Your Guide to a Dream Destination WeddingLet’s begin with the tried-and-true method of comparing the awesome stuff with the “ehh, I’m not crazy about that” stuff.
Pros (AKA The Awesome Stuff):The aforementioned dreaminess of it all. Be prepared for unforgettable moments and flawless pictures (no filter necessary). Plus, it’s a little escape from reality for you and your loved ones. An untraditional setting. If you’re looking to do something a little different, a destination wedding will definitely do the trick. More ways to keep costs in check. The biggest expense when it comes to wedding is providing food and beverages to all your guests. So, the easiest way to save money is by keeping your guest list as lean as you can. A built-in honeymoon! Wake up the next morning, store your wedding dress in the closet, and bring out the swimsuits – because the honeymooning has officially begun. No need to mess with the stress of airports and TSA checks when you’re already at your destination!
Cons (AKA The “Ehh, I’m not crazy about that” Stuff):Travel expenses (airfare, hotels, food). Well, that’s fare. (Get it?) But luckily, there are tons of resources that can give you the best rates. Apple Vacations is great for finding destination wedding packages including affordable flights and hotel rates – and some good all-inclusive options, too! Also (speaking from experience here), the place where you do your ceremony or reception might offer a discounted rate for groups, especially if some will be staying with them or their affiliates. Tip: If you go abroad, prices are cheaper in, say, a Caribbean country because the cost of living is much lower. The planning logistics and seeing it all unfold from a distance. Unless you have a large wedding budget, you probably won’t get to see your wedding venue before you arrive for the actual thing. This can be stressful for some, but it can be easier than you think thanks to to Facetime and Skype and WiFi being available pretty much everywhere on Planet Earth. Communicating with your guests while phone-less abroad. If you travel outside your country, be prepared to deal with phone carriers and data rates. WiFi can be spotty, and you might not be able to rely on your smartphone for all your usual comforts like GPS. (Remember that you don’t have to go abroad! There are plenty of beautiful spots right in your home country!) It just seems like a lot of work. Destination weddings are still weddings after all, and weddings are a ton of work. Tip: If you’re having your ceremony at a resort, they often have wedding or event planners on staff that could basically do all the heavy-lifting for you! We’re just sayin’ – it doesn’t hurt to ask. ?
What to WearNot shoes, for starters. Kidding, you can totally wear shoes if you want to. But how great is it that, in most of these places, you don’t have to? When choosing dresses for you and/or your bridesmaids, the first thing you may want to first consider is the heat factor. Nobody wants to be uncomfortable and sweaty during your wedding, which should be a carefree, stress-free and sweat-free experience. Whether you go short or long is totally up to you! We just have some suggestions about the material. For example, a floor-length satin gown for your bridesmaids might not be the best choice. Silk is not salt water-friendly and netting is not tree- or branch-friendly. So, most women we’ve spoken to agree that chiffon is the best choice when it comes to tropical weddings. It’s light and airy, and it comes in almost every color and style imaginable. Read our 10 top tips for beach wedding dresses & accessories and our guide to beach bridesmaid dresses for more helpful info!
10 Fun & Unique Destination Wedding Locations:
1. Las Vegas, NevadaI’m sure you had a feeling that Vegas would be included on this list, and with dozens of chapels along its famous strip, why wouldn’t it be? The Vegas wedding is ideal for couples who want to elope quickly, but can also accommodate brides and grooms with full bridal parties and guests attached. Want to be married by Elvis? No problem. Rock on over to the Graceland Wedding Chapel. Really can’t wait to marry your honey? Head over to the “Tunnel of Love” and up to the “drive-thru” window at A Little White Wedding Chapel. Your nuptials can even be broadcast over the Internet for loved ones who couldn’t make the trip. If you are planning a more traditional ceremony, Sin City has plenty of beautiful settings located in many of its hotels. A lot of hotel chapels offer packages that will help you save money on flowers, caterers, photography, and more—and many even have coordinators in-house who will help you with all of your arrangements. One thing to note about a Vegas wedding, though, is to plan accordingly to season. As we all know, Las Vegas is located in the desert, so be prepared for the time of year in which you visit. Viva, Las Vegas!
2. Cabo San Lucas, Mexicobridal party participants and guests alike will have plenty of activities to keep them entertained like beach volleyball, snorkeling, hiking, golfing, and more. And brides, let us not forget about the many spa treatments available! A massage on the beach sounds pretty heavenly. Want more tips? Here are 10 for beach wedding dresses & accessories >>
3. Florence, Italy
Photo by Kayla GroehlerAnother unique spot to tie the knot includes the beautiful city of Florence. Deemed as one of the major art and history capitals of Europe and the birthplace of the Renaissance, you can find romance in Florence around just about any corner. For the more dramatic affair, la Salla Rossa or The Red Hall, is the most popular place in Italy for weddings and it’s easy to see why: The hall is decorated with incredible red carpets, drapes, and wall art dating back to its renovation in the 1860’s.
Photo by Kayla GroehlerIf you get a chance to explore amidst your plans and celebrations, check out the many exhibits and museums located in Florence, including the infamous Uffizi Gallery featuring art by Leonardo di Vinci, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, and more. Florence is also home to some of the best Italian cuisine in the world, which could be the perfect touch to your dinner and wedding reception.
4. HawaiiWell, besides the fact that almost every spot in Hawaii is breathtaking and would make for gorgeous photos, there’s always good weather! Dry season runs from May through October, and after that, rainfall (if you get any at all) is short-lived and mild. If you could avoid going during tourist season (winter through early spring), even better. Also a big bonus: there are endless options for fun things your guests can do, no matter what their ages and interests.
5. Door County, WisconsinBesides the beautiful lakefront backdrop, this spot is convenient in so many ways. It’s a four-hour drive from Chicago, Illinois and Madison, Wisconsin. There are wineries and farms all around the area, making for the tastiest beverages and freshest meals of your own choice. This quaint little vacation spot, located between Green Bay and and Lake Michigan, has earned the title of the “Cape Cod of the Midwest.”
Photo by Eileen K PhotographyFall is gorgeous in Door County, although summer is usually the most popular time to wed here. If you choose to go the summer route, we recommend booking early. Winter is not ideal, as it often brings snow, frigid temperatures and icy roads. But hey, if you’re going for that Game of Thrones vibe, don’t let us stop you! (Just be sure to travel safe.)
Photo by Rachel Van LuykMy personal favorite. This unique destination wedding location is geared toward the more rugged, adventurous couple—but don’t let the thought of snow and ice scare you—Alaska is one of the most beautiful places on earth offering scenic views of mountains, the ocean, rivers, waterfalls, lakes—really, you name it: Alaska’s got it. Even professional photography can’t do the view justice.
Photo by Rachel Van LuykSpeaking from experience, I was a little wary to attend my best friend’s May big day in Alaska. Will it be cold? Should I be worried about bears? But everything was lovelier than I ever could have imagined. Alaska, believe it or not, is beaming with native culture and extravagant forces of nature—all at a cool 60 degrees in spring. Before the sight-to-behold of a ceremony held on the beach of one of Alaska’s southern shores, we were treated to hiking, conversing with locals, a boat ride around the bay, and even halibut and king salmon fishing charters. Some of the guests actually rented an RV and drove into Denali National Park after the reception was over—if you love getting back to nature and spending time in the great outdoors, an Alaskan destination big day comes highly recommended.