Planning A Destination Wedding
Destination weddings have become quite popular in the last few years. Having your big day in an exotic location appeals to brides and grooms who have a sense of adventure. Another advantage is that the bride and groom can stay and have their honeymoon with no additional travel. Often it provides a chance for close family and friends to have a relaxing mini-vacation with their loved ones. Although there are many good reasons to have a destination wedding, sometimes the task of planning a destination wedding seems too monumental.
The questions: where to go? Whom to invite? How to motivate them to come? How in the world to pay for it? These may seem like impossible riddles to solve, but rest assured! We’ve got a few suggestions to get you started.
Where to Go
Often, when one hears “destination wedding,” you immediately think about exotic islands and white sand beaches in the far-flung reaches of the world that cost an arm and a leg to get to. There are many beautiful options right here in the United States that can compete with these places. You could go to California and get married in a redwood forest or under the Bridal Veil Falls on the Maid of the Mist boat at Niagara Falls. Another place people tend to forget about is Puerto Rico. Because it is a U.S. unincorporated territory, American citizens don’t need passports to visit! This can make travel for your guests less of a hassle.
While there are some great options in our own backyard, the lure of the exotic is understandable. While you could go somewhere like Fiji or the Bahamas, consider looking at more unique places like Belize or Croatia. If you don’t have your heart set on warm beaches, consider Italy or France where you can get married in old world elegance. Wherever you end up going, there are many resorts and hotels that offer either wedding packages or have consultants on staff for hire. This is a great idea since planning a destination wedding in a foreign country can be difficult.
So, say you decided on a beautiful chateau nestled in the mountains in southern France. Now how do you get people to come? The most important thing is to send out the information about your destination wedding as far in advance as possible. Six months is the minimum amount of time. This allows your guests to put in time-off requests at work and start planning their travel arrangements.
Along with plenty of advance notification, another good idea is to make a wedding website with a separate page for travel information. Include things like: information on how to apply for a passport/renew a passport, hotel information, airline suggestions, directions to the wedding location, as well as some way for guests who have questions to find answers (maybe include an email address so you can answer questions or send additional information).
Who to Invite
Make sure you only invite people who you truly want to come to your wedding. If you assume people won’t show up and you invite everyone you know, that small chateau may be bursting at the seams with folks who got excited about taking a vacation in France. Usually destination weddings are reserved for family and close friends, so don’t feel bad about that slim guest list.
Another potential barrier to planning a destination wedding is the cost. However, today’s etiquette says that guests should pay their own way, although it is a nice gesture for the bride and groom to reserve a block of hotel rooms at a group discount rate as well as to provide information on travel options.
Paying For The Wedding
Although the guests pay their own way, everything else can still seem too expensive. One way to cut costs is to have a wedding during the off-season. Look for dates that are not heavily traveled or traditional times to get married (June is out), and you could score some big savings.
Another way to save money is to use the wedding package at the resort or hotel that you select. Often these types of places will have deeply discounted deals that are much cheaper than purchasing and renting from outside vendors. Plus, since they’ve done this before, you don’t have to worry about an inexperienced vendor. If a wedding package feels too cookie-cutter, ask what customization options are available. Often, you can add your own special touches at little cost and still have the money-saving benefit of selecting a package deal.
Even though a destination wedding can feel like an impossible event to pull off, it actually can be a fun and painless experience! There are really are many options available, so don’t be afraid to have a destination wedding. With a little luck and lots of good planning, your destination wedding can truly be the special day you always dreamed about.