Congratulations on deciding to celebrate your love with a destination wedding! Now it’s time to set out a plan and delve deeper on how to pull off the event of your dreams from a few thousand miles away! Don’t worry, I’ve got your back!
First, you want to have a brief understanding of the factors you will need to consider. I will help you out with more specific details later on, but for now, a rundown is a great starting point before you move forward. This should give you a variety of questions to think about as you start to envision what you want for your destination beach resort wedding!
12 Items to Consider Before Planning your Destination Wedding
Not only for your own travel and the wedding cost, but for your guests and what it might cost them to travel to the wedding. If you have always dreamed of a St. Lucia wedding, keep in mind where your family and friends will be flying from. Flights can in the upward $1000-1800 per ticket from many US destinations. The travel cost can quickly add up for families and you could end up accidentally ruling out a lot more people that you really wanted to be with you.
2). Legal vs. Symbolic Ceremony
You will want to discuss what makes sense for you and your situation. Destinations differ in requirements and easy of legality, so you will need to be aware of what the requirements are to marry in the destination(s) you are considering. Just to name a few - are there required witnesses, blood tests, translation of documents, or wait times you need to prepare for? Some destinations have a residency requirement – ranging from months prior to 4 days before or only 24 hours). Also, be aware that it could be up to 6 Months to receive your actual legal wedding certificate after the wedding from that country. Lastly, keep in mind that no records will be kept at your local courthouse, so if you ever need a certified copy of your license, you must go back to the country you were legally married at.
What is the best destination for your wedding? Unless you have your heart truly set on a specific destination, this is where a lot of research and knowledge is going to come into play, as well as the fun part... starting to envision what your dream wedding will look like!
Are you at a luxurious all-inclusive resort being pampered like royalty? Do you want the sunset directly behind you with the sun dipping dramatically into the sea in the background of your pics? Do you want water so clear you can see all the way to bottom? Do you want the option to shop nearby, zip-line through a jungle or explore hidden waterfalls and lagoons? Are you saying "I Do" in a cliff-side gazebo, on the beach, tropical garden or over-the-water?
Once you start laying out the specifics of your vision, you will find it a lot easier to select the perfect destination!
4). Destination Entry Requirements
This is separate from the legal wedding requirements mentioned above. This is regarding the country requisites to enter the country. Did you know that some countries will deny your entry if you have any legal issues or past criminal convictions (including but not limited to: DUI, Child Support, or other IRS and Tax issues). While you might not have any issues - think about your guests and make sure they won't be affected and not allowed to travel with you. Depending on you or your guests citizenship, you will want to check the country's official government site to learn what documentation is needed to enter their country.
5). Weather or Ecological Events
You might be thinking of the perfect Spring Wedding or a Summery Tropical Luau, but you will need to pay close attention to all kinds of things before planning your dream wedding for July in Costa Rica (it’s rainy season!)
On top of different weather patterns and seasons in different locations, you will also come across ecological factors. In a lot of areas, at certain times of year, turtles nest/hatch on the beaches and for environmental laws placed by the government, beaches are often out of bounds during this time or after a certain hour. All of a sudden that dreamy boho beach reception and dancing in the sand with fairy lights will no longer be an option. That is definitely not something you want to find out after you put down your deposit!
Likewise, if you have visions of a tropical paradise in your starry eyes, you will want to steer well clear of certain areas of the Caribbean in the months where the Sargassum Seaweed comes in stronger. Mother Nature is a wonder, but sometimes it’s best not to have all those wonders washed up brown and smelly where your altar is meant to be. While there is no guarantee this will never happen at any time during the year, as it's called "sea"weed for a reason - there tends to be better months where you can reduce your risk.
6). Kids or No Kids
It is totally okay to say no… many guests may choose not to bring them anyhow, so they can enjoy some vacation time and not worry about watching their kids or having to go to bed early. But if you really want your nieces and nephews – make sure it’s a good family resort that will keep them entertained.
There are some resort brands that offer an adults-only area within the family-friendly property. You may even want to look at the resorts that combine an adults-only resort next door to their family resort brand, allowing you to enjoy the adults-only atmosphere if you dream of, but don't have to leave out the kids.
7). What is your Guest's Age and Health
Does anyone have special needs, major dietary restrictions, or accessibility issues? Does that perfect sky terrace where you want your cocktail hour have an elevator or is grandma going to need to be tossed over someone’s shoulder to make the ascent? You may need to ensure the property itself is up to the standards with amenities available needed to accommodate your guests concerns.
8). Travel Time and Connections
If you have a lot of kids or elderly that will be traveling, it may be best they have a short flight or limited connections. Does anyone require special assistance with flying or are unable to fly long distances? You may want to consider if the location is easy to get to and not require overnight connections, otherwise, guests may need to allot additional days out of their work schedules that won’t even be spent with you in the destination or they may just not be able to make it at all.
9). Distance from Airport for Transportation
After the flight time, is another two-hour drive to transfer to the resort sustainable? If you have lots of little kids or elderly, you might want to concentrate on resorts that are closer to the airport so your guests don’t get tired, grouchy or irritated (to themselves or others around them)
10). Group Size
Focus on the resorts that will offer accommodations for your group size. Are there enough rooms to block at your bouquet resort? Is there a large corporate group that may cause limited space at your resort of choice during the same week? You want to ensure there is availability in room space first, before booking the wedding.
11). What type of Resort
Based on size of group, do you want a mega or larger resort with lots of activities, OR do you envision a smaller property or boutique type hotel that is more intimate and easier to stay together? Do you want a more party-vibe resort with lots of nightlife OR a more relaxed environment to just hang out together? Does it need to have kid-focused activities? Are you looking for a regular hotel or prefer an all-inclusive resort?
12). Advance Notice
Don't forget to think about others are you pick a date. You should give you guests have plenty of time to consider their options, look for day/house care, ask off work, and of course save for the trip. In general, a typical destination wedding is planned approximately 11-13 months prior.
What you might not realize are the due dates associated with all aspects of the wedding planning, such as how long a room block can be held before you have to release the inventory, when you need to pay for your wedding (which is normally based on headcount), and the final payments that will be due on the room reservation.
It may take longer than you think to select the perfect destination wedding resort, obtain the confirmations, and gather the information needed to make your official announcement. You have to keep in mind that communication overseas is not as swift as we traditionally like, so it can take longer to get things secured.
I hope you found some valuable insight to get you started. If you feel overwhelmed or would like assistance to narrow down the perfect destination or resort, we are here for you! This is what we do every day!
We spend most of our vacation time touring resorts, meeting with the wedding coordinators and training for destination weddings, so we can make it very simple for you. We save you time by filtering out all the bad advice and countless options for you. Let us take the guesswork out and match-make you to the destination and resorts that fit your style, vision and budget the best.
Together we will find your most perfect wedding resort and we take care of the logistics after that. All you have to do is the fun wedding planning and creating an unforgettable event your friend and family will remember for a lifetime! Schedule your free consultation to see how we can assist and learn more about our services!