By Beverly McLean
Travel choices for today’s vacationers increasingly trend toward unique and authentic experiences. When it comes to planning weddings and honeymoons, engaged couples are no different and frequently consider destination weddings to make their special day distinctive.
Planning Tips for Your Destination Wedding
Choose your destination carefully – There’s a lot more to picking a wedding location than finding a dreamy resort. First, what setting do you want for the nuptials – a white-sand beach or verdant mountains, an Italian villa or maybe a cruise ship? Next, consider the weather patterns there. You can never guarantee perfect weather, but you might want to rethink a Caribbean beach wedding during hurricane season! The travel convenience and expense of getting to the destination are major considerations as well. If it takes a connecting flight, a boat ride and an expensive taxi to get there, your great-aunt Ida might not be able to attend.
Before you make a final location choice, know the local marriage requirements. Every country has laws about marriage license applications, blood tests, witnesses, and how many days you must be in residence before the ceremony. In Spain, for example, it can be up to two years! Some cruise lines can’t perform weddings at sea, so nuptials take place in port, and Catholic unions can be blessed by a priest on board, but the Church doesn’t fully recognize weddings performed at sea. Your travel agent can help you make a wise destination choice based on these factors.
Select the right hotel or venue for your wedding – A knowledgeable travel agent also has the experience to know which luxury resorts are equipped to handle your wedding, be it just the two of you in an intimate ceremony or a party of 150 friends and family celebrating your wedding. A well-connected travel agent will also have personal contacts at those resorts who can ensure personalized service.
If at all possible, the couple should make a test run to the resort before the wedding. You don’t want to arrive for the wedding and find out the gardens where you planned to have the ceremony are all dried out from drought. Some hotels offer a three-night “Bride’s Dress Rehearsal” package for wedding couples to preview ceremony setups, taste menu items and meet the onsite wedding team.
Extra Tip: Our vendors love Richmond, but they love to travel, too! If you fall in love with a Richmond-based vendor, be sure to ask about their destination wedding services!
Plan 12 to 18 months ahead – It takes time to gather information, make choices and do a test run. You need to have destination and travel details under wraps early enough to give information to guests on your save-the-date cards. Keep in mind these need to go out earlier than for a local wedding. Your guests will need to renew or obtain passports and arrange for time off work. Be sure to include your travel agent’s contact information on the cards and on your wedding website so they can field travel questions for you.
Be conscious of guest expenses – According to DestinationWeddings.com, it costs an average of $750 to $1,100 per person to attend a destination wedding, so you might want to offer guests a couple of hotel options at different price levels. A thoughtful welcome gift in their room tells them that you appreciate their attendance. If children will be coming, include kid-friendly activities and childcare. Fun social mixers like a welcome dinner, a group sightseeing excursion or a post-wedding day brunch are also well-received displays of gratitude that your travel agent can arrange for you.
Use an experienced romance travel expert – They save you time, money and stress! Travel agents understand the logistics of moving groups of people and arranging group meals and events. Travel pros have vast resources and contacts, so they can handle the myriad details faster, easier and often even include special amenities at no cost.
If the idea of a destination wedding appeals to you, consult with a romance travel professional to make your special day unique and memorable!
Covington Travel’s romance experts can plan the perfect honeymoon or destination wedding with offices conveniently located in Glen Allen, Richmond and Charlottesville or online at www.covingtontravel.com. Article was written by Beverly McLean, CTC, Social Media Director at Covington Travel.