Here are some tips to help you host a destination wedding.
Select a location that will help set the mood desired for your destination wedding. For example, if you are looking for a beachy, laid-back mood, consider any tropical destination, such as the Florida Keys or the Bahamas. Or, if you are looking for a romantic place to spend time together, consider planning your wedding at a winery.
Also, keep in mind that not everyone on your guest list will be able to attend a destination wedding. So, if possible, select a destination that is close to family or be prepared to plan a small intimate gathering instead of a large wedding.
If time allows, make plans to take a mini-getaway before you decide on a destination. Go explore the resort and the local area. See what there is to do in the immediate area for both you and your wedding guests. It does not have to be a long getaway; an overnight or weekend stay should be enough.
Once there, you will see first-hand what the area looks like and if it will truly work for your wedding. If you decide the area is perfect, pick up some brochures for the area to give to friends and family planning on coming to your wedding.
Before saying “I do” at a destination wedding, you need to fully understand the marriage license requirements. Some locations require a wait time after applying for the license before it is valid. If getting married outside of the country, look into the validity of your marriage license when you return to the U.S. No matter where you plan to get married, it is important to double check to see what is needed to get the license and how to transfer it to the states.
Once you have selected the destination, take some time to thoroughly research it. Things to look into include crowd levels and weather conditions throughout the year. You will want to book your destination wedding when crowds are low to ensure you have enough rooms available for your guests. Plus, you do not want to get married at a tropical destination during a time when it is known to rain from sun up to sun set.
It is also important to plan your wedding when you will be available to take time off from work. Sit down and look at a calendar and mark off times of the year that will not work because of work commitments, weather conditions and crowds levels. From there, you will be able to narrow down the date.
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If planned right, a destination wedding will not cost you any more than a local wedding would. Just remember to calculate in all expenses, including airfare, hotel accommodations, recreation activities and reception costs. Verify that there are no hidden costs associated with a destination wedding.
Since this will be a destination wedding, chances are you will not be in the area or be able to travel there often to do the planning needed for the perfect wedding. That is why it is very important to admit you cannot do it yourself and get some assistance. Many destination wedding resorts offer planners who can help with all of your on-site planning needs.
If you have a friend or family member who lives near the area you are getting married, ask if he or she can help with the planning process. Most people are willing to help plan a wedding, especially if you are getting married in their hometown.
Someone local to the area will know which vendors are good and which vendors are sketchy. Wedding planners work from a list of recommended vendors, which includes vendors they trust and have had great experiences with hiring in the past.
No matter who you use to help you plan your destination wedding, stay in close contact with them. Make plans to talk weekly for updates and to discuss new options that may have become available.
Once the plans are in motion, it is time to warn those VIP guests before you send out the invitations. VIP guests include members of the bridal party, parents, grandparents, siblings and other close friends and family members you want at your wedding. Giving them plenty of time to plan and save will help ensure you get these VIP guests to your wedding. Just remember to not be upset when someone cannot attend your destination wedding.
Understand that attending your wedding can be costly and not everyone will be able to afford the time off of work or the expenses associated with traveling.
Take care of your guests while at your wedding. Make a list of activities they can do themselves and plan several gatherings for all guests. Consider hosting a cocktail party the night all of your guests arrive or book a tour for all guests to go zip lining, wine tasting or exploring the area.
A destination wedding will definitely be an event in your new lives together that is going to be the most memorable. Remember, it is your wedding, so plan it where, when and how you want. However, if you want a lot of your friends and family to attend, you may have to take some time to consider the needs of your wedding guests. Also, remember that the sooner you start planning your destination wedding, the sooner your wedding guests can start saving and making their travel arrangements.]
Heather Landon is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has combined two of her passions – writing and travel – to share her experiences with others. You can read more of her articles at Examiner.com.