You only have one wedding day (hopefully), and you want to make it count.
And while to many couples it can sound like the ultimate dream to have the big day surrounded by friends and family in Cabo or Florence, there are some factors to consider before taking the plunge.
There are lots of all-inclusive packages and locations that will happily plan the bulk of your wedding (and sometimes honeymoon) for you. This means that resorts or tourism organizations will typically have package deals where they’ll coordinate each part of your wedding, from the reception to arranging an officiant and even thank you gifts for guests. Some even will be your concierge throughout the trip, helping you and your guest plan activities such as sightseeing and outdoor activities.
In other words, you pay one price and leave it up to the professionals — just show up in your wedding attire and you’re good to go.
Even though you’re traveling to get hitched, a destination wedding might be cheaper because you’ll typically have a smaller guest list. Instead of feeling like you have to invite the third cousin you’ve never met, a destination wedding can be an excuse to only invite close family and friends. Assuming you’re planning to have your honeymoon in the same location as your wedding, you’ll save money on traveling to your honeymoon destination.
Don’t forget to consider additional costs such as flights and hotels. (And take into account costs you may be covering for guests, like accommodation, food, and other expenses.)
Think about the last few weddings you’ve been to — what special moments stand out to you?
Your guests may not remember every detail of your wedding attire, but they will remember dancing under the stars at the beach or going on a safari with the whole family.
While a destination wedding may be cheaper for you, it can cost a pretty penny for your guests to attend. Even if you opt to pay for some of their stay and accommodations, it may be way out of a friend’s budget to fly out to Bali for your wedding. Sure, your close friends and family want to come to bear witness to your special day, but if they’re paying for a flight, hotel, food, sightseeing activities plus a wedding gift, it can add up quickly.
Financial barriers aside, some guests may not be able to travel due to work schedules, health issues, or other commitments.
Getting married in another country means you need to do some research to make sure your marriage is legal in the U.S. You’ll want to know what types of documents and paperwork you need to hand in so that everything is on the up and up. Otherwise, it’ll be a shame to learn later that your marriage isn’t legal when you get back home
If you decide to go with a resort that specializes in wedding services, you’ll still want to do your research. That way if you do run into complications, you’ll know where you go to get a marriage license at your destination.
With a destination wedding, you’ll have a more intimate experience with your guests, since you’ll likely be staying in the same location and spending more time together than just the wedding ceremony and party. Between extra activities and leisure time spent in close proximity, you might have more family time together than you bargained for.
To make sure you get alone time as a couple, consider arriving before your guests and leaving a few days after so you can have some breathing room. If you can, schedule solo activities like couples massages or even opt to have your honeymoon across town.
Destination weddings can be a fun and exciting event for everyone involved, including the guests. Make sure you weigh all the pros and cons before making your choice. Sure, it can be a memorable experience but you’ll need to consider budget restrictions, including those for your guests. At the end of the day, it’s your big day so do what will ultimately make you happy.
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Photos by Michelle Beller