One of the hottest trends today in the world of nuptials is the destination wedding. More and more couples about to tie the knot have moved away from the traditional wedding and are taking advantage of a shrinking globe and cheaper prices overseas to combine their dream wedding, their honeymoon and a well earned vacation. If you’re planning a wedding sometime in your near future, here are a few things to consider about holding a destination wedding.
The first thing that’s likely to happen when you mention to practically anyone that you’ll be jetting off to Thailand or Sweden for your wedding is that you’ll probably be deafened by the chorus of objections and reasons why you shouldn’t do such a hare-brained thing. So, before we get to the advantages of a destination wedding, let’s cover the disadvantages:
The Cons of a Destination Wedding
Destination weddings are expensive. This is usually the first objection everyone will bring up to the idea of you staging a fantasy wedding in Fiji or the Scottish Highlands, and to a certain extent, they’re right. Unlike a normal wedding, you’re going to have to factor in the price of air tickets, accommodations, and all the other rigmarole that comes with any trip overseas. Added to that is the complication of having to deal with differing currency values — if your dream destination is a country where the currency is particularly strong (e.g., the UK), then it’s a sure bet you’ll be spending a fair bit on that dream wedding scene.
Most of your guests aren’t going to come. The expense of a destination wedding isn’t just borne by the bridal couple, but also by the guests. Assuming you’re not the super-wealthy kind that can afford to buy tickets for every guest, they’re going to have to foot the plane and accommodation bills themselves. Many may balk at the extra expense on top of purchasing the wedding gift, leaving your wedding party sparsely populated. Not all couples want to start their wedded life together with everyone complaining that they never got to come to the wedding.
Planning can be troublesome. Wedding planning is famously hectic and trouble-prone and most people aren’t willing to go through the trouble of organizing a ‘do’ in another country, particularly if they’ve never been there, don’t speak the language, don’t know anyone there and have no way of checking the arrangements beforehand. If a wedding in a Slovenian castle or a simple ceremony in a Moghul palace is what you want, then you may need to prepare yourself for a greater amount of hassle.
You might not be married when you come back! Most countries have fairly straightforward laws concerning weddings: hold a ceremony, say I do, and you’re married. Still, not all marriage ceremonies conducted in your destination country may be recognized as legally binding at home. Thus, a ‘hand-fast’ wedding in Scotland might not mean you’re legally man and wife when you return, while a tribal ceremony in Vietnam may mean you’re still technically single once you leave the country.
The Pros of A Destination Wedding
So, there are actually valid reasons to some of the complaining you’ll probably hear when you announce you’ve decided on a destination wedding. Still, for every one of those complaints, there’s a (fairly) easy way to get around them, so here are the advantages:
Destination weddings aren’t THAT expensive. If the country you choose to hold your destination wedding in happens to have a currency stronger than your home currency, then chances are you’ll be paying through your nose for the occasion. Still, a little pragmatism, an eye on the currency exchange rates and a little bit of research can often produce an overseas wedding that’s LESS expensive than a big smash-up in your home town.
Though Europe has a justified reputation for being an expensive destination, it’s still possible to have your destination wedding there without breaking your budget, if you have your big day somewhere a little off the tourist track during the off-season. Some countries you might want to consider are Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy or Hungary, which all offer cosmopolitan cities, enchanting landscapes, charming villas and reasonable prices.
This is even truer of the Asian countries, where many international visitors have splendid, often multi-cultural themed weddings for a fraction of a cost they would have paid at home. The two most popular destinations in Asia are Thailand and Bali, where traditional Balinese or Thai weddings arranged for visitors
You’re already on your honeymoon! The best thing about a destination wedding is that you can combine a honeymoon vacation with the actual ceremony itself. Still want that tropical wedding on the beach? Many resorts offer wedding/honeymoon packages, where you get married, have the reception, and enjoy your honeymoon right at the same resort. This is particularly true in popular honeymoon destinations, such as Thailand and Hawaii.
Also, renting an apartment or even a house for your guest during the wedding and subsequent honeymoon may be an attractive alternative to a resort package, particularly if you want a less structured way to spend your time.
Most of your guests aren’t going to come! Dread having to see your horrible Aunt Fannie with the hairy wart, or sarcastic Uncle Jack with the fifteen screaming kids? If you don’t want your dream wedding turning into big affair filled of barely-remembered relatives and nodding acquaintances, a destination wedding can a tactful way to dissuade them from attending.
It’s also good way to discreetly avoid the presence of unruly children or uninvited ‘others’ at your wedding, for even if the invited guests do turn up, it’s more likely they’ll leave their kids or ‘others’ at home rather than pay for their plane tickets. The occasion thus automatically becomes a simpler, more private affair.
Since fewer people are coming, you’ll be able to save all that money you would have spent on the invitations, booze, catering and all the rest. Even better, you may even be able to subsidize the plane tickets of the people you WANT to come with the money you saved.
If you’re really worried about whether the people who matter most to you will be able to make it, you can talk to them before making the arrangements to see how they can be accommodated. Failing that, you can still have your destination wedding, and still include your family and friends with a special reception just for them when you return.
The Internet can make planning a breeze. The Internet has many benefits and this is one of them: you can now plan your wedding without ever leaving the comfort of your own home. Many wedding companies maintain websites and can easily handle every detail of your intended ceremony.
One problem with organizing a destination wedding is that since such affairs tend to be very small, not all companies will not handle them or conduct them well. Fortunately, issue can be solved by making sure you choose the right company. Look long and hard for the right company to engage: you should only settle on one you’re comfortable with and are confident will carry out your instructions to the letter. Don’t be shy to ask for references and independently confirm their reputations. The best defense against any unpleasant surprises is to get everything in writing and to pay as little money as possible up front — ask the company to send an itemized list of every, by fax and/or mail, then call them to confirm everything. You may want to fly off to your destination a week or two earlier, just to check everything and have a bit of breathing space before the big event.
If you choose not to use a wedding company and want to make the arrangements all yourself, you still can, thanks to the Internet. In today’s world, you can make the booking for the hotels, plan out the menu with the restaurant chef, check the legal requirements with the embassy or town hall – all with the wonder of email.
You’ll not only be legally married, you’ll be legally married exotically! Making sure your wedding is legally binding in both your destination country and home country doesn’t involve much more then contacting the relevant embassies and/or religious authorities and filing the necessary paperwork – basically, the same thing you have to do in your hometown anyway. If the thought of paperwork in a foreign country is too daunting, you can even hold a simple civil ceremony in your home country, then opt for a grander, more romantic ceremony overseas!
Also, though not all bridal couples will admit it, at least part of the appeal of a destination wedding is its unique, magical quality, so different from the more traditional weddings of their families and friends.
So, Is A Destination Wedding Right for You?
In the end, after weighing the pros and cons, the final decision on where to have your wedding really depends on what you and your soon-to-be spouse desire for this special occasion. Not every couple wants a ceremony so far away from their home, their friends and family, just as they are about to begin their new lives together, while others would prefer to spend the money on building a solid foundation for the years ahead.
For those who do want something a little more unusual for their wedding, and are looking for somewhere to go, there is almost an embarrassment of choices. The whole of Europe beckons tantalizingly, with its vibrant history and bustling modern attractions, its verdant landscapes dotted with romantic chateaus and quiet churches; Asia tempts many with its exotic cultures, its kaleidoscope of colours, scents and experiences and the mysterious customs and traditions which many visitors delight in making a part of their own wedding ceremonies. For more information on these wedding destinations, click on the links below: