What is a Destination Wedding? Tips and How to Plan for One

Weddings are a remarkable experience, and many dare make theirs straight out of a Disney fairytale.

Image showing a picturesque view of a water side decorated and used as a wedding venue

Whether it is a simple, budget-friendly wedding or you want to make a big statement with it, you can always make it pleasantly unforgettable. One way to do that is to have a destination wedding.

What a Destination Wedding Means

A destination wedding simply means a couple planning their wedding outside of their hometown or city. It involves taking all your plans and guests away from your immediate environment. 

It sounds like fun, doesn’t it? 

A destination wedding is a perfect fit for people who are looking to trim down their guest size, people who want something different for their wedding, or families who want to show off their affluence. It means a destination wedding will serve the need for a small and simple wedding and also serve couples planning a big wedding with rich family and friends. 

What to Know When Planning a Destination Wedding

Getting that idea from your head and turning it into reality is a whole different ball game. Do not think that because it’s a destination wedding, it automatically makes it any easier to plan. No, it requires more work than a regular wedding in your hometown. Let’s look at some things you need to know when planning a destination wedding.

1. Guest Size

Usually, a destination wedding turns out to be a small, guest-sized wedding, and here is why: It is usually an extra cost for guests to travel to your venue, and some may not have the luxury of time to spend on the road.

Some of your guests may not be willing to spend the extra bucks to travel to your wedding destination because it is expensive for them.

Overall, remember that the more convenient you make it for your guests, the easier it is for them to honor your invitation.

2. Personalization

Every couple wants to personalize their day to their tastes. Many destination wedding venues like resorts limit the changes you can make to their setting. If you want to get more personalization options for your wedding venue, you need to hire a wedding planner and begin planning early.

Also, you need to make proper arrangement with your resort or wedding venue to buy-out the venue so that they can allow you personalize the space. Renting it for the period of your wedding is another option that will help you personalize the space.

3. Not Always Budget-Friendly

For a destination wedding, a small guest size does not necessarily mean a budget-friendly wedding. However, the budget will depend on the location and the things you want to feature during the wedding. Abroad destination weddings are always more expensive than those within the same country. You might want to take that into consideration.

4. You'll need a Wedding Officiating Priest

One thing you must not fail to add to your plan is the officiating wedding priest. You can decide to fly in your local priest as the officiating priest or arrange with a local priest in your wedding destination.

The priest will give you the information you need about how they conduct weddings in the location. You may not use a religion institution-ordained priest, but you must have someone available that will serve as a priest.

5. Your Wedding Certificate

What does the law say about weddings in your wedding destination? Find out the local laws governing the ceremony and issuance of a certificate. You don’t want to have a wedding and at the end of the day you don’t have legal proof of what you have done. 

Contact the appropriate authority and have paperworks sorted out before the day of the wedding. Everything about your wedding must be according to the law of the state or region you’re holding the wedding. 

6. Logistics

You cannot fly into your destination wedding location on the day of the wedding. This also applies to some of your guests. 

As a couple, you have to be in the city for your wedding at least two days before your wedding. It means you have to plan for the accommodation, transportation, and any other thing you may need. 

Make every hotel reservation before you arrive in the city where you’ll hold the wedding. Book for other things you will need a day or two before the wedding. 

Every means of transportation from the hotel to the wedding venue must be planned for and available before your arrival. You and your wedding planner should make all these arrangements before you arrive into the city.

7. Get the Vendors Ready

Do you plan to use vendors from your hometown and have them fly to the destination or do you want to patronize local vendors from the destination? This should be part of your plan before you pick a destination. 

Sourcing for local vendors in the location might save you cost. Not using local vendors from the wedding location means you have a lot of bargaining to do.

8. Don’t forget to make it fun

One goal of a destination wedding is to give yourself and your guests an unforgettable fun experience. Plan a fun-filled wedding. If you’ve started by making it a bit extra, then make sure it is worth the extra. No one would want to make a trip, only to meet a boring wedding. 

A small welcome party before the big day may suffice. Do a meet and greet with all your guests before the wedding day orr organize a group tour of the environment, depending on your budget. 

An all-weekend event isn’t necessary, but you can always plan for an after-party that will allow your guests to enjoy more fun. Go away from the traditional party activities. Even though the weekend is about you, you can also relax and watch your guests entertain you in the after-party.

Tips for Planning and Budgeting for a Destination Wedding

Here are some helpful tips for successfully planning a destination wedding.

Research your destination wedding ideas

The first thing you want to do when planning and budgeting for a destination wedding is to make adequate research. 

Your research should include the locations, venue, lodges, and vendors. Whether you’re employing the services of an event planner or not, you need to know what you’re paying for and will be getting. 

Visit the location at least three to four months before your wedding. See for yourself and make your decisions based on what you’ve seen. 

Early Planning Saves a Lot

Start early to plan your destination wedding, especially if you’re not employing the services of an event planner. 

This will give you adequate time to sort out hotel bookings at cheaper rates and at a closer proximity to the wedding venue. Also, your guests will have time to plan for the event. Early planning will help you navigate the hurdles that may affect your wedding.

Have a budget before you pick a location

Many people will say choose a location before planning your budget, but that may not help you keep a low budget. One way to keep your destination wedding within budget is to set a maximum limit and make decisions within the limit. 

Whether your wedding will hold in a resort, a beach or some enclosed space will depend on your budget limit. This idea is best for couples that want a budget-friendly destination wedding, where your budget determines your location and venue.

Know When to Book The Event

Avoid planning a destination wedding during the peak period of tourism. Summer and winter holidays will inflate your budget, you might want to avoid those periods. 

Also, some locations may have festivals within certain periods of the year. You don’t want to pick a date during the festival, unless you want to experience the festival with your guests. Such festivals attract tourists and most venues and hotels are usually busy and occupied. 

Weekends are another period you might want to avoid. Prices of lodges and most venues also go up during weekends.

Decide the Energy you Want to Have Around you

Different locations will create different energies (vibes). You cannot get in a resort the energy you will get on the beach or hillside of town or in a garden of colorful petals. 

Pick a location that will best define the event you want to have. A resort will give you a wedding and a honeymoon feel, while you can go for the beach or natural garden for the traditional romantic aura.

For a budget-friendly destination wedding, consider a location within your country- just somewhere outside your city.

Early Invitations

Your guests have schedules. You don’t want to drop your schedule on them like they have nothing to do with their life. 

Send out an early invitation at least six months before your wedding date. Let them save the date and clear out their plates before time. It also shows you respect and value your guests and want them to be there.

Wrap Up

A destination wedding is not necessarily a cheaper alternative to a traditional wedding within your hometown. Although you can easily plan for a small guest size, it can still cost you an arm and a leg. 

Understand the law of the location that you are choosing and plan ahead. Prepare all your travel documents and other documents that you will need during your stay in the location. 

Always have a “thank you for coming” package for your guests. Whatever you do, always plan for the local weather of your wedding location. It is ideal to plan for outdoor weddings in periods of low rainfall.