As this is engagement season, as well as the time that many people travel for the holidays, I thought this would be the perfect time to write about weddings at faraway destinations. As a travel addict myself and destination wedding planner, this is one of my favorite topics!
So here you are: she, or he said YES and now you are discussing where to have the wedding! How exciting and congrats! I am sure many emotions will be bubbling up right about now as you may have dreamed of this day for many years and you want it to be perfect! If getting married somewhere NOT in your area or even country came up in the discussion, or if you were born in different countries and would like guests from both sides to attend, a destination wedding somewhere in the middle may be the way to go, making it easy for both sides of the family and friends to attend. You may be considering a destination wedding due to the love you share for travel and discovering new countries or cultures and decided to combine the happiest day of your life with what you both love to do.
In the case of family and friends meeting somewhere in the middle; this should not be too difficult to put together. However in the second scenario, you have to consider the fact that you are going to upset certain family members and friends who would love to share this day with you, which may turn out not to be possible due to the distance. Now is the time to decide what is more important to you: do what you love for your wedding, or make family and friends happy. You could of course repeat your vows when you return from your adventure with your loved ones, or you could always invite family and friends to join you which will take more planning but isn’t impossible at all. Do an inventory of all the “must haves” both of you want for your wedding and see whether those will all be possible should you decide on a destination wedding.
Traditionally, weddings typically take place in the hometown of the bride but this seems to be changing and destination weddings have become more and more popular. After all, this is about you and your fiance starting your life’s journey together and what better way to do that than in a place you both would love to visit and share a truly special experience together.
One thing to consider when deciding on the perfect location is a place where you can get the most out of your investment. Countries such as Morocco, Tanzania or Israel comes to mind… in any of these countries, once the actual wedding is over, you have so many options for a honeymoon at your fingertips without it costing you a fortune. For instance if you pick Paris for your wedding location, you could explore most of Europe and Britain without much additional effort or money. If you are the adventurous type and enjoy backpacking or camping for instance, Morocco or Africa comes to mind. Both of those countries are so versatile that you can easily travel from the desert to the mountains or the ocean within a reasonably short period of time and it will feel as though you have travelled to an entirely different country.
If you are inviting family members, I suggest that you have your wedding in or near a city to ensure the comfort of especially the older guests and after the ceremony you can pack your backpacks and go on an African Safari where you can sleep in a tent or under the stars and experience the wildlife up close. If somewhere more exotic is your thing and you are on a budget, you can do a honeymoon hop from one low cost Riad to another in Morocco or even go glamping in a tent in the desert. If you are a foodie and /or love wine, and exploring Biblical ruins or Crusader fortresses is your thing, Israel is your destination and again you will have an entirely different experience from one end of the country to another. So many of options for you to explore!
To me the most important thing to remember is to pick a place that is meaningful to you as this is where you are choosing to start a lifetime of adventures together. In addition, depending on the type of wedding you plan to have, ensure the location has all the resources you will need such as sufficient accommodation for everyone you might want to invite along. If the guests are paying for themselves, have accommodation availability for every budget. Consider the time of year and clothing you would need as well as the availability of any other items that are the “must haves” for your wedding.
If you are on a budget, be sure to keep your purchases local. It would be best to hire a local pro to assist you with locating vendors and everything else you need and who can help you stay on budget and assist you with sourcing local fare and recommend vendors. Do meet them in person! If budget is an issue or you just want to indulge in the local traditions, you could serve local specialties at the reception, like conch fritters in the Bahamas or carnitas in Cabo, to cut catering costs. No matter where you travel there are local professionals who can assist you with everything you need. Hotels often have their own planners that are included in the wedding package and they will know local vendors and are eager to make their guests happy. I highly recommend a scouting trip before the big day! That way you can ensure that you minimize last minute disasters.
Another consideration is if you or your fiance have a truly special place that you always wanted to return to for your wedding. If the other party is in agreement this could be your special place not only for the wedding but to bring your kids on vacation where many fun filled days will be spent in the future. Your destination wedding may be the place you met when you were travelling and want to return there. Again take into consideration all the previously mentioned tips. Maybe you are both really adventurous and want to create an off the charts memorable experience with a difference for you and your guests, such as getting married in the desert, in a balloon floating high above the earth, or a deserted island. Do yourself a favor… go for it! This is a day you will remember forever!
Start with the “must haves” and create a budget. If a destination wedding is on that list, you will need to work everything else out around it. If you want family and friends to go but cannot afford to pay for them, tell them you would love to have them but it is not on the budget. There are always inexpensive packages available for groups and they might not mind paying for themselves and make it part of their vacation.
If you have something specific in mind for the wedding attire, buy it where you are and take it with you but make sure you don’t check it with your luggage! You don’t want to be ready for your wedding but your wedding attire is stuck in another country. Also make sure it is tailored to your destination. If you are getting married in the sand dunes of Morocco a really LONG train won’t be so practical! Consider participating in, or including some of the local traditions including your wedding attire. That would make it so much more memorable.
Many people today go online to make travel arrangements. Please take my advice and book this auspicious event through a travel agent. They most likely have been where you want to go and can give you very valuable information about the country and area where you want to stay. They are often times connected with the locals and this is what you need.
Last but not least… KNOW that if you are travelling to another country to get married the chances of something not being exactly the way you would like it to be, are greater if you are not around to supervise every detail. The locals may not be as professional as you would like even if they do their very best! If you are easy going and flexible, this won’t bother you too much. Remember this is your day and the most important factor is that you are starting your life together and even if everything is not exactly as you planned…. being together is what makes it PERFECT. I wish you much happiness!