Destination Wedding

Plan your destination wedding

This entry is from our Expert Guest series where wedding and honeymoon professionals share their best tips on creating memories that last a lifetime.

Destination weddings are an ultimate, fun and romantic adventure couples remember till the end of their lives. But even though they can double as your dream vacation, they take twice as much planning and can be quite stressful to organize. However, there is now one quite handy thing called the internet, where you can find all the information you need, so without further ado, here is how to prepare your perfect destination wedding.

Consider your budget

Consider The Budget

Before you even start googling through hundreds of “destination wedding ideas” articles, you have to consider your budget. Just like with everything, your budget is going to dictate the time of the year, the location, and how long it is all going to last. Travel costs can fluctuate depending on if you are traveling during low season, peak season or holiday weekends. Make sure you check the calendar and all the events happening around your destination in advance. An average budget for one luxury destination wedding goes from $750 up to $1500 or more per person, only for the reception and ceremony, while your wedding planner’s fees can account for roughly 20% of the entire budget. So if you want to spare some expense and cut your costs, consider finding an all-inclusive resort which offers wedding packages for couples that fit your budget.

Pick your destination

Picking A Destination

If your budget is limited, you should go with a destination that is closer to your home. Besides that, the place you are marrying at should make sense to you and be something that your guests will be excited about as well. Currently, the most popular destinations for destination weddings are the Caribbean, Mexico, and Hawaii.

Hire Some Help For Your Destination Wedding

Even though turning this into a DIY is possible in theory, it is a much smarter idea to hire an extra pair of hands – some of the destination management companies (DMC). If you are an American, have in mind that there are many different DMC in the USA that can help you and make everything go as stress-free as possible. There are simply so many logistical things that are behind the scenes but in the same time are crucial for everything to work, plus, they already know all the good vendors, the right people overall, etc.

Invite your guests early

Create The Guest List Early

The number of guests directly impacts your budget, because the smaller the list, the less alcohol and catering you have to bring, and, of course, fewer tables with fewer centerpieces etc., so knowing your numbers as early as possible is a win-win scenario. Send the invites at least nine months in advance, so they can decide and plan everything out.

Get Legally Married

The legality of your marriage and making sure it is recognized in your country is also an important detail you as a couple should plan. Make sure you visit the embassy of your country at your destination to verify the wedding is legally recognized. And if you want to avoid that step, you can do a civil ceremony in your own country and do the celebration at the destination.

Getting There

Think ahead – if you are buying a lot of things from the vendors, check if you can send all that directly to the hotel where it will be assembled before the ceremony. Before and during travel consider the comfort of your guests as well, and plan their experience to ensure they are carefree and happy. Maybe go there a day early and personally greet everyone when they arrive.

Consider the dress

Don’t Forget The Dress

For shipping, you will have to think about the logistics that are involved, since some countries may have shipping restrictions when it comes to this type of ‘luggage’, and may charge you customs at the point of entry. Also, you need to think about how you can get that dress back, since some airlines can make allowances for holding your dress on a flight or you might even have to book a separate seat for it. In other words, its size and weight also matter big time.

As you can see, a destination wedding is not an easy ceremony to plan, but once everything is done, your effort will definitely pay off.

Help finance your wedding dreams with a Honeyfund honeymoon registry.

Bio: Carla Cartmell writes for SmoothDecorator.com, a website dedicated to that sanctuary that is your home.

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Prepare for your Mexican wedding

This entry is from our Expert Guest series where wedding and honeymoon professionals share their best tips on creating memories that last a lifetime.

Yay! Congrats! Woohoo! You’ve decided to tie the knot in Mexico! You are in for a treat. If you had told me 10 years ago that I would one day love Mexico like my own home and become a huge advocate for travel to Mexico I would have laughed in your face. But the day I hopped on a plane and flew to a convention in the Riviera Maya zone that changed my life forever. I instantly fell in love and my local destination event planning business became an international one. And I could not be more excited for you to host your destination wedding in Mexico and share this beautiful country and its lovely people with your family and friends.

Planning Your Destination Wedding In Mexico

Before you get wrapped up in the planning details, there are some things you should know in advance. Here’s a short (but by no means comprehensive) list of some things to prepare you:

Making your destination wedding legal

Making it Legal

Running off to Mexico to get married sounds as simple as running off to Vegas. You just show up, make a run to the courthouse, find a drive-through chapel, and you’re married, right? Not so fast! Getting legally married in Mexico has a lot of steps and it can take up to a few days to complete them. You’ll need to bring all your documents – marriage application forms, an original birth certificate and a copy, a blood test taken in Mexico within the past 15 days, copy of official photo ID’s, and more. Oh yeah, and all your documents must be translated into Spanish and then once you’re married you’ll need to get your marriage certificate apostilled in Mexico to ensure it will be accepted back at home. Fortunately, most resorts can assist you with this legal process, but you can plan on shelling out about $1,000 for everything you’ll need to do.

Don’t fret; there’s another option that will make getting married in Mexico a breeze! It’s called a “symbolic” ceremony. In this option, our couples go old school and run to the courthouse in their home city and get legally married a week or so before they leave for their Mexico wedding. Since most US states have short waiting times between the issuance of the marriage certificate and the time that the ceremony can take place, this works for the vast majority of our couples. This route is a heck of a cash savings since most US marriage licenses are less than $100 and a heck of a time savings since you no longer have to wait in your hotel room for hours on end waiting for the guy to show up and take your blood, losing a full day of vacation! Now that you’re legally married in the US you can have a symbolic ceremony in Mexico and no additional paperwork is needed. Shh! You don’t even have to tell your friends and family you’re already married!

Master the details of your destination wedding

It’s Not As Easy As It Sounds. There Are So Many Details!

There’s this impression that a destination wedding is so easy. I mean, how hard can it be? Book some flights, book your hotel, pick out some flowers and wedding details, and everyone shows up for a weekend of fun. If only! Think about the last time you booked an extensive vacation for yourselves. Remember the hours on end of research? Remember stressing about all the details – renewing your passport, notifying all your bank and credit cards that you’ll be out of the country, deciding what to bring, lining up airport transportation, and a gazillion other things? Now multiply that by the 50 guests that are going to your destination wedding with you! Who do you think they’re going to call with every single question they have about your wedding, flights, hotels, activities, and more? You, of course! And they’ll be calling you with all of this and more while you’re also in the middle of planning the wedding.

Do yourself a favor and get some help. 71% of all destination weddings enlist the assistance of a destination wedding planner. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the other 29% are wishing they had! Destination wedding planners range from those that charge no fees and handle just the travel portion of your wedding vacation for you and your guests to those that charge several thousand dollars and will help you plan every single detail. There’s a destination wedding travel planner out there for every situation and every budget.

Get travel & wedding insurance

Purchase Travel Insurance AND Wedding Insurance

Your health insurance doesn’t work in Mexico. You might be able to file a claim with your health insurance once you return to the US but you must pay for any medical care you receive, on the spot, in Mexico. That can be quite a surprise! Purchase great travel insurance where the health insurance portion is “primary”, meaning that it works immediately when you have an incident. Most travel insurance works secondary to your personal health insurance, which means you must file a claim with your own health insurance and your travel insurance may only kick in once (and if) your primary insurance denies your claim.  

Travel insurance doesn’t cover your wedding. You must purchase a separate wedding insurance policy that covers your destination wedding details. Things like weather so severe that it causes a total cancellation of your wedding, a vendor no show, or theft of your wedding gifts.

Between the flights, hotel, and the wedding itself, you’ve likely spent a lot of money on your destination wedding. Though the proper insurances may set you back several hundred dollars it’s a small investment compared to the significant financial loss you’d face in the event of a complete wedding cancellation or a medical emergency.

Welcome to island time

Island Time. It’s Real And It Will Drive You Crazy!

Sure, island time is awesome when you’re on the beach sipping a margarita and have nothing planned but a day of nothing planned but when you’re needing an answer from your resort it can make you insane waiting on a response. Don’t distress about delayed email and phone response times. At home, we expect immediate responses and want our whole wedding planned down to the detail many months in advance, but in Mexico once you book your wedding date and room block your resort may not circle back to you until 3 – 4 months before your wedding to finalize details. This is totally normal, even though it can be really frustrating for those of us that want everything. RIGHT. NOW.

I recommend keeping a running list of what you want for your wedding and for each category of vendors – photography, flowers, food, bar, entertainment, decorations, etc – so you’re prepared and ready to make decisions once your resort’s on-site coordinator is ready to get down to details with you about your wedding. Be as specific as possible with descriptions if what you’re asking for is not included in the wedding package that you might have chosen. This is a great time to send any pictures you have of those things you want. Alternatively, if you really just can’t wait to get started, put all your notes into one succinct email to your on-site coordinator, listing all of your wedding details and any questions you have, instead of sending multiple emails about multiple subjects.

It’s my hope that these tips will help either point you in the right direction or give you some peace of mind about what you can expect.  You are going to have such a great experience hosting your wedding in Mexico. These memories will be with you, your family, and your friends for a lifetime. Spend time together exploring the jungles, take strolls along the beaches, enjoy the nightlife, take a moment to breath and soak it all in – make the most of your Mexico destination wedding!

Help finance youe wedding dreams with a Honeyfund honeymoon registry.

Enjoy your destination wedding

Bio: Guest blog by Cheryl Bailey, owner of Yellow Umbrella Events & Travel 

Cheryl and her husband, Shea, specialize in destination weddings to Mexico and have been voted Best Destination Wedding Planner in Texas for 5 years in a row. They work one on one with each couple and their wedding guests, helping through the entire event planning and travel process.

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