A destination wedding is undeniably special, but choosing to say "I do" in an exotic locale requires a fair amount of work on the part of the bride and groom. It all starts with choosing the location itself—before you start considering different venues, it's wise to decide on one city or region where you'd like to tie the knot. There's a lot to consider when searching for the ideal destination, which is why we asked Svetlana Stein, owner and President of L&B Travel, how a bride and groom can stop staring at a map and start choosing the ideal destination wedding location. Read on for all the basics you'll need to think about before you begin planning your far-flung nuptials.
While it's your day, your guests will have to spend more than they would for the average wedding in order to be able to join you. Be mindful of your family and friends, and try to consider their schedules as well as your own. "We recommend holiday weekends as optimal dates when more people may be able to get the time off work to join you," says Stein. Such a strategy is a win/win: Your loved ones get to vacation with you without needing to burn vacation days to do it. The only thing to keep in mind is that holiday travel dates may be more expensive, so if you know your chosen destination is a popular spot over Fourth of July weekend, you may want to pick another weekend. Similarly, if the city you've selected has a major event coming up—say, the Super Bowl or the Olympics—you'll probably want to reconsider the timing.
Getting married on your anniversary is special. Getting married on your anniversary during a hurricane is… a different kind of special. Odds are, you'll have to let either date or location drive your search to ensure the two aren't at odds. The good news? Whatever your date, there's a part of the world perfect for it. "Hurricane season in the Caribbean can be anytime between July and October, but it's a lovely and warm location for winter weddings," Stein explains. "European destinations can be cold and rainy during fall and winter months." As for a stateside option with a destination feel, Stein likes the Hawaiian islands. "Hawaii has a dry season of April to October and is warm year round, providing an excellent location for travelers without passports," she adds.
The Guest List
A remote village in Costa Rica might very well be your ideal location for a wedding, but it may not be ideal for the remote village. When you're inviting a large group of people to spend time at a destination, it's important to be sure the infrastructure can handle it. That means everything from transportation and access to healthcare to lodgings and activities all need to be in order. If you've secured a hotel with enough rooms for everyone, Stein says to avoid going overboard. "Don't overestimate your guest count. It's best to start small and add more rooms as more guests commit to attending," she adds. This strategy ensures you don't wind up paying for rooms that go unused, even if you thought you had an accurate estimation.
The Fine Print
If you're considering taking the celebration abroad, be sure to do your homework. Travel restrictions generally fall into two categories: health and safety. While neither is entirely predictable, you can look to past restrictions as a good guideline. For example, while the Zika virus is largely reported to be under control, there are still some countries that pose a risk. Crime statistics are also readily available online, and a little research can go a long way for peace of mind of both you and your guests.
The Guests of Honor
That's you! Once you've considered all the logistics, it's time to think about yourselves. When considering where you'd like to tie the knot, consider what kind of vacationers you are. If you and your future husband love a relaxing getaway, don't feel pressured to find an sightseeing destination and plan a weekend full of activities. Maybe there's an opportunity to visit someone's homeland. Maybe you have family in an ideal locale. Maybe you just close your eyes and point on a map. Whatever your decision-making process, make sure it's true to you as a couple and the rest is bound to fall into place.