Planning a Destination Wedding
When it comes to choosing the venue for your wedding, the task can feel daunting. Will you get married indoors or outside, are you looking for something with modern architecture or somewhere that can host a rustic garden party? With a destination wedding, the options are endless, and when it comes to deciding what scenery, culture, food, and style are right for your wedding, it can feel daunting trying to narrow down what’s the right fit. Luckily, we’re here to help get you started.
- Why Plan a Destination Wedding
- How to Plan Your Destination Wedding
- How to Pick a Wedding Date
- Who Pays for Travel
- Should You Hire Locals or Fly Your Vendors In?
- MAPhoto Destination Wedding FAQ's
What are your reasons behind wanting a destination wedding? For some couples, they’ve always known they want an intimate affair somewhere far away, and opting for a romantic wedding on the coast of Italy feels like the perfect option. For others, the thought of planning a party for 200 guests can feel overwhelming so a quaint wedding across the country feels a bit more manageable. And for our brides who love a party, a large beach wedding in Mexico with an open bar and fireworks can feel like the perfect way to celebrate their union. The world is literally your oyster when it comes to picking the perfect destination for your wedding, so the preliminary step in deciding where to say “I Do” will depend on why you’re opting for a destination in the first place. Be honest with yourself when deciding how large of a wedding you’re hoping to have, and how far your friends and family will be able and willing to travel. This can take your wedding from a sprawling forest a few states away to a beachside town in another country. Once you decide how far you’re willing to go with your wedding, and what your goals are, it’s time to start narrowing down your options.
Once you decide why you want a destination wedding, it’s time to start dreaming. When you envision your perfect day are you on the sand sipping mimosas, posted in front of some stunning architecture, or surrounded by lush greenery? When planning your destination wedding, it’s important that the destination you choose reflects you and your partner’s interests. Sit down and talk to your partner about what’s important to them in a wedding destination, and decide together what elements represent your personalities and relationship.
Maybe your favorite weekend getaway is a sandy spot on the coast, or you’ve both caught the travel bug and have taken a few international vacations. Maybe you got engaged overlooking the city skyline, or maybe you fell in love over your mutual love of hiking and adventure. Start to map out what feels like home to you. You can do this by writing down some of your favorite places and seeing what they all have in common, or jump on Pinterest and Instagram to start an inspiration board of weddings and places that catch your eye. Once you have about 20-50 photos, pull back to look at everything with a bird’s eye view. Oftentimes you’ll notice consistencies when it comes to locations and feelings, and this is a great place to start narrowing down your local.
While you’re choosing the perfect spot to seal your vows, keep in mind that not all countries will issue a wedding license to non-citizens. But, don’t worry, most places will allow you to apply for your marriage license in your home country and have a symbolic ceremony abroad. If it’s important to you to have a legal ceremony overseas, be sure to do your research before picking a place, as every country is different, and laws can even vary between cities.
Great, so now that we have a location chosen, it’s time to pick a date. Remember that different parts of the world, and even different parts of the country, can have vastly different weather from your home base, so it’s important to do some research on the best times of year for tourism. This will give you a great baseline to ensure you’re going to be enjoying beautiful weather on your big day, or at the very least know what to expect when you arrive. If the place you’re going to happens to be hot, cold, rainy, or snowy when you plan to visit, make sure to plan you and your bridal party’s outfits accordingly, and prep your guests so they know what to pack.
Be sure to give your guests plenty of notice that you’ll be having a destination wedding so they have time to save up, take time off work, and book travel and accommodations. We recommend sending out save the dates at least 8 months in advance. Keep in mind that by having a destination wedding, you run the risk of friends and family not being able to attend, but by giving them plenty of time to plan you maximize your chances of your nearest and dearest being by your side to celebrate. Tell your bridal party your plans before you ask them to join in so they can make the decision of whether they can afford to travel before accepting.
When it comes to who’s footing the bill for a destination wedding, there’s a few things to keep in mind. Generally, it is understood that your guests would be responsible for their own travel just as they were taking a vacation. But it’s definitely helpful and thoughtful to set up a room block with a group rate at your resort or somewhere nearby so everyone can be in one place and cut costs.
If it’s in your budget to help with rooms and travel expenses, even better, but it’s not an obligation. Just make sure you’re upfront with your guests about what they’ll be responsible for before they accept your invitation. Same goes for your bridal party. While you’re there, it’s common to plan at least one group activity for the guests to be able to mingle with each other and feel comfortable settling in. Give your guests a chance to experience the destination and why you fell in love with it, and definitely factor it into your overall wedding budget.
As you’ve probably already realized, planning a destination wedding takes a bit more legwork than if you were to get married locally. It’s a great idea to hire a wedding planner in the area you’re planning to wed, as they’ll be able to help you secure local vendors, bridge any language barriers, and should know the ins and outs of local legalities when it comes to obtaining your marriage license. If you’re able to, it’s also great to take a trip to your wedding location so you can meet your vendors in person and plan out any logistical details with your planner.
If you’re more comfortable hiring certain vendors local to you so you can meet with them regularly and have more of a hand in the process, many vendors offer to travel. This works great for vendors like photographers and videographers who can bring their equipment with them overseas. Talk to the vendors you’re interested in working with and see what their travel fees look like, it could be more affordable than you’d think! Hiring a photographer locally will allow you to meet them and even take part in an engagement session with them before the big day so you can get acquainted with each other and they can nail down the style you’re looking for on the wedding day.
Michael Anthony Photography has photographed weddings in 10 different countries and over 30 states! We are well versed on destination wedding travel!
The biggest piece of advice we can give you when it comes to planning your destination wedding is to not be afraid to ask for help. You can dream big when it comes to planning your wedding abroad, and when it comes to executing your ideas, trust the experts you’ve hired and those versed in local business and traditions. They can be a goldmine when it comes to making your ideas come to life, so be clear and concise when it comes to your vision, but remember to let loose on the reins and accept others’ help. We are so excited for you to dive deep into planning your wedding, now take these tips and go get started!