11 Painstakingly Honest Things No One Tells You About a Destination Wedding
May 10, 2019
Are you in that nebulous time between getting engaged and figuring out if a destination wedding is right for you? We’re sure you have a ton of questions! While destination weddings are amazing, you will find that not all of the answers to your questions will be exactly what you wanted to hear. Before you make the decision to have a destination wedding, we’re here to be straightforward with you and give you some hard truths that you will need to consider. If you can accept these, then you’re ready to have an awesome destination wedding!
- Your wedding package isn’t free.
Yep, that is right. The days of having a free wedding no longer exist. Do some resorts advertise for a free wedding package? Sure! But it is important to keep in mind that there are restrictions to these packages as well as add on costs, so the chances that you and your group actually fit into the qualifications of a free wedding are slim. It’s safe to say that nowadays, nothing is free. Be prepared to pay for your wedding, just as you would for any other services, but find peace in knowing that your wedding will still cost a fraction of what it would in the continental US.
- Not all of your guests are going to make it.
This one is tough to swallow for some couples. Of course, when couples first begin telling friends and family that they plan to get hitched on the beach somewhere a million times as beautiful as what could maybe be found at home, everyone, and I mean everyone, will say they are joining. However, reality will quickly set in and things like time off of work, a couple extra thousand dollars, and sacrificing the opportunity for another vacation causes a lot of people to RSVP regretfully with a no. The best advice we can give couples is to go into a destination wedding with the mindset that not everyone will come, and this includes some of your nearest and dearest friends and family. While it is really tough to not take it personally, remember that this day is about you and the beginning of your chapter as newlyweds. As a rule of thumb, plan on about 50% of guests you invite being able to join. Of course, if you pick a more affordable time of year that doesn’t interfere with major holidays or vacation season, you may find that more guests are able (and more willing) to commit to joining the celebration.
- Plan on staying at least 4 nights in destination.
Once in a blue moon we get couples who are truly looking for a quick in and out experience with their destination wedding. They want to fly in the day before the wedding, and fly out a day or two after. Whether the reasoning be for costs, saving time for a separate honeymoon, or simply to keep it simple, there are a few important thing to remember. Ultimately, couples must always arrive at the very least, 2 business days before their ceremony date. If you are considering a legal ceremony, resorts will require at least 3 business days of arrival in advance. The reason for this is simple, time is everything. You need time to meet with your onsite team to review the details. In addition, it is always best to budget extra time for flight delays or cancellations. For the legal ceremonies, you need time to complete your papers and participate in any national requirements for your wedding.
Sunscape Dorado Pacifico Ixtapa
- It is easier to take care of your legal paperwork in the USA.
This has never been more true. The type of ceremony for destination weddings is always one of the most confusing topics at the beginning. Many couples ask, well, why wouldn’t I just take care of the legal paperwork in destination? Some may say, We really want our wedding date to be our ‘actual’ wedding date. While that all absolutely makes sense, we’re here to say think twice! As mentioned above, hosting a legal ceremony in destination requires an advance arrival which means more time and money out of your pocket. In addition, legal ceremonies require mailing of confidential and fragile documents such as birth certificates to be sent to another county. Keep in mind, you may also need your legal paperwork translated to English (more time and money). For all destinations, you can expect an additional fee for a legal minister, and if you want to get married in Mexico, don’t forget about the mandatory blood testing that is required for legal ceremonies. Last of all, a legal ceremony is required to be performed in the national language, and it offers no opportunity to use your own officiant or personalize your wedding day. Basically, I suggest setting a date day to visit your local county clerk to arrange for your legal marriage to be documented and taken care of here at home. Trust me when I say, you’ll thank us later!
- The weather will never be ‘perfect’.
You read that right, and it’s okay to take a few seconds to have a mini-meltdown. Of course, no matter when or where, every bride wants ideal, picture perfect, make-your-skin-glow weather. The truth is that even in the Caribbean, this likely won’t happen. You are against mother nature in one way or another, but this all boils down to your perspective on things. Will the sun be too bright for photos? Maybe, but just be sure to schedule your wedding ceremony for 4pm or later depending on the time of year and sunset. Will the wind be obtrusive and blow your hair every which way? For sure, but if you style your hair up, and keep this in mind for your reception décor details, you won’t notice a thing. Will it rain? Nothing is impossible, but remember you are in a tropical climate and rain might take place more in one time of year than another. Will you sweat? Probably, but you didn’t pick to get married in a destination for the cold weather, right?
- There is no such thing as a private beach ceremony.
Few and far between will you truly find a private beach ceremony. I’ll keep this one simple: be prepared for onlookers. Your onlookers may be hanging out on their patio, or in a beach chair 20 yards away, and they will all be thinking the same thing, “Wow, how beautiful.” While I know that every bride would much rather prefer that strangers aren’t joining as guests, just remember that this is simply a part of the destination wedding experience. 99% of the time, these on lookers are respectful and you likely won’t even notice because you will be completely and utterly fixated on the fact you are about to marry your person. If you have nerves regarding the thought of strangers watching, or walking near your ceremony for photography purposes, I would encourage you to firmly express this while you are at your onsite meeting with your hotel coordinator. Ask if it is possible to have someone available to re-direct beach walkers to go around the ceremony rather than behind it. Just remember, the later in the day your ceremony takes place, the less amount of people on the beach.
Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica
- You should still tip the staff, even if you are at an all-inclusive resort.
Many times you will hear that gratuity is included in an all inclusive resort, which is semi-correct. I am here to tell you that when you realize what your ‘included gratuity’ boils down to as take home pay for the staff (practically nothing), you will quick realize that tipping extra, makes a world’s difference. The rule of thumb is, if you would tip the vendor in the United States wedding, you should ideally tip your vendor in destination. The Weddings by Funjet Team has an entire blog regarding who to tip and what to tip which can be found here.
- The wedding couple doesn’t stay for free.
Sad, I know, but it is ultimately wishful thinking that your travel costs would be free because you are getting married. It seems to be a common myth that couples travel for free if they bring other guests to the resort for their wedding. While you can potentially earn cash back, let’s remember that the hotels will not be footing the bill for you just because you are bringing them some business. At the end of the day, the 40+/- guests that join your celebration are not the reason the hotels can keep their doors open. Instead of offering a complimentary trip to a wedding couple, the hotels offer extremely competitive pricing on wedding packages, the potential to earn credits towards your wedding package, and also the option to earn cash back for reaching a certain number of rooms or guests in your group. I tend to find that couples are pleasantly surprised at the amount of cash and incentives they earn back, which makes for a sweet surprise right before the wedding. If you would like more information on what type of cash back and perks you can earn for hosting a destination wedding, feel free to ask us.
- Having a destination wedding does not eliminate family opinions.
This is one of the myths that is often the first to be debunked by couples once they begin telling their loved ones that they are planning a destination wedding. Many times couples hope that by hosting a destination wedding, opinions, concerns, and whacky ideas from nosey relatives are eliminated. Unfortunately, this is false. Sharing the news of beachy vows can quickly stir up concern, unwanted opinions, and much more. My best advice is to keep your pre-planning ideas private and don’t survey your guests prior to booking your date and venue. Remember that this is your day. Pick a destination and date that means a lot to you and your soon-to-be spouse, because you just cannot make everyone happy. It is important to be mindful of details such as cost and time of year however. While you will always be encouraged to do what makes you happy, I also don’t suggest picking a destination that will drain the savings of your guests or choosing a date that lands over a major holiday.
- All of your guests are entitled to a plus one, to all events, even if you don’t know them.
The etiquette of plus ones for destination weddings is much different than what would follow tradition for a stateside wedding. You simply cannot, and should not, neglect allowing a guest a plus one to your destination wedding. Let’s have a moment of honesty here, would you want to travel by alone, take time off of work, and invest well over a grand to attend a wedding and not have someone to enjoy it with all while surrounded by romantic scenery? The answer is probably ‘no’. Let’s not ask your guests to do that either. Yes, your wedding costs will increase a bit by having a few single guests bring an additional person, but this isn’t going to break the bank on the wedding budget. At the end of the day the general rule of thumb is that any adult traveling for your wedding should be allowed to bring a date if they’d like. And last of all, it pains me to even have to say this, but you should never, ever, consider asking your guests to pay for the cost of their plus one.
- It’s the best opportunity to spend a lot of time with a lot of people.
To wrap up this painstakingly honest gathering of thoughts, I wanted to end with one that will bring you a lot of relief. A destination wedding is truly the very best way to make the most of your wedding time. No traditional stateside wedding will compare when it comes to the amount of quality relaxing time you will get to spend with guests. From flying together, to drinks at the swim up bar under the sun, and reminiscing on the crazy after reception party two days later, you won’t regret a thing about all of the memories you make. Many times couples debate whether a destination wedding is right for them. My best advice is this: If you value time spent with guests above details such as décor and the dinner menu, then a destination wedding is right for you.
David Manning Photographer
Cover Photo: Hotel Xcaret México
Ashley loves to combine her passion for planning dream weddings with her love of travel and adventure to give couples the experience of a lifetime. She quickly makes strong relationships with her couples, so much so, she frequently travels with her couples to destination to see the event through to execution. Ashley contributes to the blog with her first-hand travel experiences and best wedding planning tips and tricks of the trade.
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