Choosing Your Destination Wedding Location
No matter where you’re planning a wedding, choosing the venue is a big step! When deciding to get married abroad, or just in a different state, the excitement can quickly turn to stress. Don’t be intimidated by the logistics and the details. We’ve put together five helpful tips to help you to choose your destination far-flung fete!
1) The Guest List
This is tied for being the most recommended tip I found when researching this topic. Being realistic and truly narrowing down who you think will be able to attend is imperative. While you can’t honestly know beforehand, considering travel distances and your guest’s budgets should give you a decently close figure.
There’s a great difference between a laid-back gathering of 25-50 people, and a lively party of 200+. Ponder what you envision your day to be like. Is it a grand occasion, or an intimate affair? This will help you understand how far your budget will go, which is up next.
2) The Budget
We can’t talk about wedding planning without mentioning the numbers. And just because you are planning a destination wedding, doesn’t mean it has to be over-the-top expensive (or at a beach) either. Just like with planning a wedding in your local area, destination weddings can have minimal or unlimited expenses. While the cost breakdown will be similar to a non-destination wedding, there are some expenses that will dictate when and where you wed.
The cost to travel to the destination is an obvious one. But the cost can vary wildly depending on the time of year. Booking a wedding in Hawaii in April falls during peak season, and will cost much more than it’s off season (which is from November to March in case anyone is wondering).
If you’d like your guests to join you, consider their budgets as well. If your free-lance writing best friend has to shell out $2,500 for a plane ticket because you forgot to research typical prices during peak season, (and they have to do 2 layovers, take a boat, and drive another hour to boot), you’re likely to lose them (and most of your attendees for that matter). We recommend using Rome2Rio to research the modes of travel and the cost your guests will endure to join you.
3) Your Style
Attending a wedding that really reflects the couple is always fun. You want your guests to say, “This is SO John and Stacey!”
Whether you’re thrill seekers, wine enthusiasts, or laid-back beach lovers, choosing a location that speaks to you is important. Think about how you spend your vacations together, and what you do during those times. Over 60% of couples who plan a destination wedding stay in the area for their honeymoon (according to WeddingWire). So put some thought into where you may want to spend the trip of a lifetime!
4) The Weather
This one is HUGE. If you’ve been following us for long, you know I’m from Florida. I’ve mentioned avoiding hurricane season (June to November) when considering Florida and the Caribbean for honeymoons, and that obviously applies to planning your wedding as well. While rates may be cheaper at all-inclusive resorts and the like, there’s a reason. There’s a decent chance inclement weather may throw your day out of whack. Now, if you’re okay with taking the risk, do it! Tim and I honeymooned in the Caribbean during peak hurricane season. We got incredibly lucky! Just be sure to have a plan B in place for if something happens.
This doesn’t apply to areas prone to hurricanes either. If you’re not very familiar with locations that peak your interest, we highly recommend using a travel agent. They know what to look out for during different times of years. Weather like monsoon season or sweltering heat can quickly put a damper on your day. Having a pro in your pocket will help you both sleep better at night! Plus, many travel agents are FREE. They receive commissions from hotels, airlines etc when a client books, so no expense is required on your end!
5) A Property Visit
Ideally you would get to visit your top 2-3 properties in one visit. But even if you only tour one that really stands out to you, doing this before the big day is critical.
Many properties offer discounts for couples to visit pre-wedding. They want clients to book, so they’re oftentimes willing to offer 2-3 days at a lower rate. While there you can not only tour the property, but meet and speak with the caterer, your planner should the location offer one to you, and more. Being there in person is the best time to ask any questions, or voice concerns.
If budget or time doesn’t allow for a property visit in person, we strongly suggest using Skype, FaceTime, or the like to see the venue. This is the next best thing, but again, we urge that you visit in person if at all possible.
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