Some want a beach wedding whereas others want a wedding in a Vineyard somewhere.
However, knowing the kind of wedding is only half the battle.
Now you have to select the actual destination where the wedding will be held and that’s not always the easiest thing to figure out.
There are a lot of factors that come into play when selecting a city and they will determine the attendance and the success of your destination wedding.
Selecting the wrong location can have some disastrous results. In one case, a friend of ours had to cancel a wedding because the couple booked the event in Fiji and none of their guests were willing to travel that far.
Not only did they end up paying fees to cancel, they also had to reschedule a wedding closer to home.
Here are factors to look into before deciding on the destination for your wedding.
How easy is it to get to the destination
The easier the location is to get to, the more people you can expect to show up. And if you want to restrict the number of people showing up, select a location that is more remote.
Look into how long the flights are from your hometown, and how many connections are required. Also does the destination require getting visas? Do you have to go through customs? Are there any vaccinations that need to be taken? What kind of commitment is involved in getting guests there?
Lastly, what is the transportation time from the airport to the hotel. Some islands are so remote that you have to travel three hours in a car before taking a ferry to the island.
How expensive is it to get to
Your guests may care about you deeply, but price will play a big part in their decision to attend. If you select a location that is not affordable, you are going to turn off all the folks that are on the fence about attending.
And the ones that do come will have added stress about how much they can spend at the location.
Start by looking into locations that reflect your style and are affordable to get to for the majority of guests.
For example, if you are looking to get married at a beach, then it would be easier on the wallet to wed in Jamaica, instead of a more secluded place like St. Nevis. Jamaica would offer the same beach wedding but your guests will spend much less getting there.
Also, if affordability is an issue, then make sure to block hotel rooms at 2-3 star hotels instead of the higher end options. Blocking hotel rooms will provide guests a discounted room rate, along with addition amenities like free shuttle service or free Wifi. If you need help getting group rates, start by filling out this group booking form.
Total travel time
Take into account how much time guests are going to travel in order to get to the wedding. If the wedding is over a weekend, then it does not make much sense for guests to have to travel a whole day there and back. That would not leave them enough time to enjoy themselves.
Also, at the destination, take into account how long it takes to get to the hotel. If the drive after a long flight is another hour, then you may want to reconsider the location itself. As a rule, the farther away a destination, the less people will attend your destination wedding.
How convenient is it to get to your destination wedding? How many flights depart daily? How many connections are required for the average guest to get to the wedding? Do airlines offer group rates?
Remember that flights that are not direct add more hassle and complications in terms of travel time, lost luggage, and missed connections. The last thing you want is someone to miss the wedding due to a missed flight or worse, lose their luggage and have nothing to wear at the wedding.
Ease of getting married there
When narrowing down cities, look into how complicated it is to get married there.
Some destinations, like French Polynesia, require one of you to stay there for 30 days before you can wed. Other destinations, like Las Vegas, provide instant weddings.
Look into how long it takes to get marriage license and what the residency requirements are before deciding on a location.
Weather plays a big role in where you can get married.
For example, if you can only get married in the summer, then it does not make much sense to book a destination wedding in Florida (too hot!). But other beach destinations may be available (like the pacific side of Mexico) that would serve a similar beach wedding experience but with much better weather.
Look into the average temperature and rainfall before you finalize a wedding destination to ensure that you don’t end up booking at the wrong time of year.
Try to avoid booking a destination wedding during peak season. Not only will it be expensive for guests to fly in and out, you will end up paying through the nose for vendors, ceremony locations and hotel rooms.
Try booking during the months before or immediately after peak season when the weather is still nice but the costs are significantly lower.
What is the primary language used at the destination? How easy is to deal with vendors? How easy is it for guests to get around if they don’t know the language?
Ideally, select a destination where the primary language is English and if you don’t, then consider hiring a translator to help guests get acquainted once they arrive.
Selecting a location for a destination wedding is a delicate balance between what you want and what is realistic for your guests. By being considerate of your guests needs alongside yours, you will make it very difficult for anyone to turn down your destination wedding invites.