You got engaged, bought magazines, bookmarked blogs, pinned endlessly to your wedding board on Pinterest and now the thinking is getting serious. You've started planning your big day and you've started to like the idea of getting away: a destination wedding. Before you fall in love with the idea, you need to know what you're getting into! It might seem like the easy way out, but a wedding is a wedding and preparation is your best friend.
Location, location, location
First thing's first, where to? You have to decide where you're going to tie the knot before you plan anything more. The location has huge factors tied to it such as season, budget, theme and knowing where you want to be will help things fall into place.
Beyond the beach
When I hear destination wedding I think tropical, and that makes my very pale self cringe a bit. I've now realized it really doesn't have to mean a sunny beach wedding, you can go anywhere! A favourite vacation works perfectly, and that can be a wintry lodge or a country hillside.
Warning: Tourists ahead
Tourists have the same thinking as you, they want to go on vacation during the best weather times. This means that you need to think ahead when booking the hotel, and make sure your guests have plenty of notice. Like 10-12 months of "save the date" notice.
Getting to know the local laws
Many countries have laws called "resident requirements" that could affect your ability to get married where you want. Some countries have them for just a few days or less, it's only 24 hours in Turks and Caicos, but some are extremely long, we're talking a 40 day resident requirement to get married in Paris! This part of the research isn't glamorous, but it's important.
The pre-trip Trip
This step can be extra tricky if you and the soon-to-be hubby work full time, but it's recommended! A trip to scout it all out is of course a vacay (Yay!) but you get more of a feel for the location, especially if you're thinking if choosing a place that neither of you have been to.
If you plan right, a destination wedding can save you a lot of money, and you can tie in a honeymoon as well. But remember to budget for things like welcome bags for guests, activities you might do, and add ons by vendors that you might not have known about. Can't be too careful!
I know, like you would forget the dress factor. But your idea of a dress could change if you were planning for a fall wedding in Ontario, and now you're thinking a sunny wedding down south! Of course this doesn't have to be a factor, but it's good for you to be comfortable in what you're wearing.
Call in back up
Planning a wedding when you won't be in the same city until a week or less before is tough, and it's okay to get help with it! This can be extra helpful if you're planning for a wedding where English (or whichever language you prefer) isn't the first language there. Many resorts include a coordinator in their wedding packages, but if not make sure you add that to your budget.
Keep an eye on the time
Something happens when you go away, clocks just slow down. It's called 'island time,' and you shouldn't stress over it. Of course make sure things are on their way, but the relaxed layout of the day should calm you down, not stress you out!
Remember the guests
Guests will be excited to get away and also to be a part of such an important event. Just make sure to keep them updated on times, airline tips, things they might forget to pack, and anything else that'll come in handy and make sure they stay in the loop.
Vendors are a huge part of your wedding, and not being able to meet with them in person beforehand means you have to trust their online portfolios and research them (Have I mentioned that research is important with a destination wedding?) This is where that scouting trip, and a local wedding planner, pay off. If you can allow it in your budget you could bring people from home, like a local wedding photographer.
How often do your friends and family get away at the same time?! This is a great family reunion opportunity, and certainly not one that anyone will want to miss. Giving your family and friends a lot of notice will help them (and you) budget for the trip and make it possible. As for your bridal party, make sure you tell them you want to take a trip for the wedding before asking them to be in it, just so they know what they're signing on for!
Second time around
If it's your second time saying "I do," a destination may be the answer you're looking for, especially if you went the traditional way the first time. They can be simple and private, which might be what you're looking for. And if your new family has young ones, a kid friendly resort could make for excellent bonding time.
Get to it!
I know, I keep repeating myself...but research is needed here and the more the better! I'm not saying it'll be hard, but a destination wedding requires you to make decisions and stick to them. The more in advance you plan, the smoother the planning will go. And who doesn't like to cut at least some of the stress back?
Marrying away from home is an alternative to tradition that can make for a memorable wedding and an amazing vacation, as long as you think it all through. Checked these tips off your list? Then I would say you're good to go! Bon voyage and congrats!