Considering a destination wedding, and want to know what you might be in for? Recent bride Norah Martin guest blogs with tips from her first-hand experience of how to stay sane – and thrive! – during your destination wedding planning experience.
After all the excitement of getting engaged dies down, the big question that you (and others) will ask: where and when are you to get married? With millions of options available, having some clear ideas in mind is essential. Personally, my fiancé and I always knew we wanted to get married on a beach, all we had to do was choose one. We settled on Bora Bora, and slowly started planning our own destination wedding.
While most people still associate destination weddings with purely exotic locations, a destination wedding is usually defined as any wedding held outside your home country. Newlyweds also often choose to spend their honeymoon at the same place. Exotic, romantic, and touching as the destination wedding may seem, it can be a nightmare to organize. To take care of all the smallest details and organize a wedding is challenging enough, without doing it from a distance. In order to avoid a complete meltdown, here are some tips on how to survive your destination wedding.
One of the things that surprised me early on in the planning process was the fact that we could have a four-day weekend away with a dozen of our close friends at the same price as a reception for a hundred people in a luxury restaurant. I’d always thought that with the cost of the plane tickets and accommodation at a high-end resort – plus all the added expense of the reception itself, our outfits, the flowers and the music – would be something we never could afford. It quickly turned out I was completely wrong. If you are not a fan of big weddings, a destination wedding with a smaller group could be the perfect option for you. Bear in mind that having a destination wedding for a hundred people can be very, very costly.
If your guests agree to take care of their own flights out, you can easily manage to arrange the accommodation. Most hotels have wedding packages, and you can save a significant amount of money that way. Airlines sometimes also offer discounts for larger groups, so make sure you look into all options. The flights and the accommodation are the most expensive items on your wedding check-list, and once you have agreed on this, you can move on to items such as the dress, the food and the music. As with all weddings, there might be a last-minute guest cancellation, which will pose a bigger issue when you have a room booked for your guest. It happened to us too, as my sister went into labor a day before we were flying to Tahiti. The only piece of advice I can give you on this point is not to stress about it, as the hotel might deduct the price of the unused room.
If you arrange for your friends to pay for any part of the trip, don’t be offended if some of them can’t make it. You never know how people are with money, and imposing additional costs on them is never a good idea. Discuss the finances with them openly, and see if you have room in your own budget to help them out.
As you will be juggling a lot of different parts of the organization, one of those important things that might slip your mind is the weather. Do your research and find out what kind of weather you might be expecting, and make sure you don’t arrange for your wedding in the middle of monsoon season, or when it might be exceedingly hot. Checking the weather forecast regularly will ensure you and your guests know what to pack.
Making It Legal
Another important factor to keep in mind is that different countries have different requirements when it comes to marriage licenses, and you may be required to reside in the country of the wedding for some time before you can tie the knot. Make sure you do your research beforehand, and ensure your overseas marriage will be valid in your home country as well.
The most difficult aspect of a destination wedding is taking care of the “smaller” details – the food, the flowers, the band, the drinks. It’s most likely that you will not be able to taste any of the food to be served at the reception, nor will you sample the wine beforehand. Flowers and other necessities are very expensive to ship, so the easiest and least time-consuming approach would be to arrange everything with the venue itself. Aim to choose a hotel with experience in hosting and organising destination weddings. They can arrange all the smaller details for you; all you have to do is show up. Of course, you can be as involved in the process as you like, but remember that most of the control will be out of your hands. If you are uncomfortable with this, you might want to reconsider you wedding location.
Ask for Help
Apart from the destination aspect of your wedding, you will also have to arrange your dress, your hair, make-up, and so on. There will come a point when you will feel overwhelmed, and this is the time to ask for help. Different members of your wedding party may have different skills: you can arrange for one of them to take the pictures, or one of your talented girlfriends can do your make-up. This is especially useful when it comes to things you wouldn’t want to hire someone you have no experience with – you hair and make-up most of all.
What most people tend to forget is that a destination wedding is supposed to be relaxed and refreshing, and the entire point is to get away and enjoy the location and your pending nuptials. While I was personally freaking out every single step of the way, about every little detail, once we arrived on Bora Bora, I saw that I should have approached the entire event differently. I could have saved myself a lot of anguish if I had realized in time that I needed to relax . The truth is that the most popular exotic locations for destination weddings – such as Tahiti, Hawaii, Mexico – all have resorts that are fully prepared for these types of events, and with just a little input on your part, they can do wonders. Today I am a firm believer in leaving the organization to the experts, and saving yourself the stress. Select your guests wisely, leave most of the organizing to others, and breathe deeply.
Before you set out on planning your wedding, take some time, as a couple, to determine what you want on your special day, and take it from there.
Norah Martin had the privilege of getting married on the wonderful island of Bora Bora. If you are looking for a similar experience, you can browse some Tahitian wedding packages here.