So you’ve decided to host a destination wedding with friends and family. Congratulations!!! Now…how many friends and family? How much will it cost them to get there? How will the two of you decide on the perfect place? When choosing your destination wedding location, there are many more factors to keep in mind than if you were planning a wedding at home. So for those of you newly engaged, we’ve assembled a quick list of key items to keep in mind as you discuss your locale options. We suggest sitting down together as a couple and making a list of your wants and needs, then listing places that match and begin to eliminate and narrow the field from there. Or, if you prefer, make a list of must-haves individually and then compare notes. Be open to new ideas, new places and perhaps you’ll experience something spectacular together for the first time!
1. What climate, view, and atmosphere do you have in mind? Do you want to wed on a beach or sit high above in the mountains? What type of weather do you envision and style of dress? From winter cabins to island weddings and everything in between, you’ve got options!
2. What activities do you want to partake in? Perhaps you and your fiancé have different feelings about the view but what about the things to do? Do you want to surf or ski? Stay at a swanky city hotel or live it up on a ranch and ride horses? Think about all the activities you and your guests will be doing on location and narrow your choices.
3. Time of year, the seasons, and the weather. Are you hoping to get married next summer? Some parts of the world will be mid-winter then, so consider the season at these places and the time of year you want to wed. Avoid holidays in those countries and keep in mind the stateside calendar for guests. And of course, do your best to plan for optimal weather when traveling and hosting outdoor events.
4. What’s your wedding budget? Your honeymoon budget? And your travel budget, if that’s separate? Where can you afford to go and how strong is the dollar in that country? On a smaller budget? Consider a nearby destination wedding that only requires travel by car but you still get to experience a weekend away with your loved ones. Living large? Head to the Maldives for your honeymoon and stop in Singapore or London for your destination wedding along the way.
5. What’s their budget? How many guests do you want to attend and what budget constraints do they have for travel? Keeping in mind, the further away from home you get, the fewer people will travel. And once your friends and family have committed to attending, what accommodation and travel options are available for them? Are there a variety of hotels, villas, resorts, and places for guests to stay at a variety of price points? Are you able to get a package by traveling as a group or is your venue all-inclusive? Keep in mind how important your loved ones’ attendance is when booking your venue and price point.
6. Are there travel requirements to enter the country? Do you and your guests need visas, passports, vaccinations and much advanced notice to legally travel to your destination? Find out first!
7. Can you legally marry there (or does that matter to you)? Many countries require marriage applications be submitted months in advance, while others require a certain length of time spent in the country before you can legally wed. What legal restrictions are you faced with and does your timeline allow for them? If not, is a ceremony and reception sufficient on location and will you choose to legally wed back home?
8. Do you and/or family speak the language? Do you have means to communicate to avoid any mishaps along the way or can you hire those to assist you?
9. Local vendors or travel with your team? We love a destination wedding that works with local companies to create an authentic experience and supports the community. But what kind of talent can you find locally – do you have options? And that being said, are you able to bring your photographer and destination wedding planner with you? If you can travel with a small stateside team, you’ll ensure a more perfect execution and save yourself many time difference, language barrier, and other wedding planning headaches along the way.
10. Honeymoon and destination wedding in one or do you have other ideas? Don’t forget about time away for just you two! Where will you honeymoon? Does the location have options for you to get away from the group when the time comes or do you plan to take a separate honeymoon? Keep in mind your honeymoon needs and wants when landing on a destination wedding location!
And once you’ve selected your favorites, double check they aren’t currently listed with the State Dept as destinations to avoid. Better to be safe than sorry!