Is a Destination Wedding in your stars?

You’re dreaming of a wedding on the beach, with the sun shining and the gulls flying overhead. Or maybe you want to wed in a medival castle atop a lush mountain. Too bad you’re holed up in Vermont in the middle of a snowstorm!

So what can you do to make your dream a reality? A destination wedding may provide the answer, but there are a number of factors you need to take into consideration before deciding to whisk your loved ones away to an exotic destination.

TheBigDay.com discusses the pro’s and con’s of planning a wedding far from home.

Reasons to choose a Destination Wedding:

1. Increased intimacy

There’s no question that a wedding destination halfway around the world will have fewer guests than one in your hometown. Some guests will not be able to afford it, others will not be able to take the time and a majority of those ‘must-invite’ relatives and co-workers will graciously excuse themselves from the invitation.

Fewer people around means that you can spend more time with the ones who are there. Often guests view destination weddings as vacation opportunities, and will extend their trip into a full week, allowing the bride and groom to have lots of quality time together.

A smaller ceremony and guest list can help you focus on the important things, and not the chaos surrounding a large reception.

2. Cost effectiveness (for the couple!)

Chances are your destination wedding will cost less than the average American couple spends on their nuptials.  Even though you have to pay for transportation, shipping items ahead of time, and resort accommodation, a smaller guest list and favorable exchange rates will allow you to spend less while receiving equal or better quality. Often, the couple is able to splurge on things they would not be able to afford ‘back home’, such as an open bar, unique and personalized favors, a private tour of the area for all of the guests, or a morning-after brunch.

3. Extended vacation opportunity

The advantage of combing a wedding with a honeymoon destination is obvious. Instead of taking a week off of work prior to the wedding to organize and then rushing through a shortened honeymoon at an exotic location soon thereafter, couples can spend two weeks at their place of choice.

This doesn’t mean you have to honeymoon at the location where you were married. Although many people choose to do this, others will fly off to another resort in the same area, or, in visit another country before heading home.

4. Location, location, location!

The chances that Disney will build a replica of Cinderella’s carriage in Ontario for your fairy tale wedding are slim, so if that’s what you want, you’ll have to travel to where they are instead (hint: try Florida or California).

If your ideal wedding location is something more glamous (or warmer!) than you’ve got at home, you’re just going to have to pack your bags and jump on a plane to get there!

Reasons to avoid a Destination Wedding:

1. You want a big wedding

It’s going to be the wedding of the centry! A large church bursting with guests, a designer dress with a flowing train, an enormous ballroom reception that seats all of your 500 guests, with a stunning array of food and large dance floor with the city’s best DJ. 

It is possible to have a large destination wedding, but you won’t have nearly 500 people. Chances are your destination venue won’t seat more than a few hundred and your resort will probably host even less.

Although there are places that will cater to all your grandest wedding plans, expect an even greater amount of stress than you would planning a wedding of that size back home. There are pre-trip inspections, meetings with caterers, photographers and designers, and the coordination required with your must-have wedding planner.

Pick a place with an unfavorable exchange rate, such as Europe or French Polynesia, and you’ll also be looking at an even heftier bill than you would in North America. The bottom line? If you’re planning a large wedding, staying close to home might be best.

2. You want everyone to be there

Acceptance rates for destination weddings are lower than weddings close to home – usually 50 percent. This is due to varying factors including cost, time off work, inability to travel, etc. Those who are elderly, ill, or have small children probably won’t be able to make it either. If you and your fiancée are incredibly close to your family and friends and their presence at your wedding is very important to you, a destination wedding is not in the cards.

3. Control freak?

If you need to see things in person before making a decision, dislike shopping off the internet, or need to be involved in planning every detail, a destination wedding may not be for you.

Due to the distance, couples planning a destination wedding often rely on a wedding planner – or at least the internet – to plan their wedding. This is especially true if the wedding will occur in a foreign country and you do not speak the native language. As a result, things such as the hotel, reception site, design, and food may all be purchased ‘sight unseen’.

If you are unable to trust a wedding planner or travel websites to help with your destination wedding, don’t risk it.

4. Time constraints

If you only have a few days to spare for nuptial bliss, due to work, illness, or family requirements, you may not want to waste any precious time sitting around in airports. If you are working on a very tight timeline, consider marrying and celebrating your honeymoon later on when you actually have time to enjoy it!

For more Destination Wedding considerations, click on the links below. Bon Voyage!

  • Legal Requirements for Destination Weddings
  • Steps to Planning a Destination Wedding: Checklist
  • Managing Your Stress for a Destination Wedding
  • How to Choose a Destination Wedding Planner
  • Choosing Your Guest Accommodations for Destination Wedding
  • Increasing Your Attendance at a Destination Wedding: Consider Your Guests
  • Feature photo from AlexMoi Photography (destination wedding in Bali)