Do you dream of getting married in a picturesque location? A recent study published by theKnot.com reveals that 24% of couples are ditching the traditional ceremony and its location for a more intimate affair with their closest friends and family in attendance. Planning a destination wedding can be overwhelming. These tips will ensure that your walk down the aisle is much more pleasant.
Choose the Right Destination
First, choose the right destination. The Caribbean and Mexico are among the most popular regions for destination weddings in the world. It is important to note that each country within the region has its own geographical makeup, climate, and culture. Thus, traveling to Jamaica for an October destination wedding will warrant a different experience than that of Mexico in mid-July. Likewise, traveling to The Bahamas in September will differ from Costa Rica in January. (More about this in the next tip.)
Brides and grooms should also consider the legality of a destination wedding in the country of their choice. There are two types of ceremonies that can be performed. There is a legal ceremony and a symbolic ceremony. A legal ceremony, or civil ceremony, is recognized in the United States as well as the country in which the bride and groom wed. Furthermore, a legal ceremony is legal and binding. A symbolic ceremony is not legally recognized in the United States, nor in the country in which the ceremony is performed. A symbolic ceremony is just that – symbolic.
In many of the Caribbean countries a civil ceremony is a simple process. The bride and groom must meet residency requirements (arriving to the country 24-72 hours prior to the ceremony date) and submit the proper paperwork and forms of identification to receive a marriage license. In Mexico, for example, a legal ceremony is slightly different. Brides and grooms are required to get blood work completed while meeting the 96 business hour residency requirement. A large portion – the legal portion – of the ceremony is also performed in Spanish.
Civil versus Symbolic? Many brides and grooms will legally wed in the countries where the hoopla of marrying does not overshadow the fun that goes into planning the destination wedding. In countries where the marriage requirements are more strict, such as Mexico, many choose a symbolic ceremony whereby they legally wed prior to departing for the destination wedding. The best part about choosing a symbolic ceremony in a country with strict requirements? Unless you tell your guests, no one will know the difference.
Timing is Everything!
Second, timing is everything! When does it rain the most? When is it the warmest? What about hurricanes? How warm is the ocean/sea water? These questions are important to consider and can oftentimes be overlooked during the planning process. A bride and groom who are looking for a cool, breezy afternoon on the beach in Mexico in May or June will be very disappointed if they did not consider the climate, as it is very hot and humid during that time. It’s definitely not all about the weather though.
Understanding the difference between and date ranges for high travel season and low travel season will also be beneficial in planning a destination wedding. For instance, high travel season is Mid-December to Mid-April when airfare is the easiest to come by and resorts and prices are at their peak. Low travel season, mid-April through mid-December, is a great option for many brides and grooms who would like to wed during the North American summer vacation or would like to take advantage of some of the lower price points that are offered by the resorts. Above all, there are perks to both seasons so unless a bride and groom have a set date, neither should be discounted. The best timeframe will most likely be chosen based on weather and price point for the guests to attend.
Dress the Part
Third, it’s important to dress the part. When choosing wedding attire for a destination wedding, keep in mind the destination and the time of year. Wearing a heavy dress on the beach when it is 90-100F will not make for a happy bride. Keep the groom’s attire in mind, too. The dress is important – but ultimately, a comfortable groom is the only kind of groom to have. Instead of black attire, many brides elect to go with creams and shades of gray to keep the gentlemen cooler, and linen is always a plus. Also, brides and grooms (and everyone in the wedding party) should travel with attire in hand, so that it is not misplaced in transit.
Fourth, reach out to the experts and get help. No one expects a bride to plan her wedding on her own, let alone her destination wedding! Choose a destination wedding travel professional to assist with the planning and booking process for your big day. Their expertise will keep travel itineraries organized – just imagine trying to keep track of the flight times and schedule changes for 20 or 30 or even 80 guests from around the globe for your big day. No need to stress – that is what travel experts are for! The connections they have within the industry will also aid in receiving more amenities and inclusions for your big day – contract negotiation, if you will. When hiring a travel professional to assist in planning a destination wedding, make sure to hire a no fee agency. There is no need to pay more for the assistance of a destination wedding professional when you simply do not have to do so.
Choosing the right destination wedding specialist? Destination wedding travel professionals should be well-versed in assisting through the entire process of booking the destination wedding. From travel arrangements to ceremony details, a good destination wedding professional will be there to help accomplish every task related to the big day!
Traits that are important to look for in a destination wedding expert are as follows: Communicator – make sure that the professional communicates in such a way that the bride and her family/friends are not confused by any of the details that are relayed. Booking a destination wedding can be overwhelming and confusing enough – so the professional must be able to help break down the process into easy steps that are not quite so overwhelming! Providing a destination wedding timeline from which to work is helpful to make sure that every task is being accomplished on time. Communication is essential. With that being said, brides must also realize that international destination weddings do take time to plan, so patience is key. Confidence – It is always important to work with someone who is confident in what they are doing. If they are not familiar with destination weddings because they only plan one or two a year, it might be a good idea to look for someone who is a little more skilled or has a niche/certification in this particular field. In many states, travel agents do not have to be licensed to sell travel, so if they are not certified as a destination wedding specialist, there are a lot of details they may miss when helping with the big day! Ultimately, the key is choosing someone with whom the bride and groom feel comfortable working.
Ready, set, GO!
Lastly, there is no time like the present to begin planning a destination wedding. Keep in mind that international vendors live on what is commonly referred to as “island time.” If that term is unfamiliar – simply put, they may not be so quick to respond, so it is imperative that the bride and groom begin the process early. When booking early, destination wedding travel experts have access to better travel rates, which can save the bride and her guests money.
The trends suggest that destination weddings will continue to increase in popularity over the next few years, and even more so in a post-pandemic world. In the first month of 2021, Foerster Travel has as many destination weddings on the books as were planned throughout the entire 2019 calendar year (we are not considering 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdowns). Brides and grooms are finding themselves soaking up the sun while the professionals take care of the rest. So, dive right in! It’s time to begin planning a destination wedding experience of a lifetime.
Always have had a positive experience and we always work with Ashly! She is the absolute best. She takes away the challenge of planning the perfect vacation by taking all the things we want and creating the perfect vacation itinerary and booking it for us. We never have to worry about anything. She always checks in to see how things are going and follows up with us afterwards. She has great experience and loves Disney as much as we do!! We would never book with anyone else. Highly recommend for any and all vacation or travel plans.
My husband and I booked our vacation through Foerster with Tobie Mock and got an AMAZING deal for a week long vacation to Mexico. I think what made our booking experience with Foerster so great, was our agent Tobie. She was absolutely amazing! She was very responsive and helped us plan our dream vacation for a great deal! It was a very easy process and she handled everything for us. It was nice not having to stress about planning! I highly recommend this company and especially Tobie Mock as an agent!
Ashly was AMAZING! From start to finish she really listened to what we were trying to ultimately accomplish for our trip. Not only were we planning our honeymoon, but this was the first time we’ve been able to truly travel since we got together. She understood how big this was for us and went the extra mile to make sure it was perfect! I can’t thank her enough for her patience, professionalism and perfection! You rock, Ashly!!
I have 100% put ALL my trust in Foerster Travel because they are AMAZING!!! Lindsay planned my entire wedding in Mexico and it was PERFECT. She helped me pick out the perfect resort, was calm and patient with me, and worked with all of my guest. As a bride, I had zero stress and it was all due to Lindsay and her company! She literally works miracles! I also had two other best friends get married and went through her company. She planned my trip to Costa Rica and I just got back from a two-week trip from Europe!!!! I do not know what I would do without Lindsay and Foerster Travel!!!! I 100% recommend this company!
Meggie is quick and efficient! She typically responds same day and does all the work to find exactly what you are looking for, vacation and budget wise. Our vacations have been stress free from the second we think about taking one until we arrive home all because she takes care of every detail! We will never go on a vacation without her help. Thanks Meg!
Briana and Foerster Travel are amazing!! They are our go to anytime we have a specific destination in mind or just want a vacation without knowing where. She is so knowledgeable and helpful with the entire process. She works quickly and is very flexible if things change. Bri does an outstanding job and makes the process so easy on me! I won’t use anyone else!
My husband and I have had the pleasure of using Meggie Hunter as a travel agent several times. She is diligent, thorough and professional. Her knowledge and expertise of the travel industry has been invaluable to us. She has always been on top of everything from the moment we presented her with our travel ideas. Meggie is lots of fun, energetic and easy to work with. We highly recommend Meggie and Foerster for all of your travel needs!
Tobie made planning our trip so easy! She recommended great resorts and got everything booked for us, when COVID happened we were super stressed about what would happen but she sat on hold for hours (sorry Tobie!!! but so thankful for you!) to get everything rescheduled for us! She Is the sweetest and made the whole process so fun and easy, we are so excited for our upcoming trip. I definitely won’t book with anyone else for any future travel!
Sarah booked our anniversary trip to Jamaica and It was the easiest trip I’ve ever planned. She made sure we got got to experience everything on our list and got us the best prices available. I would highly recommend Sarah and the Forester team!