Smart Start with Susan Southerland: Top Five Things You Should Know about Destination Weddings


destination wedding, outdoor wedding, beach wedding, smart startPhoto credit: Carrie Wildes Photography

Over the years, I’ve worked with many couples planning destination weddings. The idea of jetting away to another city or country and celebrating with only your closest family and friends can be very appealing! There’s a lot to be said about getting married in a location with tons of things to do and sights to see.

Before you book, though, there are five things every couple should keep in mind when planning a destination wedding:

1. Budget wisely. Many couples think of destination weddings as a way to contain wedding costs, but expenses can add up quickly when considering travel, lodging, meals, and entertainment on top of the wedding itself. Be careful to budget for every part of your trip, and don’t forget to focus your attention on the reason for traveling in the first place: your dream wedding!

2. Location, location, location! When choosing a destination for your wedding, be sure to think about more than just what will look amazing in pictures. How far is the venue from the airport? Will you and your guests be able to stay on property, or will transportation be required to get to the wedding? Is the ceremony space private or open to the public? Is there a limit to the number of guests who can attend? All of these questions should be considered when making a venue decision.

3. Think of your guests. Asking guests to travel to a destination wedding often means asking them to invest a great deal of time and money. Consider presenting those you invite with a “total price” for them to attend your wedding so they can plan accordingly. Also, provide them options of things they can do while visiting your wedding destination. If they know they can craft a vacation out of it, the cost will be easier to justify.

4. Make it legal. Just because your destination officiant pronounces you, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re legally married. Consult with your wedding venue to see what paperwork they file and what you might have to do on your own. Also, check the requirements in your home country to make sure your marriage is properly registered with legal authorities.

5. Don’t sweat the small stuff. When you venture away from home for a wedding, you lose some control over what happens. Collaborate with a wedding planner at your destination to make sure everything you envision is accounted for ahead of time. Once you arrive, try to kick back, relax, and enjoy every moment of your destination wedding experience. Remember, it’s not about the little things…it’s about your new life together!

Destination weddings can be fun, intimate, romantic, and memorable for you and your guests. Do some legwork ahead of time to be confident that a particular destination works for you. Then you’ll be ready for a wedding that none of you will ever forget.

Do you have a destination wedding story you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you!

SusanSoutherlandGetting engaged is such an exciting time. However, the exhilaration of saying “I will” can quickly be replaced by the overwhelming concerns surrounding planning a wedding.

I designed my Smart Start series to take the worry out of planning your wedding. Smart Start will be delivered to your inbox every week filled with tips on the business and the art sides of planning a wedding. It will break up your tasks into easy-to-accomplish segments so you can enjoy the planning process.

If you have questions or ideas, please don’t hesitate to email me at You may also find back issues of the Smart Start series by clicking HERE.


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