A destination wedding is a wedding that is held in a setting away from your hometown. Frequently a destination wedding and the subsequent honeymoon are celebrated at the same resort venue.
What’s a destination wedding like? Picture yourselves in a warm, luxurious atmosphere with happy friends and family toasting the two of you after recuperating from travel time. Music plays, and a feast of fine food awaits.
If you have a serious case of wanderlust, you might consider planning a destination wedding. (Or perhaps you already hosted your nuptials far from home.) Given that marriage trends are constantly evolving, the definition of a destination wedding has taken on a new meaning today. If you find yourself wondering, “What is a destination wedding exactly?” we’ve got the answer—and no, it’s not limited to a tropical beachside ceremony or a remote European location. Over 27,000 recently married couples, destination weddings are more common today than they’ve ever been before. You might have planned a destination wedding without even realizing it.
Saying “I do” at Boutique events group is an elegant and luxurious affair.
What Is a Destination Wedding?
Traditionally, a destination wedding is a ceremony that’s hosted outside of the couple’s hometown, which requires travel for most (if not all) of those involved. These weddings are commonly associated with picturesque locations, like the South of France or Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. In 2019, nearly one in four couples hosted a destination wedding, proving that they’re a great alternative to a traditional ceremony. But of those who planned a destination wedding, only 17 per cent would consider their location to be tropical, and just 11 per cent said it was held in another country. This indicates that the majority are domestic weddings—or, as we like to call them, “destination weddings.” With plenty of charming wedding venues throughout the United States, it’s not surprising that destination weddings are a trend on the rise. While some couples select their location for its sentimental value, others are choosing their wedding city simply because they like it.
Of those who hosted a destination wedding in 2019, 57 per cent picked the location because it was interesting. Just over half of all respondents selected the venue for its significance to them (or their partner), and 37 per cent hosted their loved ones at a venue that was not in their hometown or in the city where they currently live. Nearly 80 per cent of couples confirmed that they stayed overnight at their location, as did the majority of their guests. Additionally, 20 per cent of couples had to fly to their wedding destination, meaning their guests likely did as well. This factors into the average cost of being a wedding guest, which fluctuates year over year. Our data finds that the average guest spends for those who travelled in some capacity, either by driving or flying, ranges between $600 and $1,440.
The average cost of a wedding is constantly changing as well. Our studies indicate that couples are more focused than ever on planning a personalized, memorable experience for their guests, as opposed to a one-day celebration. There are plenty of ways for couples to reinvent the traditional wedding ceremony. Some continue the celebration with a sequel wedding, while others host a micro-wedding with a macro-budget. And now, more couples are opting for destination weddings too. By emphasizing love and celebration, modern couples are putting their spins on tradition. And given that destination weddings continue to rise in popularity year over year, it’s likely that more couples will continue to host their nuptials in a special place that’s far from home—even if it is still in the United States.
At some point in the planning process, every engaged couple entertains the idea of having a destination wedding — after all, who doesn’t get excited at the prospect of going somewhere gorgeous and unique to exchange vows? But at the same time, it can be daunting — can you pull off a destination? Will your loved ones be supportive? If you find yourselves debating “should we or shouldn’t we?” or needing to convince some VIGs (very important guests) to embrace your decision, we’re here to help.
Here are fantastic reasons to take your big day on the road
You can say “I do” anywhere!
A destination wedding is defined as marrying at least 100 miles from where the bride currently lives. So imagine the options that definition opens up for you — the world is your playground.
You’ll stand out from the pack
More than 2 million American couples wed every year — and fewer than 25 per cent of them have destination dos. Bonus: Wed away, and you won’t have to choose from the same old hometown spots all your friends have booked.
Many wedding-worthy resorts offer free planning help to couples, whether the event is for two or 200, and an abundance of packages keep things simple while still giving options to customize. Want something more involved? Turn to an independent planner who specializes in more elaborate events.
You can save on decor
With a destination wedding in a stunning setting, your location of choice supplies the theme, from castle fairytale to sea-inspired soiree. And when you choose an amazing backdrop, it doesn’t take much to dress it up. Opt for a pristine beach, a tidy vineyard, a blooming garden or a historic plantation house furnished with graceful antiques, and you’ll be more than covered with a few simple florals and other modest accents.
Looking for someone to help decorate on your special day? Check out our list of Wedding Decorators in Melbourne.
Enjoy quality time with loved ones
The standard wedding lasts for five hours, and the bride and groom spend most of that time running from table to table, trying to say hello to everyone. A destination does span a minimum of three days — which means, now that you’ve finally gotten your nearest and dearest together, you can spend quality time with them! Hooray!
It’s a great excuse to limit the guest list
The very nature of destination weddings — they require travel, a longer time commitment and hotel stays — gives you the perfect excuse to cut down on an often unmanageable number of invitees. Think the second cousins and office mates will be miffed? You can always throw a post-wedding party — complete with plenty of photos — when you get back home.
Guests can save on a vacation
Ask your host hotel about discounted room rates for your guests; most resorts are more than willing to bargain in exchange for group business. Some airlines, such as United and American, offer discounted airfares for groups of 10 or more — on the latter, this is true even if your guests are departing from different gateways. And ultimately, your friends will have a blast! Destination weddings give friends and family that most valuable commodity: downtime — to kick back, connect and celebrate. And what’s more fun than that?
Check out our post on How to plan a honeymoon?
You’ll share a locale you love
Part of the joy of a destination wedding is showing off a place that has special meaning to you, be it bringing friends and family back to a beloved college campus, sharing where you took your first vacation as a couple or finally going to a locale you’ve always dreamed of visiting.
Flexible timing helps with budgeting
You’ll be at your destination for a few days, so work with your vendors to see how timing can trim costs. After all, if everyone is already there, you can wed on a Friday, a Sunday or even a Tuesday — what does the day of the week matter in paradise? Look at seasonality too. Many Caribbean hotels drop their prices dramatically in mid-April; by planning your wedding for May, you can get the same great digs for a fraction of the price paid by visitors a few weeks earlier. Likewise, mountain resort towns offer big savings in spring and fall.
You can start the honeymoon early
Just arriving at your destination is sure to put you in a relaxed mood as the pre-wedding festivities begin. Many hotels offer automatic upgrades to the bride and groom on their wedding night, and you may be able to negotiate an extended mini-moon at a reduced rate after the guests have gone home.
Why Have a Destination Wedding?
For the couple who is torn between a destination wedding and the usual hometown affair, it can be challenging to decide which path is “the one” to take. More than likely, you are weighing your wedding wishes (and needs) with those of your guests. You may also be weighing the benefits.
There are several advantages to tying the knot far from home. Below is a list of reasons why so many couples prefer to host a destination wedding abroad. Be warned: After reading this list, you may find yourself wondering, why NOT?
Destination weddings typically cost just a fraction of the average U.S. wedding at home. Couples can jet over to Cabo, say their vows in the sand, and enjoy an unforgettable evening of dancing and romance typically for under $10,000. This cost covers the basic wedding package (both ceremony and reception), the couple’s flight and hotel stay, as well as extended accommodations for the honeymoon.
Meanwhile, a standard, hometown wedding averages more than $30,000 (and much more in major cities), which does not include the added cost of a honeymoon. With Destination Weddings’ couples spending less than $9,000 on their total wedding experience, it’s easy to see why more people are choosing to get married abroad1.
Think about some of the scenes in your favourite wedding movies. From the overwhelmed “snow beast” in My Big Fat Greek Wedding to Steve Martin’s breakdown in Father of the Bride, there is a common theme that makes these moments so funny, and also so very real – the stress of wedding planning!
Destination weddings, however, are a bit different in the planning department. Usually, the guest list is smaller, and an expert handles the majority of the details. You will have a Destination Wedding Specialist, who is there to help you select your dream wedding venue and choose the right wedding package for your needs. Often, destination wedding packages are all-inclusive, which can lessen planning stress even more. Your Specialist will also be your travel agent, arranging flights and accommodations for both you and your guests.
After choosing a wedding resort, you will also be matched with an onsite coordinator to help iron out the remaining details of your big day – set up, décor, timeline, and more. Most of the time, the wedding couple plans and customizes a few special details, packs their bags, and takes off to enjoy the most memorable voyage of their lives.
The Chance of a Lifetime
Many couples go big for their “big day” because it is a once in a lifetime opportunity. The same mindset can – and should! – be applied to a destination wedding. Why not make the most of this moment and start your love story in an exotic, romantic destination? Your loved ones will also enjoy this experience, providing even the least adventurous relative with a great excuse for an amazing trip. Many choose to have a destination wedding for the unique and unforgettable experiences they offer (for both couples and guests alike!).
Destination weddings are one-of-a-kind adventures, which makes them perfect for that second chance at marriage, as well. For couples who have had the large-scale, at-home wedding already, a destination wedding offers a more intimate and unparalleled way to tie the knot a second time. They are also fun and affordable celebrations (and family-friendly, too!).
WHERE SHOULD I HAVE A DESTINATION WEDDING?
This question is an easy one. Anywhere!!!! You can legally get married outside of the country with no hassle just a few papers to sign. The process hasn’t gotten so easy in resorts like Blue Waters in Antigua, the wedding coordinator gets the judge to come to you, and you can sign your new license in your bathing suit. Just make sure to work with your travel professional and/or onsite wedding tea, as they can make the process a lot more manageable.
The short answer: Anywhere you want. The longer answer: If you want to get legally married outside of the country, you’ll need to abide by that nation’s wedding requirements and bring all the necessary documents. A waiting period, even proof of inoculations, may be required.
Do call an area’s Tourist Office to learn the legal requirements for marrying in the destination. Some Caribbean islands require residency prior to the ceremony plus proof of citizenship, completing several documents, and a nominal fee. The way many couples circumvent this is by first marrying at their local town hall and then having a symbolic ceremony in the destination they select. Bermuda is a romantic place to wed, and several resorts offer turnkey wedding packages.
While some couples choose to get married atop a glacier or in scuba gear under the sea, the most popular wedding destinations are beach resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico. Many are experienced in hosting destination weddings and can provide a turnkey affair, providing everything from the setting to the officiant and an altar, flowers and cake, music and photography services. Check their websites to see if they have a weddings section with set packages that can be customized.
Couples on a budget can also marry inexpensively at an all-inclusive resort. Sandals offer free basic ceremonies to couples who book a stay for three nights or longer. Other all-inclusive companies, such as Iberostar in Mexico, offer wedding packages that start at $999.
Cruises are another option for couples considering a wedding away from home. Ships already have the elements of a wedding in full supply—kitchens and gathering spaces, musicians and photographers, and even a captain who may be deputized to perform weddings on the sea and/or land.
Why Choose a Destination Wedding?
An opportunity for a couple to hold a wedding in a romantic location without spending a fortune, a destination wedding removes many of the stresses of planning a regular wedding. Every wedding detail can be arranged at a resort destination to suit your taste from afar. After the wedding ceremony, the celebration can last for hours or even days, with meals and outings arranged for you and your guests.
So You Like The Idea of a Destination Wedding
Remember, not all couples choose this route and perhaps a church wedding suits you and yours better. If you don’t enjoy travelling or worried about if your friends and family will come maybe you should think twice and save the big plans for your honeymoon instead. If you have more questions, I invite you to keep reading all the #destinationWedding blog posts your heart desires.
Start by checking out my tips on where to save and what to splurge on. This helped me when planning my dream wedding. You do not have to break the bank to throw the best celebration.
The best thing about my destination wedding was it was STRESS-free, which should be the #1 Damn Reason They Are Popular.
No drama! No arguing with relatives, not worrying about guests who weren’t invited, no tux and formal gown and icing on the cake: free booze.
A destination wedding can be as cool and casual as you like. Want to wear flip-flops or barefoot and dig your toes into the sand at a beach wedding? You got it! No heavy brocade wedding gowns or stultifying tuxedoes required, either. Make the ceremony as short as you like, then strip down to your bathing suits and swim away. Or head to a patio, start the music and champagne toasts for a party that can last until the stars come out.