In the last decade, the destination wedding has become a popular choice. While it used to be the church in the valley, times have changed. In fact, one in four weddings in the United States is now “destination.”
The idea of a destination wedding started as an event for celebrities, the rich, and the adventurous. It has subsequently moved from being a trend to being mainstream.
A destination wedding is anywhere that the bride and groom don’t live. So, if a bride and groom from Chicago get married in New York, it is a “destination” wedding.
Hawaii used to be the first pick for many. Why? No passports required for nationals from the United States. But the islands in the Caribbean have overtaken the 50th state as the most popular place to exchange “I do-s.”
Why Have a Destination Wedding?
There are pros and cons about having a destination wedding. These include budget, time of year, and passports.
One very good reason is the weather in the Caribbean. If the wedding is in January, it is a great break for the bridal party from North Dakota.
If it is essential that 89-year old granny who doesn’t have a passport attend, better to stay in Fargo or Grand Falls.
Pros of a destination wedding:
- Nobody will crash the destination wedding.
- It will be warm.
- The food in the Caribbean is wonderful.
- Fresh seafood is readily available.
- It is an opportunity for everyone to relax.
- With wedding packages, the bride and groom don’t have to worry about details.
- Likely only the people the bride and groom really want will be there.
- The honeymoon is built in.
- It is a chance to get away from the usual comfort zone.
Cons of a destination wedding:
- People without enough money won’t be able to go.
- Guests need passports. If they have a criminal record they may be able to get them.
- There might be a hurricane.
- Some people are afraid to fly. Getting there by boat would take too long.
- The local airlines in the Caribbean are less expensive. They are notorious for delayed flights and delayed luggage. The bride should pack the dress in her carry-on.
How to plan a destination wedding:
The best destination weddings start with a plan.
Get out a map – or go to Google maps – to find the best destination for you. Have a lot of money? Head for Bermuda where people speak English. It won’t be too “foreign” for most.
On a budget? Don’t worry as there are lots of economical options. Some of the destinations are Martinique, Dominica, Jamaica, and Tulum. Even places that might not spring to mind immediately – like Haiti – offer wedding packages.
United States nationals can’t get married in Cuba because of the visa restrictions. Too bad, as the island gets rave reviews from the Canadians who go there for destination weddings.
Consider some of the slightly harder to get to islands. Grenada is an example. On this little small island, there are a couple of spectacular wedding package resorts.
On the north side of the island, there is Petite Anse. It is owned by Philip and Annie Clift, well known for their warm hospitality.
Located within a walkable distance to St. George’s – the capital of Grenada – is the Spice Island Beach Resort. This luxury resort offers 6-star all-inclusive wedding packages. And the service is impeccable.
Who gets on the invitation list? The good news is that the bride and groom can invite lots of people from both sides of the family. Why? Great uncle Bob and second cousin Linda are unlikely to show up. Or if they do, they paid the bill to get there. Try to be nice to them even if it has been 10 years since they were last seen.
How about friends? Once again, can they afford to go? Better make sure the bridal party has enough money for tickets, hotels, and food.
Pick a date when the most important people will be able to take time off. For friends who work in stores or restaurants, December is a no-go month.
Why check out wedding packages?
Hotels and resorts in the Caribbean offer deals that may be just what suits the occasion. Some people are determined to get married on the beach. And they want to sleep in a tent for their honeymoon night. That still counts as a destination wedding.
Once the wedding destination plan is in place it is time to swing into finding a suitable venue.
Make a list of what you want in a wedding package. Good price, direct flights, hotels, and other attractions should be considered.
Unless everyone invited is totally laid back and happy with the sun and the sand, look for a place with other things to do. Golf, hiking, museums, art galleries and scuba diving might appeal to the non-total beach types.
Set up a one to five-star rating system.
Get a “save” file for the links to wedding packages
Bookmark links that tick all the boxes. Move them all into that one file
After a couple of days, review the links and narrow it down to no more than three choices.
Research the options and make a final decision.
Contact the hotel, resort, or lodge for a quote.
If that one doesn’t work, investigate the second on the list. If all else fails, go back to step one.
While researching wedding packages, be sure to read the fine print. Is there a fee for cancellation in case the couple has a fight and splits up? Is there airport pickup or do people have to find their own way to the resort? Ask questions. Lots of them.
The language on the island is important. Speak Spanish? Head for Puerto Rico. Parlez-vous francais? Getting around in Guadeloupe, St. Bart’s or St. Martin may be a bit of a challenge.
Other destinations for anglophiles include Antique and Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and the British Overseas Territory.
No matter what the official language is supposed to be, chances are the locals speak a dialect of Creole. Based on the basics of a number of languages Creole is regional. It can be a mixture of English, French, Portuguese, Spanish with a few words Dutch thrown in.
Learn a few words of local Creole and become an instant hit with the locals. “Hello,” “please,” “thank-you,” and “where is the bar?” will suffice.
What is an All-Inclusive Wedding Package?
An all-inclusive wedding package means that literally everything is taken care of. Hotel rooms, meals, the wedding site, and almost everything else that is required for the occasion. Some all-inclusive wedding packages even escort the bridal couple to the altar by golf-cart.
About all the bride and groom need to worry about for the occasion are their bridal outfits and rings.
Where to Go for the Best Destination Weddings?
It all goes back to the plan. The more effort that goes into getting it organized, the event the easier it will be.
When the bridal party and the guests arrive, they know what to expect. The wedding packages take care of the details and keep down the stress level.
When it comes to a destination wedding, last minute jitters may be the most serious problem.
Feature Image CC by 0, via Pixabay