your destination wedding
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planning a destination wedding
A destination wedding can be grand or intimate, formal or casual. But typically, it is a celebration for which everyone must travel to the festivities.
Are you Good to Go?
Destination weddings can have some advantages even beyond their spectacular settings. They can be more affordable for brides and grooms, as packages are often available, and they can have the often-desired effect of whittling down guest lists to more manageable numbers, as not everyone will have the means to travel. On the other hand, if beloved family members and friends cannot make the trip, it may affect your decision about where to celebrate.
There are challenges to planning a wedding remotely. First and foremost, you’re planning remotely, which can be tough for brides who are detail-oriented and want control of the process. You’ll likely rely more on a local planner to help you manage vendors, and you may not have a chance to see everything in person before your arrival on site. Below are some helpful hints to get you on your way to Destination: Big Day! tips:
- Researching possible destinations can be daunting. Start by defining your priorities (warm weather or cold, beach or castle, etc.) and limiting your search to an area you really like (such as the Caribbean or Ireland or Southern Italy, for example). There is a lot of information on the Internet, as well as great round-up magazine articles with data on properties, amenities, services, capacity, and pricing.
- Once you’ve narrowed your search a bit, use sites such as www.tripadvisor.com to read reviews of your prospective destinations. Often you can see candid photos and get inside information from travelers and guests who have gone before you.
- Reach out to on-site planners and pay attention to their response. You’ll want a speedy reply within a day or two, along with helpful answers to your questions, and organized information to help you get to know the property and its unique attributes.
- Keep in mind that some resorts function on an a la carte basis, where food and drinks are charged on consumption, while other properties offer all-inclusive packages that can include combinations of meals, drinks, and other services or amenities. This may affect the cost of the trip for you and your guests, so be sure to inquire about what’s included.
- Consider taking a trip to the area before booking your wedding. There’s nothing like experiencing a place in person to help you understand the pros and cons.
- Etiquette-wise, all the normal rules apply to a destination wedding. There is no obligation for the couple to pay for anyone’s travel expenses except their own, but it’s important to remember that expenses for your bridal party will be higher than average. In addition to the normal costs of attire and gifts, your attendants must also pay for travel and sometimes multiple days’ worth of food and drink.
- Because you might be hosting folks for several days for a destination wedding, you may want to provide other opportunities to celebrate, such as a welcome cocktail party, a clambake, or a farewell brunch—and these additional parties can add to your budget.
keep it simple: destination wedding
- Start with research—ask friend and family, consult Web sites and magazines, and narrow your focus. Don’t forget that a quality travel agent can also be very helpful in recommending destinations and helping with group flights or other travel arrangements.
- Keep in mind those key people you will want to have in attendance, and thing about how easy (or difficult) it will be for them to make the journey.
- Also keep in mind that getting married in a foreign country might require longer stays to establish “residency” and there may be additional documents or legal action necessary to formalize the marriage at home.
- Popular destinations can book up well in advance, and prices can range widely between high and low seasons. While you might be wiling to consider an off-season celebration, be aware of weather forecasts and normal conditions during that time of year.
- Keep track of your research in this binder, and use the notes pages to list Web sites and contact info. Follow the Estimate Request pages for ceremony and reception locations to make sure you know all the details before signing a contract or sending a deposit.
- Reach out to any prospective destinations first by e-mail, then follow up with a phone call to ask important questions and get a sense of service.
what’s the deal?
If you’re planning a destination wedding there is some information you ought to request from prospective venues.
- How long has your property been hosting weddings?
- Are there hotel accommodations available on site or nearby?
- Would we have a dedicated planner to help us with arrangements and details?
- Can you explain how your wedding packages work and what our options would be?
- What items/services are included in your wedding packages?
- Are we able to customize elements, such as our ceremony and décor?
- How will the planning process work? Will we need to make trips there before the wedding?
- Will we have regular phone calls or e-mails to address details and confirm arrangements?
- Are there direct flights available to a nearby airport? If not, what is the travel time?
- What are the legal requirements of being married in your state/country?
- May we speak to a few couples who were married at your venue?