Destination weddings come in many different forms. They might be opulent or economical. They could be massive, multi-day affairs with hundreds of guests, or micro-sized, just for two. They might take place in a church, on a mountain, at the beach, or under a waterfall. Whatever style or setting you prefer, there really is a wedding destination somewhere in the world that’s just right for you.
And thanks to the sheer number of wedding and travel sites on the web, it couldn’t be easier to plan a wedding abroad. You can browse potential locations and venues, read reviews, get inspiration, get quotes and plan every detail of your wedding day (or days!), all without racking up a single frequent flyer point.
However . . .
As exciting as it all sounds, destination weddings aren’t the right choice for everyone.
What to Consider When Planning a Destination Wedding
Before you get caught up in the excitement of planning your wedding in some fantastic, exotic locale, it’s important to understand the realities of getting married overseas. There are a number of unique issues that you’ll need to consider when planning a destination wedding.
1) Some Wedding Guests Won’t Be Able To Travel
If you’ve always imagined your wedding day as a huge celebration shared with all of your nearest and dearest, a destination wedding could lead to some disappointment. Depending upon the size of your guest list, it’s fair to assume that some people won’t make it to your wedding. There can be lots of reasons for this. Perhaps they can’t afford the expense, maybe they can’t get the time off work, or maybe an elderly relative isn’t quite up to a long-haul flight.
There are ways around this of course, and it’s best to engage with important guests early on. This might involve offering to help with expenses or even choosing a date or destination that’s going to be accessible and affordable for all.
Another common solution is to plan an at-home reception on your return and invite a larger number of guests. This can be as simple or as formal as you like and is a great way to ensure that everyone feels included in your celebrations.
2) You Will Be Planning Your Wedding Remotely
If you’re someone who has very specific ideas and you like to be across all of the details, a destination wedding might pose some challenges for you.
Unless you’re planning a pre-wedding visit, it won’t be possible to actually view table settings, floral arrangements and decorations, or sample the menu in person ahead of the day. Trust in your local wedding vendors is key, so if it’s important to you to manage every last detail, you may find that wedding planning quickly becomes a stressful process.
If you’re happy to relinquish a little control however, it’s entirely possible to view all of your options online, or even submit ideas of your own, all without the need for an additional pre-wedding trip. It’s also important to remember that local experience from your venue or planner can be invaluable. You may have always pictured walking down an aisle strewn with rose petals, but a carpet of freshly picked frangipanis could be a really lovely local touch and a lasting memory of your beautiful beach wedding.
3) Your Wedding May Not Be Legal
Another point to consider is the legality of the wedding ceremony at your chosen destination. Not all marriages will be legally recognized in your home country. Of those that are, some may involve a very lengthy application process or have certain residency requirements prior to the wedding day.
Language can also be a factor when arranging any paperwork, so it’s a good idea to work with a knowledgeable local wedding planner whenever possible. It’s also important to investigate the legal requirements as early as possible. Sometimes local authorities will ask for additional documents, or for your paperwork to be translated or certified. This can add weeks to the process, so you should always allow more time than you expect.
Sometimes it’s just not possible to meet all of the requirements for legal marriage at your destination. In this case, you still have the option of legally marrying at home, and holding a symbolic wedding ceremony at your destination. This is actually far more common than most people realize.
5 Signs That a Destination Wedding is the Perfect Choice for You
We all want our wedding day to be unique and truly memorable. And as far as wedding venues go, It’s hard to imagine a more spectacular setting than a private white sand beach in the Caribbean or a mountain top in France. If you’re seeking the ‘Wow’ factor on your big day- and let’s be honest, who isn’t? – a destination wedding might just be your perfect choice, if . . .
1) You Want A Wedding Day That’s Completely Unique
When your list of options is as big as your imagination, a wedding like no other is guaranteed. Whether you choose to marry inside a church or opt for a completely unconventional location, your wedding day is certain to be unique. And if you’re able to incorporate some local cuisine or local experiences into your day, not to mention a few beautiful backdrops for your wedding photos, you will elevate your entire wedding from an event into an experience.
And speaking of the experience, you and your guests will all be in holiday mode. A group of happy, relaxed travelers at your wedding celebration equals an atmosphere unlike any you could create at home.
2) You’d Prefer An Intimate Wedding
Sometimes, guest lists can be tricky. There can be expectations around who gets an invite, and this might not always align with who you actually want to share your wedding day with. And if you’re trying to keep a limit on numbers, it can be almost impossible to trim the guest list without sparking a major family, friendship, or workplace drama.
An enormous guest list not only adds to the expense but can prevent you from spending time with those who are truly important on the day. In this case, an overseas wedding might offer the perfect solution.
Because you’re likely to be spending a number of days together as a group, it’s usually far more acceptable to invite only very close friends and family to a destination wedding. Your boss may expect an invite to your at-home reception, but they probably wouldn’t want to join you on holiday for a week.
3) Cost Is A factor
Surprisingly, a destination wedding can be a more affordable option than a traditional wedding day at home. This depends on the destination of course, not to mention the size of your guest list.
As we’ve seen above, a smaller guest list can definitely limit your costs, but there are other potential savings too. You might benefit from the currency exchange rate, and local suppliers may be much more affordable. For example, a fireworks display might be unthinkable at home, but perfectly doable at a Thai beach wedding. Or a luxury villa might double as your accommodation and your wedding venue, making it a surprisingly affordable option.
4) The Wedding Destination Or Local Culture Is Important To You
Weddings are one of the most important events in our lives and choosing a location that is personal to you as a couple absolutely adds to the significance of the day. You might choose a destination that you’ve always wanted to visit together, or maybe one that you’ve enjoyed together in the past. Or you might want to continue a family tradition by marrying at a wedding venue that has some significance to your family.
You also have the opportunity to incorporate the location into your wedding day, whether that means including local cuisine or local customs. It could also mean visiting multiple locations or local highlights on your wedding day, and having your wedding photos shot at various landmarks.
5) Your Family and Friends Live Overseas
Perhaps your families are located on opposite sides of the world, or perhaps some of your closest friends have moved away from home. If one or more of your important guests would need to travel to your wedding, it can sometimes be more simple or fairer for everyone to travel.
You might choose a mid-way point or even just a destination that everyone is keen to visit.
So if a destination wedding sounds right for you, it’s time to choose your adventure. The world really is your oyster here, so take some time to find the right wedding destination and get some inspiration from your favorite wedding blogs.
You’re about to have an experience unlike any other, so let the planning begin!
Photography By: Rick Collins of Love You Me Pictures