We’re in the age of destination weddings. And why not? Hosting your wedding somewhere exotic adds an extra-special element and can make the ceremony more intimate with a smaller guest list and endless potential for gorgeous background shots. But, if you’re thinking of going the destination wedding route, you have to keep in mind that there is a lot more planning that goes into it. Especially if you’re going international.
Your guests will need advanced notice– not only to attend a wedding but basically take a mini vacation. And, you’ll be in charge of making arrangements. Here are some recommendations on the hottest places to get married right now (and a few planning tips to help you pull off your dream destination wedding).
Tips for a Destination Wedding
Visit Your Venue in Advance
Planning any wedding means you have to do a lot of research, including a visit to all venues. For destination weddings, this can be tricky depending on how far your destination is from home. Of course, everyone would love to go to a faraway destination to celebrate the most romantic moment of their lives, but if you can’t afford to travel to your destination at least once before the big day, ditch that location for a more reasonable option.
You need to be able to visualize the setup and explore the area to make sure it’s the right place for you. Just because the Google image results look amazing does not mean your big day is going to look the same. Pick a place that you can get to easily and make sure to visit months before the big day to identify any potential problems with the venue and visualize the perfect setup.
Give Your Guests Plenty of Time to Plan
Attending a destination wedding is a big commitment, and your guests are going to have to dish out more money than usual to attend your big day, so it’s considerate to give them as much time as possible to plan. Most planners suggest sending your save the date cards at least 8-12 months in advance, so people have time to determine if they can spend the time and money traveling to your destination. You can make their decision easier by providing information on available travel options, including hotels, rental cars and even flight options. Presenting your guests with all the research upfront makes it less stressful for them to plan out their trip.
Work with the Natural Scenery
Most people don’t go abroad to host a wedding indoors. Various landscapes across the world deliver endless potential for some of the most stunning wedding photos. Destination weddings are expensive– between the travel and the venue– so try saving some cash on the decorations and work with what you’ve got. If there’s a beach nearby, you can host your wedding basically for free as long as you get the right permits in advance. Use the area’s indigenous flowers and plants to create unique location-specific bouquets that cost less.
And don’t forget to consider the climate when picking out your dress and determining the guest dress code. If you’re traveling somewhere hot and humid, don’t force your guests to sweat through the ceremony. Let the guys wear crisp khaki shorts for comfort and encourage the ladies to wear a sleeveless linen shift dress or something similarly cool and easy.
Top Spots for Destination Weddings This Year
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston has been a hot destination for the last few years, topping Travel + Leisure’s Readers Choice Awards and winning titles like Best Small City in the U.S. and even Best City in the World. We know, who would’ve thought one of the best places in the entire world was right along the coast of South Carolina?
But once you visit, you’ll quickly see that Charleston is a city with personality and charm. The downtown area has gorgeous venues in traditional Antebellum-style buildings and the surrounding areas are full of plantations with unbelievable scenery. Get the perfect wedding photo along the Avenue of Oaks at Boone Hall (Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds were married here!) or pose for a stunning photo in front of the famous pastel-colored houses on Rainbow Row.
We’ll warn you right now– Charleston is hot. Springtime here basically feels like summer, so make sure the guests come dressed for comfort and style in classic seersucker, linen and cotton that won’t bog them down.
We can’t resist the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean, and they seem to be extra-appealing in Aruba. This 70-square-mile Dutch Carribean island boasts over 42 miles of scenic coastline. So be prepared for a lot of ‘yes’ RSVPs. In their downtime, your guests will get the chance to snorkel shipwrecks, bathe in peaceful, natural pools and explore the charming Dutch Colonial architecture of Oranjestad, the island nation’s capital city. Whether barefoot and rustic or on the grounds of the Ritz-Carlton, this is one wedding locale attendees won’t soon forget.
The potential here for crazy beautiful wedding shots is endless. And honestly, who wouldn’t want to get married on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world? Luckily, getting to Aruba from the U.S. is relatively easy and cheap these days, making it more convenient for you and your guests. The island is full of all-inclusive resorts, which almost always offer wedding packages to make your planning easier. If you choose to go the resort route, they can set you up with a venue for the ceremony and the party, provide decorations and help you book entertainment.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
When we think destination wedding, the image of an exotic beach always comes to mind, but it’s hardly the only kind of destination out there for a wedding. Whether you’re an outdoor adventurer or you just love looking at the mountains, Jackson Hole is the place to exchange your vows. The Grand Tetons are one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world and the climate in Wyoming is mild, keeping you and your guests comfortable during the ceremony. Pick a venue with a killer view of the mountains and spend the rest of the weekend exploring the Jackson Hole area which has plenty of activities to choose from.
Make Things Easy on Your Guests
You want everything to be perfect for your destination wedding. We get it. But this kind of event takes a lot of extra planning. Pick your ideal place, but make sure that you and your guests will be able to get there easily. A wedding is no fun without your friends and family to celebrate with you. Once you’ve determined all the details, it’s time to relax and get excited for the day you’ll never forget in the destination you love.
This article was created in collaboration with Southern Tide.