We are excited to share a new blog series about Destination Wedding Planning from Sincerely Pete Events! Follow along one Friday a month as she shares her personal tips and recommendations for planning your perfect Destination Wedding!
Know Before You Go: 9 Destination Wedding Considerations
Destination weddings are having a spotlight moment these days and it’s no wonder why. Access to and ease of travel is greater than ever before and with tools such as the internet and social media, couples can research and get information about locations outside their hometowns or current zip codes easily.
There is something romantic and magical about whisking off to an incredible location with your loved ones to start your happily-ever-after, but planning a destination affair has it’s own quirks and considerations. With lots of moving parts, cultural considerations and pressure to create an experience, we’re here to help you navigate the destination wedding planning process so you can host the ultimate destination wedding bash of your dreams.
With the world as your oyster, where do you start? Choosing a location for your destination wedding might be easy – you’ve always dreamed of going to Greece or you were engaged in Paris and want to celebrate your nuptials there too. A location might have deep meaning to you as a couple, or it might just be a great excuse for a fabulous vacation (on which you also happened to get married). And keep in mind, a destination wedding doesn’t mean a tropical island or old European city. There are tons of amazing US destinations to choose from as well – Charleston, New Orleans, Tahoe, San Diego, Savannah and anywhere in between.
But before sending those save-the-dates, here are some important points to take into consideration:
Hire a Wedding Planner: Most couples are not aware of the numerous logistics that go into a destination wedding including cultural considerations and additional responsibilities that a local wedding doesn’t necessarily have to deal with. Working with a wedding planner who is familiar with destination events will not only save you time and stress, but also money. My destination planning company, Wanderlust Wedding Co, also includes the services of a travel agent so in addition to assisting with your travel plans, all your guests can direct their laundry list of questions and concerns to us – leaving you to focus on each other.
Travel & Accessibility: There is more to a destination wedding than gorgeous scenery. Think about where you and your guests will be traveling from and going to.
- Where is the closest airport and how long will the travel take?
- Is public transportation easily accessible or will you need to hire private transportation?
- Will guests have to take additional ferries, hopper planes, trains or taxis to get to their ultimate destination?
Try to choose a location that will not only be enjoyable for your guests but is also fairly easy to get to. Remember to keep in mind that guests are usually responsible for their own travel and accommodations so if it is an expensive venture, some guests may not be able to join you.
Accommodations & Transportation: If your guests are traveling, they are going to need a place to stay. In large cities such as Rome, Paris, Charleston or London, you’ll typically find lots of options between hotels, hostels, AirBnB’s or private villas. But if you are planning your wedding at a castle in the Irish countryside that accommodates 12 guests, for example, where do you expect everyone else will stay?
You need to ensure that you have a plan for your guests. Find out where the closest hotel or overnight sleeping option is if the location you yourselves are staying at is not an option. Hotel room blocks can be secured, usually for special group rates. You should secure enough hotel rooms, either at one central location or multiple hotels, to cover the number of guests you are expecting (factoring in couples and families, of course)
Weather: If you have a specific date you have to get married on or have already chosen, be sure to check the weather in the location you’re considering. For example – if you’ve already chosen September 2nd for your wedding date and want to get married in the Caribbean, you’re taking a high risk of a hurricane showing up as additional, uninvited wedding guest.
Here in DC, the weather in May & October is typically gorgeous and warm enough for outdoor weddings and are two of the most popular months to get married. But in Paris, the average high is 55 – 65 degrees F! Whereas in July and August in DC, the humidity and temperature is typically too much to bear, Paris is a beautiful 70 – 80 degrees.
Another part of this consideration should be your weather backup plan. Rain, in most parts of the world, can be a factor regardless of season so if you’re planning a rooftop reception or beach ceremony, don’t ignore a venue’s backup indoor location (especially ensuring that there actually is a Plan B location!)
Tourist Season, Holidays & Other Events: Research what high and low season are, local holidays, festivals and celebrations and ask your venue if there are other events happening there on the dates you plan to be there. Prices can fluctuate greatly from week to week based on high or low tourist season and the availability of accommodations and ease of travel will be affected based on other events happening in the local area.
Language & Cultural Consideration: During the planning process, and of course once you are in your destination, language can be a barrier and the way that certain cultures conduct business can be a huge source of frustration for destination couples. If you do not speak the language, consider hiring a local tour guide or translator to assist you. This is one point in particular where a destination wedding planner can be a huge asset. We have local connections and understand how different areas of the world handle various business transactions. One golden rule: Always get it in writing.
Cost, Expenses & Exchange Rate: Couples sometimes choose to have a destination wedding because it’s “less expensive”. At times this is true, but remember to look at local exchange rates when doing your calculations. Here at Sincerely Pete & Wanderlust Wedding Co, we find the return on the investment to be high for destination events, meaning, what you get for the money in most destination locations is greater than you could get locally. The experiences our couples and their guests have and the memories they create are once-in-a-lifetime.
Most destination weddings include auxiliary events – welcome receptions, group excursions, brunches, etc. Don’t forget to think through the entire week and budget for these functions.
Another factor for expenses are that some destinations aren’t going to have access to items you might take for granted for a local stateside wedding. For example, table linens or certain flowers and decor that can be rented or purchased easily in the states, might not be available in your destination so you may need to factor in additional shipping fees or extra cost for additional luggage. You also have to factor in your typical travel fees such as airport transfers and other expenses such as daily food, drink, accommodations, etc., that go along with any other vacation.
Local Marriage Requirements: Marriage regulations are very different from state to state and even more different from country to country. We always recommend getting married in your hometown either before or after your destination wedding and leaving the legalities local. However, if you insist on getting legally married abroad, look into the regulations of your destination as soon as possible.
Check Your Attitude & Outlook: Not everyone wants to or should have a destination wedding but if you are considering it, here are some questions to ask yourself that could help your decision:
- Can both you and your fiance(e) envision getting married away from home?
- Have you always envisioned a destination wedding?
- Can you, your family & friends afford to travel for your wedding?
- If some of your family & friends cannot be there to celebrate with you, can you live with that?
- Do you understand that not everything is available the way it is “back home”, depending on your location, and you might have to make some compromises?
- Would you look forward to spending an extended amount of time with friends & family at your destination?
- Are you the type of couple who can give up control to a wedding planner/local vendors and understand that you can’t be the one in charge of everything?
About Sarah Pete/Sincerely Pete/Wanderlust Wedding Co:
Sarah Pete Rizzi is the owner of Sincerely Pete, a full service wedding planning and design company based in the Washington, D.C. area, and co-founder of Wanderlust Wedding Co, a destination wedding company planning events all over the world. With over 15 years of experience in the hospitality & events industries, Sarah Pete is a pro at making sure timelines, budgets and important details are all perfectly managed. Sarah Pete believes in a personal, curated & customized approach to each wedding couple she works with, taking their values & personalities into account and keeping the relationship as the focus of the wedding. She’s personally planned events in over 25 states including Hawaii as well as Italy, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Honduras, and St. Thomas.
Weddings on Demand | Day-Of Coordinator & Florals | Weddings on Demand
Family Villa, Rehearsal Dinner & Ceremony Location | Villa gli Ulivi
Photographer | Purewhite Photography
Reception Location | Trattoria La Tagliata Positano
Band | Forlenzo Massarone