As the holidays near, it's officially the season of engagements! But before any wedding, comes months and months of planning. One of the decisions a lot of brides consider is whether or not to do a destination wedding. I too, contemplated that very decision and wanted to share some of the pros and cons for those of you trying to make that decision as well.
My love for travel meant I always dreamt of a destination wedding. However, when I moved to Los Angeles from Minnesota, I realized I was now living in a vacation destination. For months, I went back and forth between having my wedding locally or at a far off, exotic location. After months of debating, researching and advice from friends and family (both solicited and unsolicited), I ultimately decided to have my wedding locally in Los Angeles.
We tied the knot on the rooftop of the Peterson Auto Museum on a perfect 70 degree Los Angles evening. Guests viewed classic cars on their way up to the ceremony, and following the ceremony we sipped cocktails, enjoyed bite sized appetizers and watched the sunset. We ate, drank, danced and laughed with our closest of friends and family. It was a night to remember.
And then it was over in a flash.
It’s funny how much time, effort and money go into weddings all to be over so quickly. If you’re just getting started on the planning process, let me try and save you some time in the great debate regarding destination do or don’t. Here’s my own unsolicited (get used to it, you’re a bride now!) advice and things to consider about having a destination wedding.
A wedding and vacation in one:
Pro: Sweeping your friends and family away to an exotic location offers everyone a built-in vacation! Your gorgeous destination wedding weekend gives everyone the chance to let loose, relax and have some fun, leaving the worries and stress of home behind.
Con: Traveling today can be stressful and expensive, especially when airfare is involved. Add in taking time off from work or school and you may find that you can’t get everyone in the same place at the same time. You’ll need to be prepared for friends and family members not to be able to make it due to finances or scheduling conflicts.
Tip: You can still have a reception party for your friends and family when you get back home. Your amazing destination wedding will provide you with all sorts of photographs to provide a glimpse into your special day for friends and family who weren’t there.
Planning from afar:
Pro: Honeymoon resorts make it super easy to get married right on site and will secure all details needed like cake, food and photography. If you’re overwhelmed by the thought of planning a wedding or just aren’t that into it, resorts often offer all inclusive wedding packages that include all the details and wedding coordinator to oversee things and be your point of contact. If you aren’t choosing a resort, you can still hire a wedding planner in the destination you choose, or hire one stateside that will coordinate everything for you and take away much of the stress of planning so you can focus on other things…like getting married!!!
Con: If you don’t hire a coordinator or one is not offered to you, planning an event as important as your wedding day from afar, can be a recipe for disaster since you’re not there to oversee the details. It can also be very stressful. Finding things like wedding venders and booking a venue without actually being there can be very difficult. You can fly out to see the venue or meet with venders in person, but that gets expensive and takes time.
Tip: Avoid a million questions from guest before and after they arrive to your destination wedding location by sending out a single document outlining all pertinent details including airline, lodging and transportation as soon as they are finalized. Be sure to include things like itinerary, dress requirements and recommendations for activities and restaurants to try during their free time. You might consider assigning a point person other than you, for any guest questions and include that information in your document as well. Regardless of a destination wedding or not, consider giving your cell phone to your MOH or parents to manage the day of so you can relax and enjoy your day.
Do something different:
Pro: Having a destination wedding can be a nice breath of fresh air (ocean air perhaps?) from the monotony of a traditional wedding. I do. You do. Eat Cake. Drink Champagne. Wear White. Dance. Pictures. Pictures. And More Pictures. Let’s be real, the wedding agenda is very similar from wedding to wedding, so changing the backdrop by having a destination wedding can be a great way to infuse energy into your wedding and ensure guests have a memorable time.
Con: In most instances, anytime you stray from tradition when it comes to weddings, someone will have something to say about it. Whether it’s not doing the bouquet toss, not allowing children at your reception or adding the chicken dance and hokey pokey to the “Do Not Play” DJ list, somebody will inevitably be unhappy with your decision to try something different. But just remember, it’s YOUR day.
Tip: There are obviously tons of ways to shake up your wedding location other than flying to a far away destination. I for one, got married at a car museum! Looking for a unique backdrop for your wedding? Try a local museum, aquarium, zoo, library, theater, garden or vineyard for a start.
The good news is, that whether you decide to destination “Do” or “Don’t”, your day will be amazing no matter what, because it’s not about where you get married, but about who you’re marrying and why. When it comes time to decide where to get married, go with your gut and do whatever makes you and your partner happiest.
Any other tips on planning a destination wedding? We’d love to hear your thoughts on traveling to say “I do!”