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Destination Wedding

5 Practical Considerations for Your Destination Wedding

viking travelHe 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.

 2.     Licenses

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.

5 Tips That Could Save Your Honeymoon

5 Tips That Could Save Your Honeymoon

All Inclusive Resorts May Not Be Your Best Bet

All inclusive resorts are a great idea of a lot of couples or families when traveling because they are extremely convenient and save you from the surprise you get upon check out when you have been charging cocktails and poolside snacks to your room the entire trip.  But, be sure to consider how much time you plan on being at the resort.  Do you plan on lounging in your bathing suit by the pool sipping frozen cocktails and visiting the resort’s restaurants, or are you the type of couple that plans on booking day long excursions (which may include a meal and drinks)?  If you like to explore and do not plan on spending a lot of time at the resort, perhaps an all inclusive is not the best bet.  If you do go the all inclusive route, research the food options available.  If you are paying for an all inclusive and have 7 days of fried food buffets, you may not be too happy.

Take Online Reviews With a Grain of Salt

Nowadays, we don’t buy anything or eat anywhere without reading a series of online reviews.  Websites posting consumer reviews are an invaluable resource, but should be taken with a grain of salt.  As you are researching your honeymoon, check out Tripadvisor.com, for example, for reviews on your resort/hotel, restaurants, and activities.  Don’t panic if you have booked something that has a negative review.  You never know what may have motivated that person’s review or what their expectations where.  I’m sure if you looked up your favorite restaurant in your home town, you are sure to find negative reviews.  When in doubt, consult a travel expert like viking travel.  While online reviews are helpful, they are not written by people staking their professional reputation on the outcome of your trip.

Money Matters

Find out if you need to exchange your money to the local currency before leaving.  Credit cards are usually the best bet, but it never hurts to have a little cash on hand for tips and shopping in the local markets.  You can visit your bank, which should exchange your currency for free, or you can always visit a currency exchange, which will likely charge a fee to exchange.  When it comes to your credit cards, call your credit card companies before you leave and let them know when and where you are traveling.  Most credit card companies scan for suspicious transactions and may inactivate your card if they assume it has been stolen.  Most cards are widely accepted in all areas, but it never hurts to check with your credit card company before leaving.  A couple recently told us that they traveled to Cancun Mexico assuming their Discover Card would be accepted, but it was not.  Don’t get stuck, call ahead.  NOTE: Your transactions will automatically be exchanged to US dollars, but your credit card company will charge you a fee.  Generally the fee is between 2 and 3%.

The Name Game

As an engaged bride to be, you plan for months, if not a year or more, for your wedding day and honeymoon.  If you are assuming your husband’s last name, be aware of the implications. When it comes to your travel plans, it’s best to wait just a little bit longer.  If you are leaving for your honeymoon immediately following your wedding, it is impossible to get a new driver’s license and/or passport to reflect your new last name.  The solution: book everything under your maiden name.  It’s no secret that airline security is tight and having an itinerary that does not match your ID can give you an unwelcome headache and can make it difficult, if not impossible, to travel.

Avoid The Allure of the Freebie

On your honeymoon you will encounter savvy salespeople that will offer you dinner, drinks, or a complimentary cruise in exchange for a moment of your time.  Beware: these people are trying to get you to come to timeshare presentation.  You may think, “Hey, we’ll claim our prize and sit through this, no big deal.”  Unless you want to spend hours of your precious honeymoon time wrapped up in a high pressure sales presentation, pass on these every time.  If any perk they are offering sounds that cool, book it yourself, it will be time and money well spent.