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Destination Weddings

by Kathryn Lemmon, Wedding Zone Staff Writer

Have you considered a destination wedding? Many couples are and with good reason. In the past, destination weddings just meant eloping, but that's no longer the case. In fact, this type of wedding has taken on new dimensions of style and luxury and planning. The practice constitutes one of the most popular trends in travel and weddings.

A destination wedding can be very cost-effective. For example, a couple can fly to the Caribbean, get married, and stay for a week-long honeymoon all for about $3000-$4000, including meals, lodging and airfare. Compare that with your average 200-guest, hometown wedding which typically runs at least $10,000 and often more.

Tying the knot this way is especially common among couples who want their experience to be truly unique. In general, a destination wedding is almost guaranteed to be simpler to plan and manage, than a traditional wedding. A destination wedding takes much of the planning out of the couple's (and their parents) hands, making the process less stressful for everyone.

Finally, getting married at your honeymoon location means you are already there, so you can plunge right into the vacation part of the festivities without post-wedding travel worries.

But how is it accomplished? One alternative is hiring a wedding consultant who is familiar with your destination. This might be a consultant who is located in the place where you're getting married, or a travel agent or other person who has experience in planning destination weddings. In some locales, there are wedding consultants whose primary business is working with couples from out-of-town. They are particularly good at faxing, mailing photos, and taking other special long-distance steps to help you. There are other consultants who aren't limited to any one wedding location, and regularly handle destination weddings.

Another possibility is to find a hotel or historic B&B that offers wedding planning services for their guests. They may have a concierge who helps with the wedding planning often for a ceremony and reception right on site.

Wedding Chapels are a popular option. These tend to have complete packages with photos, flowers, music, officiant and even license built right in. Your job is usually limited to just showing up at the appointed time. However, some people are put off by the in-and-out nature of the ceremony, and the fact that you have very little control over the details.

Of course, you can always take the do-it-yourself route. This is no doubt the toughest way to go, but you will get to make all the decisions. If total control is very important to you, select this option. Be sure to find some sort of local contact, preferably someone who knows the area wedding vendors, but who won't profit personally from any referrals. Setting up the lodging arrangements first may be of help, since the hotel staff or innkeeper would be a great resource.

No matter how you plan the event, there is some advice that holds true for all destination weddings.

Limit Organized Activities

You have gone to a great deal of trouble to choose a nice place to be married, so let your family and friends enjoy it! Don't plan so many get togethers, that they have no free time.

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

A destination wedding should also be a fun and relaxing vacation for you. Don't get so wrapped up in little details that you can't enjoy your time. Decide what's most important to you, and label the rest of it "small stuff" that you won't worry about.

Packing

Get sound advice from your dressmaker or retailer on how a dress should be packed for travel. Make sure you have the right size suitcase or box ahead of time. If you're flying, try to carry it on if possible, along with any other wedding apparel you'd find hard to replace on short notice.

Before Leaving Home

It's a good idea to get as much done as possible before leaving home. For instance, one bride had silk flower arrangements made and shipped them to her site early.

As a side note, Hawaii, the Caribbean, Europe and Walt Disney World are the most popular wedding destinations with the US couple.


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