One of the first decisions every couple has to make is deciding on when and where to get married. Typically, this means setting an appropriate date and booking a local venue to host the festivities. However, many couples are finding themselves drawn to the allure and excitement of a destination wedding.
They choose a fun-filled or exotic location, and invite their closest friends and family members to accompany them on an adventure. Together, the happy couple and their traveling companions enjoy some quality time exploring a foreign locale and celebrating the bride and groom’s matrimonial bliss. No doubt, it’s a wonderful experience and an all round awesome way to get married.
But is a destination wedding right for every couple? Beyond the costs (which are relatively comparable depending on where you go and how many of your friends tag along), what else do you need to consider before you take your wedding party on the road? Let’s look at a few key points to help you decide if a destination wedding is right choice for you.
Formalities and Total Control
Part of the allure of a destination wedding is that it shakes up old traditions and adds a bit of spice to the occasion. You might choose to get married on a beach in Cabo San Lucas, a vineyard in Southern Spain, or a casino in Atlantic City.
The choices for are as varied as your imagination. Of course, you may have to sacrifice some of the formalities of a traditional wedding in the bargain. Destination weddings tend to be more casual affairs, and you have to consider whether that fits in with your idea of a perfect wedding. If you have your heart set on a traditional ceremony, a destination wedding might not be the best option.
Then, of course, you have to be prepared to relinquish some control over the festivities. As most of your planning will be handled long distance, you need to accept that some things will get lost in translation. You may have to roll with the changes on the big day. This can be fun or frustrating, depending on your temperament.
If you want total control over your wedding celebrations, and aren’t prepared to adjust your expectations, a hometown wedding might be the better choice.
With a traditional hometown wedding, the day is all about you (the happy Couple). That’s still true for a destination wedding, but you will both have to sacrifice some of your ‘us’ time to entertain your guests. Remember, they’ve flown all the way to your desired location (possibly at their own expense) to help celebrate your marriage.
Sure, it’s fun for them (and a bit of a vacation) but they are essentially your guests, and it’s your job to make sure they enjoy themselves throughout their stay. You can’t just invite them to Corfu to witness the wedding and then abandon them to run off on your honeymoon. So be sure that you’re both prepared to play host to your invited guests.
Smaller Guest List and Fewer Gifts
Destination weddings tend to have smaller guest lists (unless, of course, you’re George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin). Remember, most of your guests will be paying their own way, and you have to accept that some may simply not be able to attend. This can be a plus if you prefer a smaller, more intimate, celebration. However, if you’ve always wanted a big wedding with everyone from your Uncle Wes to your first grade teacher attending a destination wedding may bring disappointment.
Then there is the question of wedding gifts. In a very real sense, your guests are giving you the gift of their presence. They have taken time off from work, arranged for sitters for the kids, and paid for their flights and accommodations. Admittedly, this is something of a holiday for everyone, but you shouldn’t expect them to kick in with big ticket wedding gifts as well.
Weighing the Pros and Cons
Destination weddings have a lot to offer, particularly if you want to shake things up a bit. You get to spend some quality time with friends and family in an exotic location, seeing the sights and enjoying each others company free from daily obligations. Moreover, the cost is not out of line with more traditional weddings.
Most hotels and resorts offer package deals for wedding parties, making it an affordable option for most couples. In short, a destination wedding can be one heck of a party, with plenty of memories to be made.
Of course, there are a few caveats to consider. First and foremost, not everyone will be able to attend your wedding, and that can be a big concern for those with large families. Some of your closest relatives (and dearest friends) may simply not be able to make the trip, and that can leave them feeling left out and you missing their company.
You must also be prepared to accept the inevitable snafu. Chances are more than likely that something will come up to derail your carefully laid plans. Luggage may be lost (including wedding attire), florists may misunderstand your order, guests may cancel at the last minute. If you’re a stickler for order, that can lead to a massive headache. But if you can roll with the changes, and keep smiling when your plans go sideways, a destination wedding can be a joyful experience for you and all of your guests.
Ultimately, the choice between a destination and a hometown wedding comes down to temperament more than anything. If you, and your friends and family, are up for an adventure it can be a wonderful way to celebrate your marriage. However, if you want total control of the wedding experience, and you want all of your closest friends and relatives to be your guests, a traditional hometown affair may be the better option.
But in the final analysis, only you can make that decision.