Destination weddings, meaning weddings held in a vacation location away from the couple's home town, have gained in popularity in recent years. Today, this hip alternative allows a couple to combine the best of an adventurous honeymoon with a more traditional ceremony, and sometimes save money in the process.
Some destination weddings just involve the eloping couple, others include a few close friends and family, and still others are full blowout affairs with multiple parties over a long wedding weekend.
So is a destination wedding right for you? Here are the pros and cons:
Pro: A Complete Package
Resorts and tourism organizations have seen the dollar signs behind this trend and so work hard to keep a destination wedding stress-free and simpler. As part of a package deal, many offer the complimentary services of their on-site wedding consultant who will help you coordinate all of the ceremony essentials (marriage license, cake, officiant, etc.) All you have to do is show up! Also talk to your wedding coordinator about organizing activities for your guests such as sightseeing, SCUBA or snorkeling excursions, sports, or shopping. If your resort has a spa onsite, give your guests gift certificates for spa services to help them really enjoy their stays.
Con: Planning a Wedding Long Distance and Legal Red Tape
For those of you not getting married at a resort, you'll have to juggle all those details yourself long distance.
If your destination wedding is in a foreign country or even another state, you might run into complications when trying to get a marriage license. Consider hiring a coordinator who specializes in destination weddings to help you over these speed bumps. You'll want to know how to get a marriage license in that location.
You can also consult the marriage site at about.com for laws in popular destinations. And, check with those tourist boards, who may have literature available to help you find local florists, photographers, and venues.
Pro: Avoiding Stressful Family Situations
With a smaller invitation list, you can avoid feeling "forced" to invite the cousin you can't stand, or the in-law that everyone fights with. Just invite your very closest friends and family to the intimate ceremony and celebration, or keep it romantic and don't invite anyone. You can always send them pictures!
Con: Family Members and Friends You Love May Not Be There
Particularly for far-away locations, some guests may not be able to attend due to the expense, or the difficulty of getting time off of work. Older guests may not be able to travel so far away from home. Talk to those who are truly essential before you book tickets and send invitations. On the plus side, you'll have far more time to spend with the guests who come to a destination wedding than those who come to a more traditional wedding.
Pro: You'll Save Money By Not Having 200 People at a Reception
Spending a luxurious wedding weekend in a dramatic location can often cost less than a seated dinner at a nice location. Destination Wedding Etiquette calls for the bride and groom to pay for the hotel rooms, food and most of the guests' expenses. Guests pay for their own airfare. If money is an issue, look to domestic locations or countries with a favorable exchange rate, and consider keeping the guest list small.
Con: Some of Your Loved Ones May Not Be Able to Afford to Travel That Far
Again, talk to those who are truly essential before you've made the final decision on your destination wedding location. Consider paying for some of your guests' airfare, and look into group discounts through travel agents.
Pro: By Combining Wedding and Honeymoon, You Can Afford to Go to that Dream Honeymoon Locale
Instead of spending your honeymoon at a Bread and Breakfast close to home, you can have the trip of a lifetime in an glamorous location. Best of all, you'll have an excuse to return there for a 5-, 10-, or 25-year anniversary.
Con: With Your Family Around, and a Wedding to Worry About, Will You Really Get a Honeymoon?
Of course, you'll be in a beautiful place, but will you have enough romantic alone time? To get around this, make sure you schedule it and insist on it. Arrive a few days before everyone else (you may need to do this anyway for marriage license requirements), or have a honeymoon nearby afterward. If neither of these is possible, find interesting things your wedding party can do while you and your fiancé have couple time.