Beautiful beaches, panoramic views, iconic architecture, balmy nights and of course, the surreal sunsets – these are a few of the reasons enticing couples to consider destination weddings.
Some couples dream of destination weddings early in their planning and others are torn between the battle of Destination Weddings VS Home-Country Weddings, how do you make the decision? There are so many elements to consider and it’s often difficult to come to a conclusion while still leaving enough time to notify your guests if you are planning to jet-set away for your big day.
1. Finding the right location
What is it that first drew you to the idea of a destination wedding? Was it your love for a particular location? Does the destination hold sentimental meaning? Do you envision a more intimate wedding? Or do you just not know where to start and are considering all options? Whatever the reason, find a location that is meaningful to the both of you.
2. Consider who will be able to attend
Whilst travelling overseas is increasingly common for weddings, it is not always viable. If family is a priority, consider who will be able to attend. Finding the right date can be a challenge in itself to coordinate everyone’s schedules between work, school holidays and peak wedding seasons. The great thing about destination weddings is Save the Dates are more commonly used and you only need to include the basic details.
I once read that if you’re thinking of having a destination wedding, cut 75% off the guest list. Now, understandably not everyone will attend however if you set a realistic list and provide notice, I’d expect around 25% to decline. (My rule – if you haven’t spoken to someone in 2+ years, they don’t get an invite - simple!) If you’re really struggling to narrow down, then you may need to reassess whether a destination wedding is for you.
3. See the venue in person
If you are planning a destination wedding, in my experience, the average engagement period of a couple is longer. With this in mind, if the couple has the time (& budget!) they can visit a few locations and decide after seeing the venue. This also gives you the opportunity to meet suppliers (who you end up speaking to more than you do your own friends!). If you are unable to visit the destination, see if your family will be visiting and ask them to see a venue (or two, max – it is their holiday after all!).
4. Personalise the experience
People will be flying in from all over the world to join you both, so don’t forget to thank them! Whether it’s including a welcome note in each room with suggestions on where to go and what to do or creating tailored gift boxes if you have the time (and suitcase space). If your guests are arriving a few days before or staying afterwards, you can host a welcome event or a post wedding event. In my opinion, the bride and groom should be the first to arrive and the last to check out.
5. Packing Essentials
Whether you’re having an intimate wedding of 10 or a larger wedding of 100, there will be items you need to pack – the dress, shoes, suit, favours, honeymoon outfits and more! Have a separate suitcase specifically for the wedding and keep relevant items together to avoid last minute stresses. But, after the wedding, disburse, disburse, disburse – if you have any (willing) guests, give them items to take home so you don’t bring everything along on your honeymoon.
6. The Cost
If you are expecting the same wedding in your home country, overseas, you will not be saving money, in some cases it can cost more! When you consider the cost of travel, honeymoon, flights, accommodation, legal documents and other events, these all add up. But, happily with a long engagement, you have the time to save! (Perhaps that’s why destination couples have longer engagements in the first place…)
However, don’t let this frighten you, you can have a beautiful destination wedding and save, especially if you are a bride-chilla and the most important part of your wedding is celebrating your love surrounded by those closest to you and the picture perfect backdrop is all you need. It all depends on your expectations on the day.
Budgeting for a destination wedding can be tricky as it isn’t just the day, it’s the other factors that make it possible. But there is a way to budget, we like to think of it as a budget range. Another method is to create a payment plan, to space out payments so you’re not travelling with the total cost in your carry-on holding it for dear life! Let’s be real, a big reason people have destination weddings is the picture perfect backdrop. Consider allocating an increased portion of your budget on the perfect photographer and go all out. Your memories may fade, but your photos don’t have to!
8. The Dress!
One of the most exciting moments for any bride is saying ‘yes to the dress!’ It is important to be realistic about the dress you want, if you are getting married on the beach on a hot summer’s day but imagine a layered princess dress … how realistic is this? Not only will you be sweating off your carefully applied heat-proof makeup, but you also have to carry your dress during your travels! (Note – Do not check your dress in – carry it with you and do not let it out of your sight!).
Knowing your vision for the day is one thing, but having everyone else in another part of the world understand this is a whole different story! Some things, may literally, get lost in translation! Create a Pinterest board to share with your creative partners so you’re all on the same page.
10. Response Times
Most of us live in a (very) fast paced society where we reply to every email before our head hits the pillow at night. However, in other countries, expectations of a ‘normal’ response time can vary! Personally, during our planning it was common to wait between 6-8 weeks for a reply. That’s right. Welcome. To. Island. Time.
11. It’s all about you! (…and your groom)
Destination weddings really keep the day to celebrating what is all about – the love of you and your partner. At the end of the day, everyone has travelled to join you on your special day, so take in every single moment!