Is a destination wedding right for you?

An increasingly popular trend today is the destination wedding, where the bridal couple ties the knot in a romantically exotic or tropical destination. The bride and groom might be traveling alone or they might have guests attend. So, destination weddings can be as intimate as two or as grand as several hundred guests. The wedding might take place onsite at a resort or at a select location near the resort (such as a waterfall, beachside cliff, or quaint chapel).

There are some advantages with a destination wedding. Combining your ceremony with your honeymoon can save a good deal of money. Your guests get to enjoy a vacation. Plus, done right, your destination wedding can simplify the whole wedding planning process.

While destination weddings can take place in a wide variety of settings, the most popular today is at a tropical beachfront resort. This includes destinations such as Hawaii; Fiji; Mexico's Riviera Maya, Cancun, Puerto Vallarta or Cabo San Lucas; and Caribbean's Jamaica, Bahamas, St. Lucia, Grand Caymans, and Virgin Islands. Other destinations include Disneyworld, a cruise ship, Vegas (always popular!), a villa in Tuscany, or a sunny Greek Island. As you'd imagine, the destination and the ceremony location will be major factors in total cost for the bride and groom as well as for the guests.

Sit down with your fiancée and discuss the possibility of a destination wedding. Consider the type of destination you'd both enjoy - such as the beach, the mountains during ski season, or any other location that has special meaning to you as a couple. Discuss possible dates, budget, a guest list, and expectations.

I also recommend in the early stages of planning that you and your fiancée agree with the "must-attend" guest list - those folks who absolutely must attend your destination wedding in order for it to happen. For example, if you don't want to get hitched without Grandma there but Grandma refuses to board a plane, you'll want to find that out upfront. Now, with your "must attend" list, check with those folks to make sure they are able to go. Be sure to talk dates and budget with them.

Once you've decided on a destination wedding, you'll want to establish a relationship with a travel agent who specializes in destination weddings. She will help you select a destination and resort that will fit your budget, preferences, and requirements. Your travel agent should also be savvy regarding the pros and cons of the different locations as well as the marriage requirements in the various destinations. It's a good idea to get the process started about ten to twelve months in advance. It's possible to book a destination wedding with as little as 45 days advance notice, but resorts book a very limited number of weddings per day, so have flexibility on your dates and resort selection if you're putting your destination wedding together 5 months or less in advance.

article written by Cindy Grant, Expert Family Travel.


Related information

photo Riu Resorts


photo courtesy Secrets Resorts

photo courtesy of
Intercontinental Thalasso (Bora Bora)


Just a sampling of the locations and resorts we feature for your destination wedding:

  • Now Larimar Resort, Punta Cana
  • Moon Palace Resort, Riviera Maya
  • Sandals Whitehouse, Jamaica
  • Matangi Island Resort, Fiji
  • Bora Bora Pearl Resort, Tahiti )
  • The Ritz Carlton Kapalua, Maui
  • Beach locations in Hawaii
  • Weddings by Disney, Orlando