Marcel and Joan had a lovely wedding on the beach in Jamaica. Even though I wasn’t technically invited, I couldn’t help snapping a few pictures from the comfort of my beach chair. If I had known them, I might have even shed a tear or two. Their ceremony was the best of the four weddings we observed during our one-week stay at an all-inclusive resort in Montego Bay. When it comes to beach destination weddings, Marcel and Joan have a lot of company – and I’m not just referring to uninvited wedding guests. Many couples are choosing destination weddings because they are fun and affordable beach weddings.
What is a Destination Wedding?
Destination weddings are one of the hottest trends in the wedding and travel industry today. Many brides and grooms are bypassing the traditional wedding and opting for a smaller more intimate ceremony at a spectacular locale. (Check out our article on Bora Bora.)
Destination Wedding Prices
Although they sound extravagant, destination weddings can actually be more affordable than traditional options. Since each guest pays for their own all-inclusive travel package, the expenses to the bride and groom can often be lower. Some all-inclusive resorts offer free weddings and if your wedding group is large enough, you may qualify for free air tickets or a free room for the bride and groom. A destination wedding can also be your honeymoon, so you don’t have to pay separately for a wedding and a honeymoon.
Six Tips for Planning Affordable Beach Weddings
Get Some Expert Help:
It’s a good idea to use an experienced travel agent to help you arrange a destination wedding. Find someone who has experience booking destination weddings and ask for references from other couples who have used their services. A good travel agent can save you money, time and stress. You can also make use of a wedding planner. Most all-inclusive beach resorts have dedicated wedding planners onsite. Their services are typically included in the wedding package you book. Make sure to contact them well before the wedding and use their services to help plan and execute the wedding of your dreams.
Choose the Right Destination:
When it comes to a destination wedding, the destination is almost as important as the ceremony. For a large wedding, it’s a good idea to do at least one pre-visit to make sure you are happy with the destination and the resort. Hawaii, the US Virgin Islands, Jamaica and the Bahamas are amongst the most popular destinations for Americans. Other destinations such as Cuba, Mexico and the Dominican Republic are also popular with Canadian brides and grooms.
Make Sure it’s Legal:
Be sure to check into the legal requirements for a marriage in the country you are interested in getting married in. Many countries have residency requirements and other red tape. Be sure you bring the right documentation with you. Also, be sure to find out what you need to do and what forms need to be filed, so the marriage is recognized by the government once you return home. Some couples choose to do a symbolic wedding in the destination and then visit a justice of the peace to have a legal ceremony once they return to their home country.
A good travel agent will know the ins and outs of group discounts. When you have a large group, you may be able to negotiate a discount for airfare and hotels. Brides and grooms may also qualify for upgrades and other perks. Some all-inclusive resorts, such as Sandals Resorts even offer free weddings with a 3-night stay. Sandals free weddings include the venue, the ceremony, spa treatments, honeymoon inclusions, flowers, a wedding cake and a wedding dinner. Check out the inclusions then consider paying to add customized extras. Paying extra for a good destination wedding photographer is usually a wise investment. Consider in advance whether you want to do any trash the dress shots.
Destination Wedding Etiquette:
You should give your guests at least 8 months notice for a destination wedding. This gives them time to save up, arrange time off work, and plan their family vacations around the event. Some brides and grooms like to give customized wedding favours for each guest or a special private party or tour for the entire group.
Don’t Worry, Be Happy:
Make arrangements beforehand and meet with the wedding planner in your destination to do an onsite inspection of the venue and run through the plans. After that, set your watch to island time and try to relax. Beach weddings are supposed to be laid back and fun.