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The Ultimate Destination Wedding Guide

Considering a Destination Wedding?

You're engaged— Congratulations! Now is the time to start thinking about your big day. If you are dreaming of a memorable and magical experience, unlike any other wedding you have attended before, a destination wedding may be just right for you.

Destination weddings are growing in popularity, as more couples crave a romantic escape that doesn't break the bank, and that also provides an extra unique experience for all who attend. With a destination wedding, you can exchange vows in an exquisite, exclusive locale of your choosing - say, on a tropical beach or in a romantic chapel beside ancient ruins - while still sticking to a budget. In fact, destination weddings typically cost couples just a fraction of the price of weddings planned at home.

Top Reasons to Have a Destination Wedding

More affordable

Our average couple spends less than $10,000 on their celebration

More intimate

Spend multiple days with your guests rather than just a few hours

More exotic

Take your pick of breathtaking ocean views and lush garden surroundings

More fun!

Because who doesn't want to combine a vacation along with their wedding day?!

Ultimate Guide to Destination Wedding

What is a Destination Wedding?

As you begin planning your trip down the aisle, you may be wondering what a destination wedding is, or how it differs from a traditional wedding. Destination weddings typically involve getting married in a beautiful location far away from home - on a white-sand beach, in a lush jungle, beside a blissful waterfall. With a destination wedding, the world is truly your oyster.

But just like weddings held in someone's home city or state, no two destination weddings are alike. That's part of what makes them so special! You may choose to tie the knot on an exotic island, in a remote rainforest village, or in a historic, colonial city where the sun always shines. You can have an intimate destination wedding with just you, your beloved, and close loved ones, or host a grand affair. There are all kinds of destination weddings, all with significance to the couple preparing to wed.

Ultimate Guide to Destination Wedding

How Do Destination Weddings Work?

Much like many tropical vacations, destination weddings are usually an all-inclusive experience. A Destination Wedding Specialist (like ours!) is oftentimes complimentary, and can help you work out the preliminary details of your special day - selecting a venue, sorting out legal paperwork, and even making travel arrangements for you and your guests!

Destination weddings can all work differently, depending on each couple's wants and needs. However, many destination wedding packages cover the basics, including the preparation of marriage documents, a cake, dinner and wine for the newlyweds, a centerpiece, a decorated honeymoon room, and more. Traveling guests usually pay their own way for a destination wedding, which means less cost (and serious savings) for the newlyweds. The reception dinner is typically at the cost of the wedding couple, but flight and hotel accommodation fees are typically left to the guests. You can learn more about costs below.

How Much Does a Destination Wedding Cost?

Ultimate Guide to a Destination Wedding

Cost savings is one of the many reasons couples choose to have a destination wedding. The average cost of a traditional wedding in the U.S. is now over $30,000*. The average cost of a destination wedding, on the other hand, is typically under $10,000*

Of course, the cost of your destination wedding all depends on the location and style of celebration. Very simple destination wedding packages at all-inclusive resorts can be free for couples, or start as low as $500. Most basic destination wedding packages will include simple ceremony décor, a wedding cake, bouquet/boutonniere and romantic touches for the couple throughout their stay. Semi-private reception dinners may also be included with the option of upgrading to a completely private space. No matter which exotic island or area abroad you choose, your venue is sure to have a variety of custom wedding packages to accommodate your group size and budget.

Item Average Cost
Accommodations $2,257
Airfare $1,000
Wedding Package $3,208
Learn More How Much Does a Destination Wedding Cost?

How to Plan a Destination Wedding

When you set out to plan your destination wedding, you may feel a bit overwhelmed or unsure of where to start. Here are some simple steps to help you walk through the wedding planning process:
  • Determine your budget
  • Pick your destination
  • Research the marriage requirements of the destination(s) you're interested in
  • Choose a wedding venue/resort
  • Select your wedding package
  • Book your wedding date and accommodations (& book early!) for the best deals and availability
  • Make flight arrangements with your Destination Wedding Specialist
  • Finalize the details with your Destination Wedding Specialist
  • Many of the elements of planning a destination wedding - such reserving hotel room blocks and finalizing onsite vendors - can be fulfilled by a destination wedding specialist and travel agent. 

Explore Romantic Wedding Destinations

One of the biggest aspects of planning a destination wedding is choosing where to tie the knot! There are countless, beautiful locations to consider. Unless you have a specific locale in mind, the task of making your choice can be an exciting - albeit overwhelming - one.

Whether you are hoping to have a tropical wedding on a white-sand beach, or to say your vows among picturesque mountaintops, there are some truly stunning locations to consider for your destination wedding. You and your partner may wish to stay in the states and get married in Hawaii, or stay on the continent and say "I do" in sunny Mexico. Perhaps you have always dreamed of getting married under the Cancun sun, on a cool island in the Caribbean, or in the lush rainforests of Costa Rica.

By determining your budget, wedding style, season, and travel preferences, you can zero in on the area where you'd like to take the plunge. Explore some of the top wedding destinations below!

Special Destination Wedding Venue Inspiration

Living Happily Ever After

Whether you decide to elope on an intimate island, or host a grand affair at a vibrant, family-friendly resort, you have countless options when planning the destination wedding of your dreams. You may opt for a small ceremony that will just involve you and your partner, or you, your partner, and a select few loved ones. Or, you may choose to host a thrilling experience for hundreds of guests!

There are so many wonderful and romantic settings in which to start your beautiful journey as a married couple. A short plane ride from Miami could bring you to the lush and tranquil paradise of Riviera Maya, Mexico. Or, you may find that you want to take in the breathtaking sights of Costa Rica - a true dream destination for honeymooners. Often, the hardest part of destination wedding planning is deciding on just one place. But with some guidance and budgeting, you and your partner will be able to choose the perfect spot to begin your marriage together.

Wherever you decide to go, you may find that you could use some help along the way. While some couples choose to plan their wedding on their own, a destination wedding planner is invaluable in guiding and finalizing the details of a ceremony and reception so far from home. Many destination wedding planning services are complimentary for couples, and for good reason. Couples tying the knot abroad often need help with a multitude of facets involving a wedding. There may be language barriers, cultural differences, and different legal requirements in your chosen destination. The help of a specialist who knows the region can help you find the best deals on resorts, venues, and vendors for your special day. A destination wedding specialist will also help arrange travel accommodations for you and your guests, allowing you to focus on the finer details.

Many couples walking down the long-distance aisle are happy to learn they can spend just a fraction of what other couples spend on weddings planned at home. And with more American couples choosing to marry later in life, this alternative option may become the new norm for getting hitched. If you are dreaming of a breathtaking destination wedding, but are tight on cash, there are many affordable options that will stay in line with your budget.

With a little extra planning, researching, and creative thinking, it is easy and more affordable to make the day of your dreams a reality in a place far from home. Should you decide to take the plunge in a foreign or distant land, you are not likely to regret it. Take the steps to start planning your dream destination wedding today!

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