Eleven years ago, my husband and I got married on a beach in Maui. Last weekend, my son got married in a vineyard in Niagara. Both were two of the most special days of my life, in part due to the relaxed and fun atmosphere surrounding these nuptials.
There is something about destination weddings which captivates the imagination and where creative personalization can make your day truly memorable. But before you jump on that plane with passport in hand to tie the knot, there are some things you need to know.
First and foremost, read up on the rules for getting married in another country, or on a ship (in international waters) and make sure the information is from a reputable source. Some destinations have easy, get married same day policies while others have a mound of paperwork which needs to be filed up to three months prior. There are some destinations where you can only have a commitment ceremony with the official one back home. You don’t want to find out years later that you are not legally married!
Once you have agreed on the destination, then you and your betrothed need to agree on the “style” of wedding – how formal, the feel of the day, the dream, the guest list, and all the must haves. You may agree on a tropical island, but are you both agreeing to be married on a beach, in a chapel, by a waterfall in the mountains, at a plantation or underwater? What time of day – brunch, tea time, cocktails or evening? Find one vision and the planning will go much smoother.
Now the hardest part is the budget. Who pays for what? There are some great cost savings to a destination wedding as venues such as hotels, cruise ships, theme parks and castles may have adaptable packages to choose from. This makes planning so much easier and you are working with wedding and travel professionals at both ends. Let the pros guide you.
There is a trend towards smaller, more intimate weddings with family and a few close friends. Other guests back home can be included via satellite with today’s technology so not everyone has to pay the potentially hefty travel expense. Chartering a private ship or yacht, renting a castle or villa are sometimes options for those who want the grandeur and intimacy while allowing guests to enjoy a lovely vacation.
By working with the pros, you have confidence and peace of mind that your day will be a special one. I still remember every detail of our wedding because I didn’t have to stress about all the planning. I walked down the stairs of the hotel in Maui, shook the hand of my wedding planner (who I was meeting for the first time) and then she walked me out to where the hula dancers lead the procession onto the beach. Memories to last a lifetime, fun and a very cost-effective wedding day!