Having a destination wedding miles away from home means you’re in for a much more intimate ceremony and can enjoy a two-for-one wedding and honeymoon.
But planning such an event is no easy feat. So before jetting off to a foreign land to marry your love, there are some crucial details to consider.
As wanderlust grows, so does the appetite for getaway nuptials that take your most important day to a prominent, big place.
No matter how you define a ‘destination’ wedding — from Bali to the Bahamas — more and more couples are considering this avenue for their grand affair—and even more are wondering if a destination wedding is a good idea for their big day.
In fact, according to a report, 1 in 4 couples consider their wedding to be a destination wedding.
As with much of life, couples want their wedding to be a reflection of themselves — their dream travel destinations, perhaps share a bit of their history and provide their guests with an experiential, one-of-a-kind memory.
Though they are trendy, they aren’t all fun, games and passport stamps.
As wedding experts and planners warn, there are plenty of perks to a destination wedding — but also many setbacks. Let Boutique Events Group Wedding Venue help you create the most magical day of your life.
If you’re wondering if a destination wedding is a good idea for you and your partner, here are some essential things to consider.
Why Destination Weddings Are a Good Idea
You can plan your wedding as one of its kind with everything you like. Be it sandy beaches, snow-capped mountains or some palace or fort, your wedding will be unique for you in every way.
Check Something Off Your Bucket List
Choosing a place of your choice and having a wedding there is undoubtedly an essential tick off your bucket list.
We cannot miss this vital part of most weddings today.
Every couple plans a theme-based wedding shoot and extensive wedding photoshoots and videos to enjoy the beautiful memories later.
What better way than to have all those moments in a perfect destination of your choice?
More Intimate Affair
When you have a run-of-the-mill hometown wedding, the guest list is never-ending. It indeed requires more planning and management skills as compared to that of a destination wedding. However, this is one of the few ways of bringing down the cost of the wedding.
Everyone Is More Engrossed and Part of the Paparazzi
Everyone is a VIP at your wedding. But, with just a few important ones, everyone has a plan to fulfil, making them an integral part of your wedding preparations and memories.
There Is No Home-Field Advantage
With a destination wedding, you can bring in authentic local flair, like food and music. It will be a pleasant experience for you, as well as your guests.
Fewer Management Hassles
Trust us when we say that planning a wedding can cause anxiety. So, when you opt for a destination wedding, it inevitably cuts away lots of hassles and nerve breaking moments.
They’re Smaller — and More Intimate.
By definition, destination weddings have smaller guest lists. This is widely due to the ability of your loved ones to jet set or takes off for an extended weekend — or week.
Though that’s a negative (more on that later), it can also be a positive if there are some tricky family members you should invite, but you don’t want them to attend.
Based on sheer numbers, destination weddings also tend to feel more intimate and authentic.
As a bride or groom, with a smaller destination wedding, you can share in the guest experience and spend more time with each person in attendance — be it stand up paddle-boarding on a lake in Colorado or holding your rehearsal dinner on a private beach in Bali.
Everyone is basically on vacation, relaxed and ready to have fun. We find that people participate more fully in all activities, forging new friendships or reconnecting more genuinely. It speaks to current values and provides quality time in a hectic world.
They Allow You to Pare Down Your Guest List Organically.
That friend-of-the-family who always makes a scene? Your partner’s great-uncle who always has a bit too much to drink?
That high school friend who invited you to her wedding, so now you feel obligated to return the gesture?
Before you know it, that ‘quaint’ wedding you dreamt of is now bubbling with a long, long list of guests.
But if you take your celebration abroad, you don’t have to explain yourself. Or rather, it’s easier to detail why they didn’t receive a save-the-date.
It is much easier to explain to your third cousin twice removed or that enthusiastic co-worker that the villa you rented in Italy only has space for your immediate family and your wedding party.
You Have More Freedom.
While you are always on your A-game in the office, the mere thought of planning a wedding from top to bottom has you shaking in your boots.
Not everyone wants to be super-involved in every last detail of their ceremony and reception — and that’s okay.
There is an incredible amount of freedom that comes with a destination wedding. Or, in other words: you can have to make an appearance and let the venue do the rest of the nitty-gritty stuff for you locally.
If you do not want a lot of responsibility with wedding planning, an all-inclusive location is a perfect pick.
These options are most common in tropical resort locations but can be found in other destinations with some work. Photographer, florist, food, and all the details are handled: you pick your spot, show up, and have a wedding!
You Can Show Your Favorite Place to Your Favorite People.
Even though you thought you knew what you wanted in your wedding before you met your partner, now that you have, everything has changed.
He’s from Europe, so now you’re mesmerised by the idea of saying ‘I do’ in his home city and flying your parents over for the adventure.
Or perhaps, you got engaged in the Caribbean, and now that tiny island holds a special place in your relationship.
Whatever the reason for choosing a destination wedding, one of the most notable benefits is the opportunity to show your favourite place in the world with your famous people.
It’s a gift you not only give to each other — but to the community that will support and celebrate your marriage.
Why Destination Wedding May Not Be for You
You Will Likely Pay for More.
No matter how you slice or dice it, a wedding is going to cost a pretty penny.
Though there are plenty of ways to make your celebration more cost-effective, it’s a bit of a myth to think a destination wedding is more affordable.
How come? You’ll end up paying more for various activities than you would back home.
Not only are you responsible for your flight and accommodations, but many couples will also be tempted to set up tours, welcome dinners or parties and other travel-oriented expenses for your guests.
Though this makes the whole long weekend that much more dazzling — it can also come with a bill at the end.
Traveling Is Tough for Older Generations.
While not everyone is close to their grandparents, for duos who want elders to be part of their event, a destination wedding can hinder.
Not only is it more challenging to fly, but accommodations must be accessible for senior citizens who used wheelchairs, which can sometimes be a tall order.
Not to mention everything they need that a typical 30, 40 or 50-something person does not require.
Travel can be stressful enough when you are packing for yourself, but when your packing list requires that you arrange for oxygen or medical equipment, it adds an extra dynamic that should be considered.
Altitude sickness can strike anyone at any age but is particularly trying for elderly guests. In addition, international destinations and exotic locales might mean your guests need to think about vaccinations.
Remote Locations and Small Destinations Can Present Unexpected Difficulties.
Off-the-beaten-path locations are beautiful — but they aren’t always organised.
If you want a hand in the planning process, you may run into various roadblocks, cultural differences and other unexpected, unpredictable hurdles.
This especially happens when you can’t find a seasoned, experienced wedding planner in your destination wedding locale.
Be prepared to spend many hours on the phone and your laptop searching for your must-haves, whatever they may be.
We advise our clients to do a lot of research about their destination before committing to it or adopt a more flexible and open outlook about their wedding.
That favourite flower you have always wanted in your bouquet might have an agricultural ban in another part of the world.
Go local and embrace the culture of your particular wedding destination.
In all these arrangements, let’s not forget the role of a suitable wedding venue and accommodation.
That is the part that makes or breaks the entire destination of wedding recreation and fun.
Mostly it’s advisable to have a place ideal for both the wedding and accommodation, but to find one is tricky.
Reasons Why Having a Destination Wedding With a Resort Is a Good Idea
Accommodation of Your Guests
While you are busy planning your destination beach wedding, the last thing you want to worry about is arranging proper accommodation for the guests.
When you collaborate with a resort for your destination wedding, convenient accommodation is a plus.
So, if your guests want to stay the night post-wedding or are planning an extended vacation, your resort can help you with that.
When you choose to have your wedding at a resort, the logistics become all the more convenient.
You don’t have to arrange for the food, drinks, etc., separately. Resorts offer you catering, bar service, and other necessities like linens, tables and chairs, flower decoration, etc.
All you have to do is specify how you want your wedding to be. The resorts also come with in-house event planners who can help make your wedding a success.
With that said, you can leave all the arrangements to the hotel staff and relax before the big day.
Pampering Done Right
Your Big Day is unique, and every bride and groom-to-be needs to be pampered. The resorts understand this.
Many Events, Many Locations
Along with the main wedding ceremony and reception, you will also have many soirees such as a cocktail party, a Sangeet party, a welcome dinner or a rehearsal dinner. Check out our extensive list of Wedding Photographers in Melbourne to help capture your special moments.
Choosing a resort venue for your destination wedding will make planning these events more accessible. In addition, the staff at the resort will help you plan these events.
Destination Wedding Etiquette
When Should I Have My Destination Wedding?
This depends on your schedules and availability, but seasonal changes make a significant impact.
If you want to take advantage of the local environment with outdoor festivities, check the average rainfall by month and ensure that you’re not positioning your event right in the middle of hurricane or monsoon season.
Be aware of fluctuations in tourism; high season translates to expensive booking rates and congested sights, but the low season can mean empty streets and closed hotspots.
When Do I Notify Guests of My Destination Wedding?
Save-the-dates should be mailed eight to 12 months before the wedding. The official should go out no later than three to four months before.
An extra-long lead time will allow guests to make arrangements but can be a bit laxer for domestic destinations.
Who Pays for Guest Accommodations?
Guests are traditionally expected to cover their lodging and transportation expenses, but you must make this as gracefully clear as possible.
Tactfully layout expectations by providing recommendations to accommodations or booking websites.
If you’ve booked a hotel room block, emphasise that each guest needs to reserve their room within it.
Your wedding website and save-the-dates will be your best tools in getting the word out.
Do I Need to Help Guests Book Travel?
You don’t need to book anyone’s travel, but it’s a nice gesture to make the process easier.
Enlisting a travel agent can help lighten the load by taking over group reservations, inputting everyone’s travel info, and scoring the best deals.
They may also be able to snag upgrades and luxury treatments.
Start a Facebook group or group chat so everyone can share flight deals or make plans to travel together.
Providing a wedding itinerary will keep everyone on schedule and fully informed.
Do I Need a Registry for a Destination Wedding?
Given the increased costs of guests attending the wedding, you may want to consider scrapping gifts.
Utilise the invitations or wedding website to let everyone know that their presence is the best gift.
If you prefer to have a registry, be sure to have gifts shipped to your home rather than brought to the venue or opt for virtual gifts like gift cards or donations to a honeymoon fund.
Some resorts even have their honeymoon registries for on-site experiences.
Destination Wedding Planning Tips
Choose a Location.
When deciding on a destination, keep in mind that it must be safe and have all the resources you need.
That charming beach town where you spent your childhood summers won’t work if it’s one hotel that can’t accommodate all your guests or any of their accessibility or childcare requirements.
Also, ensure there are no recent travel warnings, political issues, or health concerns in the region—if there are and you remain undeterred, make sure your guests are fully informed—and none of your guests will feel uncomfortable due to their religion, gender, or sexual preference.
Weigh how feasible the travel would be for your oldest or least jet-set guest.
A sequence of planes, trains, and automobiles may be impossible for your elderly grandparents or pregnant sister-in-law.
Consider Guest Lodging.
While etiquette does not require you to cover the cost of accommodations, it’s a thoughtful gesture to provide enough recommendations to satisfy a range of budgets.
It’s best to offer several options at different price points. But keep all hotel suggestions within a ten-minute radius, 15 tops.
Setting up room blocks can help you negotiate a lower price and consolidate everyone in one vicinity. Don’t set your date until you’re sure there’s room availability for everyone.
Go Local to Save Big.
Arons recommends slashing your budget by incorporating local blooms—think olive branches in Tuscany or exotic flowers in the tropics—and serving local specialties like conch fritters in the Bahamas or carnitas in Cabo to cut costs.
This also creates an immersive experience in the very environment that captured your heart. Of course, you’re shelling out big for this destination, so you might as well fully embrace everything it has to offer.
Hire a Pro.
Find a planner or coordinator that specialises in destination weddings.
This way, instead of spending hours on phone calls trying to overcome a language barrier or making executive decisions from miles away, you have an expert taking care of it all for you.
If a planner isn’t in your budget, look for a resort with a robust on-site coordinator.
Visit in Advance.
Ideally, you’ll see your venue once before booking and again three to four months before the wedding to finalise details.
If a second trip isn’t possible, arrive five days early to make those decisions and have hair and makeup trials.
Before your first site visit, set up meetings with the better-known florists and rental companies in your destination.
Arons suggests asking your venue for referrals; you might uncover local talent you didn’t know about—and some savings to boot.
If you’re bringing specialists from home, expect to cover their travel and lodging costs. A clean, safe hotel within 30 minutes of your venue is a must. Negotiate these expenses upfront, so things don’t get out of control.
Plan Additional Events.
Extend all the fun of the big day by expanding the itinerary. Guests will enjoy some extra activities to make their trip even more worthwhile.
You don’t have to go for an entire wedding weekend, but a welcome party to greet everyone is a popular choice (either blending with or following the rehearsal dinner).
Some couples include interactive activities that showcase the locale, like group tours or tastings.
You can also close the wedding weekend with flair and say your farewells at a post-wedding brunch or luncheon.
Secure Wedding Insurance.
When it comes to getting married in a foreign locale, it’s best to expect the unexpected.
Investing in wedding insurance will help protect your financial investment and offer some emotional assurance—plus, some venues even require it. It’s best to sign up well in advance (though some companies can accommodate a tight turnaround) and get crystal-clear on what policies there are and the type of coverage you’re signing up for.
Consider Unexpected Expenses.
Destination weddings get an interesting rap for being more budget-friendly, but this isn’t always the case.
Be sure to include wiggle room in your budget for unexpected expenses, such as non-vendor tips, airport transfers, shipping costs, and baggage fees.
Plus, adding that welcome party or day-after brunch will cost you.
Don’t forget to let your credit card company know of your travel intentions so you don’t get hit with foreign transaction fees or, worse—a declined card—at the final hour.
You’ll want to carry some cash with you (in the local currency) as well.
Check Local Marriage Requirements.
Making a marriage legal isn’t relatively as easy as hiring an officiant.
Countries have different requirements necessitating a myriad of paperwork from birth and medical certificates, letters of intent, and even proof of residency.
Educate yourself far in advance to ensure you have enough time to get everything together.
In some cases, it may be easier to get a domestic marriage certificate (these vary by state) and have a civil ceremony before your departure.
Secure Passports and Other Documents.
A valid passport is a given for international travel, and you’ll at the very least need a driver’s license for domestic destinations.
Double-check all expiration dates as soon as you choose your wedding date and location, then check again!
Depending on the country, additional information, such as a list of previously visited countries, health records, or vaccinations, may be required.
Create Welcome Bags.
Show some hospitality by offering welcome bags once guests arrive. Fill them with items that speak to the locale or that will provide some comfort for their stay.
Things like water bottles, snacks, maps, and aspirin are great additions.
Warm-weather destinations call for sunscreen or aloe vera, while alpine environments are conducive to hot cocoa mixes or mittens.
Stuff That Suitcase.
Shipping overseas is risky and expensive, so always pack as much as possible into checked luggage.
Anything that can be shipped should be sent out no less than a month before the big day and addressed to a specific individual (like your planner) rather than just the hotel.
Tailor Your Wedding Dress to the Destination.
Carefully consider the climate and terrain of your wedding day when dress shopping. For example, breathable fabrics work best in hot, humid locations.
Lightweight lace in Mexico is stunning, as is an embellished ball gown at a villa in France. And don’t think you’ll be checking that dress in a suitcase!
Carry your dress on the plane, even if it means having to fold it. (Make sure someone at the other end can press and steam it.)
Get Away Gracefully.
Transitioning into honeymoon mode may require a bit of finesse, especially if you’ve decided to stay at the same resort as guests who have extended their travels.
Be clear about your departure (even if you’re staying on the property) by saying your goodbyes amidst the fanfare of a post-reception send-off or next-day brunch.
If it’s privacy, you seek (without offending your loved ones), move to a different section of the hotel. Too busy with life to really plan your wedding in detail? Have someone else do it for you and check out our list of Wedding Planners in Melbourne to help take the stress away.
Some resorts have elevated accommodations (luxury suites, over-water villas, or independent cabins) positioned separately from other rooms.