Pick your destination to fit your style.
While the Caribbean and Mexico are the most popular choices for a destination wedding, don’t count out other parts of the world. If you prefer skiing the slopes than lounging on the beach, look for a mountain resort in Canada or Colorado to match your style. Destination Magazine highlights over 70 worldwide destination wedding locations to get married. The beauty of a destination wedding is that you can begin your honeymoon immediately. Be sure to pick a place you want to spend your time.
Keep in mind, having a destination wedding means fewer of your friends and family will attend. Give your guests plenty of notice so they may plan accordingly. Alternatively, invite only those friends and family you want to attend. Inviting relatives out of courtesy may end up surprising you with their attendance. You’ll likely spend more time with your guests over several days at a destination wedding. Make sure it’s someone you want to be there.
Is a cruise an option? Most cruise lines offer wedding packages either in a port or on the ship before you depart. When you marry before departure, your guests have the option of sailing or not sailing with you. This may be a perfect way to go from the intimacy of a small destination wedding and straight to a honeymoon with just the two of you.
Get a travel agent
Your travel agent can be your wedding planner, or liaison with your wedding coordinator at the hotel or in your destination city. An experienced travel agent not only has first hand knowledge of various wedding destinations, she can secure extras for you and your future spouse as well as your traveling party. Travel advisers have inside access to benefits, tours, and amenities that are not available online. She can personalize your momentous wedding and honeymoon, and save you money while doing it.
Additionally, a travel agent can coordinate group discounts and your friends and family reservations. You don’t want to be stuck making sure Uncle Joe and Aunt Sally confirmed their reservation with the resort. Let your travel agent handle reservations and funds.
Going overseas – get your passport
If you’re traveling outside of the US, allow enough time to get your passport. Routine applications take 4-6 weeks and expedited applications take 2-3 weeks. US citizens cruising to destinations including Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, the Bahamas, or Bermuda do not require a passport provided the cruise is round trip from a US port. US Citizens will need to provide acceptable proof of citizenship, which includes the following:
- an original or certified copy of a government issued birth certificate (raised seal and signature) AND
- a laminated government issued picture ID (typically, driver’s license)
Despite these exceptions, all major cruise lines STRONGLY recommend a valid passport for extenuating or emergency reasons.
Plan for your guests
Just as you need time to plan for your destination wedding, be sure to allow your guests ample time to plan as well. Send out Save the Date announcements to your invited guests. Discuss your plans with your immediate family early. Be sure to give them your travel agents information so she may go ahead and block rooms. Remind your guests of passport requirements. Remember, a destination wedding is a much larger expense for your guests. Be sure to keep their budget in mind when planning. Your travel advisor can also help with the “little things” such as arranging transportation for your guests to and from the ceremony. As an added bonus, consider scheduling a tour or special event for your guests after the ceremony. While you’re off enjoying your honeymoon, your guests can enjoy a private access tour of the resort or city.
Know the law
While getting married in the United States means that your home state will recognize the marriage, legal requirements vary state by state in regards to when you purchase the marriage certificate, blood tests, etc. For example, Florida does not require a blood test and a marriage license may be obtained by mail, whereas in California, you will need to set an appointment at the county clerk’s office.
Foreign countries may require that you be in the country for a specified time before you are allowed to marry, so plan with your travel adviser how long you need to “reside” in the country before a marriage can be performed. Time frames vary from 24 hours to as many as 10 days in some countries.
Plan for your attire
Say yes to the right dress and know that you’ll be transporting it as well. Be sure to let your travel agent know if you have any special requests when flying and ask what the airline rules are for carrying on your dress. Of course, be sure to match your dress to the destination. You won’t want a long train trailing in the sand on a beach wedding, but it may be more appropriate in an Irish castle.
Enjoy the moment
Above all else, be flexible and enjoy yourselves. This is a momentous occasion and the destination you choose will reflect your style, personality and provide a great backdrop for photos!