This entry is from our Expert Guest series where wedding and honeymoon professionals share their best tips on creating memories that last a lifetime.
Considering an all-inclusive destination wedding? It’s a smart choice for couples, with options for any budget. Not only will you receive a ceremony and reception within your selected wedding package, but you will also have a full wedding department working to ensure your special day runs smoothly. How do you choose your resort for an all-inclusive destination wedding? Follow below for some helpful tips while you begin the beginning research phase:
What Does All-inclusive Mean?
It all begins with finding your dream resort. Do some initial research, and discuss with your partner what you’re looking for in your ideal location. Write down a list of your wants and needs from your resort, and not just for your wedding, but for your vacation as well! One of the huge advantages of choosing an all-inclusive resort is that all of the food and drinks are covered in the cost of the room. Leave your card in the room after arrival, and just keep some cash handy to tip your favorite servers.
You and your guests will have access to stunning pool complexes, gorgeous spas, unforgettable beaches, and so much more. Depending on your resort you may have access to nightclubs, music lounges, swim-up bars, casinos, supervised kid’s and teen clubs, and even full-scale waterparks. And of course, you can expect delicious a-la-carte restaurants too, where you can dine your way through a variety of cuisines ranging from French to Mexican, or even Spanish tapas or Brazilian steakhouses.
Choose Your Destination
Before you consider resorts, you may want to ponder your destination first. There are beautiful all-inclusive resorts spanning the Caribbean Islands, and in Mexico on both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts. Not all destinations are created equal though, and where you choose to get married will play heavily in the costs associated with your big day.
In Mexico, you’ll find the most resorts, and since the popular wedding areas are very competitive, you can find the best room and flight rates here. Honestly, you could have a lavish luxury wedding where no detail is left out in Cancun at a fraction of the cost of the more expensive islands like Hawaii or the Bahamas.
The other most popular Caribbean locations are the Dominican Republic and Jamaica. They feature numerous all-inclusive resorts that can satisfy any budget. Amongst both island nations, you’ll find laidback island cultures, and resorts set along some of the most famous beaches in the world. Of course, you may find affordable hotels amongst the smaller Caribbean islands too, like in Saint Lucia or St. Martin. However, flight options are minimal and could be much more costly to travel too, for both you and your guests.
Consider Your Guest’s Budgets
That brings us to the considerations each couple should put into place for what your guests will spend. With a destination wedding, it is most common for your guests to pay for their flights and rooms, in order to attend your wedding. The great thing is they get a full-blown vacation. But don’t be surprised if many guests can’t attend due to budget restraints or even calendar conflicts. This is common, so don’t be offended, simply focus on celebrating with those who can make it.
You also must figure out the budget for each guest, with a ballpark figure of cost per room night. Sure, you could book the most luxurious all-inclusive resort there is. But if it’s out of your guest’s budget, then you may end up with no guests! If you’re working with a travel agency, your travel expert will be able to provide you with a variety of resorts that fall within any budget, which will give you a realistic idea of costs for both you and your guests.
Where Are You Traveling From?
When choosing your resort for an all-inclusive destination wedding, another important factor to consider is where the majority of your guests are traveling from. If your family and friends are all from California, it may make the most sense to book Puerto Vallarta or Los Cabos for your ceremony. If guests are coming from the east coast, there are plenty of economical flight options available to popular locations like Cancun, Punta Cana, and Montego Bay.
It’s safe to say that the smaller Caribbean islands can be fairly hard to get to. There may be awkward flight schedules, long layovers, or limited offerings in general. Some airlines only offer flights to these islands on certain days of the week. So take this into account as you make your resort selection.
Imagine Your Ceremony Venue
When you think about your ceremony venue, what do you imagine? Do you imagine a classical soiree, with a long wedding dress train? Then consider all-inclusive resorts with epic ballrooms or rooftop terraces. Do you envision a beach ceremony with your toes in the sand? Then choose a less-formal venue and pick a resort that has the most picturesque beach, or one of the many wedding gazebos with ocean views.
Think about your resort as your wedding backdrop. What would you like in the background of your wedding photos? Resorts can fit anything you have in mind. From the iconic sunsets of Negril, Jamaica, to the jungle surroundings of Tulum and Riviera Maya, in the Mexico Caribbean. Just don’t be surprised if some local wildlife, like monkeys or coati, shows up to photobomb your photos!
What You Get with A Wedding Package
All-inclusive wedding packages range from small elopements and intimate ceremonies with just a few guests to large all-encompassing wedding packages that include everything you could dream off. Your average resort will share a PDF featuring all of the available packages starting from lowest priced to highest.
Think of your wedding package as a tool, not as the end-all-be-all definition of a destination wedding. Customization is always welcomed, and extra decor and add-ons like live music and DJs can always be purchased for an additional charge. But today’s all-inclusive wedding departments have thought of it all, and you just may find the package you want which already includes everything you needed. Typical inclusions feature receptions, food, ceremony venues, an officiant, ceremony decor, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
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About Destify: Destify is your leading destination wedding experts. We help thousands of couples host the wedding of their dreams every year and specialize in all-inclusive destination weddings to Mexico and the Caribbean. Garrett Nutgrass leads the official Destify blog, a top-rated destination wedding blog, designed for couples to research wedding planning no matter how far along they are in their process.