Planning a Destination Wedding: Real Couples Weigh In

Destination weddings are great for couples seeking romance and adventure. But planning an away wedding can come with its fair share of surprises. To help you avoid travel trip-ups and planning pitfalls, we've asked real couples to share their personal accounts in preparing for a wedding away.

Brian and Michal Liske, New York City
Married: February 2008
Destination: Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
"We realized that we didn’t have many options for the photographer and the band and had to use the local company that was contracted through the resort. In hindsight, we should have gone with a DJ since we didn’t get to preview bands. Although the band could have used a few more lessons, everyone still had an amazing time — how could you NOT have fun with all your favorite people on the beach?!"

Steve and Donna Thompson, Atlanta
Married: July 2007
Destination Wedding Location: Catalina Island (Avalon, Calif.)
"Keep it small and intimate (we had approximately 20 guests), and don't have a huge bridal party—there's less drama and you'll avoid dealing with everyone’s likes and dislikes. We didn't have a bridal party at all, or even a best man or maid of honor. Our family and close friends were our witnesses at the. Having a smaller, more intimate wedding, you'll be able to enjoy everyone there and not be rushed to make rounds to see everyone."

Steve and Kathryn Post, New Orleans
Married: April 2007
Destination Wedding Location: Soufriere, St. Lucia
"One tip for getting married overseas: many places require residency there before you can get married, so check with your particular destination. We established residency for a few business days and were married during the week. We also recommend using the wedding coordinator at your resort. It will make things much easier, and most details can be planned before you even arrive."

Brian and Deanna Miller, Greensboro, N.C.
Married: September 2007
Destination: Kill Devil Hills, N.C.
"Stay at a different hotel than your guests' host hotel—and don't tell them where you'll be! Even though I wanted to see my friends and family, it would have been overwhelming and very intrusive to stay at the host hotel. My fiancee (now husband) and I could relax without worrying about people knocking on our hotel door!"

Jorge and Heather Lopez, Santa Ana, Calif.
Married: August 2008
Destination: Paradise Island, Bahamas
"The hardest part about having a destination wedding is playing the role of a travel agent to your friends and family. Since it was international, we had to make sure everyone had a passport and also had to be the ones to provide travel advice (best airlines, taxi vs. rental car, the price of food, etc.). This was hard with 70 people, but in the end it was worth it. Our wedding was beautiful and the hotel did a fabulous job. Plus, our friends and family got to be in paradise together."

Joe and Kari Forney, Fairbanks, Alaska
Married: August 2007
Destination Wedding Location: Pawleys Island, S.C.
"If you are getting married in the summer, plan for additional food. We were advised erroneously that because we were getting married during the summer, people would be 'too hot to eat.' We were definitely wrong on that one! A wedding planning suggestion: if you are doing a buffet, select a venue with a serving staff. We had guests take three or four servings at once when we only planned for one serving per guest. Particularly for a destination wedding, make sure you do not run out of food! Guests traveled long and far for you."