A destination wedding can be a wonderful way for a couple to start their lives together. However, proper preparation can mean the difference between a memorable event and an infamous nightmare. Below are some frequently asked questions about destination weddings that can help you create a magical affair.
Why should we have a destination wedding?
Destination weddings are a great choice for countless couples for a variety of reasons. To some, the financial savings over a traditional wedding is appealing, for others it seems natural since many of their relatives will be traveling to attend the wedding anyway, for others it can be a fabulous option if they do not have a large number of guests who will attend and still others may simply want to buck tradition. Whatever the reason, a destination wedding could be the perfect way to say “I do!”
Photo Credit: True Photography Weddings
Where should we go for our destination wedding?
Traditionally, destination weddings were thought of as island or tropical affairs. However, a destination wedding simply means you are traveling away from home to get married. The destination you choose could be a town or city where your family or ancestors were once rooted, a place you have always wanted to visit or somewhere that seems to be ideally suited to your big day. The possibilities are endless.
Who pays the cost?
It is customary for the bride’s family to pay for the wedding. However, in modern times, many couples are paying for the event themselves, particularly if it is not the first marriage for the bride or if the family lacks the resources to finance it. Still, no matter who is paying for the wedding, guests are responsible for their own accommodations and expenses.
When should we inform guests?
Because guests will be expected to pay travel and accommodation costs, it is best to give as much notice as possible. Therefore, no less than 6 to 8 months prior to the date, you should send save the dates. These little notices simply let potential guests know what you have in mind so they can plan accordingly. Additionally, you can publish a wedding website that outlines important information about your upcoming day. These types of sites are typically very simple to put together and can be very helpful for notifying guests about updates and changes that may occur.
What should we wear?
In regard to attire, a destination wedding is no different from any other wedding. While the location may play a small role, it really depends on the taste and budget of the couple. Some choose to maintain a formal dress code, while others opt for casual beach attire. Whether you want black tie and tails, flip flops and board shorts or something in between, the choice is yours; just make sure you tell your guests about the anticipated dress code. They may assume that tropical atmosphere equals casual dress and choose a wardrobe that does not fit the occasion.
Photo Credit: Merledress
Who will plan and coordinate our destination wedding?
Some resorts offer a wedding coordinator as a courtesy to couples who book a wedding at their establishment. Conversely some brides choose to hire someone at home and bring them to the destination or hire a local wedding planner to handle all details. Again, budget and personal preference are key here. If you are not sure what to do, ask the resort if they provide these services or if they have any recommendations when you book your reservation.
What preparations should we make in advance?
There are some precautions that you should take regardless of where you intend to go.
When preparing to travel anywhere outside the United States:
- Bring your passport and leave a photocopy of it with a trusted friend or relative who is not going to the event, in case it gets lost or stolen.
- Check with your physician and insurance to ensure that your vaccinations are current and to inquire about others that may be necessary.
- Bring any medications you routinely take.
- Pack an extra pair of glasses.
- Leave unnecessary valuables and irreplaceable items at home.
In addition to routine travel necessities and precautions, some preparation depends on where you are going. Due to the differences in regulations from one location to the next, some couples fear that their destination wedding will require extensive paperwork and other red tape or that they will run the risk of finding out later on that their marriage is not considered legal in the United States. However, there is a simple way to eliminate much of the paperwork and ensure that the marriage is recognized as a legal union. Since wedding guests will be oblivious to whether you are having a legal or symbolic ceremony, why not opt for a simple union at home, via your local courthouse or notary public and have a symbolic ceremony at the destination you desire.
If you prefer to have a legal ceremony at your destination, check the legal requirements for your destination and be absolutely certain you have everything in order before you arrive. Remember that handling small details early can make your event more fun and less worrisome. Never assume that someone else will automatically take care of something; it is always better to err on the side of caution.
Some of the things you should inquire about include:
- Waiting periods for the marriage license
- Blood test requirements
- Identification and necessary documentation