Following our tropics vacation, we received a few messages about destination weddings. So, we thought it may be helpful to share a few basic things in this latest blog.
When deciding to travel to a destination wedding location, ask yourself if the most important people in your life can travel with you. Consider anyone with physical disabilities on your guest list and if you are still sold on the idea, select a destination that will easily accommodate them.
Travel to the Caribbean is a lot less expensive than traveling to Europe. But remember that you don't have to leave the United States to have a destination wedding. If most of your guests don't have passports, consider Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands. A mountaintop ceremony in Aspen, a Vegas wedding, or a beach wedding in Florida or California would be breath-taking!
First and foremost, are the legalities of your wedding ceremony! The most crucial element is to find out about your required marriage documents to get married in your selected location. If going international, ensure that all the legalities of your foreign ground wedding carry over to the states...the American Embassy is a great place to check. Another place to check is the attorney general's office of your state of residence or the internet (of course). Follow up by making sure that your marriage is properly recorded in the states. For domestic, visit or call the local city hall. If you are flying in an officiant, check with local authorities to make sure a wedding that he or she conducts will be recognized or what requirements he/she needs.
Also, resorts have their own planners. Remember that turnover is huge at many resorts, so you may not be working with the same person that you started with. Therefore, verbal promises serve no purpose. Get everything in writing! However, it is always helpful to have your in-state planner to assist you with such details as the contract negotiation at the resort and working out the marriage license legalities. Check with regulations regarding when you must arrive in the country prior to your wedding and if a blood test is required. For some situations, it is highly recommended that you have an intimate civil ceremony at home, followed by your special destination wedding to ensure its legality.
With a destination wedding during off-season, you have a lot of negotiating power to get attractive prices for your guest rooms and services. However, that negotiation power declines during the resorts' peak season. It's likely that your more intimate guest list will include your closest family and friends. If there is a substantial amount of guests, choose a location that takes a minimal amount of travel to accommodate guests who may only be able to spend just a long weekend with you. This allows for minimal time flying and more time enjoying you, your festivities, and the resort!
Read your contract VERY CAREFULLY. When negotiating your contract, try to have a dollar value obligation versus a per booking/per person amount. Be cognizant of 'applicable taxes and fees' stated in the contract (sometimes stated as 'Value Added Tax (VAT)').
All-inclusive resorts will be most affordable for couples, since drinks and meals are included for guests staying at the same resort. With that said, stress to your guests that they should stay at your resort...it keeps the costs down for you and for them (when it comes to deals). With that said, check with the resort about attending guests that are not staying at your resort. Read the contract carefully concerning these all-inclusive costs. Check your wedding package to see what it includes and what you will have to acquire independently such as a photographer, flowers, music, ceremony official, wedding cake. Some resorts offer additional customized services such as lighting, audio and electronics. These may be of interest to you if you want a less cookie-cutter service. But remember, the special feeling of your wedding should be obtained by the total experience of a destination wedding for your guests...a lot of expensive extras are not needed to have a fantastic time!
When using large hotel chains, you should have availability of plenty of rooms for your guests. But beware that some of your guests may have hotel points to use or may use an online discount broker instead of your hotel block. Their rooms will not count towards your contract room block of filling a certain number of rooms. So make sure you have a clear understanding of your room block policy. Ensure that you can release the additional rooms by a specific date to avoid penalties or unnecessary charges.
Some traditional festivities are a welcome party (in lieu of a rehearsal party). Keep this event informal with cocktail drinks and an easy buffet meal to promote mingling and relaxation for your guests. After all, your guests will be eating all day for your event. For the day after the event, it is great to plan a late afternoon wedding brunch (you have probably partied pretty late on your wedding day so early breakfast is out) to give your guests an additional opportunity to spend time with you! This should be announced for your guests' plans so that they can include the day after in their travel plans, if possible!
When calling around wedding destination resorts for potential locations, there are a few basic questions (among many others) to ask:
1. Is the resort available on your date?
2. Find out how many weddings/events will occur at the resort on your wedding date. You don't want to feel rushed on your special day.
3. Is there a dedicated wedding planner on site? If so, what services does she/he offer?
4. How many people can you have at the venue?
5. Do you offer a complimentary bridal suite?
6. What private indoor and outdoor areas are available for our wedding? Are the indoor spaces air-conditioned?
7. What setups do you have for a beach wedding?
8. What are the local marriage requirements?
9. What weekend activities are included in your wedding package?
10. Are children allowed? Are there child care facilities?
11. What decorations/amenities are included in your package? (Check on details of shipping items ahead of your event and where they will be stored.)
12. How many days before the wedding do you need to arrive?
13. Is a ceremony official included in your package?
There is a wealth of knowledge available on the internet to assist you with planning a destination wedding. An experienced wedding planner is your best way to go! First of all, we want to let you know that our 'A Friend's Touch Event' owner is a certified destination wedding specialist! We are always here to help out with your overseas and out-of-town events planning!
A destination wedding can be the perfect solution for couples who have guests that are spread all over the country and in some cases, all over the world. Congratulations and good luck on your destination wedding planning!