Why consider having a destination wedding?
Getting married in a beautiful and romantic destination is what every engaged couple dreams of. In addition to making all your dreams come true, a destination wedding is also:
Most resorts have full-time, onsite wedding planners, arranging every aspect of your special day and leaving you nothing to do but relax.
Having your family and special friends around you in a beautiful destination will create a celebration you’ll never forget.
Destination weddings are often less expensive than traditional weddings due to their smaller size. In addition, you’re already in the destination where you plan to spend your honeymoon, and many resorts offer special complimentary weddings or affordable wedding packages. You’ll also spend a lot less by choosing an all-inclusive resort where much of the food and beverage expense is part of the lodging costs that will be assumed by your guests. You can also save more by having your wedding during the slow season in the destination you choose.
With many of today’s families spread out throughout the United States, they’ll have to travel to your wedding anyway, so why not have them travel to a beautiful and fun destination instead!?
Planning your destination wedding
Here are some planning tips to help you have the perfect wedding in paradise.
Pick your paradise
Choosing where to have your wedding involves several things to think about:
- What kind of things do you like to do?
Do you love the beach, but your fiancé would prefer to stay in the U.S.? It’s your special day; where do you want to spend it together?
- What are the travel plans of you and your guests?
You may be spending a week or more, but many of your guests may be staying for a shorter length of time. Keep the travel distance and time in mind when choosing your destination.
- What’s your budget — and the budget of your guests?
You don’t have to have your budget finalized, but remember that a wedding in Las Vegas will cost less than one in Jamaica, simply because of travel costs.
- What are the entry requirements?
Government legislation now requires all people traveling to and from the U.S. or Canada to have a passport.
- What are the marriage requirements?
Some destinations may have residency requirements, meaning that you have to be in the destination for a set number of days before you can get married. Other requirements may include blood tests, legal documentation that you are indeed single, etc.
Select your resort
Now that you know where you are going, choose where you want to stay.
- What kind of wedding do you want?
Some resorts are lavishly elegant and some are totally laid-back. Some are intimate and some larger and self-contained. Some are sleek and modern, while others are more traditional. In addition, most resorts offer civil ceremonies, but some resorts can arrange a religious ceremony. Whatever your image of your wedding, you’re sure to find the perfect backdrop to your special day.
- All-inclusive or not?
At an all-inclusive resort, meals and beverages are included in the price of your stay. So if your guests are also staying at the same resort, this can help defray the costs of a wedding reception.
- Consider your guest list.
Some resorts are for adults only, some are for couples only, and some allow children of all or varying ages. Know who you will be inviting to your wedding before you decide where it will be.
- Know the requirements.
If planning on taking advantage of the complimentary weddings that many resorts offer, know that some resorts may ask you to stay a certain number of nights or reserve a certain number of rooms. Also, check to see if there are any additional fees.
- Mix it up!
Want to get married at a romantic couples-only resort but invite your five-year-old godchild to be the ring bearer? Some adults-only resorts also have sister resorts that allow children, so you can get married at one and honeymoon at another.
Reserve your trip
Reserve online or call one of our United Vacations specialists at 1-877-777-3710, or contact your professional travel agent. They'll help you with reserving flights and your resort for you and all your guests, if needed. Once everything is reserved, they'll put you in touch with the resort's onsite wedding planner to start planning the details of your dream wedding!
Things to consider
Be flexible and plan ahead
Have several options for the date and time of your wedding. This way, you’ll be much more likely to be able to have your wedding at the resort of your choosing. And make sure the date is at least six months away.
Make the details clear. It is customary that the bride and groom pay for the accommodations for their attendants, and some wedding couples may pay for travel costs, as well. Decide what you are able to do and make these details clear to your attendants when you ask them to be part of your wedding.
Send out "save the date" cards
With traditional weddings, invites are usually sent out 4-6 weeks in advance, but for a destination wedding, that isn’t enough time for people to make their travel arrangements, ask for time off from work, etc. It is recommended to send out the save-the-date cards several months in advance.
Carry on your dress
Many brides take their wedding dress on the plane as carry-on luggage, but BE SURE it is an approved size, as some airplanes do not have extra room for oversized carry-on pieces. It is advised to make arrangements with the airline in advance. Some airlines allow the large "coat closets" in the first-class cabin area to be used for bridal gown storage.
Rent the tux there
Tuxedos can be brought along, but are usually rented at the wedding location (check with your resort). If you are bringing a rented tuxedo, have one of your guests bring it back and return it for you.
Send the rest
Packing for a wedding AND a honeymoon can add up to a lot of luggage. A good suggestion is to have some of your guests bring some items with them or ship items to the resort (if allowed). If you are shipping anything, make sure you leave extra time and use an overnight service, such as FedEx, not regular mail.
Bring copies of everything
Typically, most countries require that documents be sent and paperwork be completed before your arrival. If this is the case, do NOT send documents by regular mail. Mail service throughout much of Mexico and the Caribbean can be extremely slow. Rely on fax transmissions and overnight services such as FedEx for delivery of papers. Also, bring extra copies of all paperwork to your destination, just in case.