Planning ANY wedding involves a ton of questions. There’s questions about the venue. The guest list. The marriage license. But what about when you take all those questions and combine them with thousands of miles for a destination wedding? Well, that’s when it’s great to have an expert on hand.
We asked our friends at DestinationWeddings.com, one of the best and easiest resources to help you plan your destination wedding, what their most asked questions were and for the expert advice on each. From when to start planning to how to make it all official when you’re abroad, here’s what you need to know when you first start planning a destination wedding.
1. Should you carry-on or ship your wedding dress?
While we know you’ll be tempted to buy a seat for it (crazier things have happened), there’s an easier answer. DestinationWeddings.com recommends either having it with you in your carry-on, or taking your dress on board the airplane in a garment bag. Even though most airlines will accommodate wedding couples by allowing them to hang their day-of attire in the closet, it’s always a good idea to call ahead and see what their policies are so you’re completely prepared.
WGM Note: Make sure the hotel has a steamer on hand (or bring this Portable Steamer with you) for any last-minute wrinkles.
2. How far in advance should you start planning a destination wedding?
DestinationWeddings.com recommends starting to plan your wedding 9-15 months in advance. This allows time for securing the best travel rates and helps keep everything on a manageable timeline. However, they have worked with couples that have planned gorgeous weddings with only a few months (or days!) to spare, so don’t think you’re a lost cause if you don’t have as much time. If you do have time to plan further in advance, they always advise couples to start the process sooner rather than later, particularly for couples with a larger guest count.
3. Is it easier to get your marriage license where you live or at your destination wedding location?
This answer definitely varies since every country has different legal requirements for a marriage license, but most require some form of ID (like your passport and birth certificate) and a marriage license application. However, many destination wedding couples choose to have a simple, symbolic ceremony while they’re away, and make it legal either before or after their wedding when they’re back in their home state. Whatever you decide, the Certified Destination Wedding Specialists at DestinationWeddings.com have extensive knowledge of the marriage license requirements at every destination wedding location, and will be able to walk you through exactly what is required at each.
4. Should you offer more than one hotel option for guests?
Since the wedding ceremony and reception will likely take place at the resort you’re staying at, it makes the most sense for guests to stay there as well, which is why DestinationWeddings.com says it’s important to plan in advance so guests have ample time to plan and budget accordingly. When it comes to your guests, you should also consider the destination and time of year. For example, if you and most of your family and friends live in Florida, a Caribbean wedding will likely be more accessible for your guests than one in Hawaii. Or if you live on the West Coast, Mexico may be a great option. DestinationWeddings.com also has an “Easy Payment” plan to help spread out payments for your wedding guests. They also make it super easy to lock in affordable room rates for guests with their “Groups Made Easy” plan.
5. Should you have welcome bags? And what’s the best way to get them there?
You’re going to have a lot of luggage to travel with, so adding the headache of packing welcome/gift bags is something to think about. DestinationWeddings.com first recommends checking with your destination wedding venue to see what they can accommodate. They also recommend packing a separate checked suitcase specifically labeled ‘gift bag,’ that way, you can find everything you need for assembly in one place once you get to your resort. And yes, you should definitely opt to put these together at the resort because they’ll be too cumbersome to pack. Another great idea? Ask for help from your family and/or wedding party, and have them help assemble everything with you, too! And be sure to check out the DestinationWeddings.com shop for some awesome gift options.
Have more questions about planning a destination wedding? Head over to DestinationWeddings.com to talk to an always free Certified Destination Wedding Specialist.