destination wedding planning

beach

Whether you're eloping or inviting guests, destination weddings are fun and intimate.

What better way to start your marriage than on a beautiful resort that gives you a wedding and honeymoon vacation all in one?

Many resorts will provide all the services you'll will need, offering you a basic package that you can customize and add on to. Keep in mind that there may be other weddings planned for the same day, so make sure your coordinator isn't overbooked.

location, location

Often you don't have to travel far for exotic locations. First, you will need to consider your budget, how much time you have, and how far your guests are willing to travel. Some people refuse to get on airplanes. Others are afraid of water. It's up to you if or how far you're willing to compromise, but don't let anyone ruin your dream wedding.

when to begin

The sooner the better, because weekend dates always fill up fast. This way you'll have plenty of time to give advance notice to your guests and you'll have your piece of mind knowing you can get married at the desired location. Sometimes you can plan as little as one month ahead at some resorts, but don't do this unless necessary. Ten to twelve months in advance is ideal.

wedding coordinators

A wedding coordinator can make or break your destination wedding! Choose a wedding coordinator that is experienced and friendly. Reputable resorts will usually offer those that know the local vendors and services. If you feel you've got someone new on the job, ask if someone else will be assisting. You're going to have plenty of questions so you need to be comfortable around him or her. Ask for references and check them. Destination wedding planning is much easier if you think you made the right choice.

officiant

Some resorts offer a selection or list of wedding officiants. Whether you have them provide one or hire outside, be sure to discuss religion and the ceremonies available. Non-denominational clergy and ministers will give you plenty of freedom to write your own vows and plan the order of your ceremony. Communication is crucial.

paperwork

Your wedding coordinator should be prepared to handle the necessary paperwork or advise you what steps you need to take. Sometimes you can fax forms or fill them out online. Make sure ask about any specific requirements, such as residency if you're traveling overseas, identification and medical tests.

contracts

Get it in writing, down to every last detail. You can often get discounts for multiple rooms rented for a specific duration, often for 3-4 days. Make sure this is in the contract as well. Find out about sales taxes, and additional charges because they can add up quickly. Ask about delays due to inclement weather and cancellations in case of disasters such as hurricanes or floods.

entertainment

Check out activities that are available at or near your resort. Ask your travel agent or coordinator to send brochures in advance so you can plan for sailing, museums, golfing, tours, etc. Let your guests know as well so they can pack necessary clothing and gear.

If you prefer some privacy later on, you can stay on for a couple of days after your wedding and then travel to a preplanned honeymoon vacation... just the two of you.