There are tough decisions to be made in planning a wedding to begin with, but transporting the affair to a far-off destination poses new questions. Of course, destination weddings in exotic locales provide an exciting opportunity for a truly romantic & memorable big day. However, brides & grooms will need to work through some tricky situations regarding expenses & social etiquette to make sure the event goes smoothly & guests are happy.
Whether you're saying "I do" in Riviera Maya or St. Lucia, here are some helpful tips to make planning your destination wedding a little easier:
Are we expected to pay for our guests' travel expenses?
Fortunately, you are not expected to shell out for your attendees' airfare & accommodations – & it's crucial to make this clear to anyone you invite from the get-go so they can plan accordingly. Of course, if you have very close relatives or friends who you know can't afford to make it, you may want to factor this into your budget to make sure they can be present for this important milestone. Additionally, it's a nice gesture to pay for the transportation to get your guests from the airport to their resort. Since you're expecting attendees to pay for their stay, you should consider a resort that is appropriate for a range of budgets. Keep in mind that all inclusive travel eliminates some of the financial stress for guests.
Do we have to spend all our time with guests?
Some couples may feel obligated to be with their friends & family every moment, but you should have plenty of alone time surrounding your big day. Sometimes the lines can get blurred between destination weddings & honeymoons, so it's important to strike a compromise between being social with your attendees & being an activities director. You may want to do some research in advance about local attractions so that you can suggest some things for your attendees to do without you & your spouse-to-be, giving you some time to yourself.
Are we supposed to plan out the trip for attendees?
Don't stress too much about your attendees' itinerary. You should plan a welcome dinner the first night guests arrive, & it's helpful to schedule at least one big group activity in the middle of their stay. For example, you could schedule a girls spa day & a guys golf expedition. This is a great way to show appreciation for your loved ones that traveled the distance & it can also be a group bonding event that makes your big day just that more special. However, you definitely don't need to plan out every moment of every day for your attendees – you have many other things to think about when designing your dream wedding day.
A destination wedding isn't just a special event for the bride & groom – it's also a unique opportunity for their loved ones to celebrate their marriage in an unusual & beautiful locale. With paradise as your backdrop, there's no doubt that your guests will have a memorable time on your big day. Just to make sure of it, though, you'll need to put some thought into the beverage menu at your reception. Having a signature drink is a way to personalize your wedding, & considering the fact that you're tying the knot in an exotic place, you'll likely want to choose yours based on the local flavor.
Before you pick a conventional cocktail, use these tips to help you concoct something perfect for your chosen destination:
You can't pick a more fitting drink than the margarita for a wedding in Mexico, but why not take things up a notch by infusing some unexpected fruit into the mix? For example, blood orange provides a refreshing twist, & the fruit's inherent tartness only magnifies the flavor of the classic cocktail.
If you're going for elegance at your affair, consider a tequila sparkler with triple sec, agave nectar, fresh raspberries & sparkling meyer lemon juice.
It's no secret that most cocktails in Jamaica are based in rum, but how can you translate those recipes into a beverage for destination weddings? A Jamaican Breeze, which combines rum, pineapple juice, simple syrup, angostura bitters & sliced fresh ginger, is an ideal option & bound to be a hit with both male & female guests. You might also opt for a classy sparkler, like one that combines Jamaican rum, sparkling wine, pomegranate & lime juice, orange bitters, simple syrup & pomegranate seeds to garnish.
Hawaii Beach weddings in Hawaii call for a tropical treat like the Lava Flow, which is inspired by the volcanoes that are abundant on these islands. This recipe, which comes from Cuisine Unlimited, includes light rum, coconut rum and strawberries on the bottom and banana, pineapple juice & coconut cream on top, resulting in a visual effect that resembles oozing lava.
You might also go for a Kona Coffee-Tini martini for your big day. With fresh local coffee, Grand Marnier, macadamia nut liqueur & a touch of light cream, it's a delightful drink that celebrates one of Hawaii's specialties.
There are endless possibilities when it comes to signature drinks for island weddings in the Caribbean, but consider the Aloha Sunrise. The recipe, which comes from Coastal Living magazine, is a crowd-pleaser & only requires sparkling wine, guava juice, pineapple juice & ginger ale.
A watermelon mai tai is another mouth-watering option, especially with the addition of fresh chopped watermelon, triple sec & grenadine.
Destination weddings demand a very specific kind of attention when it comes to the gown. While this is of course a major decision for any bride-to-be, it's an even more significant consideration with a scenic backdrop in an exotic locale or a balmy tropical climate. Of course, the bride wants to look stunning on her big day, but she also wants to be comfortable, whether she's tying the knot on a beach in the Bahamas or the mountains of St. Lucia.
Fortunately, some of the major trends this year fuse function & fashion, providing the perfect dresses for any temperature or setting.
A shorter hemline
Gone are the days when a wedding gown needed to be grazing the floor. In fact, shorter dresses are just as elegant, & they offer a perfect chance to show off some chic footwear while also maintaining a slightly more laid-back vibe at a low-key affair. Additionally, dresses that hit at the knee or above work well for beach weddings because you won't have to worry about your gown dragging in the sand. Consider a strapless number with a floaty chiffon skirt for a ceremony near the rainforest, or go for a dress with scalloped edging & a more tapered fit for a seaside wedding.
The soft, Grecian-inspired silhouettes that are popular this year couldn't possibly look more feminine. Plus, these maxi-gowns have an airy quality that is made for a breezy location. Consider a gown with shimmering accents and a sheer neckline or sleeves, which shows the right amount of skin. Or, you could go for a dress that has elaborate draping & a low cowl back for an unexpectedly sultry look that screams "goddess." You can never go wrong with a simplistic spaghetti empire waist gown with subtle pleating, which has classic appeal.
Due in part to the wild popularity of the major motion picture "The Great Gatsby," gowns with a flirtatious 1920s flair are making a major comeback. This trend makes a lot of sense for island weddings – after all, what could be more eye-catching in the bright Caribbean sun than sparkling beaded details? If you're aiming for a look that's understated, choose a dress with sequined sleeves or one with a vintage-inspired draped silhouette, which give a subtle nod to Old Hollywood without being over-the-top.
The timeless A-line
The A-line dress is timeless for a reason: It's ultra flattering. This year, dresses will feature lightweight fabrics which are perfect for weddings in hot climates. Additionally, these gowns will boast a breathtaking movement that emulates the gentle curvature of ocean waves. Floral-esque straps lend a touch of romance to these styles, while vine-like details draw inspiration from nature's beauty.
As more couples become entranced by the notion of tying the knot in an exotic location, one of the most exciting aspects to consider is style. While of course, the bride will be spending a lot of time picking out the perfect gown in which to say "I do," she needs to find fitting gowns for her bridesmaids as well. The unique elements of destination weddings grant a lot of freedom in terms of the attire, & many brides are taking advantage of this flexibility to go for offbeat & eclectic styles that will make their ceremony stand out.
Need a little inspiration? Here are some of the hottest bridesmaid looks for 2014:
There's nothing wrong with sticking to neutral colors – in fact, these dresses can have just as much intrigue as their brightly hued counterparts. The key to selecting the right hue is to ensure that it pops against the backdrop. For example, a soft slate will look stunning at a beach wedding, while a beige or taupe might blend in too much with the sand. The best part about neutrals is that you can have some fun with the accessories since the gowns are so simple. Choose dresses with intricate necklines or unusual silhouettes to maintain an element of intrigue despite the understated tones.
What could be more stunning at island weddings in the Caribbean than tropical florals? For a bold statement, you might go for gowns printed with watercolor blossoms in shades of teal, coral & buttery yellow, which are all colors that are bound to make a splash this year. Who says bridesmaids need to wear dresses, though? If you want to incorporate florals in a subtler way, you could have them don printed bubble skirts with vibrant patterns, which look darling with metallic heels & simple white blouses.
Too much matching can sometimes be boring, so feel free to have your bridesmaids embrace their individuality, as long as there's one cohesive element tying all of their dresses all together. You might choose one color, such as violet or aqua, & have your ladies sport gowns in varying shades of that hue. Or, you could have all of your bridesmaids wear styles in the same color but different cuts – which is a spectacular idea when the women in your bridal party have very different body types.
One of the biggest trends in the fashion realm right now is boho-chic, & many brides are opting to apply it to their beach weddings. This is truly the perfect look for a laid-back oceanside affair. From maxidresses in muted hues to romantic '70s-inspired flower crowns, the idea is to achieve a look that's simultaneously effortless & elegant.
It's become increasingly common for couples to jet off to an exotic locale to say "I do." Naturally, strolling across pristine white sand with crashing waves in the distance is a welcome alternative to walking down a traditional aisle. While the possibilities are endless for planning destination weddings, some brides- & grooms-to-be are still hesitant to plan their events in a far-off location. Whether it's a strict budget or another aspect that's holding you back, many common concerns are actually just myths.
Read on & put your worries to rest:
Myth: It's going to be way more expensive
Reality: Destination weddings can actually be far more affordable than those at home, particularly when planned at all-inclusive resorts. Some chains offer special deals or tiered wedding packages that range in price so that no matter your budget, you can plan the big day of your dreams. Additionally, these packages make it a lot easier to stay in control of costs. You might even consider combining your wedding & honeymoon – such as through the Sandals WeddingMoon option – to minimize your travel costs & seamlessly segue into marital bliss. Having a travel agent that specializes in destination weddings can be invaluable for minimizing your spending. These professionals usually have insight into what locations or packages will save you a lot of money, & they also have access to discounts that you can use. Plus, the reality is that there may be fewer attendees at island weddings, & a smaller guest list means lower costs.
Myth: It's going to take far more time to plan
Reality: A common misconception is that the research process will simply be too time-consuming for distant beach weddings. However, this is once again where travel agents come in to save the day. Instead of spending tedious hours poring over information online, it's helpful to have a specialist who can narrow down the ideal location based on your preferences, & additionally, ease your mind by working out a lot of the travel logistics. Certified travel agents have the advantage of knowing a lot about the destination, so they can provide you with useful insight & assistance that will make for a stress-free planning process.
Myth: All destination weddings are the same
Reality: Traditionally, destination weddings had a somewhat uniform, cookie-cutter feel. That has all changed now, thanks to brands like Iberostar, which offers packages & à la carte with your own special wedding planner. Whether you're envisioning a lavish wedding in St. Lucia, a vintage-inspired affair in Antigua or a quaint ceremony in Mexico, anything is possible.