Last Updated on June 22, 2020 by Amanda Stancati
Are destination weddings over-rated? Why do people prefer them? Are they more expensive than the traditional alternative? Weddings can be stressful enough, so we help you sort through the basics.
If you want a beautiful backdrop, an intimate ceremony, or have simply always dreamed of exchanging vows in a different part of the world, a destination wedding may be right for you. You may want to leave your home behind, and exchange vows in another setting – with or without spectators.
There are some things to consider when deciding if a destination wedding is right for you, so we share 8 questions to ask yourself before you start planning for your big day.
Will your VIPs be able to attend?
If having the most important people in your life next to you on your wedding day is essential, the most important questions to ponder center around your guest list: Will your parents and grandparents come? Are they supportive of a destination wedding? What if your best friend can’t make it? Does everyone have a passport? Am I okay if certain people decline the invitation?
It is important to understand that some of your guests may not be able to attend a destination wedding due to financial, health, or scheduling conflicts. You have to be comfortable and understanding of people who respectfully decline your invitation for whatever reason. To help alleviate these conflicts, save the date cards can be sent up to two years in advance of the wedding to assist with budgeting, schedules, and passport applications.
On the other hand, some people use destination weddings as an easy way to cut their guest list and avoid family stress of not wanting to invite people they don’t really want to be there. And think: If you normally wouldn’t want to vacation with them, do you really want them at your wedding, on vacation? Spending your special day with those who are closest to you is the most important thing, which leads us into the next question.
Are you willing to spend extra time with your guests?
Even though you may want alone time with your fiancé(e), remember that your guests travelled all the way to another country for your big day, so you should give them more attention than just some time on your actual wedding day. People typically arrive earlier than the wedding and stay later, so it gives you an opportunity to spend time with them instead of just giving them a quick hello that most often occurs at a traditional wedding. Organize a welcome party and rehearsal dinner. It is even common and much appreciated to plan an activity for the whole group on another day, like a snorkeling trip or tequila tasting – on you.
Are you comfortable with letting go of the reigns?
Destination weddings can be stress-free if you allow them to be. It all depends on your personality and how you approach the planning process. Most resorts offer an on-site wedding planner, who, along with your travel agent, takes care of all the details for you. If you are very picky and have an exact idea of what you want, you’ll need to learn to go with the flow and understand you will be making most decisions over the phone and online. You won’t be able to see colours, venues, décor, and other details in person before committing to them. Do your research on the destination and resort and leave flowers, photography packages, and marriage documents in the care of the wedding coordinator. Read the contract and have any special requests documented in writing, and use Pinterest boards to help communicate your vision.
Are you looking to save money?
Destination weddings have a relatively low cost compared to traditional weddings with large guest lists and all of the embellishments. Most resorts include basic wedding packages if you guarantee a certain number of rooms will be booked as part of your group, or award group discounts. Some award group discounts or offer free accommodation for the bride and groom with so many guests in attendance. You will spend a few thousand dollars for a weeklong vacation compared to the average 30K wedding. And, now that your wedding and honeymoon are combined, you can afford to splurge a little more on the resort. Guests typically pay for their own vacation package; it is not expected that the bride and groom foot the entire bill. Some destination wedding etiquette suggests subsidizing part of the cost if you would like or have guests pay their own airfare and the bride and groom pay for the rooms (which is a good idea for Europe, but can actually end up costing more than purchasing an all-inclusive vacation package with the flight and hotel together).
Do you want your wedding to be unique?
Once you’ve decided on a destination wedding, you can choose any place in the world, whether that’s a stunning beach or snow-capped mountain – just take note of how easy it is for your guests to get to the destination and how close the city is to an airport and hotels if you’re not providing accommodation.
During a destination wedding, you don’t have to stick to the traditions of home. There is something entirely romantic about saying I do in a tropical paradise. Even though your wedding will be unique in itself (because of the beautiful backdrop), resort wedding packages are usually pre-set. While your wedding planner may be able to personalize some elements to your tastes, you may not have as many choices as you would at home. Remember the resort is new to you and your guests and any décor will be stunning.
Do you want a Hollywood production?
Destination weddings are great for those looking for a simple celebration with close friends and family, second marriages for those who have been there and done the traditional parties, or people who want a no-fuss day of fun in the sun. You don’t need to go overboard with planning and details, the location speaks for itself. However, if you do want all the glitz and glam with DJs and dance floors, extravagant dresses and cakes, and perfection meeting your high standards, destination wedding planning may be a challenge.
If you care too much about what people wear, remember they, and you, need to stand the heat, so don’t expect elaborate gowns. Accept the laid-back dress code and embrace the flip flops. Choose colours that won’t show sweat and light fabrics that allow for a cool breeze. Linen is always a great choice for men. If you do want a traditional dress in a heavier material, opt for a sunset wedding.
Do you want total privacy?
Ask the hotel if there are other weddings or large groups at the resort that same weekend so you have a heads up of other events going on and people you might need to share common spaces with like swimming pools.
If you want some privacy after the wedding, you can always move your honeymoon to a different resort, for example, from a family-friendly property (if there are kids at the wedding) to a luxurious adult-only paradise.
Do you want a wedding in August, September, or October?
If you’re considering a Caribbean wedding and you prefer these months, think again. Don’t take the chance on hurricane season for your big day. If you do, choose a backup location like an a la carte restaurant to have the wedding indoors in case of rain. If you’re not venturing to the Caribbean, an autumn wedding could lend itself to gorgeous photo ops with colourful leaves.
Is a destination wedding right for you? If the answer is yes, your wedding day will surely be magical. Everyone in attendance will get to share in your love and fall in love with the vacation spot, too.