Congratulations, you’re engaged! So you’re interested in learning more about destination weddings? You’ve come to the right place! We’ve answered some frequently asked questions to point you in the right direction. If you’re still in the early dreaming stage, keep reading to learn whether a destination wedding is right for you and your guests. If you’ve already decided on having a destination wedding, you may want to click on one of the links below. We can’t wait to help you plan your special day!
I’m interested in learning more about destination weddings. Where do I start?
Destination weddings are a popular way to tie the knot and there is no question why. Imagine exchanging vows in the most dreamlike setting with close friends and family by your side. While traditional wedding planning can be overwhelming and expensive, destination wedding planning shouldn’t be. At tripcentral.ca, we’re here as your guide so you can say “I do” in paradise, hassle-free. Speak with a tripcentral.ca destination wedding specialist and read through this FAQ to get all your questions answered about making your destination wedding what you have always dreamed of.
What is the benefit of using tripcentral.ca versus other websites?
At tripcentral.ca, we have almost 30 years of experience helping clients plan their dream destination weddings. We help you with the details like legal requirements and documentation to make the planning easier.
Our English and French-speaking wedding experts have experience booking destination weddings all over the Caribbean and other sun destinations. We have booked numerous destinations, for numerous group sizes, managing brides and grooms with different expectations. We work closely with top-quality hotel chains experienced in hosting weddings, and we work closely with their wedding coordinators in destination to ensure every detail is taken care of. Our travel agents specialize in making your dream come true: they are patient, flexible, and experienced dealing with resorts, brides, and family members so we’re confident you’ll be in good hands.
When you book a wedding group with us, we provide you with a personalized website that only you and your guests can access by password. You’ll be able to add a photo of the two of you, a short description, and share trip details like your hotel, departure date, flight times, and rates with guests. Your guests can book right there online, or choose to call your assigned travel agent. This way, we can keep track of which guests have already booked, and which you need to follow up with.
Is a destination wedding right for me and my guests?
Destination weddings offer many benefits, some of which are outlined in this blog post. Put simply: they save time and money. Plus they offer the added perk of getting married with the sound of the ocean and lush scenery surrounding you!)
Think about who you’d like to be at your wedding. Write down names. Do they take vacations on a regular basis? Do they visit the type of resorts you’re looking at? If the answer is yes, you’ll probably find that most of your guests who are close to you will enjoy a destination wedding. Your guests need to have enough time to budget their money and plan their holiday time off work. If you wait too long, some people will already have their vacation for the year booked.
If you have a invite list of people who do not typically take these kinds of vacations, you should probably “socialize” the idea with a few close family and friends. Get their reaction. You can be surprised! Sometimes a destination wedding is just the motivation for some of them to actually travel for the first time; you might otherwise have thought they wouldn’t be interested or couldn’t afford it. With enough notice, most people can swing it somehow, even if it’s something they don’t normally do. If your family and friends get together in groups, they will likely want to travel together.
The cost and commitment of a destination wedding usually eliminates the awkward problems of guest list preparation and deciding who is on or off the list. This can cause a lot of family problems, and most often, you’ll find distant family not interested in attending anyway. You’ll be surprised sometimes – and it will be a pleasure to have someone who really wants to attend, and be in the presence of those you are closer with than others.
One of the biggest draws is the savings: the average cost of a destination wedding is $10,000 compared to over $30,000 for a traditional wedding so you can invest in other things you’ll need as a couple. Plus, you can merge your honeymoon with your wedding and reap the financial benefits. An equally important benefit is the ease of planning; everything is done for you by the wedding coordinator on-site. With fewer headaches and worries, you can focus on the two of you. You’ll have friends and family by your side, and you can rest assured your guests will be taken care of with accommodations, meals, and activities. The destination is already picture-perfect, making your big day even easier to plan. You’ll enjoy a memorable and unique wedding, with extra special photos and picture-perfect memories to prove it.
What are the most popular destinations?
The most popular destination wedding locales are Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica. But we have organized many weddings in Cuba, elsewhere in the Caribbean, on cruises, in Disney, and more. Our trip matchmaker can match your budget and preferences to a resort that fits your needs. For personalized recommendations, our travel experts can provide you with their top-sellers.
What about an off-the-beaten-path destination like a unique, remote, or exotic place?
We find in the early stages of planning, some couples have a really exotic idea of what their wedding will be. Dreams of getting married on the Amalfi Coast, Bora Bora, and at the edge of the Grand Canyon all sound wonderful, but you need to remember that your family and friends have to spend a lot of money to help with YOUR dream. You may need to exchange your vows without some of your most important family members there. If you want to elope, all kinds of things are possible, but getting buy-in from family and friends for these kinds of experiences is not easy. This is why mass market, 4+ star all-inclusive resorts in sunny destinations are so popular, especially during or at the end of a Canadian winter. They’re accessible from across the country, affordable, they satisfy almost everyone – plus, they are easy to make happen. Your guests will know upfront what it will cost without surprises. Of course, we’re happy to plan your destination wedding at Machu Picchu too!
What about cruises, Disney, Hawaii, or Las Vegas?
These destinations are all doable. They do not, however, have the same mass appeal as all inclusive resorts. Getting married on a ship is typically not as “private” or cordoned off as at a resort. There are many more people and noises around. The sheer size of the ship has you losing track of your group much more than at a resort.
The nature of hotels at Disney and Las Vegas or any other city destination means less public rest and relaxation areas for your group to spread out and enjoy themselves. Ideally, your group would all have to be really interested in Disney or Las Vegas to enjoy their trip as much as you. Within any given family, you will likely find people that have hot and cold opinions about other travel choices, and this is why the all inclusive resort is the great compromise.
The popular wedding destinations — and many more exotic ones — can work for those willing to elope or get married with only a couple close friends or family as witnesses as part of a bigger adventure.
How do I ensure my guests can afford to attend our destination wedding?
Different destinations and resorts offer different price points. Your wedding can be as simple or as extravagant as you’d like. Picking a resort tailored to your needs, including budget, is important. Your travel agent can help you find a resort that matches your needs and budget and that of your guests. Guests with varying budgets can also choose different room categories to suit their preferences.
Most destination weddings include guests of all different means and travel expectations. This can be tricky unless both of you are from wealthy families and all of your guests have the disposable income to spend on upscale resorts. Most often, the dream versus reality is a mid-range hotel with upgraded room options, at a more affordable time of year than the height of peak season. Choosing the optimal resort for the compromise of quality and affordability is the biggest decision to make.
Guests are usually expected to fund their own trips; there is no expectation for the bride and groom to pay for others. Paying part of your guests’ stay or gifting a certificate to help offset the cost are appreciated but not expected. There are also payment plans available such as early booking bonuses and deposit options so you can pay at a later date.
How should I broach the idea of a destination wedding with parents?
The best way to introduce your parents to the idea of a destination wedding is to describe your vision as a couple: to be married in a beautiful destination and eliminate the formality and preparation of a traditional wedding. If you have ulterior motives like guest list pairing – you probably should keep that to yourself 🙂 It’s really best to sell mom & dad (on both sides) this idea first before going too much further. Then sell a few siblings and close friends and before you know it, you have a core group. From there, with enough notice, you can draw up the rest of your list and look at the probability that they will be able to afford the time and cost of the trip. It’s a big commitment to ask of people, so you shouldn’t be disappointed if some guests can’t make it happen for any reason. In the end, the big seller is the setting — and an unrushed, laid back experience for all involved.
How many people typically attend a destination wedding?
Most suppliers require 5 rooms to be booked (10 adult passengers/5 rooms) in order to get group rates. The average number of guests we typically book for destination weddings is 20-40. However, we’ve booked as few as 10, and have even taken individual reservations cross referenced together and sold a wedding package. We’ve also booked larger groups, but they are rare for destination weddings. Remember, it’s a big investment for your family and friends to make, and you want to keep the experience personal.
How far in advance should I be plan my destination wedding?
The average time it takes to plan a destination wedding is around one year, though some people plan it earlier or later. If you prefer a legal wedding, more time may be required to have your legal papers and officiants prepared. If you prefer a symbolic wedding, it may take less time to plan. Simply put: as long as your dates are available, your papers are in order, and you’re happy with the wedding package offered (with enough time to customize the details if you wish), you can plan to marry just a couple months in advance.
The main reason it’s best to book early (aside from securing rooms for you and your guests) is to give your guests enough time to decide, budget for, and book their vacations as well. It’s always best to plan as soon as possible.
While it is entirely possible for us to execute bookings closer to departure, it becomes more difficult to get buy-in from family and friends to attend within a few months of departure. People have planned their winter vacations already, and now you’re asking them to take another trip. It’s possible to do it under a short window if you are prepared to elope or have only a few close family members attend, and “see what happens” on how many additional friends and family can swing it. Generally, most of your guests need about a the time of a human pregnancy – about nine months for them to consider and plan for the expense and holiday time.
What is the difference between a legal (civil), religious and symbolic ceremonies?
A civil ceremony is legally recognized by the government, whereas a symbolic ceremony is not a legally recognized ceremony, but rather a celebration (in which case, people can choose to have the legal portion of their marriage done before or after the symbolic ceremony in their home country). Religious weddings are permitted in some countries, with permission from your home church, Priest, or Rabbi to marry in another country. Unlike symbolic and civil ceremonies, performed by a minister or judge, religious ceremonies are performed by a officiant of your faith.
Some destinations are easier to perform legal weddings, while others are more complicated, which is why some people choose to simply have a symbolic ceremony. For example, Mexico requires a blood test in order to officiate a legal ceremony, and the bride and groom must be in the country for three business days prior to the wedding (while witnesses must be there two business days).
How do I choose a destination wedding location?
This is where tripcentral.ca destination wedding specialists really excel. We have visited hundreds of resorts and have established good working relationships with managers and on-site staff so we can suggest resorts that are perfect for you and your needs. Our insights will also find you resorts that fit within established budgets for you and your guests. Our services include a complimentary planning meeting in person or by phone, depending on your location and needs.
The most popular destination wedding locations include Mexico, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Bahamas, Cuba, and Costa Rica with Iceland and Italy emerging as new markets.
For LGBT travellers, Ireland, Spain, and South Africa are most popular, but we can also organize LGBT weddings in the Caribbean. According to Travel Week magazine, “20% of same-sex couples who got married in the past year opted to have a destination wedding celebration.” Legal LGBT ceremonies may take place in Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Maya, and Cancun while symbolic ceremonies may be performed in Punta Cana.
If the thought of not legally getting married in front of your guests does not appeal to you, it’s important to know the legal requirements before getting started. That’s what we’re here for!
Can you recommend resorts that are great for weddings?
Our trip matchmaker tool lets you select resorts based on your desired dates, preferences, and budget. We have pre-selected “Weddings” as number one for you here (remember to select your departure city from the menu). Play around with the form (you can fill out as many fields as you’d like — or none at all) to see the results as a rough guide. But you really want to speak to our destination wedding experts who can provide more personalized recommendations after speaking with you to learn about your vision.
Continue to Part 2: Research Stage ♥ Vows abroad: How does it all work?