Destination weddings are ideal for couples who either want to totally get away or who just want close loved ones to attend their special day, who want to get away or have a specific connection to a place. Most resorts offer all-inclusive packages with so many options. If you want them to deal with everything from the welcome rehearsal dinner to a farewell breakfast, they can do but, fi there are elements you want to organize yourself, here are some tips.
CHECK THE RULES FOR GETTING A MARRIAGE LICENSE
These vary, not only between countries but cities too. Some require blood tests and X-rays, some require you to go to the Embassy or consulate in your own country as well as filing in the country itself. Others you just need to file for the license a couple of weeks before. Some countries have a residency requirement - some countries it is just a few days but in France, it’s forty so reconsider if you were hoping for some quick romantic Parisian getaway!
CHOOSE YOUR IDYLLIC SPOT
The location sets your mood, theme, travel, time, budget and guests. Everything should express your personalities, style and passions. Where did he propose? Do you enjoy this particular cuisine? Are you the outdoor adventurers or surfers?
TIME IT RIGHT
Avoid peak tourist seasons. If you do want to marry in the summer, you need to book 10-12 months ahead and reserve hotel rooms and venues immediately as well as sending out Save-The-Dates so guests can book flights and hotels before the crazy price hike. YOu may not get the weather you want, however, especially if it’s Europe so really consider what it is about this location that makes you earnestly pursue it for your wedding.
GO VISIT - TWICE!
Or ideally three times. Yes, it is an expense but it is also your wedding and to wait til your actual wedding to discover vendors who flake on you, that there is nothing for your guests to do or that you are allergic to the make-up your destination vendor uses is rather tragic. If you are not going for a package, you will have to source rehearsal dinner, ceremony, reception locations, hotels for guests, as well as suppliers such as caterers, florists, photographers and videographer. It is a lot to fit in: scheduling tastings, meetings, a bridal hair and make-up session with a local salon. Yes, there are extra expenses but it can still work out considerably cheaper than a locale. Holding a wedding in New England is four times as expensive as holding one in Bali, for example. Those extra expenses include importing key vendors and decor, welcome bags for guests, activities and travel costs are the extras you wouldn’t get otherwise so work out how you can keep these to a minimum.
DO THOROUGH RESEARCH ON YOUR VENDORS
If you can’t meet them face-to-face, sample their wares, have a hair or beauty trial or a video-chat, you are pretty lost. Do as much research as you can, get some reviews or feedback from previous clients. And if you really don’t feel you can trust them, don’t. Foot the bill for at-home vendors to travel over.
DON’T BE TOO PRECIOUS ABOUT YOUR TIMETABLE!
If you are getting married in a tropical destination or in certain parts of Europe, remember they do not operate on the same time as the working world! That is to say, things happen when they happen. So don’t lose your rag and start filing an official complaint just because your 2pm meeting turns into a 2.30pm one which equates with unprofessionalism. Agree on regular check-ins, communication deadlines and then trust them to do their job - if they want to get paid!
WEDDING PLANNING IS A MUST
As the wedding is going to take place far away from where you are currently living and working, you will need to entrust some planning to an expert. A wedding planner who speaks the native language is an added bonus but, either way, you need someone who is familiar with the lay-of-the-land, can source welcome bags, organize the flowers, fun activities, help with co-ordinating the formal details. You need to have a representative for you in the country in which you’ll be marrying. If, however, you want to go with a homegrown wedding planner, you will need to factor in travel and transportation costs on top of his/her 10-15% of your total budget.
WEATHER AND NATURE
Yes, you do have to consider these. You may have chosen off-season in the Caribbean as it is cheaper but now you have the potential for hurricanes! Or a monsoon in Goa...do check the expected weather and seasons. Remember, with our global crazy weather system it is just as likely to happen as not to so keep your risk factors low.
LOOK AFTER YOUR GUESTS
Check out our Tips of Welcome Bags and fun activities in the Tips for Wedding Favors section. It is important to keep your guests occupied and happy; they are making a considerable excursion at their own expense for you both! Think about what could make their transition and stress in a hot/foreign country less. Do keep them hydrated; maybe have buckets of bottled water placed in their rooms or around the reception location. If you have invited children, think about how you can keep them entertained as this will otherwise be a real headache for the parents.
DRESS APPROPRIATELY AND ALLOW YOUR GUESTS TO!
If you are having a beach wedding, your own attire is not going to be so formal. You will also need heel protectors for your guests and prepare them so they don’t turn up in starchy Black Tie and have to stand in one hundred degrees! You can be more specific in your advice for their wedding ceremony attire on your website.
BE ULTRA ORGANIZED
A destination wedding can be far less stressful than one at home - but you do need to prepare everything a few months earlier and count the costs - both ways. It can certainly be an irreplaceable, unrepeatable event for both yourselves and your cherished guests.