The Do's and Don'ts of Planning a Destination Wedding

With 88 percent of Americans getting married at least once during their lives and an average of 44,230 weddings occurring every weekend in the United States, it’s not surprising that Americans spend $72 billion on weddings every year. Approximately 24 percent of marriages are destination weddings, meaning they take place away from home. The destination wedding industry generates $16 billion annually.

There are some key differences between non-destination weddings and destination weddings. The average age of a bride in a non-destination wedding is 28 years-old while the average age of a bride in a destination wedding is 33 years-old.. An average of 165 people attend a wedding that takes place close to home while an average of 48 individuals go to a destination wedding.

Who chooses a destination wedding?

One of the biggest differences between non-destination weddings and destination weddings are the cost of the event and who pays for it. The average budget for a wedding in a foreign location is $28,000 while the average amount paid for a conventional wedding on the home front is $29,858. Approximately 32 percent of couples getting married close to home pay for their own weddings, but 60 percent of couples planning to get married in a different location pay for their weddings.

If you are already engaged, you may be wondering what kind of wedding you want to have. As you consider your options, keep the following advantages that destination weddings provide in mind:

  • Simplicity: Depending on how involved you want to be in the process, planning a destination wedding can be simpler than planning one close to home. Many resort destinations have wedding packages that you can choose from which eliminates the need for you to make many of the decisions about your wedding. For example, if you want to customize your wedding, you can always hire a wedding planner who has planned events in your wedding destination before or one who actually lives in that location and is familiar with the area and everything it has to offer.
  • Affordability: Even after you factor in the cost of airfare and lodging, destination weddings are normally less expensive than traditional American weddings. This is largely because approximately 70 percent fewer people attend destination weddings compared to the number of people who go to non-destination weddings. On average, couples who have destination weddings spend $8,200 on their honeymoons. You can save a significant portion of that sum by staying at the site of your wedding after you exchange vows for a few days or weeks instead of traveling to another location.
  • Cultural: A destination wedding can reflect the many sides of a couple’s personality, culture or ancestry. Since destination weddings typically last several days instead of just three or four hours, they give couples the chance to engage their guests in the activities they enjoy an atmosphere they want to share with the people closest to them. It may be the region where one or both sides of your family tree originated. Or it may be the home country of your partner’s great-great-great-grandparents. The host site of your wedding may also be the location where you met your soon-to-be spouse.
  • Vacation Time: While it’s generally recommended that you arrive at your wedding destination 3-5 days before your big day to follow-up on the last minute preparations for your wedding, some locations require you to be within their boundaries for a prescribed length of time before you can get married legally. If your wedding is going to be in England, for instance, you must be in the country for at least seven days prior to your wedding ceremony. If you’re going to get married in France, you must reside in that country for a minimum of 40 days before you say, “I do.” You can use the days leading up to your wedding as some well-deserved vacation time.
  • Quality Time: Since many of your guests will probably arrive at your wedding destination days before your ceremony, you’ll get to spend more one-on-one time with everyone than you’d be able to do in a reception lasting just a few hours. A destination wedding also gives attendees the opportunity to spend more time with each other than they’d be able to at a traditional American wedding.
Destination Wedding Advantages: Simplicity, Affordability, Culture, Vacation Time, Quality Time

Destination Wedding Planning Tips

If you’ve decided that a destination wedding is right for you, you may be wondering how you should go about planning your event. The best place to start is to sit down with your fiancée and discuss where you want to have your wedding. If you don’t have any location ideas, talk about the atmosphere and ambience you want your event to have as well as the things you want to do as a couple and with your friends and family members in the days preceding and following your wedding. Using these criteria, you can research possible wedding destinations.

How to start planning a destination wedding: first sit with your partner and discuss where you want to have your wedding.

Listed below are some popular wedding destinations and the approximate number of out of town weddings they host annually:

  • Las Vegas: 80,000 weddings
  • Hawaii: 20,000 weddings
  • U.S. Virgin Islands: 5,100 weddings
  • Jamaica: 5,000 weddings
  • Bahamas: 4,000 weddings

One location that is understandably growing in popularity as a wedding destination is Tulum.  Tulum is one of the last cities that the Maya constructed and lived in centuries ago and it is currently the site of some of the best-preserved coastal Mayan ruins in the world.  Tulum rests on tall cliffs overlooking the waterfront on the east coast of the Caribbean Sea’s Yucatan Peninsula in Quintana Roo, Mexico.

Tulum: The up and coming wedding destination

Tulum’s idyllic location is exactly what makes it an ideal site for a destination wedding.  The historic ruins are located just 80 miles south of Cancun.  Part of the Riviera Maya, Tulum is also close to the popular cities of Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos, and Felipe Carrillo Puerto.  The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, commonly referred to as the Belize Barrier Reef, runs the full length of the Riviera Maya and is the second longest barrier reef system in the world,

In addition to exploring Mayan ruins and a natural underwater tourist attraction, Tulum gives you and your wedding guests the chance to participate in fun activities you might not get to experience anywhere else.  One such activity is swimming in cenotes.  The cenotes that are close to Tulum include the Maya Blue, Naharon, Temple of Doom and Vacaha.  Additional activities that are popular with visitors to Tulum include jet skiing, scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming with dolphins, and going on jungle tours.

Once you’ve picked a location such as Tulum for your wedding, you should make plans to visit that destination, especially if you’ve never been there before. This will help ensure that the spot really does have everything, or at least most of the things, you want your wedding destination to have.

If it’s feasible, you should plan to visit your destination once or twice more in the months leading up to your event. This is particularly important if you’re not buying a wedding package or using a wedding planner. By visiting your destination repeatedly, you’ll have the chance to reaffirm your plans and make sure the staff caries out the arrangements you’ve made seamlessly when you and your guests arrive for your wedding ceremony and celebration.

Additional Destination Wedding Planning Tips:

  • Pay with a Credit or Debit Card: Paying for things with a debit or credit card provides certain guarantees that you don’t get when you pay for something with cash. When you pay for a service or product with a debit or credit card, you have a permanent record of your transaction even if you lose your receipt. If you have a dispute with a vendor, the financial institution that backs your card will act as your advocate to rectify the situation as well.

Pay for things with a debit or credit card and get certain guarantees that you wouldn't by paying with cash.

  • Find Vendors Willing to Travel: When it comes to planning a wedding, few things are worse than finding a vendor you want to work with only to discover that the company’s representatives will not travel to the location where your wedding will take place. As you’re choosing vendors, ask them if they’ll be willing to travel to your destination wedding upfront to avoid disappointment down the line. For example, Dash Wedding's is a boutique DJ agency who will travel with you to your destination.
  • Make a Wedding Planning Checklist: Having a checklist will help you stay organized and ensure you don’t overlook something as you plan your wedding. You’ll also get a much needed sense of accomplishment every time you’re able to cross something off your to-do list.
  • Check with Must-Attend Guests: If you just can’t imagine getting married without certain people being in attendance, you should run the idea of having a destination wedding by them before you start to make plans. Make sure they’re willing and able to travel to the location and that they don’t have pre-existing commitments on the dates you’ve selected for your event.
  • Check the Calendar: Check the calendar to see when your wedding destination and the areas surrounding it are the busiest. During the high or peak season, it may be difficult to get hotel rooms and tourist activity may interfere with or distract from your wedding. Planning your wedding during the shoulder season that follows the high season, or even during the off-season, can not only make it easier for you and your guests to secure lodging, it can also make having a destination wedding more affordable because there will be less competition for the area’s amenities and accommodations.

During the high or peak season, it may be difficult to get hotel rooms & tourist activity may interfere with or distract from your wedding.

  • Check the Weather: Depending on the site you’ve chosen for your wedding, the area may be more prone to experience severe weather during certain times of the year. Check the historical and predicted weather patterns for your wedding destination and plan your event during a time when tumultuous weather is not likely to occur.
  • Don’t Invite to Be Polite: Before you create your guest list, think carefully about the individuals you want to invite to your wedding. Remember, destination weddings are events that play out over several days at least. This means you’ll be spending a lot of time with the people who attend your wedding. While this gives you what may be a once in a lifetime opportunity to spend quality time with all of the most important people in your life in the same place, it can quickly turn into a forgettable experience if people you’re not fond of decide to attend your destination wedding. Just as your invitees are under no obligation to attend your wedding, you’re under no obligation to invite people who may embarrass or irritate you to your wedding.
  • Send Invitations Early: Since your guests will need to make travel arrangements to attend your wedding and at least some of them may need to save some money to pay for airfare and lodging, you need to send your “save the date” notices and invitations earlier than you would if you were having a local wedding. You should send your save the date cards at least 9-12 months prior to your wedding. Your invitations should go out a minimum of three months before your wedding and they should have an earlier RSVP deadline than an invitation to a conventional wedding invitation does.

You should send your save teh date cards at least 9-12 months prior to your wedding

This is particularly important if you’re making hotel reservations or transportation arrangements for your guests. Depending on the hotel you book rooms in, you may have to pay for the entire block of rooms you reserved even if some rooms remained unoccupied throughout your wedding event. So, getting an accurate head count while there’s still time to adjust the arrangements you’ve made without incurring a penalty can help you avoid wasting money on unused space.

If your guests are going to arrange lodging on their own, make sure your RSVP card has a space for them to share their flight and hotel information. Having this information will make it easy for you to track down people who are critical to your wedding — including your bridesmaids and groomsmen — and make sure they’re where they need to be when they need to be.

If you’re going to have a second reception after you return home from your destination wedding, make note of that in your invitation. This will take some pressure off people who are on a tight budget since they’ll know they can still celebrate your nuptials even though they won’t be physically present when you exchange vows. Doing this will also give people enough time to make plans to attend your home-based wedding reception.

  • Set Up Online RSVPs and Registry: You can make it possible for your guests to respond to your wedding invitation instantly by setting up online RSVPs with RSVPify or a similar website. In addition to potentially reducing the time it takes for invitees to respond, electronic RSVPs give you the chance to collect information about your wedding guests. You can include a list of the group activities you’ve planned for your destination wedding and ask them to mark the ones they plan on participating in, for instance. You can also ask them to select the entrée they want during your reception, among other things.

Setting up an online registry also makes it easy for your invitees to shop for your wedding gift. With an online registry, you can include items from as many retailers as you want, meaning you’re not limited to products offered by just one or two stores, and you don’t have to register in multiple locations. Since it’s likely that some of your invitees live near certain stores while others reside closer to different brand retailers, registering online can make it easier for them to get you the things you and your fiancée have your eyes on. This is especially true if they are going to shop in person.

Registering online has the added benefit of increasing the odds that you’ll actually get the things you include in your registry because you can list the exact items you want from specific retailers instead of having to “settle” for similar items like you may have to do if you register with just one store. Websites such as make it simple to establish a registry in just a few minutes.

  • Book Different Rooms: If you are making hotel arrangements for your guests, be sure to book different kinds of rooms so everyone will be comfortable and have the best experience possible. Your parents may prefer to have a king-size bed in a detached villa while your single friends may want to share a hotel suite with other singles who want to explore the local nightlife. Think about your guests’ preferences, ask questions if you’re unsure about their likes and dislikes and book rooms accordingly.
  • Create a Wedding Website: If you create a wedding website before you send out your invitations, you can use your invitations to make people aware of it. Your website should include all of the information your guests will need to have in order to enjoy their time at your wedding destination. You should provide a schedule of the events you have planned and a list of the area’s most popular activities so your guests can make plans for their free time. As a general rule of thumb, you should plan one group event for your guests each day that they’re at your wedding destination. This will allow you to spend time with your guests while still giving them the chance to explore the location on their own.

You can use your invitations to make people aware of your wedding website.

Your website should also let people know what kind of attire will be appropriate given the weather and the venues you’ve booked for different activities. In addition, your website should include a list of services your guests may need to use while they’re out of town. If some of your guests are bringing their children, provide contact information for local babysitters who’ve been thoroughly vetted by a trusted source. You should also include the location of the medical resources in the area such as urgent cares and hospitals in case a member of your party becomes ill or suffers an injury.

  • Plan Your Honeymoon: If some of your guests have made arrangements to stay at your wedding destination after your wedding, you may want to plan to spend your honeymoon in a different location. You don’t need to go to an exotic location. Simply relocating to another hotel on the other side of town may do the trick. This will prevent you from feeling obligated to continue to entertain your guests during the duration of their stay.
  • Don’t Ship Things: One of the best ways to make your guests feel at home at your wedding destination is to have welcome baskets placed in their rooms before they arrive. While including some local treats in their bags is a smart way to introduce them to the area’s cuisine, it’s also a good idea to include some things they’re used to snacking on at home, things that might not be available in the immediate area. While it may seem like a good idea to ship these food items to your wedding destination, it’s generally not advisable to do so if your wedding is going to take place outside of the United States because they may not make it through customs.

For the same reason, avoid shipping your wedding dress or tuxedo as well. If you have objects you’re tempted to ship, pay the airline fees and bring extra bags with you when you’re traveling to your wedding destination instead. If you still can’t carry everything you need, give members of your wedding party money to cover the airline fees and ask them to bring extra bags filled with your overflow of things.

  • Don’t Over Decorate: Depending on your wedding destination, you may not have to do much decorating. The location may be unfamiliar to many of your guests and they may be more than satisfied with the natural scenery around them or the quaintness of the building where your wedding will take place. By planning a destination wedding, you have the opportunity to take advantage of the local landscape to make your wedding beautiful. You don’t have to decorate your beach wedding with superfluous flowers, for instance, when the ocean is already going to be the centerpiece of everyone’s view.

Take advantage of local landscapes by planning a destination wedding.

  • Have a Backup Plan: Even if you’ve successfully planned your wedding down to the smallest detail, something may happen that will force you to change your plans, possibly at the last minute. If your event is going to be outside, make sure you have an alternate space in case it rains on your wedding day or the wind picks up to a dangerous level. If you’ve planned an indoor wedding, ensure a secondary location is available in case your original space floods or is damaged prior to your event. Having a backup plan will prevent any unexpected occurrence from negatively affecting your wedding.

Contact Dash Weddings For Destination Wedding Music Ideas

One of the most important parts of any wedding is the entertainment. The music that plays during a wedding helps to set the literal and figurative tone of the event and, if it’s appropriate, it will help people engage in the celebration following the ceremony.

For many, selecting the music that will play during their wedding, particularly the song that will play during a couple’s first dance as husband and wife, can be very emotional. It can be equally challenging for couples to find a vendor who’ll be able to capture and maintain the musical mood that they want their reception to have and that their guests will enjoy.

Dash Weddings is a boutique DJ & entertainment booking agency that specializes in providing music during life’s greatest moments wherever they occur. If you’re planning a destination wedding, we’ll travel to your wedding site with you as your big day draws near. We will work closely with you to craft a custom DJ set tailored specifically for you and your guests. And will also read the dance-floor on-the-fly to ensure that the right mix of music is played at the right time to create the appropriate mood, inspire people and motivate those sitting on the sidelines to get up and hit the dance floor.

Our eclectic mix of music includes tunes from decades of every musical genre you can think of, including pop, oldies, classic rock, hip-hop indie-dance, EDM, house & electronic music. Our DJs work solo and also with live musicians to provide a hybrid form of musical entertainment. In addition to working with musicians from our roster, our DJs can work with musicians from your wedding destination to infuse some local musical culture into your reception.

If you’re a destination wedding planner, our services are a perfect complement to what you do. If you work with us, we’ll handle all of your musical entertainment, needs. We can also help you check a few additional things off your to-do list because our suite of services also includes visual production such as videography, photography and photo booths.

Contact Dash Weddings for creative destination wedding music ideas.

If you’re looking for creative destination wedding music ideas that will make the wedding you’re planning unforgettable, contact Dash Weddings today.

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