DESTINATION WEDDING PROS & CONS
psst…they’re mostly pros
So, you’ve got the ring on your finger (finally!) and if you are anything like me, you have immediately started googling, pinning, e-mailing, and are eagerly getting started on planning your DREAM WEDDING. Maybe you’ve dreamed of a destination wedding all of your life, or maybe, after gathering all this inspiration over the last however many hours it took you to get started, something makes you turn to your partner and say, “Babe, what if we did a destination wedding?”.
Again, if you’re like me, you may make a pros and cons list. Now let me start this post off with a disclaimer: I RECOMMEND A DESTINATION WEDDING. My husband and I are from San Diego and got married in San Jose del Cabo, and we would not trade the weekend we had for the world. So whether you’re thinking Mexico, Iceland, Hawaii, or Croatia, I say, “Do it!”. But I will not say that without letting you in on the PROS AND CONS that my husband and I experienced along the way. You may have unique things come up depending on the destination you choose, but I will share some that I believe will apply to most, if not all, you destination brides-to-be.
So, let’s start with the CONS of having a destination wedding. Now, remember, I am recommending, nay, yelling from the rooftop, for you to have a destination wedding. So, don’t forget to read on to the PROS. You may just discover some of these CONS have an appealing flip side.
CONS OF HAVING A DESTINATION WEDDING
- Trimming the Guest List: One of the first things you will have to accept about planning a destination wedding, is there will be people who won’t be able to make it. Whether their health, age, or financial situation restricts them from traveling too far, there will be people who you will miss. (Stay tuned. There is a pro to this)
- The Guilt Trips: Some of these people may be disappointed in you that you are picking a destination that they are unable to travel to, and make you feel guilty for it. Luckily, I didn’t experience much of this, but I know it can happen. With everything during wedding planning, you must remind yourself, and your friends and family, that the wedding is. about. the. bride. and groom. End of story. Do not let this deter you from doing what you and your betrothed want to do.
- Travel Logistics: There are always going to be those guests who just can’t answer their own questions about travel arrangements, whether the wedding is 20 minutes or 12 hours away. This concern can be highlighted for some guests if you are asking them to travel internationally. This is why it is SO IMPORTANT to have a detailed wedding website with a “Travel & Accommodations” section, and to set boundaries for yourself. Those questions will come, and you can simply reply, “Yes, we thought of that! All the details you need are on our website!”. I used ZOLA for our wedding website and loved it.
- Vendors of Choice: Some vendors may require a little more work to find if you are getting married in an area you have no connections to. You may have a photographer, florist, videographer, etc. that you’ve always dreamed of working with that you simply can’t afford to fly to Bali. You will have to either rely on your venue and their preferred list of vendors or do your own research to find someone you want to work with nearby, which can be challenging if you’re not familiar with the area. Lean on Yelp, TripAdvisor, google reviews, or even reach out to other brides who got married at/near your venue on social media.
- No DIY: Maybe you were planning on DIYing some wedding decor to save some money. However, it’s going to be a little difficult to fly with your homemade seating chart or the corn hole you borrowed from your sister. Yes, there are probably some things that you could do cheaper if you were able to bring them yourself, but it’s just not going to be worth the hassle. I recommend relying on your wedding vendors for all the decor. The only thing I brought with me from San Diego to Cabo were some fans for the wedding ceremony and blow-up props for the dance floor, all of which stayed in Mexico.
PROS OF HAVING A DESTINATION WEDDING
- Exclusive Guest List: While you may be sad that Grandma can’t make it to Tulum, do you want to know arguably the best part about having a destination wedding? You can cross some people off that guest list, girl! Sorry distant family member I only see once a year, sorry co-worker who is expecting a courtesy invite, sorry friends of parents that I don’t even know – “We are having a destination wedding and due to the intimate nature of our ceremony, we can only invite our immediate family and friends“. Practice saying that and leave that guest list drama for the poor bride who has to manage 350 RSVPs to her ballroom reception.
- TIP: You can also use that sentence up there to fill in the blank and explain why no small children are invited, and you can thank me later.
- Also, don’t get destination wedding confused with micro-wedding. We budgeted for 75 guests. We sent out invitations to 100 people (yes, invite the people who you know can’t make it), and ended up with 50 people attending.
- TIP: On the fence about who makes the cut? Ask yourself, “Would I invite this person out to dinner and pay for their *insert your cost per plate here* tab?”. If the answer is no, then you have your answer. I am aware not everyone can be a decisive Enneagram 8 like myself who has no problem saying ‘no’ to people. But, hopefully this helps?
- Vacation With Your Closest Friends & Family: Now that you’ve got the guest list situated, think of how epic it is going to be to have a vacation with your closest friends and family. No obligatory invites (okay, maybe a few) but just the people who are closest to you, who truly know, love, and support you. This is the only time where you will all be on a vacation together, partying together, and all to celebrate YOU! I got married at the Cabo Surf Hotel in Cabo, and there are no words to describe the joy of waking up and looking out the window and seeing your friends on the beach, then going down to breakfast and all the restaurant tables are filled with your family, and then have all your friends around the pool. It’s like the pre-party, party, and post-party all wrapped up in one trip. I wept when we checked out of our hotel room because I was just so emotional knowing that we just experienced something with our loved ones that we never would again (See, 8s do have soft spots).
- It Will Be Unique to You: While there are things you can do to make any type of wedding unique to you, there is something about a destination wedding that will be unforgettable to your guests. And I don’t just mean the destination. Whether it’s planning a sunset ocean cruise for the welcome party, a beach bon fire for the rehearsal dinner, a wedding party paddle-out the morning of the wedding, or a mariachi band during cocktail hour, there are so many unique experiences that you can plan that you would be unable to do if you got married in your hometown. Even if you’re like me and are from San Diego and can do all of those things at home, planning something special and specific to your destination will make the weekend even more unforgettable.
- Vacation Mode: This isn’t just a vacation for you, but for all your guests as well. They all took the time off work, paid the money to be there, and are excited for their anticipated vacation. While this may have been stressful to orchestrate, once everyone is there and has a day or so to get settled, EVERYONE is in vacation mode. I personally felt no pre-wedding stress once we arrived at the destination because once everybody was there on the beach with a margarita and their ‘out of office’ on, what was there to be stressed about? It is a huge plus to have everyone on the same page and in relaxation/party mode.
- Built In Honeymoon: Chances are your destination wedding will be somewhere you will want to stay and travel around. Personally, I am not for delaying the honeymoon and am all about that instant gratification of leaving the wedding and heading straight to your honeymoon. We got married in Cabo then hopped on a flight to the other side of Mexico and honeymooned in Tulum (check out my blog post for all the details on why we love TULUM). Overall, we were in Mexico 10 days and loved doing everything at once.
- Get Married On a Weekday: Because your guests will most likely be taking more time off work and staying at the destination longer than they would if they were traveling domestically to your wedding, this may give you the option to get married on a weekday, which is usually cheaper for a lot of venues. Because Cabo is only a 2 1/2 hour flight from San Diego, our weekend itinerary was a little shorter. Most guests arrived Thursday, and we had the rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, and welcome party Thursday night. The wedding was on Friday and we had the post-wedding brunch on Saturday. Depending on how far your destination is, you may want to lengthen your itinerary and have guests stay longer, which may give you the option to get married on a Thursday or a Monday!
- No Forced Mingling: If you haven’t caught on by now, I am not a ‘people pleaser’. So it shouldn’t be surprising that I have always said there is no way I’m spending my wedding reception going from table to table mingling with guests; they can come find me on the dance floor. Of course, people would find this rude, LOL. So, lucky for me this wasn’t an issue! I was hanging out with our wedding guests for 2 days leading up to the wedding because we were all staying at the same hotel. No need for forced mingling at the reception – we had already been partying together all weekend! Of course, you always feel like you could have spent more time with certain people, but it was nice to have more than just a 5 minute small-talk with our guests
- The Photos!: Need I say more? Just think of all the dreamy photos you will get at your unique destination.
- Other Ways to Celebrate: While you have accepted that not every single person you want there will be able to attend the wedding, remember, there are other ways to celebrate together. Don’t be afraid to invite people to the engagement party or bridal shower that you aren’t inviting to the wedding. It may be a little awkward, but the true friends and family who just want to support and celebrate you will understand.
What all of these pros meant for me, was the event became truly about what it is supposed to be about: the bride and groom. There is something about getting away to a beautiful destination without the drama of a huge guest list that will really simplify your wedding week and keep it focused on what truly matters.
While planning a destination wedding is not without its stressors, I truly believe it makes for the most blissful, stress-free wedding week. I hope I have helped convince you to make the leap, and you can now start planning with eyes wide open! And remember, it’s about YOU!
If you have any questions you would like to ask or personal experiences of your own you would like to share – leave me a comment below. I would love to meet you!