When planning your destination wedding, there are some important factors to think about. Here are some details to help you get a head start:
Budget How much are you comfortable with your guests spending for a 3-night vacation? A budget will typically begin at around $1,000 per person for all three nights. This will include air, transfers, the hotel, drinks, meals, tips, and taxes. It is also important to remember you get what you pay for.
Dates Depending on what date you want your wedding to be, the cost will change. The Peak Season will be from Mid-January through Easter and every holiday and will have high rates. The Mid-season is from Easter to August, as well as early January. Mid-season dates will have average rates. The Low season – with the lowest rates - is from September into early November, and early December. Save the Date notices should be sent a year or more before your planned wedding date to allow your guests enough time to plan for their trip and save up so they can attend your destination wedding.
Guests Not everyone on your guest list will be able to join due to either money or time constraints. Of your guest list, about 40% of them will be able to attend the destination wedding. Most couples will hold a reception at home for so those who couldn’t attend will be able to celebrate as well.
Destination Try and keep travel times reasonable. If guests need to fly 9 hours for a Hawaii Wedding and can stay for only 3 nights, it is unlikely a destination you will want. The same is true for the more exotic islands, which can require multiple airline connections to reach. All guests attending will need their passport. Most resorts require the groom, bride, and guests arrive 3 days ahead of the wedding.
Resort What is it you have in mind? Something small, or an experience filled with activities and energy. We highly recommend all-inclusive resorts, which include meals and drinks. This will help your guests budget for their trip. Many all-inclusive resorts will also include a semi-private reception in their wedding packages, which saves you money that could be spent on some nice upgrades.
Ceremony Location Do you want your ceremony on the beach? Maybe in a gazebo or surrounded by nature, or one of the gorgeous chapels at your destination. There are many options to choose from based on what you want and the number of guests attending. Resorts will have backup plans and locations as well, in case of inclement weather on the day of the wedding.
Ceremony Type There are two types of ceremonies available for destination weddings. The first is a legal ceremony, where you and your future spouse are legally married where you hold the ceremony and you receive a marriage certificate recognized where you live. These ceremonies often cost a bit more and will require more paperwork. Sometimes, blood tests are needed.
The other ceremony is a Symbolic ceremony, one that has no legal holding. With a symbolic ceremony, the legal marriage will occur at a courthouse or by your clergy ahead of your travels. Then, once you’re at your destination wedding, you celebrate the union like it were a legal marriage, with music, vows, flowers, and other ceremony details. Regardless of which ceremony you decide, your guests won’t know the difference. Destination weddings are symbolic about 80% of the time.