Getting Started With Your Destination Wedding

Wedding in ParadisoWhen the subject of destination weddings is brought up, most people think of a tropical island with a beach wedding.

While that is certainly one of the most popular type of destination wedding, it is far from being the only one.

Destination weddings happen all over the world and planning for them is easier since information is so accessible on the internet.

So of your dream is to wed by the coral reefs in Australia, a game preserve in Africa, or a winery in Sonoma, it can be a reality so long as you have the time and the budget for it.

So how do you start?

Getting started is the fun part. It involves brainstorming with your fiance to figure out what kind of destination wedding will be uniquely yours. Whatever you both end up planning, it has to reflect who the two of you are as a couple.

So if you are both adventure enthusiasts that love winter sports, then a mountaintop wedding in Whiteface, NY would seem rather appropriate. Or try the Something Blue package which states:

“Our scuba diving packages will take you all over the world! Cozumel, Philippines, Bonaire, the ends of earth is the only boundary. Experience a truly unique underwater wedding or get married on the boat or beach and scuba dive on your honeymoon. For the truly adventuresome, you can also honeymoon in an underwater hotel”.

Irrespective of where you want to get married, use the steps below to get started.

  • Decide On The Kind Of Destination Wedding You Want
  • Calculate Cost/Budget For The Destination Wedding
  • Select a Location For The Destination Wedding
  • Select Time of Year For The Destination Wedding

Let’s start with the first one

Decide On The Kind Of Destination Wedding You Want

There is a very simple way to figure out what kind of destination wedding you want. First, figure out what you want to focus on. Do you want the wedding to primarily be about your heritage (e.g. Italian), personalities (Laid back – Beach wedding) or relationship history (e.g. having a Disney wedding because you met there). Once you know this, then selecting the kind of wedding you want becomes easier.

Here are some examples:

City Wedding – NYC, Los Angeles, Miami

Ski Wedding – The Swiss Alps, Lake Tahoe, Colorado, Vancouver BC

Island Wedding – Caribbean Islands, Mexico, Hawaii

New England Wedding – Kennebunkport, or Bar Harbor Maine

Cruise Wedding

Adventure Wedding – Hike, bike, ski, snowshoe at a mountain resort (Colorado, Costa Rica)

Exotic Wedding – (Think India, Malaysia, Fiji)

European Wedding – (Venice, Paris, Estonia)

Wine Country Wedding

There are many other types of destinations that you can do based on your needs so don’t limit yourself to the ones above. For a more detailed view of each of the above types of weddings, click here.

Create A Budget For Your Destination Wedding

Once you have decided on a destination, its time to start thinking about your budget. Here are questions you should be asking:

  • How much are you willing to spend on the destination wedding?
  • How much are you willing to spend on the honeymoon?
  • How much money can you both contribute?
  • Are either of your parents in a position to help you pay for the wedding? Is so, then ask them how much?

Your answers are going to help you figure out how many people you can invite, the kind of hotel to select, the decorations, and the kind of ceremony and reception sites you can afford.

Here is a typical breakdown of the costs associated with a destination wedding with 50-100 guests.

Save The Dates, Invites, Thank You Cards

$400 – $500




$2,500 – $4,000

Music/ DJ

$1,200 – $2,500



Ceremony Site Rental




Gifts for attendants (10 attendants at $100 each)


Wedding Rings (for Bride & Groom)


Engagement Ring


Rehearsal Dinner


Bride’s Gown


Wedding Veil & Headpiece


Groom’s rental Tuxedo


Wedding Reception


Travel (Airfare)




Total Wedding Cost


If the above costs are giving you sticker shock, then you should know that the above total is for a large destination wedding and may not represent what you have in mind.

If you only have a few dozen guests attending, then you can have a great wedding at an all inclusive resort for less than $10,000. The final costs for any destination wedding depend heavily on your needs, your ability to negotiate, and your willingness to keep things simple.

Select A Location For Your Destination Wedding

Once you know the kind of wedding you want (Step 1) and the kind of budget you have (Step 2), it’s time to select the actual destination that will work for both.

For example, if you are looking to have an exclusive and intimate wedding on an island, then any of the bigger ones (Jamaica, Bahamas etc.) would not work. Instead, based on your needs, a smaller secluded place like the Turks And Caicos would be better.

Select The Time Of Year For Your Wedding

Planning a tropical wedding during hurricane season is not a good idea. Neither is planning an outdoor wedding in India during monsoon season. Once you have decided on the type of wedding, the budget, and the location, start researching the best times to plan a wedding there.

When looking to get married at a destination far away, try to avoid busy/peak season. Not only will vendors be too busy to pay any attention to you, they will also have astronomical pricing. Instead, research and book the wedding during the month before or the month after the busy season (also referred to as the shoulder season).

When deciding on a time of year, take into consideration whether your guests will be able to make it. If you are going to be inviting a lot of family, then consider their vacation schedules. If a large part of your family has little kids, then summer time is usually ideal for travel. You can also plan to wed around major holidays so long as you plan well ahead of time (1-2 years).

Planning a destination wedding is really all about getting your thoughts in order to figure out what it is that you and your fiance really want. It should be a reflection of who you are and what is important to you as a couple.

What To Do Next?

Here are some great location ideas for destination weddings.

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