10 Things People Don’t Tell You About a Destination Wedding

Courtnie Nichols, founder of TravelBash, in the white wedding dress that she trashed after the ceremony.

Destination weddings are supposed to be fun and much more laid back than a traditional wedding. It shouldn’t be overwhelming or intimidating. You just need to know a few tricks and tips. But, that’s what I am here for! (wink wink) I'll be busting a ton more myths, and give you quite a few trick for planning the perfect destination wedding. But for now, I will leave you with these 10 to think about:

1. It’s Not As Expensive As You Think...

Destination weddings are not as expensive as they might seem. You can easily get married for under $20,000, which is under the national average for the cost of a traditional wedding in the U.S. Décor is minimal and your wedding and honeymoon double as one. There are also so many packages available to you and sometimes you can even score a free ceremony for booking a certain amount of rooms or nights.

Check with your hotel—most of these packages are available in the Caribbean. There are also several budget friendly locations like Belize, Mexico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic you can consider making the destination for your special day.

2. You Don’t Have to Know Everything About Your Destination

So, it might seem like you need to know every little detail about your chosen location, but if you hire the right team, you don’t. The statement is true: hire people who are smarter than you! Make sure you find a planner and travel professional who specializes in that area so they can help you navigate all the details.

No one expects you to know everything, being a little surprised is part of what makes it fun and exciting. I do advise all couples to take a site visit, schedule a tour or explore the destination before you plan the big day; you will feel much better.

3. It’s Not Up to You To Pay for Your Guests

That includes family & special VIPs like Bridesmaids/Groomsmen. So, proper Destination Wedding etiquette does not require you to pay for hotel, transportations or any food outside of wedding activities. Remember this is a destination wedding, and tradition is out the door, so forget all the rules and make it your own. Let your guest know upfront and plan ahead of time to so they get their financials in order. Don’t expect everyone to come, but if it is a VIP offer to help if you can and really want them there.

4. It Doesn’t Have to Be On A Beach (or even beach themed)

Destination weddings are simply categorized as weddings about 100 miles away from the bride and groom’s home, so with that said, how about a garden in Napa or museum in Paris? Your destination is totally up to you!

There are cliffs in Jamaica, the Costa Rican rainforest, or a picnic on a farm in North Dakota. It’s your wedding your choice, pick the place for you and your style. See how this couple planned their Bali destination wedding.

5. You Can Still Kill’Em With That Beautiful Wedding Gown

There are so many brides that choose to still rock a banging gown, and I love it. Whether you are on the beach or mountain, do what feels best for you. The pictures will be amazing! With that said, you will need to know how to fly with our dress.

6. You Don’t Have to Travel Far

Back to the destination not having to be on the beach, this takes me to this point, you do not have to go to Africa, London, France, or even Thailand. It can be in Nantucket on the East coast, Vegas, a private beach off the coast of North Florida. There are several options. If you live in California, maybe you are looking at Monterey Bay or Southern Cal.

You do not have to go on a 10-hour flight to have a beautiful destination wedding. There are several beautiful locations that are a short plane ride or drive away. Maybe you are still trying to figure out what is a destination wedding really…we have the definition!

7. There Are Such Things as Destination Wedding Planners

Ding! Ding! Ding! There are, and this is important. It is like going to the doctor’s office: General doctors are good but they might refer you to a specialist who works closely with the type of issue you have—whether it be orthopedic, pediatric, cardiologist etc.

The same goes for planners, look for a planner who specializes specifically in destination weddings. That means they are pros at doing this, and that’s all they spend their time doing. Would you rather have someone who only plans 2 destination weddings a year but multiple weddings in your hometown or someone who plans 25 destination weddings a year and that’s all they do?

8. Feel Free to Bring Your Team (aka Photographer, makeup stylist, planner)

The best advice I can give is to bring your peeps with you. I had my photographer fly in, and it was the best money spent. You don’t have to get carried away, but if you know what you want why not? Remember to add this to your budget so you won’t have any surprises. Searching for a destination wedding photographer, answer these questions.

Note: Vendors for other places might not do things like a traditional wedding, so think about what the most important vendors are to you and weigh the PROS and CONS.

9. You May Have to Draw Blood!! (no seriously, legal wedding requirements differ)

Yep, you heard right. In Mexico, you must draw blood a few days before you get married, meaning you need to plan to arrive early. Also, you might not get to choose Uncle Jerry to marry you. The person that marries you there is a Mexican official to make the union legal. So, this is something to think about, is it better to get married before you jump the broom and then do a symbolic ceremony at your destination wedding location??? It’s up to you, but make sure you look at all the legal requirements and work with your planner to help navigate all the forms.

Depending on where you are, you might need to have the paperwork translated and sent back to the states before receiving it, as well. The on-site wedding team at the resort will be able to help but check the residency requirements, so you know for yourself.  

10. You Don’t Have to Have a Small Guest List

However, I wouldn’t advise you invite as many people as you would in a traditional wedding. Your guest count may be smaller because of the location, so don’t expect everyone on your list to be there. You can invite your whole community and the one over for that matter. I usually always tell clients to double the number of regrets they expect when they are traveling places that require a passport, but if you invite 300, who says 100 won’t be there. It’s your day, just remember to find a resort that can accommodate all your guests, that means you might have to rent out the entire resort/hotel/island etc.…and this will drive up the cost.

Need more Q & A, check out my  Destination Wedding Frequently Asked Questions. 

Eat, Drink & Be Married Away

Courtnie
xoxo

Bonus:

Want to know exactly when, where and how you'll be planning your destination wedding? Checkout our Complete Destination Wedding Planning Timeline!