Where in the world should you have your wedding?
You can't have a "destination" wedding without a far-flung location, right? But with the world at your fingertips, how are you ever supposed to settle on the perfect place to say "I do"? Whether you're dreaming of Bali, Barcelona, or even Boston, there are certain things you'll want to consider before making this all-important decision.
Luckily, we're BFFs with LovinAway—a romance travel agency that creates unique destination weddings, honeymoons, and getaways in some of the world's most exotic locations.
They've given us their expert tips on finding a destination wedding spot that's just right for you!
Book a travel agent.
The top tip for finding the perfect destination wedding venue? Don't do it alone! A reputable travel agency can make this process easy. Travel agents have extensive knowledge of many popular destinations and can match you up with a wedding location that fits your vision. They're often able to negotiate with resorts or other venues to get you the best pricing—and perks!—and take care of the nitty-gritty details, including your guests' travel arrangements.
LovinAway and similar agencies are paid a commission from the airlines and hotels you end up booking—meaning there's no additional expense for you to use them. Yes, you read that right!
Nail down your budget.
Before reaching out to your travel agent, you'll need to set your budget and general guest count. This will help narrow down destination and resort options right off the bat.
And while you're thinking about your own budget, don't forget about your guests' expenses! If they're covering their airfare, accommodations, and other travel costs, give them a general idea of how much they'll need to put in their piggy bank in order to attend your destination wedding.
Pro Tip: Since guests will generally stay at your destination for 4 to 5 nights, providing a guesstimate for that length of time will really help with their travel plans.
You don't want your destination wedding to break the bank—for you or your guests—so consider the bottom line before getting your heart set on a specific locale.
Decide whether you want a family-friendly or adults-only event.
A common question that's asked when it comes to planning a destination wedding is "Should we invite kids?" And the answer to that question will affect which venue you ultimately choose. Many resorts are focused on an "adult-only" experience, where children under the age of 18 aren't even allowed. So, if children (even just one or two!) will be attending, you'll need to pick a place that welcomes the kiddos.
Want an adult-only feel while still including the little ones? Don't fret! Plenty of resorts offer "exchange privileges". This means that sister properties are built next to each other and guests can roam freely between them. For example, your child-free guests can opt to stay in the adults-only areas as much as they like, while all guests—including the children—can get together in the family-friendly areas during your event.
Get the 411 on your destination's weather.
Is your dream location prone to hurricanes, monsoons, sweltering heat, or other potential weather nightmares at certain times of the year? Checking the forecast for your destination is a must if you want to avoid Mother Nature's downside while hosting your wedding. Weather is a particularly critical factor when scheduling air travel and outdoor events, and although weather patterns are fairly predictable in many regions of the world there are always exceptions—especially during seasonal transitions.
Many venues and resorts do offer off-season discounts, but the savings may not be worth the risk of delayed flights or inclement weather on your big day.
Whether you've picked a date when the weather is guaranteed to be sublime or you've opted to take a chance on an off-season celebration, it's always a good idea to work out a contingency plan with your coordinator in advance—just in case!
Choose a destination that's a good fit for YOU.
Your wedding should reflect your personalities, both individually and as a couple, so consider your style before picking a destination. Are you party people or super laid-back? Beach bums or snow bunnies? Foodies? Adrenaline junkies? Find a location that lets you be exactly who you want to be!
For example: If you're looking for a more relaxed experience, a resort that offers beachside pools, sunset views over cocktails, and deep discounts on spa services is probably a good fit for you. If you want an adventurous wedding weekend filled with excursions, you'd be better off at a resort that features things like complimentary park admissions, discounted tours, and swimming with dolphins!
Alyssa Dial, Romance Expert with LovinAway, notes, "Before we select a destination and resort for a wedding couple, we consider all aspects of their event, from their personalities to the kind of experience they hope to create for themselves and their guests. Your wedding should be unique to your relationship, down to the small details."
She adds that listing your venue "must-haves" will help zero in on the exact experience you're looking for. Here are some examples of things you might put on your list:
- All-inclusive wedding package
- Toes-in-the-sand ceremony on the beach
- Outdoor dining and dancing under the stars
- Honeymoon suite with a private patio and ocean view
And one last thing: Make sure your destination venue is fairly easy to get to. An international flight is one thing, but if you choose a remote location that involves a 14-hour flight, a 2-hour bus ride, a water taxi, and a trek up a mountain to get there? Say goodbye to half your guest list.
Consider Ceremony Logistics.
While swimming with those dolphins and hanging out with your family and friends are important, don't forget the main reason you're there: to get married! The ceremony you envision will also help narrow down your destination choices.
The legal requirements for marriage vary from country to country. They range from blood tests (no, we aren't kidding) and waiting periods to extra fees. So unless you're planning on running to your nearest courthouse for a civil ceremony prior to the wedding day, find out what the country you've chosen requires in order to make it official. Ask your travel agent or see the country's tourism website for details.
What if you want a religious ceremony? It's possible to have a destination wedding that meets both legal and religious marriage requirements. For example, your travel agent can help find a venue/resort that has a chapel or synagogue nearby—or even on-site! Many all-inclusive resorts are able to accommodate Indian and South Asian wedding celebrations, recommend religious officiants, and even provide options like kosher catering.
Consider visiting before booking.
If you can swing it, preview your destination! Dial gives us this pro tip: "Many resorts offer a test drive pre-wedding visit for couples to see the resort and wedding décor options, speak with the on-site wedding coordinator, and even pick out the reception menu!"
But if you simply can't afford a separate trip, don't sweat it. You can plan your entire destination wedding with the help of your travel agent, wedding coordinator, online images, lots of Skype sessions, and a little imagination.
Take care of guest accommodations.
Besides putting down a deposit, Alyssa Dial recommends one more step: figuring out your room blocks. Blocking hotel rooms secures your party's accommodations at a lower rate, but there's more than one way to go about it. Dial advises, "The couple should decide whether to put down a separate room block deposit or request a discount code. There are different benefits to both, so it's important to discuss those options with your travel agent."
Once your venue and room blocks have been secured/discount code has been assigned, Dial says, "The hardest part is over! Now it's time to focus on the fun aspects of planning your destination wedding: the food, décor, flowers, and activities!"
→ To learn more about using LovinAway's services for your destination wedding or honeymoon, check out their website!
Wanna get away? Do it!
Filed under Destination, Beach Wedding Ceremony, Expert Advice, Honeymoons / Travel, Wedding Venues / Locations
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