A wedding is a very personalized and special occasion. More and more often, couples are choosing to have their weddings away from their home towns. Destination weddings can range from a few hours away, to an exotic, tropical beach setting that requires guests to travel by plane. Some couples choose to have small destination weddings and invite only a few close family members and friends, while others have extravagantly large weddings with 200 or more guests. Regardless of your chosen location, wedding size, or preferred style, there are some important things to consider with a destination wedding. Remember, guests are traveling great lengths to attend your special day so it is important to keep the details a convenient and affordable as possible.
1) Find a good wedding planning tool. Convenience begins early in the planning process. From the start, find a good wedding planning tool, such as www.WeddingTaps.com, to begin your wedding planning process. This is particular important with destination weddings when you are not only coordinating wedding details, but also flights, hotel reservations, and entertainment for guests.
2) Research the area well in advance. Even before you choose your destination city, do some thorough research on all of your options. Make sure you understand how much things will cost both you and your guests. If you’re getting married in a foreign country, research visa requirements and marriage license options. Make sure the city has enough hotels to accommodate all of your guests and look in to transportation options if that is important as well. If possible, visit the location well in advance to make sure it meets your needs and is an appropriate setting for your dream wedding.
3) Consider where your guests are traveling from. Many couples choose a destination wedding because they have guests who are spread out around the country, or even the world. When planning a wedding, it is always important to think of your guest’s convenience first. Consider how far they have to travel and how much this will cost them. Also be prepared that some guests may not be able to attend your wedding if it requires lengthy travel at a great cost. This is something you have to accept in your decision to have a destination wedding.
4) Make it about more than the wedding. For destination weddings, guests often travel great distances, take time off of work, and get to visit cities they may otherwise have missed. Many of your guests will appreciate it if you offer events and activities in addition to your wedding. Make suggestions to your guests of interesting local activities that might interest them and call venues ahead of time to see if they offer any kind of group discount. You guests will always remember your wedding and the entire experience they had during this special time.
5) Consider group discounts. Depending on how many guests you have coming to your wedding, you may be able to get some group discounts for hotels and activities. In particular, hotel discounts are very common for weddings. Inquire at a few hotels near your venue and make sure you look at hotels that are a range of prices. Also call some different entertainment venues and ask if they can give you a group discount or even some coupons that you can distribute among your guests. Your guests will appreciate the forethought and you will know that you’ve given them every opportunity to be entertained during their stay.
6) Remember to thank your guests. It’s always important for brides and grooms to show appreciation to their guests. Many guests go to great lengths to attend weddings and a little appreciation goes a long way. This is particularly true with destination weddings. Your guests likely bought expensive plane tickets, stayed in nice hotels, and organized their work schedules for your special day. Make sure you show them some appreciation and you will be respected for this.
7) Choose the best season for you and your guests. Prices for wedding packages, plane tickets, and hotel reservations can all vary based on the time of year. Plan ahead to make sure that you pick the most convenient season for both you and your guests. Although it may be tempting to have your wedding during the low season when prices are the most affordable, this may not be the best option. Weather can be very important, particularly if you’re planning a tropical wedding in the hurricane belt. Make sure you consider all aspects of the timing before you finalize a wedding date. If there are guests who you really hope can come, discuss the timing in advance with them as well.
8) Schedule your wedding around holidays and events. Once you’ve finalized a destination city, make sure you do some research on local events and holidays in the area. Festivals can make hotel rooms hard to come by, and even if they are available, prices may skyrocket. It may be good to speak with a local who lives in the city because they may be able to offer some insight into events that you haven’t previously considered.
9) Prioritize convenience for you and your guests. Ultimately, a wedding is about you, your fiance, and your guests. By planning a destination wedding, your guests will have to go to great lengths to attend. Remember this as you make plans and structure your events. Convenience is important and your guests will appreciate your efforts on their behalf.
10) Hire a local wedding consultant. Destination weddings are difficult to plan as you will have to make many decisions without first hand experience. It’s a good idea to hire someone locally to help you coordinate these details. Although this expense may seem high, ultimately it will help you reduce costs because you will be able to make less frequent trips to your wedding site. You’ll have to depend on you wedding consultant a lot, so find someone you trust whose personality works well with yours.
Laurie is happiest on the road and has visited over 50 countries. She dreams about meeting tribal people, hiking through rice paddies, and driving longtail boats through crystal-clear waters. She enjoys photography, social activism, and helping others quit their jobs to travel. Laurie co-founded Budget Your Trip, and lives the life any nomadic soul would yearn for.