Destination I Do
Thursday, April 12, 2012

An Event Planning Expert Weighs-In on Weddings Away!

Words by Courtney Kellar
Words by Courtney Cox & Brian Worley
Photos courtesy of (in order of appearance) Docuviate Photography, 2me Studios & Christin Khan

Co-owner of YourBASH! and a seasoned, professional event planner, we at Destination I Do bring you Brian Worley. We asked him to take is planning expertise and apply that knowledge to the realm of destination weddings. To see his artful advice, read on!

Imagine walking down the aisle at sunset on a sandy island beach, or through flower-strewn cobblestoned streets to an 18th century European cathedral. Nearly any place you can imagine can be yours for your special day – it just takes careful planning and a willingness to dream big.

If you want a unique and memorable wedding experience, a destination wedding could be for you. Planned well, a destination wedding could be less costly and it gives you and your guests a chance to enjoy a fabulous mini-vacation to remember. Here are some tips to help you prepare for and plan an unforgettable destination wedding:

Why choose a destination wedding?

A destination wedding allows you and your guests to travel to somewhere exotic and fabulous, where you all get to spend the most special day in your life in your idea of paradise.

If couples are from different parts of the country and don’t want to decide on one hometown over another, opting for a destination wedding gives you the option of choosing a location that will always be somewhere special to each of you.

When you are putting together your potential guest list, you may find many people will have to travel from far-away states or countries. A destination wedding allows them to travel somewhere special, where they can also get away from it all and enjoy a relaxing vacation.

Plan ahead

If you know where you want to be married, it pays to do your homework. Gather research about the location, logistics and legal requirements. If you plan to marry abroad, you’ll need to know local marriage laws; check out to start your research.

Don’t just check out the actual venue for the ceremony itself – look for local hot spots, points of interest and shopping so you can provide your guests with a great list of potential activities they can do as a group or on their own.

Work with a reputable destination wedding specialist

Consider hiring a local wedding specialist to help take care of the details. A local professional often knows local legalities and permit requirements and will have the contacts, resources and experience to make sure your big day goes without a hitch. Many popular resorts and destinations employ staff consultants and fold the cost of their services into the package wedding deal, so make certain to ask. And, plan to arrive onsite a few days early to make sure everything will be ready for your special day.

Give your guests plenty of notice

Are there certain people, such as close family or friends, without whom you would not have your wedding? Let them know as soon as you decided to see if the travel is feasible for them.

For a traditional wedding, “Save the Date” cards are usually sent out six weeks in advance. Since destination weddings require travel arrangements, try to send out the notice at least 4-6 months ahead. This allows guests to budget and plan for the trip and get the best deals on flights.

Make it a really fun mini-vacation for your guests

The family and friends who love you will make their way there, and you’ll get to spend more time with them than you would at a hometown wedding. They’re investing vacation time and money to come to your wedding – so plan to entertain and bring them together often.

If your budget allows, consider hosting an extra event, such as a welcome party with dinner on the beach or group excursion to see the local sights as a “thank you” to the guests who went out of their way to attend.

Give your guests the option of joining in scheduled group tours or activities or some options for seeing the sites on their own. Since your guests are paying to fly in for the wedding, make sure they know every option to enjoy the local scenery.
Make sure to provide detailed instructions on transportation from the airport to your venue, and if you know guests are arriving around the same time, try to coordinate to share taxis.

And, provide options for accommodations at different price points so guests have options to consider.

Consider a ‘no gifts’ policy

If you know that attending your wedding will stretch the budget for some of your guests, you may want to forego a gift registry. Tell your guests that their presence on your special day is a gift in itself – they’re already paying plenty just to attend!

A destination wedding can be the perfect romantic getaway – for you and your guests. Don’t be afraid to dream big for your special day. Make it a celebration for you – and them – to remember!

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