Read these 9 Destination Wedding Planning Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Destination Weddings tips and hundreds of other topics.
One frequent question couples considering a destination wedding have is "what about guests?" Wedding couples have to consider who will likely attend their island wedding, how these guests will get there, and what activities will be planned for the guests while they are at the destination.
Typically, guests at a destination wedding pay their own expenses. That isn't to say however that they won't be appreciative if the wedding couple is able to find them a good rate for airfare, hotel rooms, and/or all-inclusive resort prices.
Because of the time and expense involved, generally many fewer guests attend a destination wedding than a traditional, hometown, church wedding. If you are planning on paying a portion of your guests' travel expenses, it's wise to send out "Hold this Date" announcement and ask for an RSVP so that you can budget your wedding costs.
Using a destination wedding specialist is a good idea, especially if you are coordinating guests flying in from a variety of cities. These travel planners can orchestrate the flights and other arrangements, usually without any additional cost to you. They are also experienced with group airfares and hotel contracts and can get the best rates for you and your friends. As with most travel plans, making your travel plans well is advance is recommended. Contrary to popular belief, the best rates almost always go to those who book early.
The idea of a honeymoon registry is a decade-old idea that is gaining popularity as more and more couples wait until they are well into their twenties or beyond to marry for the first time. A honeymoon registry allows your family and friends to help pay for your wedding trip instead of traditional gifts like a toaster, towels, or dishes.
Honeymoon registries are hosted by travel companies and destination wedding planners, such as Destination Weddings.com. The wedding couple chooses components of the wedding trip, such as limousine transfers to and from the airport or the wedding ceremony, sightseeing or sports trips, spa treatments, meals at the resort's fine restaurant, or other extras. Friends and family can then choose which items they'd like to purchase for the couple. Most Web companies make it easy to purchase these items. You can do it right from the company's secure Web site. Near to the wedding date, the couple gets a list of the items purchased and who gave them.
Signing up for a honeymoon registry is free with most companies, although some travel companies may charge a small administrative fee.
Using the services of a destination wedding planner can help you coordinate all of the details of an out-of-the-country wedding, saving you time and money and relieving you of much of the stress of planning a destination wedding. What's more: the services of most destination wedding planners are free to the bridal couple; they are paid by the resorts and services they recommend. Below are just a few advantages to working with such a wedding professional:
Saving Money. Because they deal with destination weddings on a daily basis, destination wedding specialists are in a perfect position to learn of all the new specials as soon as they are announced...and passing them on to you.
Saving Time. Letting a destination specialist handle your wedding planning saves you hours of time and effort, giving you more hours to spend with your intended.
Making your Wedding Special. Destination wedding specialists deal with dozens of weddings and can suggest details to make your wedding special that you may not have thought of on your own.
One Stop Shopping. Using a destination specialist means that you only have to deal with one person, not a separate person for the resort, the florist, the photographer, and the catering.
Flowers are an integral part of any wedding and the lush, tropical flowers of the Caribbean are a beautiful addition to any beach wedding. Below are just a few of the Caribbean's finest blossoms:
Hibiscus. These cup-like flowers are a standard in most Caribbean gardens. They range in color from white to yellow to bright pink.
Bougainvillea. This official flower of the Caribbean island of Grenada grows on vines that hug trellises and fences all over the Caribbean. The thorny vines are covered in small, delicate flowers of white, pink, rose, and purple.
Oleander. This evergreen bush, native to the Mediterranean, flowers with white, pink, and yellow blossoms. Be careful with this beauty, however; it is poisonous to humans.
Birds of Paradise. This dramatic stems have an orange or yellow flower with a distinctive top that resembles a bird or a crane. These flowers, native to South Africa, can grow up to four feet tall.
Cannas. Sometimes called canna lilies, these tall stalks are topped with festive red, orange, pink, or yellow flowers.
Gardenias. A favorite for Caribbean beach weddings, this delicate, cream colored flowers is beautiful in a bouquet or as a single adornment behind the bride's ear.
If you're planning a Caribbean beach wedding, consider adding one or more Caribbean wedding traditions to give your ceremony a special, authentic feel and to tie your nuptials together with your destination. Caribbean wedding customs borrow from African and European cultures, with a few twists of their own. Below are a few Caribbean wedding traditions that you might want to add:
Attire: Caribbean brides wear their finest outfit and a veil over their face. During the ceremony, the groom lifts the veil.
Food: A traditional Caribbean wedding feast includes curried goat, conch fritters, fried plantains, and jerk chicken. A Caribbean wedding cake uses rum rather than white sugar. While all of these dishes may not be to your taste, adding one of two will give your festivities an island flair. The drink of choice is, of course, rum.
In Bermuda, the wedding cake is topped with a small sapling, which is taken home by the couple and planted. The theory is the tree will grow as the marriage grows.
Music. Add a steel drum band for authentic Caribbean music.
Gifts. Guests at a Caribbean wedding give homemade gifts, such as furniture or quilts, which signify togetherness.
Although a destination wedding is generally more casual and relaxed than a traditional, hometown wedding, there is still a general order of events to every wedding reception. Of course, every couple has their own special likes and dislikes. Be sure to modify this list to best suit your tastes.
A Typical Wedding Reception Order of Events
1. Guests arrive to the reception site, following the wedding ceremony
2. When most or all of the guests are present, the wedding party is formally introduced, followed by the wedding couple.
3. The wedding meal is served.
4. The cake is served. It's customary for the bride and groom to get the first pieces.
5. A toast is offered to the wedding couple by the best man, maid/matron of honor, and the wedding couple themselves, followed by others, if desired.
6. If there is dancing, the bride and groom have the first dance, followed by the bride and her father together and then the groom and his mother.
7. The bride tosses the bouquet to the single women and the groom tosses the garter to the single men.
8. The bridal couple and guests enjoy the evening dancing and celebrating the event.
The choice to have a wedding reception in conjunction with your destination wedding and what type of reception to have is entirely up to the wedding couple. Receptions can vary from intimate, beachside cocktail parties following the ceremony to lavish, multi-course meals with Champagne, live entertainment, and dancing. Other ideas for a destination wedding reception include a beach barbecue, a quiet beachfront dinner for two, or a traditional Caribbean feast with curried goat, jerk chicken, and lots of rum to drink. The typical Caribbean wedding cake is also made with rum, usually dark rum, and molasses instead of white sugar.
Who pays for the reception again follows no set rules. It may be the wedding couple, the bride's parents, the groom's parents, or a combination of all of these parties.
Many Caribbean resorts that cater to destination wedding couples have wedding planners on staff that can help you coordinate all of the details for your reception--food and beverage, photography, music, and decorations. In addition, companies like Destinations Weddings.com can help you plan your wedding travel plans, your guests' arrangements, and your reception--all at no additional cost.
A post-wedding celebration is a necessary part of most destination wedding arrangements. Consider the following when planning your wedding party event:
1. Number of guests. Will most of the people you invited be able to attend the out-of-town wedding? What's the likely number of guests that will be at the wedding party event?
2. Type of event. Do you want a formal affair or do your tastes run more to a rum-swizzle party or a barbecue on the beach? How long do you intend for the party to last? Will you be having the party at the resort or do you prefer another location?
3. Food and Beverage. Do you want a full, multi-course meal? Do you want it to be plated or is a buffet okay? Do you want Champagne? Beer and wine? a full bar? How about a wedding cake?
4. Extras. Do you want a photographer present for the event? Is live music necessary? If so, what kind of music?
The resort wedding planner or a destination wedding specialist can assist you in making all of the necessary arrangements for a spectacular wedding party event.
Photography is a vital part of any wedding. Everyone wants a record of their special day to remind them and to show their friends--and their kids one day. Getting married outside of the country makes finding a good photographer a little more difficult, but not impossible. Consider the following sources when searching for a destination wedding photographer:
1. Recommendations from a friend or family member. The best way to find a destination wedding photographer is to get a recommendation from a trusted friend or family member who has recently traveled to that area, or who lives in the area.
2. Photography associations. Professional associations, such as the Wedding Photojournalist Association (WPJA), offer directories with local, member photographers. Many sites also provide a place where satisfied (or unsatisfied) clients can post a comment.
3. Recommendations from the resort. Often larger resorts and hotels will have a working relationship with one or more local photographers. It never hurts to ask.
4. Help from your destination wedding specialist. A destination specialist can draw on hundreds of past weddings and wedding clients to find a good photographer, one with whom his clients have been pleased.
Some destination wedding packages include one or more professional photographers. Be sure to review what's included in your package before you sign a contract with an outside photographer.