Welcome to another heart-to-heart about weddings! Today, let’s talk about something extra close to my heart – the infamous destination wedding. I know, it might seem like a big leap, but trust me, there are some very compelling reasons to consider saying “I do” in a faraway place. Before we dive in, let’s start by addressing the first 2 common questions I hear about destination weddings.
What are destination weddings?
To keep it simple, a destination wedding is a wedding held at a destination other than the immediate area where you live. It can be as close as a different part of your state – another state entirely. Or as far away as an entirely different country across the world. Everyone’s vision of a destination wedding is unique – and there’s no right or wrong answer here. Wherever lights you up is a great place to start!
Now, here’s the second question that often pops up in conversations about destination weddings: “Are they selfish?”
Are destination weddings selfish?
I know many couples that have opted out of doing a destination wedding, when it was their biggest desire, for fear of being regarded as selfish. While some may argue that opting for a destination celebration might seem like a personal choice that puts the couple’s desires above the convenience of their guests. I have a different view. So, let’s explore destination weddings in more depth – and you can decide this answer for yourself.
How To Know If A Destination Wedding Is Right For You
1. Stress-Free Planning
Planning your wedding – the thought alone can be overwhelming, right? Well, what if I told you that many destinations often have venues and locations that take care of everything for you? Picture this: you, as a hands-off bride, stress-free, and decision-making-free, enjoying your big day without a worry in the world.
Hands-Off Bliss: If the idea of being a hands-off bride resonates with you, it’s totally doable. Many popular destinations offer wedding packages that handle every detail. From the ceremony setup to the reception arrangements, consider it all taken care of. Your stress levels? Minimal. Your job? To simply savor every moment.
Your Creative Touch: Now, here’s the beauty of it – while most destination wedding packages traditionally offer very simple and basic packages, you’re the architect of your dream day. So, while you can be as hands-off as you’d like. You also have the choice to be as hands-on as you’d like. So, if the standard options don’t quite match your vision, you have the freedom to upgrade or bring in your own decor. It’s like a DIY paradise for couples who want to infuse their unique style into the celebration. (That’s what we did for our wedding day! But, more on that in a bit…)
Things To Be Mindful Of: Now, if you’re tying the knot in a country that’s unfamiliar to you. One in which you’re not intimately familiar with the culture, customs and lifestyle, or work ethic. Then here is where I strongly advise that you consider working with a destination wedding specialist. Working with someone experienced in your chosen location is what truly turns the overwhelming into the effortlessly stress-free.
Speaking from experience, planning a wedding in a new place can be daunting. Navigating the ins and outs of all-inclusive resorts can be a maze in and of itself. Our destination wedding planner was a godsend. And I don’t say that lightly. There were countless nuances we never would have thought of, potential huge mistakes we could have made, and problems we wouldn’t have known how to solve if we had gone solo. Having that expert guidance brought unparalleled peace of mind.
2. Destination Weddings Cut Down on Your Guest List
Refining that guest list, ah, it’s truly an art, isn’t it? The delicate dance between desires and realities. If you find yourself getting caught in the web of too many family and friends, a destination wedding might just be your secret weapon. But, fair warning, this choice comes with its own set of considerations. Let’s keep it real and explore how a destination wedding can be both a pro and a bit of a con in the guest list trimming saga.
The Pro: Have a sprawling list of friends, family, and long-lost acquaintances? Having a hard time keeping your guest list at bay? Or feeling the pressure to rein it in? This is where a destination wedding can be great. It becomes your magical filter, effortlessly trimming down the guest list. It transforms your celebration into an intimate gathering of those who matter most – quality over quantity, always!
The Con: But, and there’s always a but, isn’t there? While it gracefully trims the list, a destination wedding introduces a wild card – the unpredictability of who can or can’t make the journey. Some loved ones might have constraints, whether health, financial, or a simple case of not having caught the wanderlust bug. So, it does have to be okay with you that some will likely not be in attendance.
Bottom Line: If there are specific individuals whose absence would be deeply felt, you might want to take a pause. Consider their circumstances and whether they can be a part of your celebration, even from afar, if necessary. It’s all about finding that sweet spot between your dream guest list and the practicalities of your chosen destination.
3. They CAN Be Cheaper: The Balance of Budget and Aesthetics
The topic everyone wonders about – is a destination wedding cheaper? Well, let’s talk dollars and decor, my friend.
The Potential for Savings: Here’s the truth – destination weddings certainly can be budget-friendly if you’re willing to embrace simplicity. Imagine a beach ceremony with minimal decor, a simple yet elegant affair that keeps costs in check. Stick to the basics, and you’ll find your wedding budget breathing a sigh of relief.
But, the Strong Caveat: Now, let’s add a hefty dose of reality to the mix. Yes, sticking to the most basic options can save you tons of money! But if the aesthetic or quality of your wedding is a non-negotiable, then as I discovered firsthand, destination weddings can surprise you on the cost front. If you have a vision of a dreamy setup or specific aesthetic, you might find yourself upgrading packages or diving into the world of DIY. And hey, if you’re like me, you might end up packing 14 suitcases full of decor for that perfect Jamaican celebration – talk about a DIY adventure! (But, also, no regrets! Ha!)
In Short: Destination weddings can most certainly be a more cost-effective option if you’re willing to embrace simplicity – as I learned most destination brides are. But, if you’re anything like me and your heart craves a certain aesthetic, be prepared to invest a bit more. Our wedding was gorgeous and it felt uniquely ours! But, let’s just say, budget-friendly isn’t exactly the first term that comes to mind.
4. Geographical Equalizer: Bringing Everyone Together
Alright, picture this: Your family is scattered across the West Coast, his spans the East Coast, you call Texas home, and you have friends from all corners of the globe. Now, the million-dollar question – where in the world do you have the wedding? Another magical reason for a destination wedding!
The Neutral Meeting Point: A destination wedding creates a neutral meeting point for everyone to gather. No more playing favorites with hometowns or stressing over whose family’s turn it is to host. Instead, you choose a location that becomes a canvas for your love story.
A Gathering of Hearts: Whether your loved ones reside in the U.S. or across the world, a destination wedding invites them all to embark on a shared adventure. It’s a chance for families and friends from diverse locations to come together, not just to witness your union but to share in the joy of exploring a new place and making lasting memories.
5. Two Celebrations, One Trip: Wedding and Honeymoon Unite
Let’s break down the genius move of bundling your wedding and honeymoon into one epic adventure!
Seamless Transition: Imagine this – saying “I do” on the North side of Jamaica and then seamlessly gliding into honeymoon mode on the South side. No airports, no exhausting travel – just a smooth glide from “I do” to “Let’s relax.” It’s the ultimate stress-free transition that helps you soak in every precious moment.
Cost Savings: Let’s talk practicality – bundling can also mean savings! Some resorts offer wedding and honeymoon packages that might be more budget-friendly than organizing them separately. It opens up discount opportunities you wouldn’t have otherwise had.
6. Priceless Memories
With all that said, this is my personal favorite aspect of destination weddings – the intimacy and memories that simply wouldn’t be the same going with a traditional celebration. This was the main reason I chose a destination wedding for myself!
The Traditional vs. Destination Contrast: Now, don’t get me wrong, traditional weddings have their own unique charm, no doubt. But haven’t we all heard the infamous “wedding days fly by” saying? Well, with a destination wedding, you’re able to do something about that.
Extended Celebration Magic: Here’s the beauty of it – instead of the typical one-afternoon celebration, a destination wedding transforms your special day into several days (or more!) of pure celebration and vacation with your favorite people. No rushing, no frantic attempts to say hi to everyone, and definitely no FOMO on your own wedding day. You get to ease into your wedding day, knowing you have a full 3-5+ days with all your loved ones.
Beyond the Typical Wedding Day: With a destination wedding, you still get to do all the traditional wedding day shenanigans. But here’s the kicker – you also get to weave in extra layers of adventures and memory-making experiences. For instance, at our wedding, we not only had the traditional welcome dinner and wedding day, but we also had multiple group dinner parties, karaoke & game nights, river tubing adventures, ATV riding excursions, fishing, golfing, scuba diving – the list goes on. It’s not just a wedding; it’s a full-blown celebration extravaganza.
Amidst all of that, you still have the luxury of sitting down intimately with your nearest and dearest. Breakfasts, lunches and dinners all become cherished moments to catch up and create even more special memories.
A Week of Priceless Memories: The number of memories made during that week with our favorite people is, hands down, priceless to me. I wouldn’t have changed it for anything!
Bonus Advice When Planning Your Destination Wedding
Before we wrap things up, I wanted to share one final thought. I feel I’d be doing y’all a disservice if I didn’t share this last piece of advice. It comes from being both a seasoned wedding photographer and a destination bride myself.
Wedding Memories: If you know your wedding memories will hold a special place in your heart, my strongest piece of advice is to invest in a photographer who not only lights you up but whose work genuinely makes your heart skip a beat. If having beautifully and creatively captured memories is a top priority for you, I would strongly advise you to steer away from defaulting and relying on a photographer/videographer included in your resort’s wedding package. (That is, of course, unless their work lights you up! Then go with your heart!)
If you’re content with trusting the quality and outcome of your images to a stranger, or are thrilled just having snapshots of the day, then this might not be as critical for you. But, for those of you who deeply value the artistry behind your wedding day photos, consider this a gentle nudge to prioritize quality over convenience. Bare minimum, make sure to take a deep dive into the wedding imagery they produce and be sure you’d be happy to relive your wedding day through their lens and eyes forever.
My Experience and Regret: I speak from a place of experience and, yes, regret. Photography was my non-negotiable, so I flew my chosen destination wedding photographer from the U.S. to Jamaica, happily covering all her travel expenses. Because I knew I could trust my precious memories with her. However, I made a different decision for videography, settling for the resort’s videographer. A decision I genuinely and deeply regret. They missed crucial moments I believe no professional should have missed. And while guest phone videos captured some of those moments, the creativity and quality simply don’t match. If top-tier professionalism is vital to you, plan to invest in a photographer/videographer who aligns with your vision.
Vendor Priorities: This piece of advice extends beyond photography as well. Take a moment to identify the vendors that can truly make or break your big day. Whether it’s a DJ for an epic party or any other essential vendor, prioritize those who align with your vision. Reflect on what will truly enhance your wedding experience and make informed decisions to avoid any regrets later on.
Learn from My Experience: Here’s a piece of my own journey – DJ stress was real for me. Despite emphasizing my vision for an epic party, on the night of, we somehow ended up with a sound tech who had no idea what he was doing. Thankfully, I had listened to my gut when it told me to create a backup Spotify playlist a few weeks prior – just in case. And we were able to just have him play that instead. It was still an epic night, but there’s a part of me that’s still deeply disappointed.
All that to say, take this as a gentle reminder: learn from my experience and ensure the vendors crucial to your vision are precisely what you desire.
Invest in your memories, prioritize quality where it matters most, and make choices that resonate with your heart. You deserve a celebration filled with unforgettable moments and beautifully captured memories.
I know this has been a long article. But, I sincerely hope it’s been insightful!
I hope it’s given you a better perspective on what a destination wedding could look and feel like. That way you can confidently decide for yourself if it’s the right choice for you!
Whether you’re ready to dive into the details of your destination wedding and have questions for me – or are interested in chatting about your own destination wedding photography, I invite you to reach out. Your love story deserves to be captured with the same passion and creativity that makes it uniquely yours.
Until next time, happy planning!