In fact, most of us Americans live in the mainland so it’s no wonder that when it comes to planning a wedding, going away is always a popular choice.
In addition to a great location, a destination wedding is also more intimate and in many cases, cheaper than an at home wedding. However, this intimacy comes at a price.
Most destination weddings suffer from a lower attendance percentage than at home weddings. Traditional weddings can have attendance in the 80-90% range (and in some cases, even higher) whereas a destination wedding where the 50% mark is more common. Read “Surprising Destination Wedding Statistics”
Most invitees turn down destination wedding invites for two reasons, cost and timing. And if you can figure out how to overcome those two objections, you’ll be able to get more people to attend.
In this article, we are going to go over five things you can do to ensure that your destination wedding is well attended.
Send out save the dates early
That means quick. As soon as you get engaged, get that attendee list done and start looking at potential wedding dates. Once you have decided on one, send out save the date cards to family and friends.
The earlier you send them out (preferably 8-12 months, if not more), the better. Doing so will give wedding guests enough time to plan their vacations, and holidays while incorporating your wedding into the mix.
To ensure absolute compliance, make personal phone calls (yes, harass if you have to) to guests and get a verbal “yes”.
Plan your destination wedding during a long weekend, not a holiday weekend
Long weekends are perfect for destination wedding because it gives everyone the flexibility they need. Families can stay the entire week if they choose while others can go back to work without having to use up personal or vacation days.
One thing we would not do is plan a destination wedding on a holiday weekend. Many of your guests have commitments for holidays (thanksgiving being a big one) and many families have a tradition of getting together during these times so its best avoid them if you can.
Select a well known large destination
If you want more people to attend, then don’t select a location that is hard to get to or is in a remote region that requires three connecting flights, a 2 hour cab ride followed by a ferry. Select a destination that has lots of direct flights from a lot of cities so wedding guests spend a minimum amount of time traveling.
For example, If you’re getting married in the Caribbean, go with either Puerto Rico or the Bahamas instead of Nevis or Barbuda (need a ferry for this one). The smaller the island, the less options your guests will have when it comes to direct flights. What’s more, costs to get to these remote locations are much higher, leaving your guests with a lighter wallet too.
Finally, when selecting a destination, try picking something that is close to home. For example, if most of your family is on the east coast, then select a destination wedding on that side of the country. Florida, the Caribbean or North Carolina would make for some great destination wedding locations. Hawaii would not.
Here is a list of popular destination wedding locations
Plan your wedding at a family friendly resort
You will have tons of time to hang out at a super romantic place on your honeymoon so why not plan your wedding at a family friendly resort. Think Beaches resorts or even a Disney wedding and your family will be more than glad you did.
Just because the resort is family friendly does not mean that they are not romantic. Lots of Disney resorts have tons of romantic things that you can do and Beaches has a wedding program specifically for couples with large families.
Get married during the shoulder season
We saved the best for least. Don’t plan your wedding during peak season. Not only will wedding vendor prices be double or triple than normal, airfare and hotel rates will be astronomical as well.
It’s better to book a date that is a month before or after the peak season (called a shoulder season). Things are calmer, vendors are less hurried and your wedding will be more enjoyable and better attended.
While there are another half dozen ways to increase your attendance at the destination wedding, the five above will remove most of the objections that your wedding guests may have. And getting rid of their objections is a great way to increase that attendance number.
What should you read next?
Check out our guide on how to plan a destination wedding.