Heading overseas to get hitched is a growing trend for happily engaged couples. Perhaps you’ve always dreamed of getting married on a tropical island; maybe you’d like to return to the holiday spot where you first met to tie the knot; or you might be an ex-pat keen to marry on your home soil. Whatever the reason and wherever the location, we’ve pulled together a few simple tips to make sure your destination wedding is everything you imagined.
- Plan early
It pays to start planning early, especially if you have your heart set on a particular venue. Popular venues and accommodation can and will book out in advance, particularly during peak seasons. Just remember that a destination’s peak season might be different to back home. Hawaii, for example, tends to be busiest during New Zealand’s winter season.
- Planner vs no planner
Planning any wedding can be a bit of a daunting task, but your destination wedding doesn’t have to be. An on-site wedding planner will have all the expertise and local knowledge to make planning the wedding much easier, plus they’ll do a bunch of the logistical legwork for you too. Just be sure to ask lots of questions and read your contract so you know what they will and won’t offer. Will they be there on the day? Do they have preferred suppliers that they deal with? How many other weddings will they be assisting during the week of your wedding?
Prefer to do it yourself? Do your research and get to know your destination as much as you can. Check for large events or holidays that may affect your plans – or make them more expensive! Trip Advisor can be a helpful tool for getting some honest feedback from other travellers too.
- Keep guests in the know
A well-informed guest is happy guest. Ensure they have enough time to plan to be there and keep them updated with key details like the welcome party the night before. It’s important to give them as much notice as you can; most couples will send save-the-date cards 12-18 months in advance to allow guests enough time to save and arrange time off work. Having a wedding website is useful for keeping everyone informed as the big day approaches.
- Think of your guests
Having a destination wedding often means you’ll have fewer guests (which can be a blessing!) but it may also mean that some of your nearest and dearest won’t be able to make it. How would you feel if Grandma couldn’t make be there? What about your heavily pregnant best friend from primary school?
- Have a holiday
Destination weddings are the perfect opportunity for your family and friends to bond while having fun exploring the sights. Think about whether you want to organise a tour group, a shopping expedition, or other fun get-togethers in the lead-up to or following the wedding – just take note of number 3 and let guests know early so they can plan to be there.
- Getting there
How easy is it to get to your chosen wedding location? Will it require flights, boat transfers and airport transfers to the hotel? How many flights a week are there to your destination? Working with a travel agent might be worth considering to help guests coordinate their travel arrangements. Some will also offer group discounts and the ability for guests to pay off their bookings in instalments.
- Travel insurance
Insurance is one of those things you never need until you need it, and if you do you’ll be thankful you have it. Your wedding plans will ideally go without a hitch and you won’t need to use your travel insurance but it definitely pays to be prepared. As soon as you have your plans locked in, make sure you get comprehensive insurance cover that covers loss of deposits as well.
- Don’t forget the paperwork
You don’t want to go through all the effort of planning a destination wedding only to find out afterwards that you’re not legally married! Some destinations make it easy for out-of-towners to get legally married there but some will require a bit more notice or paperwork. Be sure to do your homework.