Do’s and Don’ts of a Destination Wedding

Destination: Miami Beach.
Destination: Miami Beach.

The weekend wedding got me thinking, about how much I love a good wedding and how when we got married it never occurred to any of our friends to have a destination wedding. Detroit in January certainly does not count. Although we traveled for many a ceremony, they were all held where someone lived – either the couple getting married, or their families. Now, however, destination weddings are all the rage, and for good reason. Here are some tips to help you plan a great one. Do pick an easy-to-get-to location. Nobody wants to spend $2,000 on airfare and change planes multiple times because you have picked an obscure destination. Choose someplace with many flights per day. Sure, St. Barts is lovely, but Cancun is a much easier jaunt. 

Do pick someplace that will make your life easier. You want to get married on a cliff overlooking the ocean with nobody else around except your guests? It sounds delightful. Until you have to start planning it. Instead, how about a nice sunset ceremony on the beach, at a resort with a wedding planner. He or she can arrange the photographer, flowers, setup and more, all with a few emails. That wedding on the cliff? You’ll need to arrange it all. From afar. This whole destination thing is supposed to make your life simpler, not more complicated.

Don’t assume everyone will be dying to come. Sure, you want to make a vacation out of this, but many people with a paltry two weeks off per year have no interest in spending one of those weeks in a place chosen by someone else, for a wedding. Don’t be offended if people choose not to attend. (Note: If there are people who you must have with you, run the location by them before committing.)

Don’t check your wedding clothes – dress, shoes, suits – in your luggage. Carry them on. You never know.

Do leave time for pre-wedding events so guests can all get to know each other. If people are traveling from all over the place, host a daily happy hour for a couple of days before the wedding. Your friends and family will make new friends, and you will have to spend less time making introductions. Win.

Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Ask your wedding coordinator for signage at the ceremony and reception indicating that it is a private event. If you want specific photos, let the photographer know. Speak up.

Don’t fuss. Going to a new place, using the on site spa and a new hairdresser, is not the time to try out a complicated hair style. Keep it simple. Let the stylist know what you are looking for, and if you insist on something complicated, go for a test run several days before the event. Nobody wants to get married and be pissy about their hair.

Do remember that your friends and family are there to celebrate with you. If things are not all perfect – and they never are – roll with the punches. Make sure to arrive several days ahead, meet with the on site wedding coordinator, and then go relax.

Work with your travel agent (I’m here to help!) to pick a place that has ample room for your guests, that will meet most people’s budget and has a staff that is dying to make your day special.