The past two years have created some unconventional wedding experiences. Whether couples were dodging Covid restrictions or running away to elope, weddings and love still persevered. While intimate elopements are on the rise, so are destination wedding weekends designed to create new memories for guests traveling from out of town. Thanks to this rise in destination weddings, we chatted with Sarah of Marae Events to gather her insider tips on planning a destination wedding.
“The allure of travel has stirred a renewed yearning in all of us. A siren song that reverberates, more often now than in the past. With this drive to travel and expand our world again, the desire to host a destination wedding is becoming the preferred option for most couples. It’s providing an opportunity not only to celebrate, but also explore and engage.” – Marae Events
The first, and perhaps most obvious wedding planning step, is to pick your location. Sarah states that, “When planning a destination wedding, couples usually select places they’ve previously traveled to that have afforded amazing experiences. On rare occasions, couples may consider a place they’ve always dreamed of traveling. If opting for the latter, it’s a good idea to visit the proposed location at least once before putting plans into motion.”
While you may have an image of what your perfect wedding will look like at this specific destination, it’s important to research the local weather and if a wedding can be supported at your dream destination. There are many details to take into account when traveling to a place you can not pop into whenever you would like, so make sure to do your research and consider working with a travel agency who can nail down the reduced airfare rates and take care of your hotel blocks. Travel agencies are also up to date with the most current travel restrictions you may need to consider for your big day.
Once you have selected the location for your destination wedding, the next step would be to contract a wedding planner. Specifically, someone who specializes in destination weddings or a planner from the area where you are getting married. If you choose to go with someone local, they can give you recommendations for your other vendors locally and be your eyes and ears at your destination wedding location when you cannot be. Local vendors are typically more cost-effective and will plug you into an experienced and talented community.
“Wedding planners have a wealth of knowledge and a vetted vendor list that you can tap into while planning. When interviewing your potential planner, listen to your intuition and select someone who has the resources, knowledge and personality that fits best with yours. This is such a unique relationship and you want to ensure the person you’re working with is someone you can trust and look to for experience. Someone that shares in the excitement of preparing for your wedding is also important!” – Marae Events
If there is anything to learn from the last two years, it’s that travel restrictions change rapidly. Make sure you are checking on any travel restrictions and marriage requirements for the destination you are planning your wedding at. If your destination wedding is in the United States, make sure to check on marriage license requirements in the county you will be married in. If you are also looking into getting married at one of the many breathtaking national parks in the U.S., do your research on what permits are required for the park specifically. For international destinations, there can be a myriad of laws you need to comply with to ensure your marriage is actually valid. Couples that do not want to dig through volumes of literature may opt for doing a civil ceremony in the U.S. and a celebration of marriage when they host their wedding abroad.
“Marriages performed overseas are considered valid in the country where they take place if they are entered into in accordance with local law. Recognition of the validity of marriages performed abroad depends on the laws of the place in which the marriage is to be recognized.”- U.S. Department of State
Everyday needs, like gas prices or the cost of food, are rising and impact the wedding industry. This is something to take into account when creating a budget for your destination wedding. If you are hosting your celebration in another country, make sure to account for exchange rates since the local currency may be trading at higher value than the U.S. dollar. The most important part when planning your destination wedding is to do your research and communicate with as many vendors locally to make sure there will be no surprises when you arrive at your destination wedding location.
“There are a few things to keep in mind while planning a destination wedding. The ability to be flexible and roll with changes will be key. Also, don’t be too precious with the details, you won’t be able to control everything. Remember your focus. The most important aspect will be celebrating each other and gathering your family and friends to share in this amazing experience.” – Marae Events
Interested in picking a destination wedding location in the Rocky Mountains? Take a look through our Destination Wedding Planning Guides to get insight on unique wedding destinations in the Rockies!