Your Complete Guide To Destination Weddings

Take a vacation from wedding planning by arranging to say your “I dos” far from home in a destination wedding. Part holiday, part nuptials- exchanging your vows at a faraway locale with guests isn’t as expensive or difficult as you may think. Read our savvy tips for planning the ultimate destination wedding.

Set Your Site High
Location is everything when you’re having a destination wedding, so it's crucial to do your research. If you're traveling to an international location, find out how much paperwork you’ll need to marry legitimately as a visitor. A general checklist is laid out by the U.S. Department of State, but also investigate the rules for each country individually.

Take A Trip
Before you commit to a particular country and its property, make sure to visit at least once before your wedding day. If you’re looking to book at a hotel or resort, meet the on-site coordinator, go through all the wedding details, visit the guest rooms and track exactly how long it takes to get from the airport to your property. Doing this will prevent any surprises like ongoing construction projects to the property and unrealistic expectations.

Choose A Planner
With a destination wedding, all those hands-on wedding planning details like cake tastings and floral consultations will be left to your property’s on-site wedding coordinator. While this is a plus to many brides, some may suffer from some serious FOMO and feel like they are missing out on the matrimonial prep. If you think this may be you, you might want to consider having a wedding closer to home.

Do The Math
Here's a sneaky secret: destination weddings are often cheaper for the couple to host than their guests to attend. Couples can forgo expensive decor details for the surrounding natural beauty and purchase budget-friendly hotel packages, like one of the fabulous options from Colin Cowie and the All Inclusive Hard Rock Hotels in Mexico and The Dominican Republic. Destination weddings tend to see fewer guests, so catering costs are usually lower as well. 

On the other hand, guests attending your event have to pay for plane fare, hotel accommodations and take vacation leave to make it to your wedding. That said, make sure to plot out your attendees’ costs as well as your own to ensure that it’s within everyone’s budget.

Decide on Decor
While you may be able to forego expensive décor options for the natural setting of your destination wedding, there are other expenses to consider like your plane tickets, your wedding dress’ plane ticket, that outdoor sound system to combat crashing waves, welcome packages for all of your guests and a new honeymoon destination wardrobe that’s fabulous for summer weather. Pick and choose what's most important to you, while still keeping things fabulous.

Big Things In Small Packages
Be sure you’re okay with the fact that your guest list for a destination wedding will be different than that of a homegrown ceremony. Elderly relatives or people who can’t afford the time or cost of traveling to your wedding will probably not be able to attend. It’s important to decide what holds more weight, your guests or location.

Consider Your Options
At the same time, you may have to forego your dream wedding cake if your baker doesn't ship to your desired wedding locale. Again, it's all about prioritizing.

Mark Calendars Early
You don’t want to end up flying to Puerto Rico during hurricane season, nor do you want to marry during a resort’s peak season when rates are highest and the pools are jam packed. Even if you are only inviting your parents and BFFs, be considerate of their busy schedules by booking a wedding date way in advance.

Generally, save the dates should go out as far ahead as six months in advance and invitations can go out about 8 to 12 weeks ahead of the big day. They should include as much info as you can provide (or direct them to your wedding website) regarding airfare rates and carriers, group hotel rates and discount codes.

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