Updated: Aug 11
First, let me congratulate you on the exciting new stage of life upon which you are embarking!
Whether you've just said "yes" or have been happily engaged for months (or longer!) - I'm willing to wager the idea of destination wedding bliss has crossed your mind at some point.
I write this from sunny St Lucia, as I enjoy my own week of marital celebration.
It took us only 75 champagne-fueled minutes to whip through the last details of our whole day's selections. We had our breakfast by the beach, a meeting with the planner, then straight on a catamaran...
Here are my top considerations for a resort celebration, balanced against some practical realities to help you decide if it's for you.
The obvious advantages
You'll have incredible photos set by the beauty of beaches or unique architecture (or both), surrounded by tropical flowers, and maybe even a sunset.
The sunset comes at an added cost, in most instances.
As romance overseas expands, that pesky relationship between supply and demand seems to rise as the sun falls.
As there's only one sunset a day and there may be other weddings at your resort, there is typically a small premium to pay for a sunset ceremony and availability will disappear quickly.
You can combat this by planning a mid-week ceremony, just remember that your guests may sacrifice an extra day or two of their allotted annual vacation time.
Weddings are more expensive than ever
You may even feel that mentioning the word "wedding" during any planning meeting will suddenly incur an additional 5-10% (or more)!
Again that supply and demand raises its head. This time, to your favor.
As demand has risen, so too has the competition. More than ever, resorts are competing for your business. This means inclusions are more the standard, with many brands catering specifically to weddings and honeymoons.
Complimentary wedding packages might not be everything you had originally imagined, but you might find they are extensively well coordinated and easily supplemented with an optional upgrade or two.
Reduce stress without caring less
They also somewhat reduce the pain of the paradox of choice which I feel might be the largest source of stress for many young couples...
By adding a few personalized touches to what is available, you can still have your unique and memorable experience while not overwhelming yourself with a literal universe of options from an online "expert".
You will may find that your resort representative is a little slow to communicate via email, but arrive to find a well oiled machine as the vendors fall under one roof or at least have an in house representative.
Plus, people don't tend to use resort romance venues for the variety of applications a venue in your home town might experience.
That planner really will be an expert resource for weddings at one venue used for one purpose.
Let's be honest, will you really care about the thread count on the napkins when you're surrounded by tropical flowers and with a gentle sea breeze?
You'll have an intimate guest list
It is a big investment for guests to attend, that's not limited to finances. But that might help you escape the excuses at work or dealing with distant relatives.
While we all know someone who's up for a party at any call - the reality is that your guest list will drop by about 70% by the time you have to consider seating arrangements.
Expect only 3/10 guests to actually commit
That's anecdotal to my experience as a travel agency owner, but thus far a reliable reflection of numbers between the time you poll your family & friends and the time of deposit.
You'll likely find that the people who themselves feel most vested in you and your marriage will be the ones most ready to join you on your trip!
Although I caution against using your destination wedding as a barometer for a personal relationship. There are plenty of reasons people just can't commit to a destination wedding.
A wedding group is a group. There are perks
With many purchases, a bulk order can mean more favorable terms or sometimes even affect the price.
Be realistic in your expectation. Nothing is free, things with value certainly aren't given away in any transaction. However, you might find upgrades for the bride and groom, better inclusions, and often a tour conductor credit.
What is the tour conductor credit?
Someone has to take action to coordinate all these travelers. Often there is some reward available for the effort.
Work with your travel professional to see if your group merits a credit and you could find a significant amount of a room or even package cost refunded at the time of final payment.
Each resort (or cruise) will have its own rules, those can be seasonally dependent and will have a contact to bind your purchase.
However, the savings can help bolster your wedding budget or contribute to a group activity, maybe even spread the savings and enjoy a lower overall cost for each of your guests.
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