Envisioning an exotic or unique locale to say “I do”? Couples are drawn to destination weddings for a variety of reasons, but before you commit to one, be sure to evaluate all of the pros and cons to make sure this type of wedding is right for you!
If you can dream it, Agape Planning can find that unique and perfect destination for you and all your family and friends to join you for your special day. From the Yosemite Valley to a castle in Italy, whether it’s for just the two of you or 200 of your closest friends, we have the experience with planning a truly memorable celebration of a lifetime! Agape Planning is a Southern California Destination Wedding Planner here and abroad. Check out our Full Planning service called the Dream Wedding Collection. We look forward to helping you plan the destination wedding of your dreams!
PRO: You can feel free to invite only your nearest and dearest.
The guest list for a destination wedding is typically smaller than it would be if you had your wedding locally, which allows you to be selective and invite a more exclusive group of guests and avoid family drama (like feeling the pressure to invite your second and third cousins). If you’re dreaming of an intimate affair, a destination wedding might be right for you.
PRO: You are able to spend quality time with your guests.
At the wedding reception, the bride and groom typically greet tables during dinner and spend just a few moments with each guest to thank them for coming. With a destination wedding, most guests arrive 2-3 days prior to the big day which allows you more quality time to spend with those guests. You will likely have activities planned (a group excursion, a welcome reception, etc.) that will give you more time with your cherished family and friends that you wouldn’t have had in a traditional wedding setting. It also stretches out your wedding celebration over several days, since the wedding day itself flies by.
PRO: Destination resorts may offer all-inclusive packages.
For many destination couples, hearing “all inclusive” is music to their ears. Venues that do a large amount of destination weddings most likely offer these kinds of packages, which may include everything from the marriage license to the officiant, flowers, wedding cake, and music. This can make the planning process a lot simpler and less stressful overall.
PRO: Honeymoon starts right away.
Often when your wedding celebration is held somewhere locally, you spend the night in a hotel or at home before flying out to your honeymoon destination. With a destination wedding, you’re able to spend your wedding night in your honeymoon locale and wake up the next morning basking in all of the memories while soaking in your dreamy surroundings! You also have the perfect excuse to return on future anniversaries.
PRO: You’ll have stunning photos.
Whether you are on a tropical island, a beautiful vineyard, or a snowy mountaintop, you are guaranteed a spectacular backdrop for your wedding photos.
And THEN the Cons…
CON: Family and friends you want to be there might not be able to make it.
For some guests, the expenses of travel and accomodations might not be feasible, or they may not be able to get the time off from work, or the trip may be too difficult for elderly guests. If you choose to do a destination wedding, be sure to check with those who you feel are essential to your wedding day before committing. If it helps, consider covering the cost of their flights and arranging for a block of rooms at a discounted rate. We also recommend sending out Save the Dates 9-12 months prior, to give guests plenty of time to make arrangements.
CON: It’s not just the two of you on your honeymoon.
Even after the wedding is over, some of your family and friends will likely still stick around for a couple more days if they’ve turned this trip into a vacation. To avoid any awkwardness, let your loved ones know about your honeymoon plans in advance, schedule alone time, and then stick to it. Your guests will understand.
CON: You might not be able to see things in person.
A lot of the planning will likely be over the phone and email, not giving you a chance to see the details you’ve arranged in person until the wedding day. You may not be able to meet vendors in person either, so a great way to get a feel for them before you book them is via Skype or FaceTime. If you prefer, you can book certain vendors who are local to your area to better see what they offer in person (most vendors are more than happy to travel, they will just charge an additional fee to cover travel expenses). There are a lot of logistics when planning a destination wedding, which is why it is also critical to hire a wedding planner so that everything comes together smoothly. We planned a fabulous Yosemite National Park wedding and had to have one of our team members on-site at the reception the entire time to make sure the food and flowers were not in a place where wild animals could get into it—something you would want a planner to look out for and know in advance!
CON: Things get complicated when you go international.
When planning a destination wedding in a foreign country, some couples may run into complications if they don’t do their homework far in advance. The regulations are different in every country so make sure you research what the requirements are to obtain a marriage license in that country (you may need to start this process much earlier than you would in the US), and also make sure you two have passports!—as well as anyone else who is essential to your wedding guest list.
CON: DIY weddings can get a bit tricky.
For you DIY brides, the logistics of transporting all of that decor you’re providing can be quite difficult. You can try purchasing the decor in your destination location but you might not find everything you’re looking for and it can be slightly more expensive.