At the core of any wedding is, of course, romance & excitement – but the menu is also a major component. Not only does the food you serve have an impact on the overall experience, but it can provide the perfect way to highlight the local culture for destination weddings. Considering the fact that you'll be saying "I do" in an exotic destination, it definitely won't do to resort to a traditional reception menu. You'll need to think outside the box to make your menu truly memorable for both you & your guests.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
It makes sense to emphasize fresh fish when designing the menus for island weddings. Jerk scallop skewers are a super easy appetizer idea that's fitting for a Jamaican wedding. Coconut shrimp, which is a classic favorite, is also a great finger food option for a Caribbean wedding. Remember that it's the little things that count, so sides are a great way to incorporate local flavor as well. Tostones – or fried plantains – are a sweet staple in the Dominican Republic that pair well with spicy meats. If you're planning a wedding in Negril, consider bacon-wrapped plantains or conch fritters. Of course, a selection of Caribbean chutneys are a delicious touch to your hors d'oeuvres display.
Go buffet style
Food bars that let guests make their own plates are a great idea for many reasons. This strategy allows them to sample a lot of different exotic flavors & also lends the affair a more casual vibe, which is perfectly appropriate for beach weddings. Planning to tie the knot in Mexico? A guacamole bar that lets guests customize their dip with extras like candied jalapenos, sliced cucumber or fresh-squeezed lime will definitely be a crowd-pleaser. What about for a wedding in Hawaii? A sashimi bar is sure to be hit for an event on these islands.
One of the best ways to build an innovative destination wedding menu is to incorporate fresh local fruits into your dessert. For example, a passionfruit cake is a lot more interesting than your typical vanilla or chocolate confection, & it gives guests a taste of the islands. You don't even have to stick with the traditional wedding cake when it comes to the dessert. Coconut macaroons are a delicious option for a Caribbean wedding, & Mexican wedding cookies are another time-honored favorite that your attendees are sure to enjoy. The possibilities are endless, so why not get creative & serve up fresh mini churros for each guest with a trio of Mexican chocolate, dulce de leche & cinnamon dipping sauces?
If you've always imagined yourself saying "I do" in an exotic locale with a breathtaking beach backdrop, a destination wedding is the right choice. There are countless possibilities when it comes to picking the perfect location, so with a little research, you can certainly find one that fits your tastes & reflects your unique relationship. Before you start planning one of these special events, though, there are certain considerations you need to take into account to ensure you have a relaxing & enjoyable big day.
Whether you're tying the knot in Tahiti or Mexico, remember these tips:
Do you have your passport? This document is required for destination weddings outside the U.S., so you should make sure you allow enough time to apply for one. There is the option of expedited applications, but the process will still take several weeks. You'll also need to bring proof of citizenship to wed in the Caribbean, Mexico & other foreign destinations.
Don't forget to research the marriage laws for the destination you choose. Every country is different, but many locations require that the couple applies for a marriage license in person. That means you'll want to arrive with all of the necessary paperwork & enough time to take care of the application. Additionally, some locations have a waiting period of several days. Looking into the specific laws ahead of time will ensure you're fully prepared – the last thing you want is any surprises putting a dent in your romance.
A destination wedding requires more notice for your guests. Be sure to send out save the date announcements & invitations as early as possible, & discuss your plans with immediate family from the start.
A travel agent is invaluable when it comes to these events. They can be a liaison with your resort & even act as a wedding planner or coordinator. A knowledgeable agent will also typically have special access to benefits, amenities, tours & wedding packages that can make your big day particularly memorable, as well as cost-effective. Plus, these advisors can make your guests' lives easier by looking into group discount rates. Be sure to pass on your travel agent's information to friends & family so that they can facilitate the booking process.
For brides, a destination wedding will likely demand some special planning in regard to style & beauty. First, you'll need to think about how you're transporting your gown to make sure it stays in tip top condition. It's also important to think about the destination's climate. After all, long trains aren't practical for beach weddings – & it may be necessary to invest in melt-proof makeup for island weddings.
There's no doubt that a destination wedding in an exotic locale is worth the time, effort & costs it requires. However, it can be easy to go overboard in trying to plan one of these events. After all, you likely have an idea in mind for how your ceremony will go & with endless possibilities for the decor, menu & other aspects, so you might be tempted to opt for an extravagant big day. However, there are definitely ways to achieve your dream wedding without draining your wallet by incorporating some do-it-yourself elements. Plus, DIY projects lend a personal touch to your event, ensuring that it's especially memorable for both you & your guests.
Here are a few easy ideas to get you started:
Perfect party favors
It's customary to offer your guests a gift for attending the wedding, & it's also a thoughtful idea to thank them for traveling the distance to see you tie the knot. These favors do not have to break the bank, either, to be appreciated. Consider making your own luxurious bath bombs in tropical colors using seashell forms. This is an especially great idea to incorporate into a welcome bag for beach weddings, as some resorts offer in-room Jacuzzi tubs. You might also make DIY gel candles. Place sand from the local beach in the bottom of a glass container, pop in some shells or a starfish & then tint the gel blue so it looks like the ocean.
Personalize your paper
It's best to stick with the little things when it comes to DIY projects for your destination wedding. From the save-the-dates to the seating cards, invitations & signs are an ideal way to cut costs while also adding some individual flair. You might even use simple stationary from a local artisan to make your destination wedding feel more authentic. Or, you might try printing save-the-dates on a map of the local area – which will actually prove useful for guests who have never been to this location before.
Be your own makeup artist Island weddings are ideal for trying out those beachy beautiful makeup trends you've always liked. The best part about this natural look is that it's especially easy to achieve on your own. Since paying for a hair & makeup artist can get expensive, why not DIY your beauty needs for your big day? You know better than anyone what products & colors you like. Make sure to practice once or twice before the event so that you have your routine perfected ahead of time, & be sure to observe the finished look in natural light that resembles your wedding's environment.
Destination weddings have the potential to be just as memorable for guests as they are for the bride & groom. The key to making one of these events truly memorable is ensuring all of the attendees feel comfortable & appreciated. It's ultimately the little things that count when it comes to these occasions. So whatever destination you choose, be it St. Lucia or Tahiti, be sure to make small, special touches to bring you & your guests' experience to a whole new level.
Here are a few ideas that are bound to bring a smile to their faces:
Put some thought into your initiations & people will be even more excited about the big day. If you're having a wedding in Riviera Maya or Cancun, you might make a save-the-date that emulates the traditional Mexican papel picado, a craft paper with intricate cutout designs. Or, you couldmake cards printed with local artists' work for a destination wedding in Jamaica. Several weeks before the ceremony, send out another teaser to raise their anticipation even further. A guide to the destination is a great idea because it will help them to get acquainted with the location before they travel. You might even include a packing checklist to make sure they don't forget anything important.
Guests will be delighted if they're greeted with some goodies upon arrival. Leave a care package with a tote, sunblock & a disposable camera for beach weddings. You could also provide customized luggage tags to commemorate the event as a thoughtful souvenir. Providing them with beautiful woven fans is a nice idea for making sure guests stay cool at afternoon outdoor island weddings, when the sun is especially hot. Of course, a local bottle of wine is always a great gift idea to help your attendees kick off the festivities.
While you're planning the reception, ask the bartender about creating a customized libation & a mocktail that's inspired by local ingredients. For example, a signature rum punch will keep attendees in the Jamaican mindset. A special grapefruit margarita or mango mojito will keep guests refreshed at a wedding in Mexico. In Hawaii, attendees could sip on a coconut-themed cocktail or a Kona Coffee-Tini for a taste of true island flavor. Of course, don't forget to give your signature drink a creative name, & consider putting the recipe in guests' gift bags so they can recreate the tasty drink at home.
So you've decided to have a destination wedding. Already, you're one step closer to having a blissful big day, with a breathtaking backdrop & an exciting new environment. Still, selecting exactly where you want to whisk away to is a big decision. The location you choose to tie the knot will play a big role in the vibe of your ceremony, & of course, you want it to be as magical & memorable as possible.
As you start to plan your destination wedding, here are some ideas to help you choose the perfect place to say "I do":
If you're nature enthusiasts
It sounds too good to be true: Pristine beaches, majestic mountain scenery & picture-perfect weather. In Tahiti, though, paradise is possible for island weddings. If you've ever imagined tying the knot on a picturesque mountaintop, this is the place. However, it's worth noting that you can also have a more traditional wedding in Tahiti.
Consider the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa for the best of both worlds. With a private area on the sand that's ideal for a beach ceremony as well as an on-site chapel, you can definitely plan the wedding of your dreams, no matter what you've always pictured. The chapel not only has a glass floor that looks right into the sparkling lagoon below, but also a window behind the altar that frames a view of Mount Otemanum. You'll definitely get some jaw-dropping photo ops in this locale.
If you like non-stop action
The fun never stops in Mexico, meaning it's an optimal location for the couple who likes to have fun into the wee hours of the morning. Consider an all inclusive resort & you'll also have the benefit of enjoying more excitement on a budget.
For example, the Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta provides unparalleled service & awe-inspiring views of the Pacific Coast as well as a rock 'n' roll vibe that's great for an edgy bride & groom-to-be. You can also live like rock stars at the Hard Rock Hotel Cancun, which plants you right in the middle of the action in the heart of lively Cancun. It's no wonder Mexico is the No. 1 U.S. search for destination wedding locations, according to CNN News.
If you're seeking a hassle-free wedding
Trying to avoid the legal hassles that often come with a destination wedding? Consider jetting off to Antigua, where there's no residency requirement & a valid passport is all you need. There's also more than just beautiful beaches on this island. Antigua boasts a rich history, so your guests will have plenty to explore on their trip, including the English Harbor & Nelson's Dockyard National Park.
Sandals Grande Antigua is a fitting option for a destination wedding, as it has been voted the "World's Most Romantic Resort" year after year. It's no surprise, either: This resort is set on the island's most popular beach, Dickenson Bay, & boasts charming gardens, seaside villas & European-inspired elegance.
If you want laid-back romance
Chill couples should look no further than Jamaica for their beach weddings, which is also in the top 5 trending U.S. searches for destination wedding locations. The third largest island in the Caribbean, Jamaica has some of the best all inclusive resorts, where you can sway to the sounds of reggae on a stunning mile-long crescent beach, with balmy breezes and fragrant island aromas wafting through the air.
Sandals Royal Plantation is an all-butler, all-oceanfront resort on the lush north coast that's hidden away in a coral bluff, making it a perfect spot for a smaller, intimate wedding. The best part? Couples can easily transition into their honeymoon & even conveniently engage in a little island hopping around the Caribbean.