Destination weddings have been gaining popularity for many years now. Approximately 20% of weddings are now destination weddings, and it makes sense why: as more and more couples live far from where they grew up, they find that most of their guests will need to travel no matter where they choose to tie knot. Why not choose an amazing destination?
What exactly is a destination wedding?
There isn’t a hard and fast definition for a “destination wedding”. You could choose to get married in a far-flung tropical location across the world, or you might opt for a ski resort just a couple of hours from home. If you currently live in or near a place where people vacation and are inviting friends and family from around the country, your wedding could be considered a destination wedding as well. Regardless, the one thing destination weddings have in common is that the majority of guests will have to travel a significant distance and will need to book hotel accommodations.
So what are the pros and cons of a destination wedding?
Regardless of the exact definition, destination weddings offer their own amazing benefits and unique challenges. Before deciding where you’d like to get married, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of a destination wedding.
- A Vacation Opportunity – You and your guests get to enjoy a getaway, and might even save money compared to a regular vacation if you reserve a block of rooms or schedule group activities.
- Quality Time – You’ll likely plan extra events/activities to bring your guests together and get to spend more time with everyone than at a traditional hometown wedding.
- Honeymoon – There’s no reason you can’t honeymoon in the same location to save travel costs!
- Cost-Cutting Opportunities – Destination weddings are often smaller than hometown weddings, allowing you to save money on budget areas like catering, alcohol, rentals, and more. You may not even need much (or any!) decor — with a beautiful backdrop like a perfect beach or snowy alpine peaks, you can skip those little decorating details that no one remembers anyway.
- Stress-free Planning Packages – Most resort destinations offer complete packages that include everything you need: a venue, an officiant, a photographer, food, drinks, music, flowers, and planning. This can keep things super simple, especially if your priorities are having fun and spending time with loved ones!
- Make unforgettable memories – Opting to get married at a home church or common local venue means your wedding will likely be just like any number of other weddings your guests have attended. A destination gives you the chance to have a truly unique experience and send your friends and family home with memories that will last a lifetime.
- Travel costs – Flights (especially international), hotels, and other travel expenses can add up quickly for you and your guests and will need to be factored into your overall wedding budget.
- Stress – Planning a wedding from a distance can be stressful if you’re not familiar with the destination or you tend to be a control freak. It’s important to know your own tendencies when deciding if planning from afar is right for you. (Then again, choosing a Stress-Free Planning Package like I mentioned in the list of pros can ease your mind.)
- Local marriage laws – Each state and country has their own laws about marriage licenses, waiting periods, documents you need to obtain, etc. You’ll need to educate yourself on how to do things in your destination so that you and your partner really are “lawfully wedded”!
- Exclusivity – There’s a good chance not everyone will be able to come, whether due to cost or inability to take time off from work. Make sure to check in with your VIPs before you put that deposit down, and don’t forget to send Save the Dates! If it’s supremely important that you have all of your friends and family members by your side, this exclusivity may be a turn off.
- Passports – If you’re getting married abroad, you and your guests will need current passports, which are not cheap and take extra time to process.
Still on the fence?
Here are a few insider secrets to calm your jitters and help you plan a seamless event:
- Get wedding insurance to cover any unforeseen circumstances like severe weather or unexpected illness, and encourage your guests to purchase travel insurance coverage as well. It’s a small price to pay if you end up needing to use it!
- If you’re worried about leaving people out, plan an after-party at home to include friends you didn’t invite or who couldn’t attend the destination wedding. This after-party can be anything you want it to be – formal, where you can wear your wedding gown and suit, or casual in just regular clothes. This doesn’t have to be a full-blown “reception” either. A few hundred dollars will go far to buy your friends burgers and beers in your backyard or at a local park in the spirit of celebration.
- Take some of the expense burden off your guests by telling them that they do not have to bring a gift. You can communicate this via your wedding website or on an insert card included with your invitation.
- Eliminate any legal worries by getting married at the courthouse where you live before or after, then just have a symbolic/religious ceremony at your destination. No paperwork to worry about, no foreign languages to navigate, no hefty marriage license fees pay for. Everybody wins!
Choosing a location for your wedding is certainly no easy task. But rest assured that once you’ve weighed the pros and cons of a destination wedding and decided if it’s right for you, one of the biggest sources of decision-making stress will be over. Happy planning!