So you're recently engaged and are considering being married away. A destination wedding may be just the wedding of our dreams. While formal weddings hold meaning for many couples, others want the experience to be unique, with a ceremony and location that reflect your personalities.
The affordability of many destination weddings -- especially at a beach resort -- have many couples speeding off to the airport faster than you can say I do. For instance, a couple can fly to an all-inclusive resort in Mexico, get married, and stay for a week long honeymoon for as little as $2,000 to $4,000. Keep in mind you can spend as much or as little as you want on a destination wedding, just as you can at home.
Newwest Travel Can Help You Plan
1. Pick the Perfect Spot
The location of your wedding determines not only the mood (rustic, sophisticated, beachy), but also the travel, time and budget required to pull it off. Your wedding elements -- not just location, but also activities and overall vibe -- should say something about your personal style and your passions. Did he propose on vacation in Paris? Then why not host a wedding in the City of Lights? Are you foodies? Think about gathering your crew in a place like Tuscany or California wine country. Or if you love outdoor adventures, consider Costa Rica, where guests can zipline through the treetops before the rehearsal dinner. Want to have your toes in the sand as you say I Do? Somewhere in the Caribbean would be ideal.
2. Time It Right
The best weather in popular vacation destinations tends to correlate with tourist season, when there are typically more crowds, fewer hotel and venue availableness, and higher rates all around. If you choose to marry during high season, you'll want to reserve hotel blocks and venues immediately and send a out save-the-date invite 10 to 12 months in advance so Newwest Travel can book guests flights and accommodations before prices skyrocket. If you choose a non-peak season, you may be able to save yourself and your guests some money and still enjoy great weather. While the off-season will mean fewer crowds, the weather can be unpredictable, and you may find that many stores, venues and vendors close up shop. With each destination being different, Newwest Travel can help with researching and choosing the best time to get married away.
3. Take a Trip
We highly recommend that you take at least one planning trip once you choose your destination. You'll need to explore and secure your key venues -- ceremony and reception spaces, hotels for guests, a rehearsal dinner venue -- and local suppliers such as caterers, florists and photographers. Many times these can be provided by the resort should you chose that route. Next you may want to schedule "tastings" with your caterer, see sample bouquets from the florist, plan a hair and makeup session with a local salon and organize activities (golf, tennis, walking tours, museums) for your guests.
4. Factor in the Extra Expenses
If done right, a destination wedding can cost no more -- and maybe even less -- than hosting the same party at home (depending on where you live, of course). For example, if you live in Edmonton or Vancouver or Toronto where event facilities are in high demand, then holding your wedding in Mexico will likely be less expensive than doing it at home, even when you factor in airfare, hotel expenses and planning trips. Still there are extra expenses you'll need to factor in for any destination wedding, including importing key vendors and décor, welcome bags for guests, additional activities for guests and travel costs for you and your immediate families (including the planning trips, not just the big day).
5. Local Marriage Requirements: Legal vs Symbolic Ceremonies
This is where a lot of couples get confused. The legal side of being married away in a different country can be complicated. Many countries have a "residency requirement" (for example, 24 hours in Turks and Caicos and 7 days in England), which means you must reside in the country for a certain length of time before your ceremony. Although this is usually just a few days, it can be longer. Newwest Travel has experience planning weddings in many different countries and can advise on the local marriage requirements. Another option would be to get married at home and then have a symbolic wedding ceremony in destination. The ceremony is the exact same, which means your guests would not know the difference. There are no residency restrictions or requirements for this option.
6. Get Help
If you're hosting a wedding in a distant locale, you will need to entrust at least part of the planning to someone else's capable hands. A Newwest Travel wedding planner can shoulder the burden of researching and securing local vendors, dealing with logistics like rentals and lighting and handling any last-minute fires that may start in the weeks leading up to the wedding. Many resorts include a coordinator in their wedding packages who will be able to help with the planning process as well. Otherwise, set aside about 10 to 15 percent of your total budget for a local planner.
7. Remember: You're on Island Time
Don't keep a constant eye on the clock. Remember that many tropical islands run on "island time" -- things happen when they happen -- so don't mistake a vendor's laid-back attitude for incompetence. Avoid the temptation to micro manage from afar. Schedule regular check-ins and then trust your vendors to work their magic.
Want to learn more about planning your Destination Wedding with Newwest Travel? Set up a personal consultation with one of our experts