FAQ – Planning your Destination Wedding

Q. What time of the day is best for my wedding ceremony?

A. The most popular ceremony times are 4pm and 5pm. After your ceremony which on average is 15-20 long, your guests can enjoy cocktail hour while you have your photos done when the sun is setting. After cocktails and pictures, it’s dinner!  Some resorts will charge extra to book your ceremony at this time of day. If those times are preferred by you, it is always best to book early as they are the first to go.

 Q. What month is best for a destination wedding?

A: This largely depends on your destination. However, very popular months are November, April and May for sun destinations. This is because you are either at the tail end or very start of the rainy season. Thus there is very good change of optimal weather and because you are not traveling in peak season, the pricing tends to be lower.

If you are weather is the most important factor to you, peak travel season to sun destinations (such as Mexico, Caribbean) is from mid-December to the beginning of April.

To travel on a budget, you may like to consider July or August to the Caribbean and Mexico. Island such as Antigua, Anguilla and the Turks and Caicos are very dry all year round.  Mexico is a destination that is commonly traveled to year round as well. Just keep in mind Hurricane season officially runs from May – November in these kinds of destinations and that travel insurance is an important purchase.

 Q. Why a Destination Wedding over a conventional choice?

A.  There are many benefits to choosing a destination wedding. Click here for reasons to choose a destination wedding.

Q. How far in advance should we plan our Destination Wedding?

A: Most commonly, destination weddings are booked 12-8 months ahead of time. You can however book up to 2 years in advance and as early as 4 months in advance if there is good availability for all your travel components and for your wedding day. (Heck, if it is a small group or just the two of you only, you can leave on a jet plane to be married in destination within 24 hrs of your arrival! Think Las Vegas, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, St. Lucia.)

 If you are thinking of a destination that is farther, such as Europe, South Pacific or Asia it is best to start the planning at least 1 year in advance especially if you are having a legal wedding. For example, weddings are now legal in Tahiti without their 30 day residency requirement however the paperwork (sending and waiting) will take about 6 months to complete.

Q. How do I narrow down which location and which resort to be married at that will meet our requirements and our guest’s needs?

A. Finding your ideal location is a process. It can take some time and is very rewarding when it comes together. First, think about what kinds of things you and your guests like to do on vacation. Are you really active people, or do you really like to relax? Are you pool or beach people? Prefer a big or small, boutique resort? Near town or secluded?  An all inclusive resort or not necessary?  Are you foodies or buffets ok? Child friendly resort or adult only resort? To start, picking 2 locations is ok, and then from knowing what kind of location, vision of your day, resort preferences and budget per guest I can start to recommend properties. Then we can keep narrowing down the list until the right one is found. It is always important to have a happy compromise of your needs and your guest’s needs in regards to budget, resort facilities, vacation time, and location.

Q. Can we stay an extra week after our destination wedding for our honeymoon?

A. YES!! Often coined, the ‘weddingmoon’, this is a very smart choice. You already paid for your airfare to your destination so it makes perfect sense. Also, the week that you spend with your family and friends can be really busy. The week by yourselves will allow for that quiet time where it is just the two of you…awwwww.

For your second week you can stay at the resort you are at already or change resorts if you like.  For example, many couples spend their second week in a couple only resort when they have been at a resort that is family friendly for their wedding.

You can change countries for your second week in most cases. Did you know that Antigua is only a 1 hour plane ride from St. Lucia? Island hoping is possible for some destinations. Or if married in Italy, you can honeymoon in France!

Q. Is it better to have a legal or symbolic ceremony in destination?

A. There are different legal requirements for each country that allows foreigners to be married. If you are looking for the least amount of paper work then countries such as Jamaica, USA, St. Lucia, Turks & Caicos, Cayman Islands are great as the paperwork is minimal. Other countries such as Mexico and the Dominican Republic require translation of legal documents into Spanish which takes time and money. Mexico also requires a blood test and to be in the country for at least 4 business days before your marriage. In those cases, it is easier to opt for a symbolic ceremony and be married in your home country before hand, or afterwards. Ultimately it is your choice. I have couples who have done legal and symbolic ceremonies. There is not a majority siding with one choice over the other.

Q. Will there be another wedding at the resort at the same time as our wedding?

A. Most resorts have 1 wedding per hour at the maximum, usually from the hours of 11 am to 5 pm. Some resorts only have 1 wedding a day. If it is a date like we have seen in 2010, the 10/10/10, most resorts have many weddings booked. Even at 10am and 10pm wedding ceremonies were taking place on Oct 10th, 2010.

Q. How many people can I invite?

A. You can invite as many as indicated by your resort’s largest capacity venue. There are many resorts that will accommodate larger groups when group sizes reach 100 – 200+ guests for your ceremony and reception (even a beach ceremony). It is important to know your approximate group size so that resorts and locations that I recommend for your group will work without complication.

 Q. I have a large invitation list. How can I estimate my group size so that I can start planning?

A: I suggest that you go through your current invitation lists and mark each guest with an A, B, C.

A = people who have a small chance of getting on a plane

B = folks who could go either way

C = these people you know for sure will jump on a plane to be with you on your wedding day

Then tally each letter.

About 25% of A will show.

About 50% of B will show.

About 90% of C will show.

Calculate each segment and then add them all together and you should have a rough estimate of what your total number of guests will be.

Q. Can we bring our own music? Do we hire a DJ? Live music?

A. Yes, you can bring music for your ceremony on CD or iPod works well too. If you don’t have music, the resort will supply music for your ceremony. For your reception, you may like to hire a DJ. A really good DJ will act as your Master of Ceremonies too and create a great flow to your event. You can opt to rent a sound system and bring your own music if you like. Just be sure to have a back up of you music. If you iPod suddenly does not work….no music!  Live music adds in great flare. Consider hiring local band/musicians for your walk down the aisle, for part of your reception or for your first dance. (Think Mariachi band, steel drum players, saxophone soloist, etc).

Q. Should we hire and bring a photographer or purchase the photo packages that the resort offers for our wedding?

A. If you are very particular and have a specific vision of how you want your pictures to be, then hiring a professional photographer and bringing them with you is the best choice. All resorts that focus on destination weddings have a contracted photographer that they work with and some are really good and some are not very good. If you decide to bring your own photographer, some resorts charge a fee to bring outside vendors. Some resorts do not allow outside vendors (such as Sandals). And if you decide on a photo package offered by the resort, find out who the photographer is, take a look at his/her website and be sure you like what you see. Send an email to introduce yourself and any special requests. Please keep in mind that the resort recommended photographer will have packages to shoot your ceremony and reception whereas a destination wedding photographer you bring along will be with you the whole day, shooting from getting ready in the morning to the party late at night and perhaps a trash the dress shoot the next morning.

Q. Can guests not staying at the resort where our wedding is held still come to our wedding there?

A. For those guests not staying at the resort, they will have to buy a day pass per person to come to your wedding. Day passes are on average $75 – $100 USD per person.

Q. Can you book everyone close to each other at the resort?

A. This can be requested however not guaranteed.  A rooming list is sent to the resort with this request however it is the front desk staff at the resort who actually selects your specific rooms.

Q. Can I pre-book my seats?  

A. For a fee some airlines allow you to pre-select your seats. Most airlines when booking a group will select a block of seats for your group (all together) and give you actual seat numbers when you check in.

Q. Can you confirm a king size / 2 beds in my room, adjoining rooms/ocean view rooms?

A. All rooming requests are requested and sent to the hotel however are not guaranteed. They are subject to availability.

Q. How do guests book their reservations?

A.  I am your go-to person for you and your entire group during the entire time. When your wedding day and group contract are confirmed, I create a free wedding website for you that consists of all the resort and wedding information for your guests including prices to join and how to book. My information is on the website so guests can call in or email with their reservation details and with any questions. The dates and specifics of your group package may not suit everyone exactly and I am there to help those guests travel to your wedding whether they are from out of country, can only stay 3 or 4 nights and with any requests at all. If you have your own custom wedding website, we can place my contact information on it with a link to the website I design for you. Or if you have custom invitations, I can create a custom invite insert with how to book information. If you have a special request, I am willing to help however I can.

 Have a suggestion for a FAQ? Email me!

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2 Responses to FAQ – Planning your Destination Wedding

  1. andrea leger says:

    Which your opinion on being married in cuba……do you have any good recommendations for locations there??

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