Once upon a time, destination wedding meant a quick trip to Vegas. No more. In the glitzy 1980s, lavish receptions became de rigueur; at the same time, all-inclusive resorts began offering marriage packages. When those trends collided, a long-distance wedding boom was born. These days, 22 percent of American couples get married away from home. For some, an out-of-town do for two is the antidote to a big event, while for others, it’s a chance to go all out. Either way, a destination celebration is the ultimate adventure in marital bliss.
1 Mark the spot
Take into account where your guests live, and pick an accessible place—with affordable, easy flights—for as many of them as possible. If your family and friends live on the West Coast, perhaps Hawaii is a better option than Italy.
2 Check the requirements
You must spend a certain amount of time in some countries before you can wed . A few days in the Caribbean can be a relaxing pre-ceremony respite, but France’s six-week residency rule may take some of the allure out of a Provence wedding.
3 Save some green
To rein in costs, avoid holidays. Airfares and hotel rates are best midweek or in low season. Caveat emptor: Weather can be iffy in the off months; do your homework so you won’t be surprised to discover that you just booked a Tahitian wedding during typhoon season. If your budget is minuscule, look into the free wedding options offered by many all-inclusive resorts or look into some amazing Florida destination wedding packages.
It can be overwhelming to organize the most important party of your life in a different language and time zone—and calculate its cost in a different currency. Resorts and cruise lines often include planning services in their wedding packages, but if you’re after something unique, you might want to hire your own planner. If so, earmark up to 15 percent of your total budget for one.
5 Consider a takeover
Many places—from tiny inns to luxe beach resorts—allow you to rent out the whole property. Not only will you have privacy and the entire staff at your disposal, but the bulk rate is usually less than what you’d pay if you booked each room separately.
6 Give enough notice
Mail save-the-date announcements eight months in advance. Three to six months out, send guests a packet with travel info, brochures, and any group discounts on air and lodging you’ve arranged. Do this early enough and you’ll have plenty of time to invite B-list guests when the cousins from Kentucky bow out. READ MORE