Your Ultra-Specific Guide to Destination Weddings
A destination wedding is a wedding that’s held in a location that requires most of your guests to travel. From a tropical location to a charming European village, every little detail can be taken care of for you. So, what’s it like? Just imagine taking your vows in the Caribbean on a white sand beach with the turquoise ocean just steps behind you. Or in a quaint European church, surrounded by your closest family and friends. If you’re looking to have your own destination wedding, this guide will help answer your questions.
What are the advantages of a destination wedding?
If you’re going to an all-inclusive resort, a destination wedding can be less costly than a normal ceremony and reception. Many hotels will include a free honeymoon suite or other upgrades when you book a group room block, and some even offer a free wedding package. There will most likely be fewer guests, so your costs will be lower since you’re not purchasing as many favors, invitations, or centerpieces. Most hotels have a dedicated wedding coordinator, so you don’t have to worry about spending your weekends researching florists or organizing a late-night bridal assembly line to put together centerpieces. You’ll choose from packages with different color schemes and layouts, and then they’ll make sure it happens.
How do I decide where to go?
Choose your destination first, and then narrow it down by hotel. Look at a hotel’s ceremony sites before you even start looking at their wedding packages. Sometimes a gorgeous location can make up for the fact that they don’t have the napkin color you wanted. And vice-versa: you may get a free wedding package, but a ceremony on a public beach could be a deal breaker. You likely won’t be visiting the venue until you arrive for your wedding, so rely on travel consultant recommendations and suggestions from friends who’ve been to the area.
How do I actually get married? Are the rules the same as back home?
Laws about getting married vary, so your wedding coordinator will give you information about any special requirements. Some locations require couples be in destination for a few days before their ceremony while others require health certificates or paperwork.
How do my guests book their rooms? And flights?
This is another thing your travel consultant will handle. When a large group of people travel together, they qualify for a “room block.” When a hotel is notified that a group will be taking up a large amount of space, they set aside the number of rooms that are needed. When you know how many guests will be attending, contact a group travel consultant. They’ll organize everything and deal directly with the hotel on securing deposits and special requests.
Do people have to stay at the same hotel as me? If your guests want or need to stay at a different resort, your travel consultant can certainly book them at another location. Be aware, however, that many hotels charge a fee for day passes and may have a policy of maintaining a minimum number of guests staying on property. Don’t worry, though. Your travel consultant will know this information and relay it to you and your guests early on to ensure there are no surprises.
How do I get my dress to my hotel?
Don’t ship it. If you need to send favors or place cards, then check with your hotel about mailing them to your wedding coordinator. But try to carry your wedding dress with you so there is as little chance as possible that something happens to it. Your dress may have to be searched by airport security, and you can ask your TSA agent to put on a new pair of gloves before touching it. A lot of planes have an onboard coat rack, but you might have to keep it in your overhead compartment. Bring a heavy-duty garment bag or proper travel box just in case.
What happens when the wedding’s over and it’s time for our honeymoon?
You’ll obviously want to spend time alone with your new spouse, but it can be awkward to gracefully separate yourself from your guests. You can’t order people not to extend their trip, so consider arranging for an upgrade to a private preferred club for privacy. Some couples book their honeymoon at a separate hotel nearby to experience more of the area.
What if there is a change of plans?
You’ll have a lot on your plate, so book through a travel consultant so there’s someone on the ground in case something goes wrong. This is the person you’d call if your aunt misses her flight or someone in your group wants to change rooms.
Also, discuss travel insurance options for this most important event. Keep in mind though, and make sure your guests are aware, that this insurance would apply only to you and not to your entire group. Each guest must purchase their own travel insurance to be covered.
Most importantly — congratulations! Enjoy every minute of your engagement and let a travel consultant help plan your dream destination wedding.