Plan Your Destination Wedding With These Expert Tips

A beautiful wedding locale and stress-free planning.  What’s not to love about destination weddings?

Destination weddings continue to grow in popularity, with nearly 1 in four couples choosing to say their “I-do’s” in a breath-taking destination setting.   If you’re one of these couples, we can help you get started with your planning.

We asked our top questions to the experts at Destination Weddings (who’ve already helped over 20,000 couples plan their weddings, with their personalized and free service). Read on and plan your destination wedding like a pro.

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Photo: Dominican Republic Photography
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Photo: Katya Nova Photography

What factors should a couple consider when picking their destination?

We often hear from couples looking for advice on how to choose their wedding or honeymoon destination. This is a big decision and many considerations need to factor into making it.

First,  think about the type of climate and setting you envision saying “I do” in. Are your toes in the sand and sound of crashing waves in the background? Or are there endless, mountainous views with the crisp, calm air surrounding you?

The second most important thing to consider is budget. You want to ensure you aren’t scaring your guests off (or emptying your savings account!) by picking an out-of-reach destination. For couples who don’t want to worry about keeping a wallet with them at all times, all-inclusive resorts are often a perfect option. Aside from offering great value, they’re also guest-friendly and help everyone to relax and not worry so much about paying for their next meal.

Third, choosing between having an adults-only affair rather than a family-friendly weekend will significantly influence which resort you choose, so be sure to consider your guest list when browsing for your dream hotel. Intimate ceremonies with older guests may be better suited for an adults-only setting, while a more diverse demographic might lend itself well to a child-accommodating and amenity-filled property. If very close friends or family members have kids, you could keep the main event adults-only (and arrange for babysitting), but offer your guests family-friendly accommodations during their stay. From supervised kid’s clubs and dedicated children’s pools to Connecting Family Suites with kid-friendly amenities, there are plenty of ways to keep the little ones entertained throughout their stay!

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Photo: Dominican Republic Photography
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Photo: Marisol Alcarez

How far in advance should a couple begin planning a destination wedding and when should their guests be notified about their destination wedding plans?

The great thing about destination weddings is that they can be as thoughtfully planned out or as last-minute as you need! While 9-15 months is an ideal amount of time to secure the best travel rates, we have worked with couples to plan gorgeous weddings with only a few months to spare. If you do have time to plan far in advance, we always advise that couples start the process sooner rather than later, particularly with large groups. That way, you can ensure you find the lowest rates and exclusive deals for both you and your guests!

Planning earlier than later also ensures your guests will have ample time to be made aware of your plans to get married abroad, so they can prepare themselves! It’s polite to give guests ample notice so they can not only budget accordingly, but can also work time off into their scheduled if needed.

We suggest following these general rules for notifying your guests of your wedding plans:

1.      Ideally, guests should receive Save The Date notices 4-8 months prior to the wedding date.

2.      If you’re planning a short engagement, it’s polite to give invitees at least 6-8 week’s notice

3.      With your invites, include a information on your location and venue, what resort you will be staying at, group room blocks and flight bookings, and any group events or excursions that you have planned for the time that you’re away.

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Photo:  Jessica Kettle Photography

What are the hidden costs in planning a destination wedding?

The cost of an at-home wedding has continued to rise each year with the average expense for the couple now at over $30,000. In comparison, our data shows that the average cost of a destination wedding for the couple has remained under $10,000 for over 10 years! Still, a lot goes into the expenses for a destination wedding. From airfare and travel costs to wedding packages and private events, there are various ways costs can add up when planning a wedding abroad. Many resorts offer complimentary wedding packages to help keep costs down for the couple, however if you are looking for a more lavish experience, you can choose to upgrade everything from your décor and menu options to a private venue or even luxury transfers to and from the airport. For any excursions or spa treatments you’re looking to do while away, factor in those costs separately as they are typically not included in your resort stay. The important thing to remember is your bank account is already thanking you for choosing to have a destination wedding, so there’s no need to worry about splurging a little on certain aspects!

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Photo: Jessica Kettle Photography

What’s the best advice previous destination wedding couples would give to those planning one now?

Through the years, all couples who have planned their weddings with us have said the best advice they would give is to trust your Wedding Specialist and the process. There are so many processes in place that ensure you are in extremely capable hands and that everything is taken care of. One of the biggest reasons couples choose to have a destination wedding is to avoid a stressful planning process; and the experts are there to ensure that happens. In return, the second piece of advice couples give is to RELAX, don’t sweat the small stuff, and don’t forget to enjoy every moment, as it comes to an end so soon!

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Photo: Shannon Skloss Photography

Find more tips and insider information at Destination Weddings!