It has become very popular for young couples to get married abroad. Many of them dream of a destination wedding somewhere far away. However, though they might seem like a dream come true, destination weddings require a lot of detailed planning that can be quite time-consuming. These tips will help you organise your dream destination wedding so that both you and your guests can spend the most beautiful weekend celebrating your special day.
1. The lowdown
One of the first things you should keep in mind is that a destination wedding isn’t just a one-day event. It is a celebration that lasts for a few days. Even though the wedding ceremony is just for one day, you should also account for the days your guests arrive, relax, and leave. Generally speaking, the average number of nights guests usually go for is four. On the other hand, the couple usually stays for seven nights.
You have to make sure to organise a welcome event on the day your guests arrive. And you could also make a closing event once the wedding is over. In case you are planning for it to be longer than four days, make sure to organise an excursion of a sort for your guests. So, when you think about it, it’s not just one event, more like four in total. Destinations weddings are usually not just a regular event. They tend to be more intimate affairs.
For these types of weddings, the couple usually decides to have around 28 guests. It is the average number of guests at destination weddings. This way, you get to enjoy one of the best days of your life with your close friends and family. Plus, you get to devote time to each and every guest equally.
2. Timing is everything
It’s important that you take timing into consideration as well. The best time for destination weddings is between November and May. The peak time, which is in May, is the most recommended timing for destination weddings. This way you will avoid the hurricane season and have the best possible weather for your special day.
However, you do need to plan in advance. In fact, you should organise the wedding and book the destination at least a year in advance. This will not only guarantee you to get the place for your wedding ceremony, but you might also find more affordable options if you start looking for them as early as possible. Plus, this way you will have enough time to plan everything properly and let your guests know about the event on time. In some cases, depending on where you are going, your guests might have to secure visas in order to attend the wedding. Letting them know about the wedding destination, time, and cost will help them get organised better so that they can take time off work and save the money they’ll need for the trip.
3. Making the wedding happen
Now, planning a wedding that is going to happen so far away from home definitely isn’t easy. It’s a complicated and time-consuming task. However, there are several different ways to go about it so don’t worry. Firstly, think about the booking process and how you can do it. For instance, you can book it through a resort. Some of these resorts even offer packages. They can be either more or less generous in terms of what they offer. Ideally speaking, this can be a one-stop-shop, if you manage to instantly find a place you both like and hit the jackpot. However, even if this doesn’t happen, don’t panic. There will be other options. After all, the whole point is that you both are satisfied with the destination you choose.
Having a wedding coordinator near you can be very helpful. They are capable of handling everything for you that has to do with the wedding organisation process. They can help you with travel planning as well. On the other hand, if you work with someone through a resort, they can only handle the things that will be happening at the resort. Also, you want to make sure that your wedding planner is experienced in destination weddings in particular because if you go for someone who is a local planner, it won’t do much for your plans. So, make sure to ask specifically for someone who is experienced in destination weddings, when talking to the agencies.
When choosing the avenue itself, it’s important that you visit the location before you book it. Pictures on the internet might not be what you end up getting. They can be quite deceiving sometimes. Also, it is recommended that you scout out locations that are not typical wedding venues or resorts. Seek something extraordinary, something that can be your once in a lifetime experience. If there is a waterfall that takes your breath away or a beautiful cave with exotic flowers, go for it. Don’t be afraid to be creative and explore new places with your partner.
4. The money you’ll spend
You also need to think about the amount of money you need prepared for this type of wedding. When it comes to the wedding destinations report, an estimated average cost of an at-home wedding has increased over the past few years for about $5,500. However, the average cost for destination weddings has pretty much remained the same. It’s been under $10,000 for the past ten years or so.
The accommodations will most likely cost you around $2,000 and the flight just over $1,127. When it comes to wedding packages, they hover around $1,600 mark. Make sure you keep these price points in mind when planning a destination wedding is very important. In case you know you won’t be able to save enough money for this wedding on time, it’s best that you start looking for the lowest personal loan rates that could help you get the money you need for your dream destination.
5. Start early
This one’s pretty much been mentioned for all the aspects so far, but it’s really important to emphasise that you need to start early if you want to organise a destination wedding properly. As soon as you start investigating and looking for destinations, you’ll realise how pricy it is. And you’ll also soon realise that getting there might be more complicated than you thought. Also, your guests need enough time to prepare themselves for the upcoming plans and costs too. Six or eight weeks may be enough time for guests to get ready for a traditional local wedding. However, you’ll have to let them know about the wedding at least four months ahead if you are planning on doing it abroad.
6. Be communicative
Communication really is the key. You need to send out save-the-date cards to your guests as soon as you know when and where the wedding will take place. You can also set up a wedding website and keep everyone updated about the details. Inform them about their accommodation, how they can book a flight to there, what to pack, and so on. And try to keep it simple and to the point. You don’t need to bore them with every little detail that comes to your mind.
Also, try to discover what kind of activities you can include in order to please a wide range of ages of your guests. For instance, if your dream destination has a great setting for hiking or kayaking, organise a group activity for the day after the wedding. For those who might not be interested in this, schedule a sightseeing tour.
Also, you need to figure out if anyone needs special help, and take care of it. For instance, if your grandmother needs a wheelchair to move around, or your sister needs a crib for the baby, make sure to take care of their needs as well. You can always arrange these things with the hotel you’re staying at in advance.
7. Anticipate complaints
Not everyone is going to fully enjoy their trip, so be ready to receive some complaints. Among the most common ones are about there not being enough hotel options. “The flight tickets are expensive!” “How am I supposed to take that much time off just to come to the wedding?” There are always going to be some complaints. However, don’t beat yourself up about it. There is no possible way for you to make everyone happy and satisfied. Just make sure you do your best and those who do attend your wedding will end up having the best time of their lives. After all, you did kind of give them an excuse to take a vacation.
8. Carefully consider accommodations
To avoid some of the most common complaints, you can always provide at least two hotel options for your guests. The choice of a hotel is as important as the wedding venue. Everyone will require accommodation. It’s very important that you negotiate a discounted room rate for your guests. Make sure you choose a location that has several hotel options close by. Also, you need to be ready to offer some lower-priced alternatives to those who are on a tight budget. It’s important that you help all of your guests find as affordable options as possible. Be mindful of their financial limitations and help them out by giving them alternatives.
9. In the winter, prepare for more guests
In most cases, out-of-town weddings usually have an attendance rate of 50%. However, if you choose a warm locale during the winter season, you should expect that number to be higher. Many guests will see this as an opportunity to escape the cold weather and go on a vacation.
10. Vet the vendors
In most cases, the chances are that you will have a smaller pool of top-notch vendors that you can choose from. Some of the vendors you should be concerned about are the photographer and DJ. The photos are something that will stay with you for life. And the DJ is someone who creates an atmosphere. If you’re not sure about the options of that area are the best for you, you need to consider flying in your own preferred photographer and DJ. And this calls for some additional organisation.
Keep in mind that the styles may vary depending on location and language barriers can create confusion in communication. For instance, if you want to get married in Santorini, your DJ’s idea of pop music might not be exactly what you had in mind and a local florist might have a completely different interpretation of modern romantic flowers than the one you intended to make. Try to be as specific as possible. You can even make sample playlists and Pinterest boards to express exactly what you want.
11. Enlist the help of an expert
This type of wedding will most definitely have you spending the best time of your life with friends and family. However, it does come with a lot of planning and logistics. It requires trying out different strategies to make sure the plan suits every guest. This is why having an expert by your side is crucial to making everything work nicely.
12. Trending destinations
Lastly, when thinking of destinations to choose from, you can always look for the ones that are trending right now. For instance, tropical destinations never seem to go out of style. So, where do most of the couples like to say their vows and promise the rest of their lives to each other? These are the top six locations according to the 2016 destinations wedding report:
- Mexico – a destination most popular in May
- Dominican Republic – a place that couples like to choose for June
- Jamaica – another destination popular in June
- Costa Rica – January being the most popular
- Aruba – being most popular in September and November
- St. Lucia – mostly taken in May
Some other destinations a lot of couples go for are Bahamas, Canada, Italy, and Iceland.
All things considered, destination weddings take a lot of detailed planning. It can be quite hard and time-consuming to plan. However, with the right people and help, anything is possible.