you both love outdoor adventures, you can also choose places like Costa Rica where your guest can also enjoy activities like ziplining through the treetops while waiting for the dinner rehearsal.
But you should also consider some things such as the travel time, how many people the hotel can accommodate, and the budget needed to pull the wedding off in that places. Try to choose a location that is easy to get to for you, for your vendors, and for your guests.
2. Notify Your Guests Ahead of Time
It is important to let your guests know in advance the details of your destination wedding. This way, they will have plenty of time to plan and calculate if they will be able to afford the cost of travelling to your chosen location.
3. Think About Your Guests
Aside from notifying your guests ahead of time for them to budget their expenses, you should also see to it that they will have a safe, clean, and affordable place to stay in especially when your chosen location is luxurious or on the expensive side.
Make sure to double check the availability of accommodation options to ensure that there is enough space for your guests on the day of your wedding. You should also check the flight costs for your chosen date to see if your guests will be able to afford to make the journey.
Aside from your wedding ceremony and reception, you can also plan a few other events on your wedding weekend to make the travel of your guests more enjoyable.
4. Hire a Professional Wedding Planner
For destination weddings, it’s a must to find a professional wedding planner which is a local to your chosen location or someone who is very experienced when it comes to planning destination weddings. It’s because having a professional around can ensure you that everything will go smoothly.
A professional wedding planner can help you understand the important details about your chosen location such as the laws for getting married in that place, and other small details. A local wedding planner might also have a lot of local connections that may help you with other details as well.
Having a professional planner or coordinator will prevent you from spending hours on the phone making decisions on certain things like the flowers to be used and the design of the site because you have an expert on hand to take care of all those things for you. But if you can’t afford a professional planner, you can also find a resort that has an on-site coordinator for events.
5. Check the Laws in Your Chosen Destination
If you plan to have your destination wedding abroad, the legal side of getting married cam be complicated. Therefore, before settling in a certain destination, you should double check all of their requirements to make your marriage legal.
Every country has different laws and requirements when it comes to marriage, that’s why it’s important to educate yourselves first to be prepared. There are some countries that have a residency requirement, meaning, you should be residing in that country for a certain length of time before your wedding ceremony. For example, in France, you need to arrive at least 40 days before your wedding day.
6. Visit the Place in Advance
Two to three trips to your chosen destination is ideal. On the first trip, you will need to find and secure your key venues such as the ceremony and reception areas, rehearsal dinner venue, and hotels for your guests. You can also find local suppliers like caterers, photographers, and florists.
On your second trip, you can schedule the food tastings with your caterer and see sample flower bouquets from your chosen florist. You can also plan a hair and makeup session with a local salon and plan other activities for your guests.
The third trip is a few days before your wedding day. It is advisable to arrive around five days before the ceremony for you to finalize all the details of your wedding.
7. Factor in Extra Expenses
Destination weddings can cost less compared to hosting the same party at home especially when you live in a metropolitan city such as New York where event facilities are in high demand. However, there are still extra expenses that you need to factor in for your destination wedding such as key vendors and décor, welcome bags for guests, additional activities, and you and your immediate family’s travel costs including the planning trips.
8. Embrace Your Location
To cut down your costs, it’s better to use local food, flowers, and other details. You should also emphasize your chosen destination. For example, if you chose a beach wedding, you shouldn’t go overboard with a lot of flowers because they will only take away the beauty of the place and will also make you spend a lot. Make sure to know what’s local to your destination to be able to keep your costs minimal and to make the place look more prominent.
9. Choose Your Wedding Dress Accordingly
It’s also important to choose a wedding dress that will match your destination. If you choose a beach wedding or somewhere hot and humid, your dress should be made of breathable and lightweight fabrics. Aside from the wedding dress, you should also consider the dress code that you’ll set for your entourage and guests.
10. Pick Your Vendors in Person
When choosing local vendors, it’s better if you will set up meetings with them rather than booking them online. Though you’ll be able to view their portfolios online, it’s still important to meet them in person to know their capabilities in handling events such as a destination wedding since you’ll be leaving a lot in their hands.
11. Check the Weather and Time It Right
It’s also important to check the weather conditions on your chosen location on your chosen date or season. Aside from the weather, you should also know when the tourist season is on that location especially when you choose to get married in a popular vacation destination.
This can be quite challenging because the best weather in popular locations tends to correlate with tourist season, meaning, there are more crowds. You might find it difficult to book hotels and venues. So if you’re planning to get married in a popular tourist destination, it’s better to book hotels and venues 10 to 12 months in advance.
12. Be Organized
When planning a destination wedding, you need to be twice as organized compared to planning a traditional or local wedding. It’s because you won’t have much time to plan things out especially when you can only have one or two planning trips.
Every trip to your chosen destination should be one big to-do list of appointments with your vendors and coordinators. Distance will make you decisive but being organized will lessen your stress in planning everything.
There are certainly a lot of things to look into when planning a destination wedding. But the result of all the hard work and stress will be one magical and memorable moment in your life that you can treasure forever. We hope these tips will help you plan your dream destination wedding. Happy planning!