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How Do Destination Weddings Work?
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Learn More About How Destination Weddings Work

As you set out to tie the knot, you may be intrigued by the idea of having a destination wedding. But what exactly is a destination wedding, and how does it work? Destination weddings involve getting married in a dream location, somewhere far from home - such as on a tropical island, amongst a lush garden, or overlooking a serene waterfall. Just like a traditional wedding, destination weddings require a bit of budgeting, planning, and preparation. However, they cost just a fraction of the price of an at-home affair, and are typically far less stressful to coordinate (requiring very little hands-on work from couples at all).

How do Destination Weddings Work

Working With An Expert

Tropical destination weddings are usually an all-inclusive affair, meaning they include key details such as the wedding venue, ceremony officiant, and honeymoon stay for one bundled price. Other details are typically included too, such as flowers, simple décor and a champagne toast. A Destination Wedding Specialist (like ours) can help you throughout the planning process at no cost. This expert is knowledgeable about the most romantic wedding destinations around the world, and is there to help you select the right location, resort venue, and wedding package. Once you secure these key elements, your Destination Wedding Specialist will also help coordinate travel plans for you and all of your guests.

The Average Cost of a Destination Wedding

How do Destination Weddings Work

The average cost of a destination wedding is typically less than $10,0001 while a traditional wedding in the U.S. now costs over $30,000. The costs associated with an international destination wedding typically include the wedding couple's airfare, accommodations and wedding package. Cost savings is one of the many reasons one in five engaged couples opt for a destination wedding over a traditional one. 

But you may be wondering how the cost of a destination wedding can be so low. After all, saying "I do" on an exotic island, at a luxurious resort, sounds expensive at the least. In reality, there are many factors contributing to the affordable price; the biggest difference being what the couple is actually paying for themselves.

Item Average Cost
Accommodations $2,257 per room
Airfare $1,000 (estimated)
Wedding Package $3,208
Learn more about the costs The Average Cost of a Destination Wedding
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How Do Destination Wedding Packages Work?

As noted above, destination wedding packages at all-inclusive resorts can oftentimes be free for couples. Some wedding resorts offer packages as little as $500, including very simple décor for the ceremony, a cake, and romantic touches throughout the newlyweds' stay. Semi-private dinners may also be included, with the option to upgrade to a totally private space. No matter the destination you choose to tie the knot, your wedding venue will have a variety of custom wedding packages to meet your style, group size, and budget.

Below are some of the many details that may be covered in an all-inclusive destination wedding package:

  • Ceremony venue of your choice 
  • Ceremony Officiant 
  • Dedicated on-site wedding planner 
  • Assistance with document preparation 
  • Wedding certificate, if applicable 
  • Bouquet(s) and boutonniere(s) 
  • Ceremony music 
  • Wedding cake 
  • Catering and several hours of bar service 
  • Complimentary honeymoon package 
  • Romantic touches for the newlyweds throughout their stay, such as breakfast in bed and couples' massages
  • Simple wedding décor, such as aisle runners and floral arrangements (keep in mind, the scenery will do all the talking!)
Talk To A Destination Wedding Specialist Now

What are the Legal Marriage Requirements?

When it comes to weddings, each country has its own set of legal requirements. Most require some form of government identification, such as passports and/or birth certificates, as well as a marriage license application. Your Destination Wedding Specialist can help you determine what is needed to make your marriage official in your chosen locale.

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Legal vs. Symbolic Destination Weddings

One important decision you will need to make early on in the planning process, is whether you would like to have your ceremony legalized at home or in your destination of choice. For simplicity's sake, many destination wedding couples choose to officiate their marriage in their hometown, following more familiar legal requirements, before (or after) taking the plunge in paradise. If your heart is set on having a legal wedding abroad, you will need to understand the marriage laws of your destination. You may need to travel a few days earlier than expected to complete the necessary paperwork. A Destination Wedding Specialist can guide you through the legal requirements to ensure everything is taken care of prior to your big day.

Why Do Destination Weddings Work for So Many Couples?

According to recent surveys, 20 percent of engaged couples choose to have a destination wedding1. Clearly, there's a reason that destination weddings work for so many couples.

For one, destination weddings offer an incredibly memorable experience for everyone in attendance. In fact, our couples' number-one reason for choosing a destination wedding is for the extra unique experience it offers to family and friends.1 This, along with cost savings, is a top reason wedding couples take their big day to a dream destination.

Another perk for having a destination wedding is the simplicity of it all. In 2022, the average number of guests for destination weddings was about 27 people.1 This, of course, can vary, with some couples desiring a more intimate affair with only their nearest and dearest. The size and simple planning process of a destination wedding is what helps make it so stress-free. According to a recent Travel Market report, destination wedding couples are less stressed throughout the planning process, and when the time comes, are more likely to enjoy their wedding day.2

Perhaps the greatest appeal of a destination wedding is the number of romantic settings and customizations from which you can choose, making it difficult to not have your exact vision come to life. An exotic wedding ceremony on the sun-drenched sands of Cancun is within reach for an affordable cost, while a tropical wedding in the jungle of Costa Rica is truly something for the books. You can explore our variety of destination wedding locations here.

And, for those who are looking to get the biggest bang for their buck while celebrating on a romantic retreat, keep in mind that destination weddings don't end after a few hours or one night of festivities - they offer an extended stay for both you and your guests in a beautiful destination of your choosing. The best part? Your honeymoon can begin as soon as you cut the cake!

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Recap: How Does Planning a Destination Wedding Work?

No matter the location, wedding planning requires a couple to come together and envision the details of their big day. Some couples will use a wedding planner to help with the more complex details, though this is less common with at-home weddings, due to the high price tag. Destination weddings are a bit different in this department. When you choose to have a destination wedding, you are assigned a Destination Wedding Specialist (ours are complimentary) and a wedding resort planner (typically included in your package) to coordinate the intricacies of your wedding day.

A Destination Wedding Specialist's role is to help you nail down the major decisions of your big day, whilst you anxiously wait to pack your bags. This includes helping choose your destination, wedding venue, and wedding resort. This person will be knowledgeable about the country you choose, including its laws and customs, taking initial stressors (like language barriers) off of your plate. He or she will be able to help prepare your legal documents, book your wedding venue, and then help coordinate travel plans for you, your fiancé, and your guests. They will act as a liaison between you and your on-site resort coordinator throughout the entire process, and be there for emergency travel support.

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