At one time, when couples decided to get married they only had a couple of options – their local registry office, or a church in their home town. Now, there are far more options. You can choose to get hitched in a hotel, a restaurant, a museum, a theatre, or even a football stadium. You can even opt for a ceremony while bungee jumping or skydiving if you really want to. However, one of the most popular choices amongst modern couples today is the destination wedding. 

Destination weddings are more popular than ever before amongst couples from all walks of life.  But, for those who have never considered the idea before, there’s a lot to find out before making a decision about whether or not one is right for you. Here, we take a look at everything you need to know about destination weddings. We examine what a destination wedding is, the pros and cons of choosing one, and some expert advice about planning and arranging your dream destination wedding so that you can make a well-informed decision about whether or not one is the right choice for you. So, are you ready to learn more about the destination wedding phenomenon? Read on and discover all you need to know. 

What Are Destination Weddings and Are They A Good Idea?

A destination wedding is any wedding that is held away from where the couple usually live, often in an overseas location but occasionally in their home country. From Gretna Green to the Caribbean, there are countless options when it comes to planning a destination wedding, and this type of ceremony offers a host of benefits which is why it is becoming a more popular choice amongst UK couples with every year that passes. 

Perhaps the greatest benefit of a destination wedding is that you can combine your honeymoon and ceremony in one, helping to save you money. Also, there are numerous companies that specialise in tailoring wedding packages overseas, so you can get everything included without having to lift a finger yourself. Packages are available to suit a wide variety of needs, so whether you just want an intimate occasion for you and your partner, or whether you want to invite all your family and friends, there’ll be a package to meet your requirements. This can save you a lot of stress, time and effort when compared with the hassle of arranging everything yourself at home.

Many couples find destination weddings a good idea because there is less for them to arrange themselves. By taking advantage of a destination package deal that includes the services of a wedding planner or consultant, it’s possible to simply show up to your wedding with only the outfits to think about! It can also help to avoid difficult family situations. An overseas wedding often means a smaller guest list and that gives you the freedom to leave out those relatives that you would rather avoid inviting.

Another reason that destination weddings are a great idea is that they can often be more affordable than arranging a full-scale wedding at home. With fewer guests and the honeymoon already included, some couples manage to save thousands. 

Finflukra Burfly
Photo Credit – Finflukra Burfly

There are, however, some downsides to planning a destination wedding, the greatest of which is that you may find you’re tying the knot without the people who are important to you being there. Not everyone can afford to take time away from work to attend an overseas ceremony, and if the bride and groom aren’t paying for travel and accommodation, the sheer expense of attending may make it impossible. Also, of course, some couples dislike the idea that their family will be around while they’re on their honeymoon. Many newlyweds are looking forward to some privacy and romantic alone time after their big day, and having friends and family staying at the same resort could put a serious dent in those plans. For couples who are trying to arrange their overseas wedding themselves, there is also the downside of potential complications in trying to organise a licence, book a venue and arrange for flowers, a photographer and transport. 

Essentially, every couple has to weigh up the pros and cons and decide whether or not the advantages outweigh the disadvantages when making a choice of marrying at home or elsewhere. 

How Much Are Destination Weddings And Are They Really Cheaper? 

There is no single answer to this question. The truth is that the cost of a destination wedding will vary depending on many different factors. The location, the length of time you’ll be staying in the resort, the exchange rate, the number of guests you’ll be inviting, the time of year, and how many extras you want to include will all impact on the total cost. 

For example, a simple destination wedding in the UK for just the couple and no guests can cost as little as £500, but this is a very basic package that only includes the ceremony itself. Obviously, it’s possible to add on extras such as overnight accommodation, a sit-down meal, extra guests, and a photographer, but this will increase the price significantly, often by thousands. When you’re considering an overseas location, you’ll also have to figure in the addition cost of flights, a longer stay, food, transport, and activities into the price. 

As to whether or not destination weddings are cheaper than weddings at home, that very much depends on what you’re planning. If you’re going to go all-out on a wedding overseas, paying for hundreds of guests to attend, it’s almost certainly going to cost you more than a wedding in your hometown. On the other hand, if you’re keen to keep things simple with just you, your partner and close loved ones, there’s a very good chance that you could save a considerable sum over the average price of a UK-based wedding. 

Do You Pay For Your Guests? 

One major factor that contributes to the cost of a destination wedding is whether or not you’ll be paying for your guests. Customarily, accommodation and travel remain the guests’ responsibility, but bear in mind that this could be very costly and this may prevent some people that you would love to attend being unable to come. Depending on where you’re planning to hold your ceremony, there could be an airfare, hotel accommodation, entertainment and food for them to pay for, not to mention clothing, local transportation and taking time away from work. In light of this, you may want to cover some, or even all, of those costs for close friends or family members who your day wouldn’t be the same without.

If you decide to make all of those costs your guests’ responsibility, it’s a nice touch to provide something for them as a thank you for attending. Arranging their transport to any events, hosting a welcome buffet or cocktails, or arranging for a fruit basket or chocolates in every guest’s room would be a lovely thing to do to show your appreciation. 

Is It Rude To Have A Destination Wedding?

Some couples worry that having a destination wedding would be considered rude by their families and friends. However, it shouldn’t really be a question of what other people think. If you want to get married in a different location then that’s your prerogative as a couple. However, there is a caveat to that. If you’re expecting people to pay for themselves and travel a long distance to attend your wedding, that can be interpreted as rude, especially if you are aware that those people have limited finances, or responsibilities that they cannot easily take time away from just to see you tie the knot abroad. Anyone hosting a destination wedding should be prepared for those that they have invited to decline the invitation and should not be offended if their guests cannot afford to come. They should also never put pressure on anyone to come to the wedding. If there is anyone that you feel simply must attend your wedding to make the day special, you may want to consider paying for them to come so that they don’t feel pressured. 

Couples who have decided to go it alone and get married abroad without any guests in attendance may need to be prepared for their loved ones’ reactions. Friends and family members may be upset or even angry that they missed out on such an important moment, and this is something that must be considered when making the arrangements. Perhaps you may want to consider arranging a party after you return so everyone can celebrate together, or maybe you can live stream the ceremony so they can join in virtually even though they couldn’t be there in person. 

All of that said, couples should always plan the wedding that they want, and not the wedding that their friends or family want them to have.

What Is The Etiquette For Destination Weddings?

Whether you’re marrying at home or abroad, it can be difficult to get wedding etiquette right at the best of times. For the couple themselves, the primary piece of etiquette to get right for a destination wedding is to bear the guests in mind when it comes to cost. It’s unlikely that every person invited will be wealthy, so that means you should avoid choosing an expensive destination that involves costly travel if you really want others to attend. It’s very poor etiquette to ask your guests to pay thousands just to come to your big day. For this reason, keeping the guest list short is always a good idea. Only invite those who you really want to celebrate with and without whom the day simply wouldn’t be the same.

When inviting guests to a destination wedding, make sure you’ve allowed them sufficient time to plan and make arrangements. At a minimum, sending out invitations around 8 months before the big day will allow guests some time to work out their finances, plan for time off work, and book flights and accommodation. 

Once your guests have arrived at your destination, it’s good etiquette to make sure they feel welcome. Throw a cocktail party or buffet on the day they all arrive, or put welcome packs in their rooms to show your appreciation for their attendance. Most importantly, make sure that every guest has clear instructions about the destination including what to wear, what kind of activities they’ll be doing and what will be paid for so that they can prepare appropriately.

Giving your guests opportunities to mingle with each other is also important at a destination wedding. This is especially important if they don’t know each other. Arranging organised activities and welcome parties can help guests to get acquainted and to bond so the experience isn’t an uncomfortable one.

One tricky point of etiquette with a destination wedding is how to get some alone time on your honeymoon. Some couples choose to stay at a different resort or simply spend more time in their suite. It would certainly be considered rude to ask guests to stay away, so this is something that needs to be thought about in advance.

Couples planning destination weddings should also take time to learn about the local cultures and traditions in the location that they will be visiting. It can be all too easy to make an error of judgement and to include something in the ceremony or reception that may be considered offensive to locals.

Expecting expensive gifts after asking guests to attend a destination wedding is also a no-no. Your loved ones have already spent a lot of money on attending your big day, so it’s poor etiquette to expect them to then pay out for a costly wedding present.

Wedding In Kos Photographer In Kos
Photo Credit – Wedding In Kos Photographer In Kos

How Do I Plan A Small Destination Wedding?

The good news for couples keen to have a small destination wedding rather than a traditional big celebration at home is that the planning process should be considerably simpler, at least as long as you opt for a package deal or hire the services of a destination wedding planner. 

When you’re first thinking about planning your wedding, think about where you’d like it to be held. Would you prefer a beach? A city destination? A castle? A hotel? Are you looking for glorious, sunny weather? Or would a snowy location be best for you? Maybe you need to stay relatively close to home? Or perhaps you’re looking for a far-flung spot? Once you know the sort of destination you want to choose you can select a precise location. 

Once you’ve done that, it’s time to work out a date. Factoring in weather conditions is fairly important – it’s probably a bad idea to choose a beach wedding in the Caribbean during hurricane season for example. You may also need to consider the availability of flights at that time of year and whether or not your guests are likely to be able to make it. You may need to consult with your loved ones about suitable dates, although you may have to accept you won’t get a date to work for everyone you’d like to invite if you’re thinking of having a larger celebration.

Look into the local marriage requirements before you start booking or arranging anything. There are often residency requirements that mean you can’t legally marry without having lived in the country in question for 30 days or more. You may have to arrange a civil ceremony in the UK before or after your big day to complete the legal side of things. 

When you’ve chosen a destination, check out whether or not you can find a package deal. It’s much easier to arrange your destination wedding if you can pay for an all-inclusive package that includes the services of a wedding coordinator as well as the ceremony itself and the extras of your choice. Make sure that any package you choose either meets your needs or can be tailored to your specifications before diving in. 

If you would rather arrange things yourself instead of opting for a package deal, there’s quite a lot to arrange, from the venue and the celebrant to the licence and the extras. Therefore, it makes sense to either try to visit the location yourself in advance so you can do everything face-to-face, or hire a local wedding planner that you can trust who can help you with all the essentials. Choosing a local planner will ensure that they are familiar with any necessary local customs or laws and they will also have useful connections that you can rely on when it comes to flowers, transport and entertainment. 

Once you’ve made your booking, you can go ahead and let your guests know that they’ve been invited. Make sure to do this as early as possible so that they have time to make arrangements and plan. Be prepared for some of your guests to turn down your invitation due to cost or inability to take time away from work.

With all of the basics in place, you only need to decide on your outfits. Let your destination guide your choice – you don’t want to be sweating on the beach in a long-sleeved dress, or conversely, shivering at a cool evening reception in a sleeveless gown. 

Once you’ve reached this point, there’s nothing to do except pay the outstanding bills, pack carefully and get ready to jet off for your big day!

How Far In Advance Should You Plan A Destination Wedding?

Planning your destination wedding often depends on several factors. The first important consideration is whether you’ll be inviting anyone else or whether it’ll be just you and your partner. If there’s just the two of you to bear in mind, you only need to plan as far in advance as it takes to get the date and venue of your choice. For couples who aren’t too bothered about getting hitched out of season, it may be possible to arrange everything fairly quickly, within a few months. However, if you want to get married at a peak time and in a popular location, you should certainly consider beginning to plan at least a year in advance and maybe even before. 

If you’ll be inviting guests to your wedding, you should let them know that you’re planning to invite them to a destination event at least 8 months in advance as this will give them enough time to get organised, save money, arrange time off work, and book accommodation and travel at a price that they can afford. It also gives them plenty of opportunities to refuse. When it comes to actually sending out invitations, you can wait until closer to the time – perhaps 3 months before the big day. They will already be aware that the wedding is taking place and will have been able to make arrangements in advance.

Where Is The Cheapest Place To Have A Destination Wedding?

Again, there is no single answer to this question since it depends very much on the type of wedding you’re keen to have. If you’re happy to opt for an occasion with no-frills – just the ceremony itself for you and your partner – and don’t mind remaining in the UK, albeit away from home, you’ll find low-cost packages that come in at well under £1000. However, if the type of wedding that you want is a much bigger, more exotic affair, there is a lot of difference in prices around the world.

If a far-flung resort is your idea of the perfect wedding location, the Indian Ocean is a great choice. Mauritius, Sri Lanka, Seychelles and the Maldives all have complete wedding packages coming in at under £14,000. It’s also possible to find affordable wedding packages in the Caribbean, especially in St Lucia, Antigua and the Dominican Republic. The key to how much you can save, though, will depend on the extras that you want to include, how many people will be attending, and the time of year that you pick. 

Where Is The Best Place For A Destination Wedding?

The couple themselves are the best people to answer this question since it depends very much on what they want from their big day. There will be couples who can think of nothing better than marrying on a beach in Hawaii at sunset, while others would prefer to have a snow-covered celebration in the Swiss Alps. Essentially, the best place for you and your partner is one that appeals to you both, is affordable, and will give you wonderful memories to enjoy for life. 

Some of the most popular destinations around the world for a destination wedding include the Caribbean, Florida, Mexico, Cyprus, the Greek islands, Hawaii, Las Vegas, and the Indian Ocean islands. However, the perfect place for you may be somewhere entirely different!

What is Included In A Destination Wedding Package? 

All destination wedding packages are different and will contain varying elements. However, there are some basic features that standard, affordable packages will typically include:

  • An on-site wedding planner
  • Help with preparing documents and obtaining licences
  • An officiant 
  • The use of a venue for the ceremony
  • A buttonhole for the groom and small bouquet for the bride
  • A selection of pre-recorded music for the ceremony
  • A wedding certificate 
  • A photographer’s services 
  • A small cake

There are packages that offer even less than this – just an officiant, venue and documentation for the couple, and many packages that offer considerably more, including:

  • Dinner for the bride and groom after the ceremony
  • Transportation to the venue 
  • Flowers to decorate the venue 
  • A makeup artist and hairdresser 
  • A photograph package 
  • Cocktails or drinks for a toast 
  • A larger cake 
  • A stay in the bridal suite 

Typically, you’ll find a choice of wedding packages offered by different resorts in your chosen location, so you’ll be able to select the one that best fits into your budget and your preferences. You may also be able to add on some customised extras at extra cost. 

If you’re planning to stay in the resort for an extended period of time, you may be able to benefit from a completely free wedding basic package, or if you’re booking several rooms for your friends and family, you may be able to benefit from other included items such as complimentary room upgrades, spa treatments or free champagne.

How Do You Plan A Beach Wedding?

Unfortunately, if you’re keen to have a beach wedding, you can’t do it in England or Wales, although Scotland does permit beach weddings. Nevertheless, when most couples think about a beach wedding, they’re thinking of an exotic overseas destination. 

Beach weddings can be especially lovely thanks to the beautiful backdrop to your vows and the lower costs. There’s no need, for example, to pay out for décor for your venue since nature does it all for you. There are, however, a few things to bear in mind when you’re planning a beach wedding. 

The first consideration is location. If you’re keen to have a beach wedding, which beach do you want to hold it on? There are many different options, from European resorts to Caribbean destinations, but you’ll need to make sure that the location of your choice permits beach weddings if you actually want to tie the knot with your toes in the sand. There’s no need for despair, though, if a beach wedding is your dream and local laws won’t permit you to physically exchange vows by the sea – you may be able to find a restaurant, hotel, or other venue on the beach that will give you the seaside feel while also complying with the law.

If you’re not prepared to compromise on getting married on the sand, you’ll need to decide between a public beach or a private beach. Make sure you pay close attention to this aspect when you’re booking a package. You may not mind people swimming and sunbathing around you as you say your vows, but then again, it may not be quite the intimate and romantic occasion you hoped for. Some resorts have their own private beaches on which you can get wed, and this may be a preferable option to you. Make sure you check this out before you book.

It’s always advisable to book a package deal if you’re keen to have a beach wedding, but at the very least you should arrange a wedding planner who can handle any unforeseen logistics such as arranging for permits.

Once you’ve decided on a destination and beach for your big day, you’ll need to select a time. Although an afternoon wedding might seem perfect, it’s important to take into account the temperatures. At a Floridian beach wedding, for example, the temperatures could reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit easily by lunchtime, and even if you’re happy to sweat it out in your suit or wedding gown, your guests may not be so happy to endure the heat. You’ll also need to consider how busy the beach is likely to be. In the middle of the afternoon, you’re likely to have to say “I do” with sunseekers soaking in the rays around you. If you’re going for a popular beach, it may be best to choose a morning time slot, or possibly a sunset ceremony which could be extremely romantic. If you’re determined to have an afternoon wedding, choose a shadier spot with plenty of breeze to keep you and your guests comfortable. Another aspect to consider is the tides – you don’t want the water to creep up on you partway through your ceremony!

When it comes to décor for a beach wedding, you probably won’t need much. Perhaps chairs for your guests, maybe a floral arch to walk through, or a small altar at which to say your vows, but you won’t need a lot else. If you’re arranging a photographer independently, make sure to choose one that is familiar with a beachside location as this is the best way to get the best out of your photos. 

You’ll also need to plan for what to wear. A long gown may be impractical for a beach wedding as may a three-piece suit, so think carefully when choosing outfits for your big day. Also, bear in mind that wearing your hair down or wearing a veil could be awkward since it could blow into your face and be uncomfortable during your ceremony.

If you’re arranging your own beach wedding without using a wedding planner’s services, make sure that your guests are aware of how to find your chosen spot, and make sure that they can easily get onto the sand – especially if some of your guests are less able. You may need to arrange transportation for your guests and yourself to your ceremony, some chairs for your guests and, of course, any permits that are required as well as a licence and an officiant. This is why it’s so much easier to use a wedding coordinator or book a package as all of this will be handled for you. 

All You Need To Know About Destination Weddings

Is A Beach Wedding Cheaper? 

Depending on the destination and the beach you choose, and the number of guests you’re planning to have at your wedding, you may find a beach destination wedding is more affordable. You won’t need to pay to hire a venue and your only cost in that respect will probably be a permit. You also won’t need much in the way of décor since the setting itself is sufficiently beautiful. Thanks to the casual, laidback feel of beachside weddings, you can also save money on clothing as less formal outfits are often the best choice. 

When Is The Best Month To Have A Beach Wedding?

The answer to this question will depend on the location that you choose. Obviously, you will want to have the best chance of enjoying beautiful (or at least dry) weather on your big day, especially since you’re planning to hold the ceremony outdoors. You may think that the best months will automatically be during the summer but this isn’t necessarily the case. The summer months may be hurricane or monsoon season, and would, therefore, be best avoided. This is why it’s so important to research the climate and typical weather conditions before you book your ceremony. You don’t want to arrange your celebration during monsoon season and get rained off. Check out when the driest months are likely to be in your chosen destination – these are going to be the best ones for your big day. 

Is A Beach Wedding A Good Idea?

If you’re wondering whether or not a beach wedding is a good idea, there are a few pros and cons to weigh up. One of the greatest advantages of this type of celebration is that you’ll benefit from a stunning backdrop to your big day. You’ll also be able to save money compared to the cost of hiring a venue and decorating it. You’ll also get some amazing photographs of your special moment thanks to the glory of nature. For anyone who is looking for a more relaxed and laidback wedding day, a beach location could be ideal. There is a wonderful lack of formality at a beach wedding that is the perfect antidote to the stress of wedding planning. You’ll also, if you wish, be able to opt for less formal attire which will not only save you money but will also help you to feel more comfortable. 

On the downside, though, if you’re hoping for a private and intimate occasion you might be disappointed depending on which beach you choose. If you’re marrying on a public beach you can expect there to be plenty of people watching you say “I do”, especially if you’re marrying in the middle of the day or during peak season. You’ll also need to consider accessibility – if some of your guests are elderly or less able, they may not be able to navigate the sand or rocks of a beachside location. Furthermore, since you’re using an outdoor setting, you’ll be at the mercy of the weather.

If it’s cold or wet on your big day, you could run the risk of your day being ruined. You may also need to come up with a Plan B, and this can add stress into your wedding planning that you’d rather do without. You’ll also have to bear in mind that there are natural elements that come into play that could affect your wedding. The tides, for example. You don’t want to be in the middle of exchanging vows when you find that the tide is rushing in, soaking you and your guests. You also need to bear in mind the time you hold your ceremony. A sunset wedding may be wonderful, but if it goes on too long you could end up in the dark. All of these factors could add more complications to arranging your wedding, and it could be enough to put you off. 

Are Destination Weddings For Me?

There’s no doubt that destination weddings are becoming increasingly popular amongst UK couples who are looking for something different to the traditional British celebration. From simple elopements to more lavish, exotic affairs abroad, destination weddings certainly have a lot to offer, but they aren’t necessarily for everyone. 

In this article, you’ll have learned all about the pros and cons of destination weddings, as well as some advice and information about how to go about planning one. Armed with these details, you should everything you need to make a well-informed decision about whether or not you and your partner should take this option. 

There are lots of good reasons to go for a destination wedding, but there are also negatives to bear in mind. Make sure that you and your partner have thoroughly considered and weighed up all the advantages and disadvantages before you make a choice. Remember, your wedding day is a once in a lifetime occasion, so make it one that lives up to all your expectations and will make your special day one that you’ll remember for your whole life together. 

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