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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Destination Wedding How-To and Tips

The question's been popped, the ring is on her finger, and the excitement is building.  Now comes the hard part: Planning The Wedding.  If your like many other couples the task seems daunting and often insurmountable.  Well, there is a solution: Have A Destination Wedding.  No, seriously, have a Destination Wedding!!  There is nothing more romantic than being whisked away to an exotic land where you can enjoy both a beautiful wedding AND a beautiful honeymoon!  That's right, you can have them both all wrapped up in one!  Plus, IT'S SOOOOO EASY!  You get to enjoy all the fun parts (like picking a dress and planning your colors) but don't have to do any of the hard stuff (your wedding coordinator abroad does most of the heavy lifting for you!) My husband and I were married in Ocho Rios, Jamaica and here are all the tips and tricks we learned while planning our Destination Wedding:

1.  Set A Budget.  Yeah, yeah I know... This is the "uncool" part.  We all want to have those limitless weddings where you can splurge on everything. But lets face it, that's just not a reality for the majority of us.  Look in your bank account and decide on a limit for your wedding and honeymoon.  Set realistic limits.  You don't want to be paying off your wedding for years, so try not to borrow too much (or any at all!) to pay for it.

2. Decide If You Will Bring Guests.  Your mother has dreamed of this day since you were born and goodness knows your mother-in-law will be up in arms if she misses her baby boy getting married... but can you foot that extra expense?  Do you want an extended family gathering or just a few of the closest family members?  Will your guests pay their own way or will you foot that travel bill?  How long will they stay (through the honeymoon or just the first few days)?  My husband and I decided to go it alone.  We wanted it to be intimate and just the two of us.  Make sure to do what's right for you and put everyone else's needs on the back-burner (this is YOUR day, isn't it?).

3.  Find Your Ideal Honeymoon Resort.   Sounds easy, right?  Well it is.  Find a destination and check out the resort options.  Find one in your honeymoon budget.  Find one UNDER your budget (that way you can splurge on other things).  Look for the following:
     Water- do you want the kind of place that has water slides and lazy rivers?  or maybe you want crystal clear beaches?  Maybe you like water sports and plan on snorkling and diving?  Check the included water amenities and find what's best for you (and your guests if your planning on bringing them)
    Food- All inclusive resorts are SPECTACULAR.  I always try to find resorts with all inclusive packages.  Food purchases on your honeymoon can really add up quickly (and if you plan to consume adult beverages that ups the price significantly if your paying each purchase), that's why all-inclusive resorts really pay off.  They cost more upfront but often end up saving a bunch on food and drink.
   Location- How far is the resort from the airport?  Is it beach-side, mountain-side, or one of those fun new Eco-resorts nestled in back in the middle of no-where?  No matter what you decide, make sure that the travel time and distance is manageable for your time-table and budget.  Pre-purchase connections and travel packages before arriving at your destination. There's nothing worse than trying to hail a cab while holding a wedding dress over your head and pulling a rolling suitcase in the other hand (trust me).
   Rooms- Do you want the entire wedding party together in the same building?  or maybe you want people spaced out throughout a larger resort?  Look for a resort that offers special Honeymoon rooms (these tend to be in the quiet and private parts of the resort where there are fewer children and less noise).

Certain Details in a Honeymoon Room will really help to
make the room feel like more than just a Hotel Room.
Here are a few Resorts that get GREAT reviews:
Riu Montego Bay, Jamaica on TripAdvisor
Sandals Ochi Beach Resort in Ocho Rios, Jamaica on TripAdvisor
Sandos Caracol Eco Resort in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico on TripAdvisor
Now Jade Riviera Cancun, Mexico on TripAdvisor
Azul Beach Resort The Fives Playa Del Carmen, Mexico on TripAdvisor
Moon Palace Cancun, Mexico on TripAdvisor
Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort on TripAdvisor

4. Contact the Resort and ask about there Wedding and Honeymoon Packages.  Some resorts have packages listed right on their webpage, but call anyway.  Often they have additional deals that they can offer you.  Make sure you ask what's included in each package.  My advice is to find a package that covers the most things within your budget.  It's hard to add things on once you arrive at the destination and frankly it's a major buzz-kill to have to stress about extras once your there, so just buy the package with the most things covered and let the Wedding Coordinator take care of details.
Here are some things that you should consider:
    Flowers- You want these included in the price.  There is very little chance that you can ship flowers in or find flowers last minute, so make sure that the essential flowers are covered (boutonnieres, bouquets, etc).  Our resort had different flower packages.  We pre-purchased the package we wanted and when we arrived at the resort we picked the exact colors and styles of the flowers within the package.
    Wedding Music- typically resorts will offer you different methods of music ranging from live band to DJ to CD Player.  Make sure that your package includes whichever method of music you prefer and bring a CD of your music choices if necessary.
    Minister or Officiant-  We didn't travel with our minister (as most people don't on their honeymoon) but most Resorts will have contracts with local ministers or officiants who can legally perform the ceremony in that country.  Make sure to check ahead of time if you have specific religious requirements.  Some Resorts require Christians ceremonies while others are more open to a wide range of options.
   Hair, Make-up, Glamifying-  This seems like a given, but you really do need to check on this.  Some resorts have Spas that will do your make up and hair (and provide your pre-wedding room for bridesmaids, etc), but for an added price.  Better to know and plan for those prices upfront.  Make sure to also bring pictures of what you want your hair and make up to look like.
    Pictures-  You'd think this was given, but you really should check.  Most Resorts offer packages of various numbers of photos and various editing.  Pick what's right for you, but be prepared to add onto the package.  We bought the 25 pictures package, which ended up being a gross underestimation of the number of pictures we were going to want.  We upgraded to the 100 pictures package after seeing the proofs the day after the wedding.

We were able to get a good variety of photos in our package
all of which perfectly portrayed our special day

   Venue-  Most resorts will have multiple venues for weddings (varying in size, atmosphere and capacity).  Make sure that the resort you have chosen has a venue that meets your needs.
   Legal Documents-  This part could be the most complicated part of the entire process.  Talk to your planner (BEFORE arriving at the resort) and make sure that you bring the appropriate documents with you.  When we were married in Jamaica, we had to send them digital copies of a handful of documents weeks before arriving.  This was so that the planner could send the request for a marriage license off and the Jamaican government could approve of the marriage before we arrived.  Then it was just a matter of signatures and document verification.  This part of the process typically costs extra depending on the government your marriage license will go through. Also, make sure that the foreign marriage license will be accepted in your home country.
   Rehearsal Dinner- Most resorts will have on-resort dining facilities and will include a Rehearsal Dinner the night before the ceremony.  Make sure to ask if this is an additional fee and inquire about the menu if you have special requirements.
   Reception- Similar to the venue for your wedding, most resorts will have options for receptions.  My husband and I chose a quiet private dinner, just the two of us, at a special private outdoor table.  We've also see receptions that are sit-down dinners, large parties, gatherings that involve the entire resort, and private affairs.  Pick what's right for you.

Our Private Dinner after the Wedding

5. Buy Your Attire.  Yey!! Dress Shopping!!! Make sure to pick a dress that responds well in the environment you will be getting married in.  Beach weddings in hot climates require much different dresses than those in cold snowy climates.  Consider the surface you'll be walking on, temperature, weather, and how you will keep the attire from getting wrinkles in travel (perhaps getting a portable steamer would be advisable or check if your resort has a service).

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6. Pack Your Bags and Be On Your Way!  Sounded too easy, didn't it?  Well it's not over yet.  Once your at the resort you will most likely have to have at least two meetings with the Wedding Planner.  Expect at least one of those meetings to be longer and the other to be short (just for follow up questions and detail confirmations).  They will walk you through the process, let you pick last minute details (like flowers, music, etc) and will prepare you for the big day (normally walking you to the various venues so that you can inspect them and change your choices if possible).

7.  Get Married.  The big day has arrived.  The details are set, all you have to do is show up when and where the planner has instructed!  You will be walked through each step by a very skilled planner.

8.  Enjoy Your Reception and Send Your Guests Home.  It's TIME FOR THE HONEYMOON!  I think you can wing it from here, after-all, what happens on the honeymoon stays on the honeymoon.  

Did you have a Destination Wedding?  Where was it and what was your experience?  Are you planning a Destination Wedding?  Ask your questions and share your comments below.


  1. I had a destination wedding in Negril, Jamaica last weekend and it was wonderful! We're having a reception at home for family members and friends who didn't come to Jamaica. Great tips. It's also very important to follow up with whatever venue or resort you choose.

    1. Jamaica makes a beautiful venue for a wedding, doesn't it?! We also had a reception at home about a month after we got back. It was a nice way for the entire family to get together to celebrate! Negril is on my list of places to visit! I just LOVE Jamaica!!

  2. My own wedding was small and right down the street from my house but a destination wedding sounds like a lot of fun. Maybe I can talk one of my kids into one when that time comes!

    1. Many resorts actually have renewal ceremonies too! If non of your kids want to do a Destination Wedding, perhaps you can do an anniversary trip! Hubs and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary with a second trip to where we were married :)

  3. Great post! I think it's definitely important to make sure you do your research and have all of your documents in order! You don't want to get there and realize you can't actually get married!

    Molly and Stacie

    1. Or get back and find out that your marriage isn't recognized in your home country! Gotta dot all those i's and cross all those t's!!

  4. Love these tips!! I worked as a concierge for a few years - contacting the hotel is a great idea, because they can work with your budget and ideas to create the perfect wedding (especially sourcing flowers, photographers, etc) :)

    1. It really is very important to make sure you have spoken to your wedding planner ON SITE before you arrive. They can talk you through all the specifics of what the resort offers AND give you tips on things to do back home before coming.


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