One of the biggest days of your life- would you want to have it in the Caribbean? Deciding on whether or not to have a destination wedding can be difficult. On the plus side, destination weddings are much more bang for the buck. For the cost of a moderate size wedding in the US that will last a few hours and cost at least $30,000, you could pay for your wedding and a few nights stay in a tropical paradise for family and friends! Most wedding couples just cover the cost of their own stay and wedding expenses, as well as a few fun group activities, and guests cover their accommodations and flights, so for a small-medium size wedding, you can easily keep your costs to under $10,000, including your honeymoon. That makes financial sense to many couples who will be covering their weddings costs themselves, as well as to couples that are planning a 2nd marriage and want a more intimate setting. For brides who stare with dread at a growing guest list, spiraling out of control with the addition of distant relatives and family friends, a destination wedding means that it’s easy to extend the invite to everyone, but only those who really want to be there will invest in the cost of coming.
Other than the cost factor, a destination wedding means that you get to spend real, quality time with the people you love most. Instead of a winding reception line, exchanging just a few words with guests, you’ll have a few days to spend with them, whether it’s relaxing on the beach, or heading out together for a day of sailing. A destination wedding means an incredibly beautiful backdrop: in Roatan, the lush vegetation is filled with blooms such as hibiscus, plumeria and heliconias, and the sparkling turquoise water and white sand beach creates a truly magical setting. A destination wedding is a unique expression of who you are, and will be a memorable event for everyone that attends.
Factors that need to be put into consideration are whether any of your closest acquaintances would be unable to attend due to mobility issues (such as grandparents that may have a hardship with flights), or due jobs, children or other commitments that they may not be able to get away from for several days. Many wedding couples who opt for a destination wedding also have a party at home to celebrate their union with anyone that wasn’t able to make the trip.
Once you’ve made the decision, how do you plan a destination wedding? Here are a few guidelines to help you on your journey:
1. Do your research. This might even include a trip to the destination that you’ve been considering, so you can check out the various resorts and see their set-up. If you can’t make it ahead of time, don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. Look through the internet and magazines, send your wedding planner your photos of inspiration so she’ll know what you have in mind.
2. Have a wedding planner. If you’re not at the location, is can be next to impossible to try and coordinate things yourself, and a destination wedding is supposed to be less work, not more! Having a good wedding planner is essential to your peace of mind and ensuring that there’s someone who has it all under control, so that you can concentrate on bikini shopping :) At Barefoot Cay, a wedding planner is included in our wedding pricing. Our wedding planner Steph, who’s our guest services supervisor, will work with you in the months leading up to the wedding, to make sure every detail is worked out, as well as while you’re here, checking in on your guests, and coordinating everything from the cake to the get-away vehicle.
3. Examine your expectations, and modify them if needed. Part of the beauty of a destination wedding is the simplicity of it. Cake? 3 flavors to choose from. Flowers? Local tropical blooms. Music? Reggae, a steel drum band, a DJ? If you start getting caught up in too many little details and are on the road to becoming a bride-zilla, stop for a moment. Pull out the blender, whip yourself up a pina colada, put on some Bob Marley, close your eyes, and think about your feet in the sand, the sway of palm trees, the warm Caribbean sun caressing your shoulders, looking up into your future husband’s eyes and saying ‘I do’. Now re-think your list, and make sure to listen to your wedding planner’s advice- she’s done lots of weddings, she can tell you what works and what is available at the location that you’ve chosen.
4. Have fun in the planning! Get creative with the parts of the wedding that you’ll be taking care of. Fun invitations, whether postcards, message in the bottle or in the form of a travel brochure, can be a great way to get your guests excited about the upcoming event. Planning to leave little gifts in everyone’s room when they arrive? Beach totes with water bottles, sunscreen, customized towels are all unique ways to say thank you to everyone for making the trip.
5. Get everything planned ahead of time. If you’ve got a wedding planner, this doesn’t mean that you don’t have any work to do! Your wedding planner will need lots of information from you, including dinner selections and seating plans, activities that you’d like to schedule, which providers you’d like to book for the wedding. If you get it all taken care of a few weeks before you get there, than you can just relax and enjoy your time away. Our wedding planner makes sure to have a printed itinerary for all the guests when they arrive, so that no one is hunting you down asking where they need to be and when.
6. Plan for a few extra days at the resort with just you and your hubby, after all your friends and family have left. After all, this is your honeymoon too. It’s good to have a few days alone together in paradise, before you head back home as husband and wife.
7. Invest in photography and videography. This is even more important than if you were having a wedding at home, as there’ll be people that can’t attend that would love to see what your special day was like. While most wedding couples opt for photography, not as many opt to get a video done, but it’s definitely worthwhile to have your vows recorded.
8. Relax and enjoy. Luggage didn’t show up? Forgot your special earrings at home? No matter how much planning is done, things can come up that don’t go exactly as planned. A wedding is meant to be a celebration of your commitment to each other, so celebrate!