He popped the question, and you said yes! And now you’re dreaming of a ceremony in a far-off, exotic place, with your closest family and friends. Destination weddings have become increasingly popular in recent years, and there is no question why—who wouldn’t want to be married in a fairytale land with elephants or beach waves in the background?
These weddings do, however, come with some very practical concerns that you and your soon-to-be-spouse will need to think about. Here are 5 practical considerations to take into account before you jet off to far-away lands with the love of your life.
1. Planning Time
Destination weddings take considerably longer to plan, especially since you are far-removed from the venue. The best option is to hire a wedding coordinator in-country to take care of most things while you are absent. It also just takes time to take care of items, such as booking hotel rooms, reserving venues and vendors, and sending out save-the-dates and invitations.
In order to display proper etiquette, you need to give your guests significant time to plan for your destination wedding. This is especially the case if they need to pay for the travel and accommodations themselves.
Researching the perfect island and resort is fun, but the most important part of the wedding is actually getting married…and you can’t do that without the proper paperwork. As long as a marriage legally performed abroad adheres to basic American marriage laws, the union is considered valid in the United States. However, each country has very different qualifications for obtaining a marriage license, so it is important to research those thoroughly. You can find this information with the help of that country’s embassy or tourist information bureau.
While most requirements are related to necessary documents and fees, some countries necessitate residency of one or both parties, requiring you to live in the country prior to the wedding. For example, France requires at least one person to reside in country for at least 40 days! (Not that I would complain…).
In addition to general differences between the U.S. and other countries, there could be policy differences between a single country’s provinces, cities, or states. It all comes down to research, research, and research. Here is a little info on Wedding Insurance.
3. Planning Expeditions
Not only do you need to factor in travel expenses for the wedding itself, but it is also smart to visit the venue and resort in person a few times during the planning process. This way, you can fully envision your ceremony and meet with your planner face-to-face to discuss details and logistics. You also might need to fill out licensing paperwork in person, so an extra trip might be required.
Plan a trip to your destination about 10 months before the wedding, and another optional trip about 3 months prior. And make sure you arrive with plenty of time before the wedding itself—you should arrive at least 4 days before the guests to finish up with last-minute tastings, décor decisions, and other planning business.
4. Seasonal Differences
This might be a no-brainer, but depending on where you get married, there will be significant weather differences compared to where you and your guests live! When deciding on a destination, take into account seasonal switches when you cross the equator, and how that might affect the time of year you choose to wed.
Also pay attention to the wet and dry seasons of island and tropical locales—the last thing you want is a typhoon during your vow exchange. It is smart to prepare an informational brochure for your guests, outlining the expected weather conditions and appropriate attire.
5. Decoration and Attire Transportation
In order to achieve those “personal” touches at the wedding ceremony and reception, you’ll probably want to make some of your own decorations and materials. These might include printed programs, a cake topper, favors for guests, and signage. The problem is, these items also have to make it to your destination.
If you want to just pack them in suitcases, plan early on which suitcases and which people will be transporting them. These people will probably be family or members of the bridal party. Be sure they know how much room to allow for the items at least one week before departure. Another option is to mail the items through an import and export business, directly to your wedding planner. This should be done about 5 weeks prior to your arrival.
You also need to transport one very important piece of clothing—your wedding dress. Be sure to request or purchase a travel bag made for wedding or evening dresses (a 72 inch long bag should work fine). Try to keep the bag hanging upright at all times, or laid across a flat surface. Never fold it!
While traveling in a car, lay the dress flat across suitcases in the trunk, or lay it across your lap in the backseat. While flying, ask the flight attendants if they could store the dress in the hanging closet. Sometimes, though, the closet is very small, and your dress could end up even more wrinkled. In this case, wait until surrounding passengers have loaded bags into the overhead compartments, and spread your dress flat across the tops of them. Pre-arrange with your wedding planner to have your dress (and your fiancé’s tux) steamed right when you arrive to the hotel.
While planning a destination wedding may seem more difficult, it just requires a little preparation and forethought. Otherwise, a good resort and wedding planner should take care of the rest. By planning these 5 items early on, you will be ready for a fun, stress-free, and unforgettable destination wedding.
It is always a good idea to contact a professional travel agent. Viking Travel can help you with all your destination wedding planning.