Destination weddings can be a dream come true, but the thought of one is also daunting to many newly engaged couples. However, they may not be as expensive, complicated, or stressful as you think. With proper research and organization, planning a destination wedding can be straightforward so you and your soon-to-be spouse can say I Do in that swoon-worthy location.
photography by Savanah Loftus
The thought of a destination wedding may be exciting and tempting, but before making that decision, it’s a good idea to know some pros and cons of having one.
- – You can have a wedding and honeymoon in one.
- – You get to say I Do in a beautiful, dreamy location.
- – It can be easier to plan.
Despite what many think, destination weddings can sometimes be easier to plan since most resorts have an on-site coordinator who will take care of everything.
- – They tend to be more intimate with your nearest and dearest in attendance.
- – It could cost less.
Contrary to popular belief, most destination weddings have a much smaller guest list, which often results in a less expensive wedding. Plus, most resorts are all-inclusive so you get bang for your buck.
- – It could cost more.
If you invite a large amount of guests, your destination wedding could get expensive. More guests equal more money, especially in a destination location, and you also have to consider the exchange rate.
- – Guests have to plan way ahead and pay for travel, so some loved ones may not be able to attend.
- – It may be difficult to make your marriage legal.
How to Plan a Destination Wedding
Planning a destination wedding is relatively similar to planning any type of wedding, so we recommend starting with our Ultimate Wedding Planning Checklist. However, there are a few additional steps required and some important things to remember:
1. Pick your destination.
When choosing your destination, keep a few things in mind. Try to pick a location that’s easy (or easy-ish) to get to for yours, your vendors’, and your guests’ sakes. Think about the weather during the season you want to get married in; avoid stormy months or places altogether. Although not always possible, try to visit your location if you can to make sure it’s the right spot for you.
2. Think about your guests.
If your resort is on the luxurious or expensive side, make sure there’s additional accommodation nearby that’s safe, clean, and affordable. Double check the availability of your accommodation options to ensure there’s ample space before setting your date in stone. Also check flight costs for your anticipated dates to see whether or not your guests will be able to afford to make the journey. Plan a few other events on your wedding weekend as well, so you can make your guests’ long travels worthwhile; both you and they will appreciate the extra time you’ll get to spend together. Most importantly, let your guests know about the date and location well in advance so they can start preparing.
3. Find a local professional.
We consider it a must to find a planner local to your destination, or a very experienced destination planner. This type of professional can ensure everything goes smoothly, liaise between vendors, and help you understand any important details about your chosen destination. For example, there may be laws for getting married in your selected country that you’re unaware of that your planner can tell you about. More importantly, a local will have local connections, know about weather, and so many more important small details.
4. Check local laws.
Double and triple check what’s required to make your marriage legal when marrying in another country. Every country will have different laws and requirements, so it’s important that you educate yourselves and be prepared.
5. Don’t check your wedding dress.
We can’t stress this enough: ALWAYS carry your dress on board flights with you. Even if it has to be folded to fit on the plane, you’ll know it’s safe. It’s better to plan ahead for it to be steamed upon arrival than to arrive and find out it’s been misplaced.
6. Embrace your location.
To drive down costs, use local food, flowers, etc., and emphasize your dreamy location. For example, if you’re having a beach wedding, don’t go overboard on ceremony flowers and take away from the picturesque scenery while overspending. Find out what’s local to your destination to keep costs minimal and to make your seleted location more prominent and meaningful.