When in Rome, do as the Romans. Seems simple, but try organizing endless details in a venue thousands of miles away and sight unseen. Stir in money matters and family politics and you’ve got a recipe for chaos. We offer some handy rules to work by and ways to bend them without breaking a heart - or the bank.
Destination weddings are often unconventional. By their very nature, if a bride can kick off her pumps to traipse barefoot through the sand, how far can she go in kicking convention?
Your clearly stated preference regarding children or adults-only dictates the type of resort you will choose and who will be invited. Timing and the nature of your relationship with the guests also comes into play. Try not to dwell on who can’t join you, as this is part and parcel of a destination wedding. Some people just won’t be able to find the time or have the money to attend.
If you are still unsure as to who to invite, consider that, “Nobody goes home right after the party, so remember: It’s easier to ignore people for a few hours than for an entire week!”
With guest list, resort and pricing finalized, it’s time to hit ‘send’! Email is the easiest, greenest and most cost-effective method. Another advantage is that you can direct RSVPs (with trip deposit) to your travel agent. One less to-do on your list!
“A simple document in Word, with an optional photo of the happy couple will suffice,”. “Include a brief description of the destination, a link to the resort and a per person cost on the invitation. A really good travel agent might even help you design one!”
Print a few invitations as mementos or for those who may not be comfortable with computers.
Some people may feel disappointed to not witness your special day. Incorporating technology into the ceremony such as Skype or using photography and videography will capture key moments for those left behind. Consider a small, simple reception at home before or after the event so those would could not attend can still participate in some way.
Generally, the couple travels free of charge with a minimum number of guests. Usually, guests pay for themselves.
If it’s important to the couple that someone special attends but affordability is a concern, they may consider subsidizing the cost. There are several ways to do this; for example, paying for three of five days. Resorts offer a variety of wedding packages with optional extras. Some couples insist on customizing; Caribbean-born designer Preston Bailey has worked for A-list celebrities and upscale resorts. Others are content to leave the details to the onsite coordinator, who may be included in the package price.
“All-inclusives minimize cost and hassle,” Parmiter adds, “and you can boast that the open bar for the week is on you!”
Where gift registries were once the domain of china and flatware, travel registries work well with destination weddings. It’s unfair to expect gifts from guests already paying for the trip, so the registry is mainly intended for those who can’t attend.
Purchasers can direct funds through the travel agent. Choices range from excursions to spa treatments to little extras like candlelight dinners. Parmiter suggests preparing a brief description of your wish list. Generous guests who still wish to purchase a gift should leave the item at home and only bring a card indicating the gift details – an extra suitcase of potentially heavy or fragile items to lug back is not convenient!
Parmiter advises clients to try to pick a destination with a high volume of flights, that’s not too expensive or hard to get to, especially if there are any older parents, grandparents or those with mobility challenges who will be attending. “Avoid overly long flights,” she adds. “Notice where flights are originating and aim to have everyone arrive around the same time. Keep your timeline in mind when booking, as everyone requires notice to make arrangements.”
There are plenty of beautiful and romantic locations to choose from. Christina Bischoff of Travel TST enthuses, “Mexico, the Caribbean, Asia, Europe, Hawaii, the mainland U.S…
I assist in narrowing down choices. Jamaica is my personal favourite — the warm people, beautiful beaches, great food and, of course, reggae music. I once had a client who wanted to plan a surprise getaway for himself and his girlfriend. Together, we chose the resort that suited both of them perfectly. The romantic surprise turned into an even more romantic proposal! Guess what? The answer was yes, and we are now planning a destination wedding in one of the most romantic destinations in the world: Bora Bora, Tahiti.”
“A destination wedding is like a one-stop wedding shop...everything is there for you and your guests. It is a stress free choice and better still, your celebration lasts a whole week instead of just one day!”