Over the last few years destination weddings have definitely been on the rise. From tropical islands to snow-capped mountains – couples are getting creative and taking the show on the road. I decided to write this post to give a few tips to help you save money, avoid common mistakes and enjoy your destination wedding. Fasten your seat belts and enjoy the ride!
1. Think like you’re buying a house, it’s all about LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION! For example, Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds married in the charming southern town of Charleston, South Carolina. Known for its southern charm they chose the beautiful Boone Hall Plantation as their wedding venue. The historic “Avenue of Oaks”, a 3/4 mile long entrance to the house nestled between live oaks planted in 1743, welcomes guests as they travel up the drive to the property.
The historic “Avenue of Oaks”, a 3/4 mile long entrance to the house nestled between live oaks planted in 1743, welcomes guests as they travel up the drive to the property. Set behind the ornate gates is a Colonial Revival plantation house and sprawling gardens original to the property. Pick the location that best allows you to take advantage of the destination’s natural beauty.
2. Get married before you go! This might sound strange but it will save you time and money. Every destination has a specific set of rules surrounding how long you must be a resident before marrying. Filing your paperwork locally will eliminate having to spend money on the front end for extra nights and costs associated with traveling to government offices. Just make sure that you don’t change your name before your trip to avoid hassles while traveling. All of your travel documents must show the same name.
3. Most resorts have a person responsible for group accommodations. However, you should also make sure they have someone available to you who specializes in weddings. Ask the resort what services their planner is able to provide, their experience with weddings, if they have relationships with reputable local vendors and if there is a designated contact person for you and your guests. Doing so will help to eliminate unforeseen expenses and save you the expense of having to hire a wedding planner at the last minute.
4. Research your destination’s weather and local calendar of events before booking your date. Many destinations experience severe weather such as hurricanes and earthquakes during certain times of the year. Before booking, check a weather almanac to see what seasonal weather patterns the destination experiences so that you are not walking into a disaster, literally. You also want to be sure that you avoid peak tourists’ seasons. A wedding in Cancun, Mexico during Spring Break is a really bad idea unless wet t-shirt contests are your thing.
5. Purchase travel insurance. I always recommend travel insurance for my brides having destination weddings and those traveling for their honeymoons. Every wedding is an investment more so if you have a destination wedding. Wedding insurance protects this investment throughout each phase of planning, travel and the event. It is best to obtain insurance from the start of your planning. The cost of your insurance policy is dependent on what is being covered; if any of your vendors are uninsured it is also in your best interest to include them in the policy as well.
6. If you are traveling to a foreign country make sure you educate yourself on their entry requirements. A passport is now required for entry into most foreign countries. Check the U.S. Government’s travel website for entry requirements and any travel alerts for your destination.
7. Be kind to your guests. Give guests lots of time to plan and pay for the trip. Secure a group rate and provide several options for accommodations at all price points so every budget has an option to consider. Also, pick a location that has a little something for each of your guests.
When researching pay close attention to excursions offered, fine dining choices, spa services and kid friendly activities if you are allowing children. Finally, if your budget allows you to do so, host a welcome dinner or a group excursion to thank your guests for traveling to your wedding. Just be careful to not pack their schedule full of activities, they want to explore too!
And finally, loosen up and have fun. The beauty in choosing a destination wedding is that there are no rules. Have fun with your décor choices and encourage guests to embrace and enjoy the local culture.