There's something utterly romantic about getting married in a far-flung locale, like the sun-drenched beaches of Mexico and the Caribbean. Destination weddings provide a gorgeous, out-of-the-ordinary backdrop to a major event in a couple's journey together.
If you're planning a wedding in another country, you're not alone. Fifteen per cent of Canadians get married abroad each year, according to MoneySense. But, hosting your dream event in an exotic locale takes extra thought and planning compared to getting hitched on your home turf. Here are six things to consider when organizing a destination wedding:
1. Be conscious of costs
According to WeddingBells, the average cost of a wedding in Canada is $30,717. Destination weddings can cost thousands of dollars more, when you consider lodging and other factors unique to getting hitched overseas.
It's good etiquette to be thoughtful about the costs you may be imposing on guests who are invited. Your friends and family will have to pay for airfare and hotel rooms, not to mention the time spent away from work and any costs of childcare while they're away. If the costs to attend will be extravagant for some guests, offer to pay for lodging or airfare. Jody Robbins recommends thinking about whether your destination is affordable for all guests, and notes the bride and groom themselves often get discounts on hotels and other accommodations that guests may not. A travel agent or wedding coordinator at the destination can help you secure group rates and discounts for your guests.
2. Research legal issues
If your worst nightmare is arriving back in Canada and realizing your wedding overseas wasn't official, then you'll want to spend time researching legal issues before you announce you're having a destination wedding. Different countries have different laws about the legality and certification of marriages, particular if the marrying parties are not citizens or residents of that country. Do thorough research ahead of time to prevent any mishaps or disappointments later on.
3. Send out the save the date as early as possible
Your guests will need time to purchase airfare, get time off work and plan their trip for your destination wedding, so send out the save-the-date at least a year in advance, Canadian Living recommends. Be sure to include details on the exact location of the wedding and whether plus-ones and children are invited.
4. Practice good communication
Scouting out your wedding destination ahead of time helps you nail down details of the day, but making such a trip isn't always feasible. If you're planning your destination wedding sight-unseen, so to speak, make sure you are in regular communication with all involved parties overseas. If the resort or other locale where you're having the event has a wedding coordinator, touch base regularly to ensure all planning is going smoothly. Use video chat or other apps to connect with florists, bakers, musicians and any other people who have a role to play in the wedding planning.
"Strive to make guests feel like they're on vacation."
5. Makes things easy on guests
Guests attending a destination wedding are going above and beyond the normal call of duty when it comes to weddings, so make sure you're making things as easy as possible for them once they arrive. Send out all the information attendees will need to enjoy their trip, like clear directions for getting around and details on local attractions. And once guests arrive, strive to make them feel like they're on vacation. Don't fill the week's schedule with lots wedding-related events, Vaughn Barry Photography advises. Your guests should have lots of free time to relax, unwind and treat themselves before and after your big day.
6. Explore travel insurance options
Mishaps and unexpected events can complicate home-based weddings, but can be particularly stressful for weddings held in another country. Consider purchasing GMS TravelStar® Travel Insurance for your destination wedding. The plan includes emergency medical, trip and baggage coverage, so you can have peace of mind preparing for your big day.
Keep the tips above in mind to have the destination wedding of your dreams.