Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Planning a Destination Wedding #1: The Early Stages

So you want to do a destination wedding, huh? Well, you're not alone. In 2009, an estimated 272,715 US brides chose to hold their nuptials in a far-off location. That's a pretty decent-sized 12% of weddings held in 2009. While some recent trends say this may be on its way out in favor of a more green approach, around here we like to stress the right wedding for the right couple. If that means jetting to St. Lucia, then do it!

However, just be warned that destination weddings, as awesome as they can be, are a whole other beast in themselves. You need to be fully informed, extremely organized, and just a little gutsy to pull this off.

Having planned a destination wedding, in a not-so-common location at that, we have a little insider know-how. Here is our list of tips for the preliminary planning phases:

1. Make sure you do your research!
you get your heart set on something, research a couple of locations and find out these things:
What is the best time of year to go? You're probably not going to get your beach-at-sunset wedding dream during hurricane season.

What is the climate like? If you have naturally frizzy hair, you're going to have a tough time getting bridal-perfect beauty in a humid climate. Or if you've always dreamed of a fall-colored wedding, then heading to Florida isn't going to be the best location.

What is the country's nuptial requirements? (if you are, in fact, going to another country) This is a BIG one! The requirements to get married can vary greatly from country to country. For instance, almost all locations have what's called a residency requirement. That means you have to be in the country for so many days prior to your ceremony in order for the wedding to be legal. This can range anywhere from 0 days (Scotland) to 40 days (France)! For most Caribbean locations, it is around 2-4 days, which is totally doable, and entirely recommended anyways. There is also going to be forms, phone calls, possibly marriage visas and LOTS of time required of you, so make sure you get a jump start on the legal requirements early!! You should be able to find out the legal requirements simply by googling, "legal requirements for destination wedding in _______."

. Think about why you want a destination wedding
And think about the implications of one. It may mean that grandma won't be in attendance, and if things like that are important to you, then you may want to reconsider. It also means that you may have to opt out of a lot of common wedding traditions, depending on the affair you are planning. You may not get to do a reception entrance, a father-daughter dance, or a bouquet toss. There are ways around that, though, which means you need to decide....

3. Do you want to hold a reception at home?
This is a pretty common option: small, intimate ceremony on a beach, and a big, fun reception when you get home. Its the best of both worlds, really. However, some people may not see it that way, which is why, before making any decisions, you will want to...

4. Talk to your family and friends about it
Some people may not take kindly to your plans, whether they feel you are upsetting proper traditions, or the fact that they can't be there (due to financial reasons or otherwise). Some people may refuse to bring a gift (not that you should be expecting them to) or not come at all to your at-home reception because its not actually your wedding day.

We got our fair-share of grief from people about our plans for an over-seas nuptial, but the reaction of the majority of our closest family and friends was, "Woo hoo! Vacation!!" We're not kidding, people where PSYCHED. We had a total of 20 people travel overseas with us, which is more than we had ever thought we would have. And definitely not in a bad way. It just all depends on your family.

If you have thought about all these things, and you know this is what you you truly want to do, then its time to pick a destination and start planning! The next steps are all about dreaming the dream, and looking at all of the wonderful options available to you! That's the fun part, so make sure that you enjoy it. That and more will be discussed in the next installment of Planning a Destination Wedding.

Useful links:
-List of countries



Photos from Style Me Pretty and Jose Villa Photography

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