Whoever said wedding planning was fun… Lied. Wedding planning is BEYOND stressful and can make you feel like you’re losing your mind. Before Bridezilla comes busting out of you, let’s talk about how to plan a destination wedding.
There is so much information about how to plan a destination wedding – where do you even start? Where’s the best place to get married? And when? Who gives the best perks? How the heck do you make people RSVP? And coordinate their travel arrangements?
And, for the love of all things holy, how much will this cost?!
Luckily, we’ve got those answers for you! Join us for a crash course webinar on how to plan a destination wedding where we’ll chat about all of this info, and more. Plus, we’ll let you in on some secrets – like how the average destination wedding costs 70% LESS than a wedding at home.
Limited Space Available!
The next LIVE webinar with our Chief Weddings Guru is just around the corner. Don’t miss your chance to get all of our insider secrets!
Why A Destination Wedding?
Well, we’re tempted to say, “why not?”
Planning a wedding away from home is attractive to different couples for different reasons. Here are the top 5 reasons to consider learning how to plan a destination wedding:
1. You’ve always imagined your wedding in a certain vacation spot.
Maybe you spent an idyllic vacation earlier in your relationship at a gorgeous Caribbean resort or a laid-back Key West hotel. If it’s easy to graft a picture of yourselves in wedding attire onto those wonderful vacation memories, a destination wedding may be just the ticket for you.
2. Your families and friends are from here, there and everywhere.
Many couples with far-flung families have thrown up their hands in despair at trying to find a spot that suits everyone. Soon it occurs to them: If everyone’s going to have to travel anyway… Voilà, destination wedding!
3. You’re not into traditional hotel / reception hall weddings.
You’ve been there and done that (you know who you are—you’ve attended a wedding approximately 40 out of the last 52 weekends). All of these kinds of options are leaving you cold. But getting married someplace warm and exotic? Ah, now that’s a different story.
4. You want to make the planning easier (yes, easier).
It’s true that any wedding—whether at home or away— can morph into a logistical nightmare. But because many resorts and hotels have on-site wedding coordinators that do all the legwork for your ceremony AND we charge no fees to handle the travel coordination and logistics, you’d be wise to explore how to plan a destination wedding.
5. You want to streamline costs (or even, in some cases, save money).
No one can definitively say that a destination wedding costs less than an at-home reception… But no one can say it costs more, either. However, it often turns out to be easier to keep costs in check in a faraway locale. Two reasons: One, you’re likely to have a smaller guest list (the biggest way to save $$ on your wedding is to keep the list lean); and two, your choices are less copious than they might be at home. When you’re planning from afar, it all seems exotic and wonderful, so you’re more likely to be happy with the simple clutch of local flowers the hotel provides, whereas at home you’d be visiting a half-dozen florists and being tempted by a more lavish (and pricey) bouquet.
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One of the most popular wedding trends these days is destination weddings. And it’s easy to see why: Destination weddings are not only extra intimate, but it’s also like a two-for-one wedding and honeymoon. Plus, from a more logistical point of view, it’s an easy way to skirt a larger guest list and keep it down to your nearest and dearest. On a very basic level, it’s just plain cool saying “I do” in an exotic destination. If you’re considering jetting off for your wedding, we’re going to show you exactly how to get started in this FREE crash course webinar: How To Plan A Destination Wedding.
Destination weddings have become extremely popular because of the inherent romance, the small guest list it demands, and it combines a vacation and wedding (so you don’t have to skimp out on your reception or your honeymoon). When you start planning a destination wedding, you have to give your guests a little more notice than the standard two months so they can calculate if they can afford the cost of traveling to your ceremony and reception. You also need to check out the legality of marrying in your destination of choice, and make sure you’re well-versed in the logistics and necessary bureaucratic steps before you start planning. It may seem a bit complicated at first, but we’ll break down how to plan a destination wedding.
Last but not least, make sure to find a planner or coordinator that specializes in destination weddings (that’s us!). This way, instead of spending hours on phone calls trying to overcome a language barrier or making executive decisions about flowers and ceremony site from miles away, you have an expert on hand to take care of it all for you.
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Find Your Perfect Spot
The destination for your wedding determines not only the mood (rustic, sophisticated, beachy), but also the travel, time and budget required to pull it off. You want your guests to walk away from your wedding weekend saying, “That was so them!” Your wedding elements — not just location, but also activities and overall vibe — should say something about your personal style and your passions.
Time It Right
Unfortunately, the best weather in popular vacation destinations tends to correlate with tourist season, when there are typically more crowds, fewer hotel and venue availabilities, and higher rates all around. If you choose to plan your destination wedding during high season, you’ll want to contract your resort immediately and send out save-the-dates ASAP so guests can book their flights and accommodations before prices skyrocket. If you choose the shoulder season (right after high season), you may be able to save yourself and your guests some money and still enjoy great weather. While the off-season will mean fewer crowds, the weather can be iffy, and you may find that many stores, venues and vendors close up shop.
Take A Test Drive
We seriously can’t recommend this enough: Take at least one planning trip and if you can swing it, two or three is ideal. On the first trip, you’ll want to scout and secure your key venues — ceremony and reception spaces, a rehearsal dinner venue — and local vendors such as caterers, florists and photographers. Next (or during a second trip), you’ll want to schedule “tastings” with your caterer, see sample bouquets from the florist, plan a hair and makeup session with a local salon and organize activities (golf, tennis, walking tours, museums) for your guests.
Factor In Extra Expenses
If done right, a destination wedding can cost no more — and maybe even less — than hosting the same party at home (depending on where you live, of course). For example, if you live in a US metropolitan city where event facilities are in high demand, like New York City, then holding your wedding in Mexico will likely be far less expensive than doing it at home, even when you factor in airfare, hotel expenses and planning trips. Still there are extra expenses you’ll need to factor in for any destination wedding, including importing key vendors and décor, welcome bags for guests, additional activities for guests and travel costs for you and your immediate families (including the planning trips, not just the big day).
Know The Legal Requirements
The legal side of tying the knot in a different country can be complicated. Many countries have a “residency requirement” (for example, 24 hours in Turks & Caicos and 7 days in England), which means you must reside in the country for a certain length of time before your ceremony. Although this is usually just a few days, it can be longer. France requires you to arrive at least 40 days before you marry!
Control freaks, beware: If you’re hosting a destination wedding, you will need to entrust at least part of the planning to someone else’s capable hands. A destination wedding planner can shoulder the burden of researching and securing local vendors (especially valuable if said vendors speak English only as a second language), dealing with logistics and handling any last-minute fires that may start in the weeks leading up to the wedding. She is also the behind-the-scenes queen, creating gift bags for guests, greeting everyone at the airport, keeping people busy with fun activities once there, vetting special requests (babysitters, dry cleaners, and so on), and getting everyone where they need to be on-time.
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Chat with our Chief Weddings Guru LIVE – plus, she’ll be giving away some crazy offers!
Get Used To Island Time
Don’t keep a constant eye on the clock. Remember that many tropical islands run on “island time” — things happen when they happen — so don’t mistake a vendor’s laid-back attitude for incompetence. Avoid the temptation to micromanage from afar. Schedule regular check-ins and then trust your vendors to work their magic.
Forewarn Your Guests
Tell your bridal party about the destination before you ask them to stand by your side so that they can gracefully decline if finances are tight. Don’t be upset if some of your closest friends or relatives don’t attend. While you are, in a sense, footing some of the food bills, their fees for travel, hotel, and car rental can really add up. And while your wedding is a mini-vacation for you, it may not be the one they want to take!
Meet Mother Nature
Don’t just assume that the weather in the Caribbean, Hawaii and Mexico is gorgeous year-round. Hurricane season lasts from July through October in the Caribbean and can put a major damper on your nuptials, while rainy season makes marrying in Hawaii dicey from November to March, and Italy can be uncomfortably hot in July and August.
Consider The Attire
Don’t forget to consider the climate when choosing your wedding dress — and deciding on everyone else’s attire. You’ll be swimming in sweat if you pair your fairy-tale satin ball gown with tropical humidity, and asking your groomsmen to wear tuxes in the sun and heat is just cruel. Also, if you’re exchanging vows outside, you may want to reconsider a long train that will easily get dirty or three-inch heels that will stick in the sand.
Get A Move On!
Not to stress you out, but you’re basically competing in the Olympics of wedding planning — the long-distance affair. You need to be twice as organized as a local couple and pre-think everything, because you won’t have much time to make up your mind, especially if you can only do one or two planning trips. The good news: If you give yourselves one weekend to find a reception site, you’ll find one. In other words, distance will make you decisive, which will make the whole planning process a lot less stressful.
Care For Your Guests
In addition to arranging group rates for flights and rooms, list information for getting to and from the nearest airport to your wedding locale, invite everyone to the rehearsal or welcome dinner and next-day brunch, and deliver welcome bags to their rooms, full of essentials for the trip, like suntan lotion, water and bug spray.
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Let’s get married in paradise – stress free.
Our Next Virtual Crash Course – How To Plan A Destination Wedding:
Saturday, September 10 @ 3:00p EST / 12:00p PST