You’ve made the decision to have a destination wedding (see the reasons why I had a destination wedding here), you have researched your favorite destination wedding venues and locations (or if you haven’t you can see my guide here), now what? Choosing a destination wedding location can be an incredibly difficult decision as deciding to have a destination wedding creates a virtually endless array of possibilities. A couple getting married locally might have access to a few hundred wedding venues, but typically personal style and budget eliminate about 90% of options right off the bat. If you are open to weddings domestically and abroad, the sky is the limit when it comes to choosing a venue. This can be a blessing and a curse, because as the Paradox of Choice has taught us, having too many options can be a bad thing. However, if you are feeling overwhelmed I have put together some tips that helped us ultimately find our dream destination wedding location.
Budget. When looking at destination wedding locations, it is extremely important to keep in mind both your budget as well as the budget of your guests. A destination wedding doesn’t have to be in a far-flung location to be amazing, even just heading north for a few hours to a beautiful lake for a long weekend with friends and family can be absolutely wonderful. Keep in mind that you will most likely have to travel to the location you choose, which while undoubtedly fun (my favorite part of the entire wedding planning process was the trip we took to California to meet with our vendors), the cost of a hotel, travel, and meals can add up. Reach out to vendors to get an idea of the cost of services in the areas you are considering, as they can vary wildly depending on location. Also, do a little research to figure out approximately how much it will cost your guests to travel for your wedding. Once you have that information, you can make an educated decision on what locations would be the best fit for both your budget and your guests. NOTE: It is my personal belief that a wedding is first and foremost about you as a couple – so if your dream is to get married in Ireland but you know that 95% of your guests won’t be able to afford it, follow your heart and consider instead throwing a casual reception when you return to celebrate with them.
Convenience. If you have never been on a plane, you might want to think twice about having a destination wedding in a remote location like the Maldives. You know your comfort level and you will want to keep that in mind when deciding on a destination wedding location. From my firsthand experience, the travel can be stressful because there are oh so many things to consider and that you will need to bring with you (not to mention the anxiety of flying with a wedding dress)! I actually started my packing list 6 months in advance, which while crazy, ensured that I didn’t forget one single thing, from my bridesmaid gifts to vintage stamps for our photographer to style our invitation suite. Another element to consider is the convenience for your guests. Again, I believe that you should follow your heart and do what feels right for you as a couple, but just know that the further away your wedding is the fewer guests that will probably be attend. If you have ailing or elderly family members, this is also something you will want to keep in mind too.
Vibe. Do you feel the most like yourselves when you’re attending a black-tie gala uptown? Or perhaps when you’re relaxing on the beach with your toes in the sand? Maybe you love the great outdoors and are avid campers, or perhaps you both share a passion for classic literature and dream of visiting the sprawling English estates of the Brontë sisters’ novels. Think about what connects you as a couple, and what destination wedding locations will most reflect that. Whether it’s a chateau in the Loire Valley or a ranch in Jackson Hole, the possibilities are endless!
Intuition. Ultimately, as methodical as I tried to be with budgeting and finding a location that hit every single one of the items on our “wish list,” we ultimately just listened to our heart – which all along was telling us that HammerSky Vineyards was where we were meant to be married. I had seen photos of it years before we were engaged and throughout the whole venue search process, I simply couldn’t get it out of my mind. We took a leap of faith and booked it sight unseen which turned out to be the best decision we have ever made.
No matter what you do, just remember that the most important thing is that you two have found each other and that wherever you get married will be completely and utterly perfect. My best advice for couples is to simply listen to your hearts and just do what feels right for you!
If you are a bride or groom and are in the process of planning a destination wedding – congratulations! I would be honored to travel the world to capture your love, and would love nothing more than to connect with you to learn about your engagement and your wedding plans. Feel free to contact me anytime and check out my tips on choosing a destination wedding photographer!