Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Destination Weddings: Pros, Cons, and Considerations

The Pros and Cons of a Destination Wedding
Faced with the daunting prospect of wedding planning--renting a venue, renting a reception hall, hosting dozens if not hundreds of friends and family--a destination wedding can start to seem awfully tempting. And certainly, for some couples it’s the perfect option, but the fantasy of a destination wedding is different from its reality. Here are some things to consider when deciding if a destination wedding is right for you.

Pro: A Much Smaller Guest List

Your guest list will be limited to those who can afford to make the trip, or even just to the couple getting married. All of those distant relatives and friend-of-a-friend folks won’t expect to be invited to a destination wedding, so you can focus on the few key people you really want to be there.

Con: A Much Smaller Guest List

In the heat of the wedding planning, it might seem like you’d rather get married at a courthouse with no witnesses rather than mess with the delicate politics and economics of managing a guest list. But take a step back from the process and imagine the memories of your wedding day that you’ll have five years from now. That buddy who doesn’t fly, or that elderly relative who can’t make the trip, might be someone you’ll wish had been there on your special day. And sometimes the magic of combining social circles and family groups leads to lasting friendships forged on the day, something that is less likely to happen with a destination wedding.

Pro: Everything’s Included

With a destination wedding, you won’t have to worry about finding the cake decorator, florist, photographer, and officiant that’s just right for you. Most wedding destinations will provide a package deal with everything you need for the day, so you can stop hunting through Yelp reviews for that one magical florist and focus on your time with your significant other. And since your hotel will likely serve as your wedding location and reception hall, the planning gets a lot simpler.

Con: Options May Be Limited

The flowers, cake, and officiant are included in the package, sure. But if you want a different type of cake (or perhaps a doughnut bar instead), or nontraditional flowers, or for your best friend to be your officiant, you might be out of luck. Not having to plan the ceremony means that you’re handing over at least some degree of control of how the ceremony plays out. You’ll have to ask yourself if you’d rather control every detail of the wedding, or if you’d rather not have to worry about it.

Pro: You’ll Save Money on the Reception

A smaller guest list means you won’t be renting a reception hall and providing a meal for 200 people. Bar tabs and catering costs will be lower.

Con: You’ll Spend More on the Guests That Do Come

Wedding etiquette stipulates that the wedding hosts should pay for their guests’ hotel rooms, food, and most other expenses. While guests should be responsible for their own airfare, that’s still a substantial amount of commitment to each person who attends.

Consider: Red Tape

A couple of friends of mine had a beautiful destination wedding in Costa Rica a few years ago. After a couple of years, though, their relationship deteriorated and they filed for divorce. When they filed, they discovered that the marriage was legal in Costa Rica but never ratified in the United States. In the eyes of U.S. law, they were not married and never had been. If you’re not doing a package deal with a resort, make sure to do your homework to make sure your wedding actually legally marries you and your spouse.

Consider: Protect Your Couple Time

If you’re flying out friends and family to a destination wedding vacation that will also serve as your honeymoon, make sure to plan plenty of time for just the two of you as a couple. It’s fun to take a vacation with friends or family, but might be less fun to have your new father-in-law tagging along on your snorkeling trip. In the whirlwind of a destination wedding, it’s even more important for the couple to take time to connect.

A destination wedding can be a great start to a happy marriage, provided the couple takes the time to research and make sure it’s what both of them want. As with every part of the planning, communication and research is key to make sure you know what you’re getting into and what you’ll get out of it.