Tying the Knot Abroad
If skipping town to say “I do” is on the agenda, kudos to you. While you won't have to deal with traditional details of a local wedding, there is plenty you'll have to consider for your destination celebration. Experts weigh in on tips for making your big day one to remember.
DO use a destination wedding planner
Planning a wedding from afar can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Hiring a destination wedding specialist can help alleviate some of the stress of choosing the best-suited destination, resort, vendor selections and more.
Tracy French, owner of French Connection Events and Travel, suggests performing an internet search with words like “best destination wedding planner” or “Mexico wedding specialist” to find a good fit. Searching #destinationweddingspecialist #mexicoweddingplanner on Instagram may produce results. "For Pinterest, couples should search locations they are interested in or resorts they are considering," says French.
If you know the location you want to wed in, Sean Koski, luxury event planner at Ticket2Events, suggests calling hotel concierges and venues in the area and asking for recommendations. Then look them up on Google reviews to see how other couples have fared.
DO consider all your guests
Giving your guests ideas to occupy themselves and enjoy the destination is courteous. “Make certain you’re thinking of every person attending, even the kids,” says Jamie Chang, destination wedding planning guru and owner of Mango Muse Events.
Arranging activities such as a sports outing, visit to a local museum or even a beach party for your guests will show them you care. Be sure to inform attendees about annual festivals, holidays and big events going on near your resort so they can plan accordingly.
However, don't over-plan. “Some guests might crave a schedule, but others might prefer some downtime to explore on their own. Let guests experience the weekend in their own way and they’ll appreciate the weekend that much more,” says Dara Lynn Smith, marketing and event consultant, who blogs at THE FIRST LOOK.
DO trust your vendors
Hire people you trust to make your wedding vision a reality. "You will drive yourself crazy agonizing over every detail that you may not be able to see in person," says Smith.
However, this doesn’t mean you should be totally hands-off from the planning process. “Check in with them frequently and strategize trips that will let you preview what they’ve been working on," says Smith.
"If you need to see what the flowers are going to look like, see if your vendor can do some mockups for you during your next visit. Whatever will give you peace of mind and enable you to feel comfortable with the people who are on the ground.”
DON’T work against a culture
If the culture of the place you are getting married at is different than yours, Chang says take time to learn about it.
“Cultural differences could be subtle or drastic. Make sure you understand that culture and work with it instead of against it,” Chang says. “It will be easier on you and on the vendors you work with.”
Smith suggest taking inspiration from the venue when designing your wedding aesthetic. “Just because you saw it on Pinterest doesn’t mean it’s the right look for your destination wedding. Get to know your wedding city and venue and take inspiration from there,” she says.
DON’T choose high season
Asking your guests to deal with the hectic time of season at a resort might not go over well, especially if you’re unable to get a group room rate for them.
“Forgetting to schedule trolleys or shuttle services for your guests once they’ve made their way to your destination is also a huge mistake,” says Koski. And be sure to consider frequency of flights to your location and if they are direct or require stopovers.
DON’T forget to figure out legalities
While it's easy to get caught up in all the party planning, keep in mind that every location has different marriage requirements. “Couples don't always spend enough time figuring out what they need to do to be legally married and how much time that will take,” says Chang. “Make sure you research it way ahead of time so you can figure out what makes sense for you.”