Deciding on a destination wedding
Congratulations on your engagement! If you’re considering a destination wedding, you’re in good company. Increasingly, many couples forge traditional (and expensive) weddings for something intimate at a stunning location. Not only do you get to spread out your wedding over four days as opposed to four hours, but you’re also assured quality time with the people who matter most. Destination weddings are also typically less expensive than traditional weddings, as guests lists tend to be smaller.
Picking between a familiar or new destination
We frequently hear from couples looking for advice on how to pick their wedding or honeymoon destination. Like all travel, there are perks to getting married or honeymooning somewhere that you have already been. For one, a certain destination may be the keeper of special memories that you share as a couple and there’s an added ease in knowing that you love a destination ahead of time. Still, if you’re an adventurous, open-minded couple, consider trying a destination that you’ve never been to. And keep in mind, there is really no “wrong” spot when you find the right person.
Whom to invite
Destination weddings can range from 2 to 200 people, though many couples opt for something in the middle—keeping the event intimate and attended by close friends and family. Still, there is no “right” number of guests, other than what your budget can bear and keeping in mind those that you couldn’t stand to be without for the big day. Some couples choose to cover part of their guests’ expenses for a destination wedding. If this is something you are considering, make sure to account for this added cost when deciding whom to invite. If your wedding is adults-only, friends with children that might attend otherwise could decline your invitation. If you truly can’t live without them at your wedding, be sure to include provisions about childcare at your resort.
Cost of a destination wedding
Destination weddings can be built on a shoestring budget or carefully crafted into a luxurious and elaborate affair. Still, many couples do save money by planning a destination wedding because their guest list is smaller. Additionally, many resorts offer incentives to couples who book a certain number of guest rooms, ranging from free cocktail parties and dinners to anniversary stay credits and room upgrades, saving you money. A number of resorts even offer free wedding ceremonies when you book a room or night stay minimum.
All-inclusive vs. European-style resort
An important consideration when deciding on a destination wedding is whether you and your guests will stay at an all-inclusive or European (a la carte) resort. Certain resorts (particularly those in major European cities) do not include the cost of food into the stay, which can make them more expensive overall. Still, this option offers great flexibility if you and your guests plan to travel around and want to experience different restaurant options in your wedding area without being tied down. For couples who don’t want to worry about keeping a wallet with you at all times, all-inclusives are a great option. Aside from offering great value, they’re also guest-friendly and help everyone to relax and not worry so much about paying for their next meal.
Booking hotel rooms and flights
Hotels and flights should be booked as early as possible. A popular method for booking hotels and airfares for a destination wedding is to do a group block. Arranged by the Certified Destination Wedding Specialist, a group block reserves a set number of rooms and flights for your guests. The group block, when done early enough, ensures optimal rates. Still, some couples prefer to let their guests make their own travel arrangements, which is also fine.
Catering, wedding and reception
One of the first questions many couples have after booking their wedding is: what about the food? Though it can be difficult picking meal selections from afar, you should generally aim to pick crowd-pleasers over exotic fair and ask the resort for recommendations on house specialties. It’s also polite to keep common allergy-producing foods off the menu whenever possible.
To minimize the stress and uncertainty of travel, it’s best not to cut your arrival too close to the wedding festivities if possible. Whether accounting for jet lag or the possibility of bags getting lost and flights getting delayed, it’s good to leave wiggle room in your schedule so you can relax and enjoy all the festivities. An early arrival will also ensure that you have time to check in with the local wedding coordinator and make sure everything is ready to go for the big day.
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