Is a destination wedding calling your name?
You are not alone. Many couples are opting for a destination wedding. In fact, one in four marriages are now destination marriages. You can read my previous blog post here if you are trying to decide if this option might be right for you.
If you have decided that you would like a romantic rendezvous in paradise for your wedding, here are 5 top things to consider when planning your dream destination wedding.
1. Choose the Perfect Venue, Destination & Package
The choices are limitless, but unfortunately time is not. There are so many considerations and options. One of the biggest considerations is travel time. Perhaps you have seen beautiful photos of the Maldives and want your wedding there, but is it feasible for all of your guests to travel that far? If you are only having immediate family it could work, otherwise you may want to save that destination for your honeymoon.
Other factors are budget, activities in the area, mood or ambiance of the location, wedding packages offered, wedding perks, local vendors, food quality, do they allow outside vendors, and more. As you can see there are so many things to think about when narrowing down your choices. Ask a lot of questions and do your homework. Figure out your "must haves" so that you can make informed decisions. Better yet hire a destination wedding professional to help you.
2. Consider Timing and Weather
As they say, timing is everything. The weather could be a factor in your decision, especially if you are traveling to the Caribbean where there are hurricanes. Typically hurricane season begins late July/August and runs through October. There are destinations like Aruba and Hawaii that are outside of the hurricane belt, but even Hawaii has a rainy season (Nov.-Mar.).
Prices and crowds will also be affected by time of year. High season is typically when the weather is best, resulting in higher prices and more people. You will need to plan early to get the rooms and the wedding location you want. Off season offers some great deals, but the weather could be iffy, are you willing to take a gamble? The best might be to go during "shoulder" season which is before or after high season. Our destination wedding was in shoulder season (February) so our wedding package was discounted and the weather was perfect!
3. Will Your Marriage be Legal or Symbolic?
If you want to be legally married at your destination you need to make sure you know the laws, residency requirements, and marriage license process. Many officiants do not speak English and would require a translator. Residency requirements vary widely. Turks and Caicos is only 24 hours, but France requires 40 days! Do your homework or have a destination wedding professional do it for you.
Many couples opt for a symbolic ceremony. No one really has to know except you and maybe your witnesses. This can be done before the destination wedding in a small courthouse ceremony or just in a home with a legal wedding officiant like we did. We did it on the same date as our destination marriage but two months earlier. Shhh, don't tell!
4. Some of Your VIP's Will be Missing
This was hard, some of my family and close friends were unable to make our destination wedding. They wanted to be there but due to money, time off work, or other life road-blocks they just couldn't be there with us.
Make sure you give your guests plenty of time to plan to increase the odds that they will come (a year is often enough). Sometimes having enough time to save money and ask for time off work are all they need.
No RSVP's are not uncommon for a destination wedding (unless you are footing their whole travel bill and even then they may still opt out). It doesn't mean they don't love you, just be prepared to be a little sad that some of your closest family and friends won't be able to make it.
5. Take Care of Your Guests & You!
Getting everyone to the destination can be super stressful. All of the flight and room arrangements, transfers, itineraries, excursions, destination requirements and other logistics can be overwhelming. On top of that there are the coordinations with the resort and local vendors. It's enough to make you pull your hair out...but wait! It doesn't have to be that way.
Take care of yourself and your guests by hiring a destination wedding professional like me.
My job is to take the stress and overwhelm out of your hands. I can arrange all of your guests travel plans, negotiate the best pricing with your preferred resort or venue, secure upgrades and other perks for you, coordinate details with the on site wedding planner and even, for an added fee, accompany you to your destination wedding to make sure everything runs smoothly. Hiring our destination wedding coordinator/travel designer was the best decision I made when planning our dream destination wedding.
If you are wondering what a real destination wedding looks like click here to read the blog about our dream come true!