Wedding analysts predict that soon 1 out of 4 weddings will be a destination wedding.
For something that was once considered a novelty destination weddings are now the new normal. Having just come back from my own destination wedding, I would say it’s the only way to go!
Why? A couple of reasons, here are mine:
1. Not a wedding person
I was never one to dream about my wedding day when I was younger, like other girls did (I also thought that I would never get married). The thought of finding a venue, planning flowers, centrepieces, cake tasting etc. never appealed to me. With a destination wedding you don’t have to worry about the little details; to me the view is the decor and since you can’t take the flowers or centrepieces home with you, you won’t spend money over decorating.
2. It goes by so fast
One thing every newlywed person said to me is the day goes by so quickly, by the time you say hello to everyone you’re saying good-bye to them. The $20,000 (or more) that you spent on one day flashes before your eyes. With a destination wedding it’s not a wedding day, it’s a wedding week!
3. Let’s all be friends
With typical weddings, your friends and relatives might not know his friends and relatives, and they’re expected to mingle together all night. With a destination wedding your guests have a couple of days to hang out and get to know each other, so on the actual day of the wedding it’s one big party! New friends are made, and your folks get to really know the crazy crew you hang out with. Plus, when was the last time you went on vacation with your family anyways? Trust me, group vacations are the best!
4. You cut down the list
With a destination wedding, everyone knows that it’s going to be a smaller more intimate affair. You don’t have to invite every cousin, distant friend or obligatory “I invited you to mine” person. You can just invite the people that you really want to come and only the people that really want to go will come. One thing to note, you’d be surprised with how many people will come to a destination wedding. If you invite 100 people thinking only half will come, don’t be surprised if they all say yes!
5. It’s one big party
I may not be a wedding person but I am a party person (have you been to our epic Gotstyle parties?) There is something about being away from home, in another country, surrounded by sun, beach, good friends and family that brings a wedding party to the next level.
Here are 8 tips for planning a destination wedding:
1. Even if the resort is all inclusive, it doesn’t mean your reception will be!
You’ll be paying for the food and extra bar service for the reception, but it will still be considerably less than a wedding reception back home. We paid about $9,000 (US) total for the wedding day: $4,000 for food/booze, $3,000 for decor, $2,000 for DJ/sound. No one remembers the decor at the end of the day, but they remember the open bar and the music! (So don’t skimp on those). Other items we spent money on: A private boat cruise for all of our guests, private brunch the day after the wedding, and welcome bags.
2. All inclusive does make other wedding events easier
All inclusive isn’t the only option for a destination wedding. It is the easiest when it comes to $$. It’s convenient to get everyone to meet up at a bar for drinks or plan a group dinner without having to worry about covering the costs. (You would be paying for the rehearsal dinner if it was at home). I feel that it’s especially important to entertain your guests for the days prior to the wedding day. You are taking their vacation time, and it also helps with getting everyone acquainted.
3. That being said, make sure that you go to a resort that can accommodate large groups
When it comes to dinner, some resorts are only thinking couples stay and won't let you come in with a group of even 6 people. I find the newer resorts (like the Riviera Cancun where we had our wedding) are starting to understand the market for destination weddings. They had separate rooms at each restaurant that could handle larger groups (10-15 people) and even a very extensive high end buffet that had a separate section to accommodate a group of 50 or more. They also had a variety of restaurants, bars and pools to choose from. Think bigger is better for a destination wedding to keep everyone entertained. I am usually more of a smaller boutique hotel person, but with a group of 50 people we would’ve overwhelmed a hotel and there would not have been the options to eat and drink. From talking to other people, with 40 or more people do it all inclusive and with less you could do a boutique hotel (or a castle or church in Europe) but it will be a lot more planning and work.
4. Don’t deal with the hotel directly
Personally I find it imperative to have someone local to help organize all the planning and logistics (especially if you don't want to do all the work like me). We used Lux Destination Weddings and had Lizzie organizing all the flights and accommodations for our guests. Alexandre was my point person for all organizing and wedding logistics. Make sure they have a wedding planner at the hotel that will be helping you the day of with certain details. Sometimes they may not be the best, so make sure you have a schedule worked out ahead of time. Pre plan things like: how the wedding party is going to walk in, how you want dinner to flow with speeches etc…
5. Also look for a resort that has other amenities you can use
We did a Great Gatsby night at the casino and utilized the disco as the afterparty on the wedding night (at no additional cost). We also used another rooftop venue for a hangover brunch the next day (minimal cost).
It’s important to think about where you’re going to carry the festivities on as most places have a no noise policy after 11pm. If there is no disco or lounge, look into getting one of the bigger suites to accommodate having guests over for drinks after (trust me they won’t want the night to end!)
6. Spend the money that would’ve been for decor on kick ass welcome bags
They spent the money to join you so you’ve got to treat them right. Give them stuff they will use on their trip. For our guests we did a beach bag, Turkish towel for the beach, cool cover up for the ladies, hangover kit, sunscreen, bug spray, cute matches, candles (good for shared bathrooms!) and don't forget an itinerary so everyone will know when and where they should be.
For a cool guest photo book, check out guesterly and expect Etsy to become your best friend. Yes, you will have to bring down a ton of stuff. You’re not be able to ship directly to most resorts but you should be given additional baggage allotments if you’re booking with a charter airline. We were allowed 46kgs each (versus the normal 20kgs each) and enlist the wedding party to help stuff the gift bags when you arrive.
7. Don’t hire one of the resort photographers (they’re going to be shitty)
Do you have an acquaintance that is also a professional photographer? Think about paying for their trip and get them to shoot the wedding. They’ll get a mini vacation, and you have someone that you trust taking great pictures. This only works with people that are professional photographers and aren’t close friends. They need to understand that you are paying for their trip to work. You can also hire someone who is local but the resort may charge a ridiculous outside vendor fee (our charge would have been $800US plus the cost of having the photographer).
8. One last thing
Don’t think that because it’s a destination wedding you can get away with a linen shirt untucked or a bad looking beige coloured suit. At the end of the day you are paying good money for a destination wedding and you will want to have great pictures of you and your bride to look back on (and the groomsmen and everyone else). Nothing ruins great wedding pictures than a poorly dressed groom and wedding party! Trust me, beige does not look good on 90% of men! The formality that you would have had at home should extend to your destination wedding.
Do lighter weight fabrics or suck it up for 2 hours and take your jacket off after the ceremony and pictures.