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What is a Destination Wedding?
Guide What is a Destination Wedding - Hilton Rose Hall Wedding Reception

Learn More About Destination Weddings

If you are recently engaged and dreaming of jet-setting away to say "I do," you are not alone. In fact, one in four couples today choose to have (and to hold) a destination wedding.

So, what is a destination wedding, exactly? At its core, a destination wedding is a wedding that is held in a location far from home. But this is just the beginning. A destination wedding is an amazing opportunity for couples to celebrate their marriage in a dream destination of their choosing - no matter how far away. Most often, it involves getting married at an exquisite and exclusive venue outside of the United States, in tropical locations like the Caribbean or Mexico.

Destination weddings are generally held in places with:

What is a Destination Wedding
Special meaning to the couple (such as the place they met, or always dreamed about going) 
What is a Destination Wedding
Gorgeous scenery (think white-sand beaches, stunning mountains, or lush rainforests) 
What is a Destination Wedding
Tropical climates and/or beautiful weather year-round (hello, Aruba!)
What is a Destination Wedding
All-inclusive resorts with custom wedding packages for every budget
What is a Destination Wedding
Intimate and romantic experiences for the couple (during the wedding and honeymoon 
What is a Destination Wedding
Memorable experiences for all those who attend the celebration 
Popular Wedding Destinations

Popular Wedding Destinations

The Caribbean islands, Mexico, and the Bahamas are among the most popular wedding destinations, though couples have endless options when it comes to locale. In addition to distance from home, destination weddings can also range in guest list size. They can be intimate (just you and your soon-to-be spouse), limited to close family and friends, or arranged for hundreds of guests. Due to the travel factor, however, destination weddings tend to be more intimate than traditional, at-home nuptials. This is part of what makes them so special. In 2022, destination weddings averaged about 27 guests in attendance.

Why Have a Destination Wedding?

For the couple who is torn between a destination wedding and the usual hometown affair, it can be challenging to decide which path is "the one" to take. More than likely, you are weighing your own wedding wishes (and needs) with those of your guests. You may also be weighing the benefits.

There are several advantages to tying the knot far from home. Below is a list of reasons why so many couples prefer to host a destination wedding abroad. Be warned: After reading this list, you may find yourself wondering, why NOT?

What is a Destination Wedding
Cut Cost

Destination weddings typically cost just a fraction of the average U.S. wedding at home. Couples can jet over to Cabo, say their vows in the sand, and enjoy an unforgettable evening of dancing and romance typically for under $10,000. This cost covers the basic wedding package (both ceremony and reception), the couple's flight and hotel stay, as well as extended accommodations for the honeymoon.

Less Stress

Think about some of the scenes in your favorite wedding movies. From the overwhelmed "snow beast" in My Big Fat Greek Wedding to Steve Martin's breakdown in Father of the Bride, there is a common theme that makes these moments so funny, and also so very real - the stress of wedding planning! 

The Chance of a Lifetime

Many couples go big for their "big day" because it is a once in a lifetime opportunity. The same mindset can - and should! - be applied to a destination wedding. Why not make the most of this moment and start your love story in an exotic, romantic destination? Your loved ones will also enjoy this experience, providing even the least adventurous relative a great excuse for an amazing trip. Many choose to have a destination wedding for the unique and unforgettable experiences they offer (for both couples and guests alike!).

Where are Destination Weddings Held?

According to recent research, about 20 percent of weddings today are held in a location other than their hometown or where they currently live1. Many of these are celebrated internationally, in picturesque destinations outside of the U.S. In 2022, the top destinations to get married abroad included:
Destinations Wedding In Mexico


Mexico consistently reigns among the most popular wedding destinations in the world, with a vibrant culture, warm climate, and infamous beaches at its heart. Soon-to-be newlyweds have many options when it comes to getting married in Mexico. Couples can exchange vows on the white-sand beaches of Cancun, beside the colorful reefs of Riviera Maya, or in the romantic, historic city of Puerto Vallarta. Whether you wish to explore the ancient Mayan ruins or dance from sunset to dawn, Mexico has something for everyone.
Destinations Wedding In Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is known for its natural wonders, from clear ocean waters to subaquatic caves, coconut palm trees to towering rainforest canopies. It is a breezy jungle island with both remote and lively settings to celebrate your special day. For the most intimate wedding, you may choose to say "I do" on the untouched beaches of Samana. Or, if you are looking for sunny, outdoor activities and amenities for all ages, you may consider getting married in the flourishing region of Punta Cana With all-inclusive and luxury resort options, the Dominican Republic is a popular choice for couples tying the knot.
Destinations Wedding In Jamaica Couples Negril


Nestled into the beautiful Caribbean, Jamaica is home to 700-miles of white and gold-sand coastlines, a breathtaking mountain range, and some of the most delicious coffee and rum in the world. While the island is largely known for its sunny beaches, Jamaica offers its visitors so much more. After all, Jamaica's original name was Xaymaca, meaning "land of wood and water." Couples getting married in Jamaica can enjoy celebrations on the white-sand beaches of Montego Bay, in the secluded coves of Treasure Beach, or in the rocky gorges of Ocho Rios. For the most romantic retreat, both Negril and Runaway Bay offer "off the beaten path" excursions for couples looking to get away.
Destinations Wedding In Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is recognized around the world for its rich ecosystem, breathtaking volcanos, and endless black- and white-sand beaches. It is a small country - taking only three hours to drive coast to coast - that also packs a lot of punch. The culture is colorful and robust, with vibrant art and welcoming villages at each stretch. The country also offers a range of adventures for couples and their guests, including zip-lining over treetops, horseback-riding along the beach, and even surfing the world's longest left-hand surf break. Many couples choose a Costa Rica wedding for the incredibly unique excursions it offers. 
All of the above wedding destinations are home to stunning seaside resorts and a host of all-inclusive destination wedding packages. No matter which island or area abroad you choose, you will have a variety of personalized wedding packages to meet your style, group size, and your wedding budget. 
See All Destinations - Where are Destination Weddings Held?

What Type of Destination Wedding Ceremony Should You Have?

One decision you'll have to make early on when considering having a destination wedding abroad is whether or not you'd like for the ceremony to be legalized in your destination or at home. Many couples choose to have symbolic celebrations while away, and take care of the legalities and paperwork near home (either before or after the trip). This is a much simpler option when it comes to planning details. 

However, if you're keen on having a legal destination wedding abroad, it's important to do your research on the marriage requirements of your particular wedding destination. Some countries may require you to arrive a few days earlier than you expect, while others may ask couples to take a blood test and provide divorce decrees if applicable. A Destination Wedding Specialist can guide you through the legal requirements to ensure everything is taken care of.

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What Can a Destination Wedding Mean for You?

Now that you know what 'destination wedding' means, it's important to ask yourself what a destination wedding might mean to you, specifically. Will it mean an intimate and romantic escape? Or perhaps a memorable experience for the entire family? Destination wedding packages are all unique, and can be customized based on your wants and needs.

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