Destination weddings are all the rage and I personally love them.
Are you dreaming of jetting off to a remote location with all of your favourite people? Do you envision a beautiful beachside ceremony? Mountain top helicopter elopement? Cityscape or rooftop downtown celebration?
When it comes to planning a destination wedding there are endless options and many things to consider. So let’s dive in!
#1: WE WANT TO SAVE MONEY!
When I talk to couples who are choosing to plan a destination wedding instead of having a wedding at home, the number one reason I hear is how it will save them money. While I do believe this to be true in many instances, that is not always the case anymore. Depending on which location you choose there may be a need to exchange your currency. Right now, it will cost a Canadian couple travelling to the USA, the Caribbean or any location that requires payment in USD currency will automatically have a 35% increase based on the exchange rate alone. YIKES! That can add up really quickly.
Also, those ‘free’ wedding packages that are offered at all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean may not always be as ‘free’ as you think. These packages will typically only include the bare bones. But, chances are, you will be wanting florals, private reception, or a cake. These are sometimes an additional cost. Add on a Dj or live band and the price goes up and up and up. And some of these items can be upward of $1500.00 USD.
So before you book that destination wedding based on the idea that it will save you money, double-check those rates and be sure! Because we all know how important keeping to a budget while planning a wedding is.
#2: SUNKISSED WELCOMED. BURNT? OH HELL NO!
Stay alert and stay safe, is always my motto while travelling. But the same saying can be used for exposure to the sun. You may be thinking, ” I pre-tanned, I am good”, but I am here to tell you that is false, false, false. I see it literally EVERY SINGLE TIME, whether it be the bride or another wedding party member, burnt skin! While in general, it is uncomfortable to deal with a sunburn, now imagine that sunburn in all of your wedding photos.
It is important to realize that not everyone has the same skin types and some won’t do well with all the exposure to the sun. So for this reason alone, I will always recommend to try and have your wedding as early as possible during your vacation.
#3: WHERE IN THE WORLD? PICKING THE LOCATION.
I have worked with many couples who have chosen completely different directions when planning their destination wedding. One of the first things to consider when picking the location is how much planning do you want to do? If choosing an all-inclusive location, they typically have 1-3 pre-made collections that you can choose from and you essentially just show up and celebrate. Or, do you want to choose a villa in the hills in Tuscany and essentially do all the planning and finding vendors. From there, a lot of couples will look at the cost for the guests to travel as well. I would say on average most couples tend to keep their guests’ expenses around the $2000.00 – $2500.00 range for a week away.
Some of the trending and popular locations for destination weddings over the last couple of years have been the following:
- NW USA Coast – Oregon, Washington, California
- Caribbean Islands – Jamaica, Dominican, Bahamas
- UK – Scotland & Ireland
- Europe – Italy, Greece, France
And for good reason. All of these locations offer different backdrops, dining, and entertainment/excursions for your guests to enjoy. Are you thinking of a different location? I would love to hear which one in the comments.
But it is reality check time, shit happens, literally! While I have been only hit by this one time in all my years of travelling, I have seen this happen too many people while travelling for weddings. I consider this the not so glamorous side of travelling. In all honesty, there tend to be locations that are more likely to cause this than others, so research is key if you want to try your best to avoid this for both you and your guests.
#4: MEMORIES MADE TO LAST: PHOTOGRAPHY OPTIONS
Did you really think we were going to go through this entire blog without chatting photography? Being a photographer and appreciating great photos, this is a big point for me.
If you choose an all-inclusive resort or wedding package, there is a good chance that a photographer may be included, but be aware, that collection included may only come with up to a max of 25 images. 25! Out of a full day wedding, that to me is insane! You deserve so much more.
Bringing a photographer may be a bigger investment sure, but let’s look at the facts.
- More Coverage: Not only will you get wedding day coverage but most photographers will also offer a day after shoot and engagement session.
- More Images: Want more than 25 images? I am sure you do. For destination weddings, I typically deliver around 1500 digital files.
- Better Quality: To be honest, photographers that work at resorts and come included with collections are likely not full-time wedding photographers and toss that camera setting onto Auto and away they go. Not to mention, I can not tell you how many times I have seen those photographers using an entry-level grade DSLR. Without getting into too many technical details, this just won’t cut it to give you that top-notch quality image.
Again, I know the investment to bring a photographer on the destination will make a dent in the budget, but the value is there. It is industry standard for travel + the photography collection to be covered for destination weddings. Plus, depending on location, the venue/resort may also require an outside vendor fee to be paid. I have seen this range from $250.00 USD to $1500.00 USD. I have also seen this fee gets waived if your photographer stays onsite for a minimum number of nights.
* Pro-tip: Make sure your photographer has travel insurance and backup gear. This is crucial.
#5: KEEP YOUR GUESTS INFORMED
The more notice and information you give your guests will be super appreciated by them but will also keep the constant questions flying at you to a minimum.
Creating a free wedding website for your guests to be able to access all the information you have pre-loaded will be a great place to start. The most popular option is the one hosted by The Knot.
Save the date cards can also be sent out via mail. These tend to go out as soon as you have a venue and dates selected. Again, the sooner the better for guests so they can start those savings. This also allows for a larger wedding guest size if that is what you desire.
Overall, destination weddings are as fun as they sound. I think it if is the route you decide to go with your planning you will be so happy you did. Not only will you get a vacation with all of your favourite people, but you will also have fun researching all the different location options.
While I have been too many amazing destination locations, come check out this wedding from Italy, where Rachel and Wes opted to rent two villas for their guests, bring their own photographers, videographers, chef and wedding planners with them. They arranged for a private vineyard tour and so much more. One option to consider when looking at your own destination wedding. You will find that here.