{Day 4} Destination Weddings

Destination weddings are perfect to get away with close friends and family. They are mainly for the couple who want a casual, intimate occasion in their dream honeymoon spot. The style can be formal or lavish. The guest list will be kept short, as you should not expect everyone to be able to attend.

Why are Destination Weddings such a growing trend?

1. They are virtually stress free and simpler to plan than normal for two reasons:

a. Resorts and cruise lines have made it easier with full-time wedding coordinators and wedding packages that take care of your ceremony essentials (photographer, cake, minister, etc).

b. You can hire a stateside wedding planner who specializes in destination weddings, contact a wedding planner in the town you plan to wed.

2. No Family Drama

3. Cost Effective

4. You call the shots: While formal weddings hold meaning for many couples, linking them to the traditions of their ancestors and culture, others want the experience to be unique, with a ceremony and location that reflect their true colors.

5. Perfect for Second Marriages

6. Once-in-a-lifetime reunion: Destination weddings are on vacation time. You're usually required to arrive a few days early to fill out the paperwork, so by the time your wedding rolls around, you've had two to three days of fun with your sweetie, family, and friends.


Top 10 Destination Wedding Locations

1. Mexico

2. Jamaica

3. Dominican Republic

4. Bahamas

5. Hawaii


7. Aruba

8. Fiji

9. Cruise

10. Europe

Who Pays for What?

The Bride and Groom {and/or Parents} are expected to pay for a Welcome party, rehearsal dinner and morning after brunch.

If they can, the hosts should cover selected activities, transportation to the ceremony and reception, a shuttle to pick up the guests at the airport, attendant hotel rooms, and travel expenses for VIP guests (i.e. elderly grandparents)

The guests are expected to pay for their plane ticket, hotel room, meals/beverages that are not part of the wedding, and any non-wedding related activities.

The attendants are expected to pay for their travel, formal wear, hair/makeup/salon appointments, and any food/drinks that are non-wedding related.

Planning Points

With guests and vendors to coordinate, laws and regulations to abide by, and details to decide -- your destination wedding will require lots of planning. So check these planning points…

1. {LOCATION, LOCATION} First things first, choose the location for your destination wedding. Factors to consider include the expense of the location, the level of prowess needed to navigate local laws and requirements, available activities and amenities for you and your guests (theme parks, sports and recreation, spa services, outdoor activities, shopping), restaurant and accommodation options, and ease of travel to and from your locale.

2. {START DATING} Next is to choose a date for the wedding. If you schedule your celebration when your destination has the best weather and the most festivities (AKA tourist season), plan on higher prices and crowds. If you travel during the off-season, you may save some money but experience weather or travel problems. Your best bet may be to wed just before, or just after, big travel season.

3. {CHECK AVAILABILITY} Before you plunk down any deposits, check your date with close friends and family members. Remember, if you've chosen a faraway destination, don't expect all -- or even most -- of your guests to attend. Between time off for work and school and costly airline tickets and accommodations, attending your nuptials may be a lot to expect from even the dearest of friends. On the other hand, if you choose a particularly fabulous destination like the Caribbean where the weather is perfect pretty much year-round, you may be surprised at how many well-wishers will be eager to join you on your big day.

4. {LEGAL REQUIREMENTS} Most marriage bureaus require a few basic documents in order to grant a marriage license. If your destination wedding is in the United States, check with local authorities to find out what specific documents are required. If you wed abroad, however, sometimes a bit more than a birth certificate, marriage license application and blood test are needed to make your marriage legal.

5. {TRAVEL REQUIREMENTS} Find out what will be needed to safely and legally travel to and from your wedding destination. Contact the United States State Department for travel advisories and to find out about passport, visa and vaccination requirements.

6. {ADD IT UP} Price airfare (inquire about group discounts) and lodging options, and be prepared to furnish estimated costs to friends and family. Before asking your attendants if they can participate in your wedding, be up front about what your wedding will cost them. Be absolutely clear about what costs you can -- and cannot -- cover, whether that be airfare, lodging, meals, or wedding day clothes.

7. {PACKAGE DEALS} Many hotels and resorts offer destination wedding "packages," where some or all wedding details are coordinated by on-site professional. A simple package may include a bride's bouquet and officiant. An elaborate package may include food, flowers, photography, champagne, cake, limo service, and a string quartet. If these services are available to you, by all means, take advantage of them. Having an expert coordinate the details of your destination wedding can be the nicest wedding gift you ever receive.

8. {PROFESSIONAL HELP} If you are planning your destination wedding without a hotel or resort package, consider hiring a wedding coordinator on your own. Professional wedding planners can help you choose reliable vendors and venues, and often secure lower prices and better values. Whenever possible choose local florists, musicians and caterers, but you might think about flying in your own photographer/videographer.


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