Here are some great tips from The Wedding Channel on Planning your Destination Weddings:
A Guide To Destination Weddings
If the thought of running off to marry on a tropical island, in an ancient castle or near an exotic temple sets your heart racing, we have three words for you: Go for it. Although planning a destination wedding can be complicated, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience to which hundreds of couples say “I do” every year. With guests and vendors to coordinate, laws and regulations to abide by, and details to decide — your destination wedding will require lots of planning. So check out our planning points and get started creating the destination wedding of your dreams.
Location, location, location
First things first, choose the location for your destination wedding. Factors to consider include the expense of the location, the level of prowess needed to navigate local laws and requirements, available activities and amenities for you and your guests (theme parks, sports and recreation, spa services, outdoor activities, shopping), restaurant and accommodation options, and ease of travel to and from your locale. Jamaica is one spot that provides all of the above; you can wed as soon as 24 hours after your arrival, and save up to 40% from May-November during their (still gorgeous) off-peak season. Your guests will also have an array of fabulous water-sports and activities to choose from in their downtime. A good place to get answers to these questions is with your destination’s local board of tourism or with our Local Directory.
Next on the list of destination wedding must-do’s: choose a date for your fete. If you schedule your celebration when your destination has the best weather and the most festivities (AKA tourist season), plan on higher prices and crowds. If you travel during the off-season, you may save some money but experience weather or travel problems. Your best bet may be to wed just before, or just after, big travel season.
Before you plunk down any deposits, check your date with close friends and family members. Remember, if you’ve chosen a faraway destination, don’t expect all — or even most — of your guests to attend. Between time off for work and school and costly airline tickets and accommodations, attending your nuptials may be a lot to expect from even the dearest of friends. On the other hand, if you choose a particularly fabulous destination like the Caribbean where the weather is perfect pretty much year-round, you may be surprised at how many well-wishers will be eager to join you on your big day.
Most marriage bureaus require a few basic documents in order to grant a marriage license. If your destination wedding is in the United States, check with local authorities to find out what specific documents are required. If you wed abroad, however, sometimes a bit more than a birth certificate, marriage license application and blood test are needed to make your marriage legal. In Greece, national law prohibits certain interfaith marriages from taking place; brides and grooms may have to demonstrate proof of religious affiliation in order to legally wed. In Mexico, laws governing marriage vary from place to place, so it’s virtually impossible to know what’s required until you apply for a license – in person. In Italy, paperwork originating for the US must be translated into Italian and decreed official by the secretary of your state. If yours will be a foreign wedding, contact that country’s consulate to find out what to expect.
Find out what will be needed to safely and legally travel to and from your wedding destination. Contact the United States State Department for travel advisories and to find out about passport, visa and vaccination requirements.
Add It Up
Price airfare (inquire about group discounts) and lodging options, and be prepared to furnish estimated costs to friends and family. Before asking your attendants if they can participate in your wedding, be up front about what your wedding will cost them. Be absolutely clear about what costs you can — and cannot — cover, whether that be airfare, lodging, meals, or wedding day clothes.
Many hotels and resorts offer destination wedding “packages,” where some or all wedding details are coordinated by on-site professional. A simple package may include a bride’s bouquet and officiant. An elaborate package may include food, flowers, photography, champagne, cake, limo service, and a string quartet. If these services are available to you, by all means, take advantage of them. Having an expert coordinate the details of your destination wedding can be the nicest wedding gift you ever receive.
If you are planning your destination wedding without a hotel or resort package, consider hiring a wedding coordinator on your own. Professional wedding planners can help you choose reliable vendors and venues, and often secure lower prices and better values. Search our Local Directory for planners who specialize in weddings in your dream destination.
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