What Is a Destination Wedding & Why Are They So Damn Popular???

What is a Destination Wedding? Your Complete Guide to Destination Weddings.

To answer this question in a nutshell, a destination wedding is a wedding held away from your hometown but there is more to it than that and we will dive into it more below!

Destination Wedding Photography by Hope Stevens

It’s June. There is so much hype around weddings this month. For those of you who do not know, June is, and has been, the most popular month to get married for some time.  (Take notes guys!)

So, what about weddings, how are people getting married? Times have changed and even though most brides can’t seem to buck tradition, destination weddings are the new trend. Many people think destination weddings are only in warm and tropical luxurious locations but that is just one of the many different destination weddings you can have.

For instance, I just got back from Jamaica where I helped coordinate a beautiful destination wedding at the new Royalton Blue Waters in Montego Bay. The bride was beautiful, and the sand and water made for a perfect backdrop. This made me wonder, why everyone wouldn’t want to get married this way? The scene was set. This destination wedding had great music, beautiful flowers, and tons of happy friends and family toasting at sunset.

I started to research and found that many are still clueless about what a destination wedding truly is and how to even plan one. A destination wedding allows couples to host their wedding in a unique location of their choice. They are saying to hell with tradition, let’s do it our way. A destination wedding takes the stress out of planning a regular wedding at home with people you barely know that your parents make you invite. I know…I have been there but let’s get back to this definition of what a destination wedding really is. As a former Destination Bride, myself, I thought what?!! It is one of the best ideas since Steve Jobs invented the iPhone (Galaxy users don’t be mad) …. who doesn’t know that a destination wedding simply means a wedding away from home, right? Duh!

But is there more to this definition?

My belief is toes in the sand and tequila in my hands with friends and only the family you actually like in attendance… sounds like a destination wedding to me. But, as I did a little more digging, I found there is an actual definition that states a destination wedding is defined as “a wedding where the couple marries at least 100 miles from where they live.” This means a destination wedding can be a wedding held in a setting away from your home.

WHAT?! I kept searching. That’s not really my definition, and here is why.

For example: Take Jane who is from North Dakota and James who is from Michigan, well maybe they meet somewhere in the middle and have their wedding in Wisconsin, by that definition it is a DESTINATION Wedding but seriously WISCONSIN? No disrespect to my cheese loving friends, however the destination weddings I am referring to are those that take place all over the world like the Caribbean, Mexico, Europe or even Australia.

However, I understand NOT all destination weddings take place in far-off international locations. I have been a part of some that took place in Hawaii, Las Vegas and even the sunshine state of Florida. You get my point though.

Destination weddings are growing fast.

They now represent 25% of the wedding market, compared to 5% a few years ago. What was once known as the wedding for those who had been married before has now turned into the new trend, especially since more and more couples are footing the bill themselves. With more and more of us getting married at a later age (thanks dad for pushing us to think school & career first, marriage never lol!), and with more millennials who love adventure and travel, hello destination wedding, goodbye tradition.

More people are throwing destination weddings.

They can involve just the bride and groom, or a select few friends and family—or maybe you feel like a social butterfly and invite your whole graduating class from college.

Destination weddings are unique to the couple and based on their personality, likes and interests. I have seen some take place in the winter in Aspen, some in the Spring in Sonoma Valley and some in the Fall in Paris. Need some #inspo, try the Top 20 Destination Wedding locations in the World. 

ALERT: Destination Weddings don’t always have to be on the beach, but they do always have qualities that brides and grooms love. First & foremost it’s a vacay, we need more of these…. Cost Effective…. Customizable and STRESS free!!

Another major plus is spending quality time with those you love.  Let’s be clear, this is totally different from the 3 hours you spend on the dance floor dancing with your great aunt you haven’t seen in years.

It means planning a fun filled weekend, or 4 days and sometimes even a week of festivities. Why should the party end after a few hours?

Usually, couples that plan their destination weddings also honeymoon in the same location. They also tend to switch resorts depending on the length of stay. We call this honeymoon hopping which Sandals loves.

Why Again Are Destination Weddings So Damn Popular?

Good question. Think about that time when you had to wear that hot mess, boring bridesmaid dress all night, or think about that long drawn out ceremony at the church you vowed you wouldn’t make anyone sit through when it was your turn. Or, remember that one wedding that played “YMCA” one too many times? These bad memories stick with us, or maybe you don’t have bad memories because you thought that perfect traditional wedding was great but REALLY, you have already forgotten about it. Your friends and families won’t have this experience after your wedding.

Destination weddings are fun, unique and custom to you and ARE NOT your parent’s wedding (Dad, I know yours was great). It’s your special day. Share it with your friends, your way. You’ll save some money and have a blast without all the place cards, calligraphy and expensive invitations that people throw away anyway. Did I mention you don’t have to buy that heavy wedding gown or rent that tux for bae after all.

So maybe you need help convincing your bae and/or the family to get on board.... that's ok, I have the perfect blog to help you convince them that a destination wedding is the right choice. 

You Will Actually Save Money!

Even though it might seem like the luxe destination weddings around the world are only for the rich and famous, 1 in 4 brides have a destination wedding and pay for it themselves! That’s right, they are affordable and can save $$$.

Contrary to what people may believe, millennials and many others are choosing destination weddings because they can be more fun and less expensive, not because they are fancy and extravagant. The average cost is under $20,000 which is far under the national average for traditional weddings in the states. Some brides use to forgo getting married legally outside the states so they get their marriage license a few weeks before they leave and legally marry in their home stay and off without any of the paperwork hassle in another country or extra fees they add to your destination wedding package.

Speaking of destination wedding packages….

Did I mention they aren’t all cookie cutter packages dressed up with bells and whistles? Every wedding detail can be arranged by the resort however more and more hotels are throwing the traditional wedding packages out of the window and allowing you the opportunity to customize everything down to what your guest will get in their room upon arrival.

That’s right, your destination wedding can be completely customizable. You don’t have to keep up with 10 different vendors, spend countless hours picking out certain flowers, and won’t have to waste time going back and forth with reception venues. Most resorts have their own on-site wedding team that will assist you and your planner with all the details.

You pick whatever you want and X what you don’t, like they say in Jamaica, “No problem, mon!”

For me, it was: No menu cards, no place cards, no ceremony programs…add the maracas, swap the champagne toast with tequila shots. Some packages might even land you a FREE wedding. This is especially the trend in Caribbean locations like the Dominican Republic and Jamaica. There are also a slew of resorts that allow you to book a free package, a few of my favorites are AmResorts, Sandals, and Karisma Resorts and Hotels.

Cruises are always another option. They allow you to get married on the ship or when you arrive at one of the ports of call. My friend had a wedding on Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas and absolutely loved the idea.

If sailing isn’t your thing, no worries, your travel advisor and/or destination wedding planner can help you decide what makes perfect sense for you. The most important thing is you make your #BestDayEver about you, that means only inviting your best of friends and closest family to the festivities. This is common practice for destination weddings, expect your guest list to be cut in half.

Tip: most times you must book 7 nights in a certain category or at least 5 rooms with a 3-night minimum to get the FREE wedding.

Who Pays For a Destination Wedding

So glad you asked, I understand you will have those that call you selfish but destination wedding etiquette does not call for you to pay for everyone unless you want to and can afford it. Would you pay for them back home? Here is the thing: whether you are getting married in a small town, big city or in Africa, some guests would still have to fly in and find somewhere to stay so you are not obligated to foot the bill. It is JUST AN INVITE. It’s their choice to come, with that said, try to get them the best possible deal and keep in mind if you want certain people there, then you might want to change the time of year, destination and/or venue. I find letting your V.I.P.’s know way ahead of time works out best so they can start planning early. You can also visit our destination wedding etiquette Q & A.

So You Like The Idea of a Destination Wedding…

Remember not all couples choose this route and perhaps a church wedding suits you and yours better. If you don’t enjoy traveling or worried about if your friends and family will come maybe you should think twice and save the big plans for your honeymoon instead. If you have more questions, I invite you to keep reading all the #destinationWedding blog posts your heart desires.

Start by checking out my tips on where to save and what to splurge on. This really helped me when planning my dream wedding. You do not have to break the bank to throw the best celebration.

The best thing about my destination wedding was it was STRESS-free, which should be the #1 Damn Reason They Are Popular.

No drama! No arguing with relatives, not worrying about guests who weren’t invited, no tux and formal gown and icing on the cake: free booze.

I must say my all-inclusive destination wedding was the way to go. It was one of the best choices I made, you know, besides the man I married!

Eat, Drink & Be Married Away
Xoxo
Courtnie

Bonus:

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