By Jason Jourdan
Why destination weddings?
Destination weddings have become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason. People are valuing their experiences and traveling more than ever. With the rising cost of weddings in the US, it’s no surprise that the destination wedding market is thriving! There are a lot of reasons to choose a destination wedding over a traditional, local location. As many of the most popular destinations boast a sunny location and beachside backdrop, location can be hard to compete with. Destination weddings can be a smart option for couples who have family and friends spread out in many areas. If everyone will be traveling anyway, why not make it a vacation for everyone? Choosing to have your nuptials outside of the US not only offers a built-in vacation for you and your guests, but it can be significantly more affordable. Most hotels and resorts will have pre-built wedding packages for you to choose from, which helps eliminate unknown expenses. A destination wedding location will also naturally size down your guest list, so if you are stressing about feeding 300 people and don’t want to offend your grandma’s neighbor’s hairstylist by not inviting them, a destination wedding could be just the answer!
Location, location, location
Though a destination wedding can be a lower stress and lower cost option, there are some things to keep in mind before you book. It is incredibly important to do some thorough research before you go. Many people have no idea what they want besides a beach and a taco bar, so it’s helpful to start big and narrow down! First order of business: figure out the location. Among the list of things to consider should be overall cost, ease and duration of travel, and what is most important aesthetically (not all beaches are created equal!) Are you looking for white sand beaches, lush tropical gardens or bright blue water? Different locations will boast different characteristics and may be more desirable to you during different seasons- and some locations will have a heftier price tag than others. At the top of the price list will be places like Hawaii or Turks and Caicos, while more affordable locations include Mexico, Costa Rica and Jamaica. You should also keep your guests’ ages in mind when weighing your options as older guests may not want to verge too far off the beaten path.
Legal ceremony or symbolic?
On the list of decisions to make will also be the type of ceremony you want to have. A legal ceremony is exactly what it sounds like; a legally binding marriage ceremony. What you might not know is that a legal ceremony outside of your home country can involve much more of a process than you signed up for. If you are interested in having a legal ceremony, be sure to research the legal requirements for marriage in the country you will be traveling to. You may be required to provide additional documents, blood tests or an affidavit of eligibility. Once you’re married, that marriage is recognized as legal in that country and it can be a lengthy process to become legalized in your home country. Additional information on requirements can be found here. Symbolic ceremonies will be performed the same as a legal ceremony, the only difference is that you’re already legally married! To participate in a symbolic marriage ceremony, you do have to provide your marriage certificate to your officiant. And just remember; if you get married in another country, you must also get divorced in that country – and that sounds like an awkward vacation.
Choose a great planner
One of the most underrated things to utilize when planning a destination wedding is a trusted advisor. Your wedding planner can be a huge asset in planning, not only from an organizational standpoint but also to calm any stresses you may have. Someone you can communicate well with should not be taken for granted. While this may be the first wedding you are planning, they have likely planned hundreds! Take their advice and use their knowledge to help you plan the perfect event. A great feature of destination weddings is the ability to embrace local cuisine and culture. There are many experiences you can include in your celebrations – just ask what they have to offer. Steel drum performance? Mariachi band? Live fire show? You bet!
When planning a same-sex destination wedding, it is important to consider locations that will be the most LGBTQ friendly. Even if same-sex marriage is not legalized in that country, some places can still perform symbolic ceremonies and are often very welcoming of everyone. Some locations that top that list include Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Aruba. Also- keep in mind that if you prefer a beach wedding, public beaches will abide by governmental laws, even if the resort is same-sex friendly. Some adults-only resorts have a private beach and are very accommodating to their LGBTQ guests.
Traditional vs. All-Inclusive
Among the other choices to make will be the type of property you want to host your wedding at. Traditional hotels will charge by the night and all food and drinks are bought a-la-carte. The wedding services at these types of locations will be similar in that you will choose and pay for every detail separately. Hotels with this standard pricing will likely have a minimum spend requirement on events and will provide an estimate based on what you would like to include. If you want to go a different route, you’re in luck! A huge segment of the international travel market is made of all-inclusive vacations. These resorts include food, drinks and even entertainment into the overall cost and are a great option for a destination wedding. Just like the resort stay, they will offer wedding packages of different price tiers to include everything you would want for your celebration. They are often able to offer lower rates on weddings since all the guests have paid to stay at the resort, so this is a fantastic way for the couple to plan on a budget without sacrificing on inclusions. Most of these types of resorts can be found in Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America.
Bang for your buck!
Overall, destination weddings can be a really fun way to celebrate your love with your family and friends in a beautiful location at a lower cost. They can certainly cut down the stress of having a large, pricey wedding and your guests will love the option to turn the trip into a vacation of their own. The best part is the beautiful setting, and with the right backdrop there is no need to spend on extra décor! Another great way to cut down on planning and spending is to extend your wedding right into your honeymoon. You are already in a beautiful destination, so it’s easy to just move to the honeymoon suite or even venture to a different spot nearby for a change of scenery. Now that you have all the insight into planning a flawless destination wedding, book, enjoy and live happily ever after!
And of course, don’t forget to visit Point Comfort Travel to cover your travels and ensure maximum chill.