Do I have to get married on a beach for my destination wedding?
When thinking about a destination wedding, most couples automatically assume that their only option is a beach wedding with toes in the sand; however, that is not necessarily the case anymore! Many resorts now give you the option of hosting your wedding in different locations.
For instance, you can get married on the 5th floor of a Sky Terrace overlooking the ocean which allows for a beach vibe where you can still wear heels. You can also consider a beach Gazebo with a breathtaking ocean backdrop which allows you to feel the ocean breeze while you say your I Do’s. Or there’s the option of a private garden location which allows for a secluded, intimate, tropical ceremony surrounded by lush palm trees and greenery.
If you’re looking for a catholic ceremony, destination weddings allow you to think outside the box with chapels overlooking the ocean. Destination weddings have come a long way from beach only locations!
What happens if it rains on the day of my destination wedding?
You won’t have to worry about getting stuck outside if it’s pouring on your wedding day. The resort will automatically reserve an outdoor location and an indoor location for you. If the forecast calls for rain, your coordinator will ask you that early afternoon if you wish to go ahead and move your wedding to a location inside such as a ballroom or a nice foyer. The wedding coordinators always have a back-up plan so you don’t have to worry!
How many guests will attend my destination wedding?
When determining how many guests will attend your destination wedding, as a general rule of thumb, 60% – 70% of the guests you invite will attend. Having said that, I can tell you from my personal experience that my husband and I narrowed down our guest list to 80 people thinking only 30 would attend, but we were pleasantly surprised that 60 of the 80 ended up coming!
It’s always good to set a hard deadline for your guests to book about six months in advance so that you can prepare both mentally and financially if the guest count becomes larger or smaller than anticipated!
How much time do I need to plan a destination wedding?
For a destination wedding, we always recommend that you start your planning at least a year in advance so that you can give your guests plenty of time to prepare financially and to secure their time off from work. We think the ideal time to send out your save the dates is around a year in advance.
For traditional weddings here in the states, you would typically send your invites out a couple of months before the wedding; however, with destination weddings, we recommend that you send out your invites at least 8 months in advance so that your guests can place a deposit on their rooms at least 6 months prior to your big day. Not only will this reduce the likelihood of the resort selling out or the price increasing substantially before your guests book, but it will also allow you to get a more accurate headcount so you can plan accordingly. The sooner you have a final headcount, the sooner you’ll be able to finalize your wedding details!
How do I bring my wedding dress to my destination wedding?
While some couples may want to pack their dress in their checked bag, we always suggest carrying your wedding dress on the plane with you in a garment bag as this will ensure that your wedding dress does not got lost during travel. Upon boarding the plane, you can ask the flight attendant if there is any room in the captain’s closet to hang your dress. If there is no room, they will be more than happy to assist you with placing it neatly in the overhead bin. This is what I did for my wedding, and it worked out great!
In addition, if you upgrade to business/first class seats, this will ensure that you are one of the first to board the plane when the captain’s closet and the overhead bin space is less likely to be full. Also, most resorts will provide steaming services, so there’s no need to worry about a few wrinkles here and there!
What’s the difference between adult only and family friendly resorts?
There are typically 3 different types of resorts: adult only resorts, family friendly resorts, and resorts that have both options. Adult only resorts usually only allow guests 18 and older to stay on property. They cater towards adult clientele often with relaxation amenities and adult activities. For instance, they will have serenity pools to relax, yoga, golf, as well as more lively activities like clubs.
A common misconception with adult only resorts is that they are only for couples or romantic getaways; however, this is not necessarily the case. For those of you with single friends attending your wedding, rest assured that there are many resorts that provide a fun environment for all adults without having to worry about kids splashing pool water in your drink.
Family friendly resorts can be a great option for adults, but they have better accommodations and amenities for families vacationing with children. They will have a number of different options to keep kids entertained, such as a kids’ club, teen zone, kids’ pool, and water parks. Many family friendly resorts also offer babysitting services at an extra cost for those parents who want to have a romantic dinner alone.
On the other hand, there are some resorts that cater to families but also have an adult only section so you can have the best of both worlds! All three options provide unique benefits, and the best option for you and your fiancé will depend on your preferences.
How do I get my wedding décor to another country for my destination wedding?
While some people will suggest that you ship your items beforehand, we always recommend that you pack and take your favors and decor with you. When shipping décor to another country, our biggest concern is that your items might get stuck in customs and that you may have to pay taxes or customs fees to have them released. Either way, we recommend that you avoid the headache.
The better option, in our experience, is to pack the items in an extra suitcase and to bring it with you as a carry-on or you can ask your family or bridal party members if they can help. This can provide you with some piece of mind that your items will arrive with you, and you don’t have to worry about any potential damage as a result of your décor being in a checked bag.
How much should I budget for my destination wedding?
Our couples have had simple toes in the sand type of weddings for 20 guests, and they’ve had extravagant weddings with all the glitz and glamour for 200 guests. These weddings have ranged from $5K – $50K, but the average is roughly $10K for 50 guests. Remember, the #1 most important factor is guest count. The more people you have, the larger the budget should be.
Discuss with your fiancé what is the most important thing to you. A canopy of string lights? Interactive food stations? Premium open bar with themed drinks? Photography? Once the planning begins, I recommend you give the coordinator your budget along with pictures of what you want. By you sharing as much info as possible, it will help your wedding coordinator advise you on what you can fit in your budget or alternatives on how to save on cost.
How can I make my destination wedding events unique?
The beauty of having a destination wedding means that you can think outside the box. Why have a traditional rehearsal dinner when you can have a dinner catamaran cruise at sunset? Or a beach bonfire with smores as your welcome event? You can even incorporate the culture of the destination.
In Jamaica, they are known for their steel drum bands which will add the ‘one love’ vibes and flair that Jamaica is known for. In the Dominican Republic, they can do an Hora Loca. It’s a latin tradition in which performers dressed in feathered outfits, stilt walkers and fire breathers swoop in and get everyone on the dance floor. These are all unique experiences that your guests will not forget!
What type of food can I serve at my destination wedding?
When deciding on the type of food for your destination wedding, the biggest determining factor will be the location of your events. If you are looking to have your reception outdoors either on the beach or in a garden or pool area, most resorts will give you a choice between a buffet or food stations.
Food stations have definitely become a huge trend for weddings because they allow for more of a personalized and unique food experience. These food stations can be a refreshing ceviche bar by the beach, a taco bar in Mexico, or a jerk chicken station in Jamaica. The possibilities are endless!
On the other hand, if you are looking to have more of a formal sit-down dinner, resorts will typically recommend an indoor location, such as a ballroom or in one of the restaurants. The reason for this is to ensure your food is served warm as outdoor locations typically won’t have an accessible kitchen nearby. Once the wedding packages are presented by your wedding specialist, you will be able to see your available dining and menu options and make your decision then.
How much should I expect my guests to pay to attend my destination wedding?
The cost for your guests to attend your destination wedding will heavily depend on the departure city, destination and resort chosen, as well as the time of year. In our experience, if two guests are departing from the United States, and they’re sharing a room to a destination wedding in Mexico or the Caribbean, these guests will pay, on average, $1,500 per person for a package that includes roundtrip airfare, roundtrip airport transfers, and all-inclusive accommodations for 4 nights/5 days.
We’ve had weddings where the guests pay around $1,200 per person and weddings where the guests pay around $1,800 per person. It really just depends. For instance, smaller islands and destinations with smaller airports usually have less flights going in and out which can drive up the price.
Historically, the most expensive time of the year to travel is during holiday weekends or peak travel season which begins in Mid-December and goes into April. Mid-season starts in April and goes through the end of August. This is a very popular time for weddings since children are typically out of school for summer break. September through Mid-December is considered low season due to the weather and hurricane season. During this time, we tend to see the least expensive travel packages.
We recommend setting an amount that you feel comfortable asking your guests to spend in order to attend your wedding, and then you can find a destination wedding travel expert who can help narrow down the options based on your needs.
How will my destination wedding guests get to the resort from the airport?
When traveling to a foreign country, it’s important for you and your guests to pre-book your roundtrip transportation between the airport and the resort. We recommend doing this beforehand to ensure your guests have a stress-free arrival and don’t have to worry about hailing a cab in a foreign country or trying to get an Uber that may or may not be available. It also offers the convenience of having a pre-vetted company that handles transfers daily in the destination.
When booking transfers, there are tons of different customizable options. You have the choice of the less expensive option of a shared transfer where you share your vehicle with other guests staying at a hotel nearby or a more luxurious option of a private transfer or limo where you have your own vehicle. When working with a travel agency, your travel professional will ensure that your transfers are booked through a trusted and reputable company.