12 Ways to Discover the Perfect Destination Wedding Location

With so many incredible resorts and hotels throughout the world, planning a destination wedding can be a bit overwhelming.  We’ve compiled a list of important questions to help you narrow down the choices.

Do you and your future spouse have a valid U.S. Passport?

If you are contemplating a foreign destination, keep in mind that your passport expiration date should be valid for 6 months beyond your return date.  Also, consider if most of your guests will have a current U.S. passport.  Due to the current COVID situation, passport applications are taking 10-12 weeks to process.  Be sure and send save-the-dates to give wedding guests ample notice. Furthermore, place a link on your wedding website to the U.S. Department of State’s Passport Application Site. Guests will then be able to easily find the information they need.

Once upon a time you could enter countries like the Bahamas without a passport. Today, you’ll need one for every country outside the United State. Photo credit :Jon Tyson

What is your budget for your destination wedding ceremony and reception?

Al-inclusive resorts typically offer a free ceremony and other perks if you book a minimum number of room nights. 

What is the length of stay for your destination wedding?

Most resorts have a 3 or 4 night minimum.  You’ll also want to factor in travel time especially if your destination requires a full day of travel.

With regards to accommodations, what price point would you like to meet for your guests?

Ask yourself, “What are my guests comfortable paying?” Again, keep in mind that most all-inclusive resorts require a minimum stay of 3 days and 4 nights.

How many guests do you anticipate?

A small palazzo along the banks of Lake Como may only be able to accommodate a handful of guests for your ceremony.  Whereas many Caribbean resorts can handle hundreds of your nearest and dearest.

What season do you prefer to get married? 

If you’re thinking of a Caribbean or Mexican destination, consider that hurricane season starts in June and extends through the first of November.  July in Italy can be very steamy.  Furthermore, Italians tend to vacation during August in conjunction with Ferragosto, a national day of celebration that falls on August 15th.  As a result, this can make finding accommodations difficult for your wedding guests.  

What activities are important to you?

Is your idea of the perfect wedding location filled with time spent relaxing on an isolated, quiet beach?  Perhaps you want a beachside lifestyle that offers great nightlife and entertainment. You may even want something more adventurous like water sports, skiing or hiking.  Do you envision some side excursions such as a wine tasting, cultural tours, or a sunset sail? 

Are your destination wedding guests mostly couples, singles, or large families with young kids?

Some destination properties are for adults or couples-only. Consider the make-up of your guest list before deciding on a location. Certain resorts have a sister property next-door that is more suitable for children.  Most adult-only resorts will allow children on the property for the wedding ceremony. Always confirm that information and be sure it is written into your contract.

Do you or any guests have health problems or mobility issues?

There is nothing more romantic than a destination wedding in a Tuscan hilltop town overlooking the rolling hills.  However, many of these historic cities are closed to motorized vehicles and guests must get along on foot.  The cobblestone roads that grace these areas can be difficult for anyone who uses a walker, cane or wheelchair.  The Amalfi Coast is another one of our beloved destination wedding locations — the jaw-dropping vistas are unforgettable.  These vertical towns, however, require navigating many flights of stairs – often with luggage in tow. 

The town of Positano, set on the Amalfi Coast, offers a breathtaking setting for your destination wedding in Italy but it can be difficult to navigate for guests with disabilities

What is the nearest airport to you and the majority of your guests?

Consider if your nearest regional airport offers direct flights to your destination.  Moreover, will it involve a lengthy layover? If you only have 3 or 4 days, don’t choose a destination wedding location that requires a full day of traveling.

Some locations require you to arrive several days in advance to apply for a marriage license. Requirements vary widely between countries. While some may require blood tests, there are others who need documentation filed 45 days in advance. 

Further, foreign countries will need all your certified U.S. documents translated into their official language.  You will also need to send your certified document to the appropriate state authority (typically the Secretary of State’s office) for an apostille. This apostille legalizes your document to be used in a foreign country.  If you’re not a fan of paperwork you may want to opt for a ceremony in the U.S. You can then have a symbolic ceremony at your destination wedding location.  

Above all, do not wait to collect official documents. It’s not uncommon for some states/counties to take several months to mail your certified birth certificate or divorce decree.  Moreover, if you are seeking a religious ceremony, there will be additional documents that you’ll need to obtain from your church.  Destination wedding planning can sound a little overwhelming, but we hand-hold our clients through the process to simplify matters.

The Cathedral of Syracuse (Duomo di Siracusa), in enchanting Ortigia, Sicily offers Catholic ceremonies for those desiring a religious wedding

Do you prefer a large or small resort / hotel?

Some couples prefer a larger resort spread out over many acres. Others may desire a more intimate feel that a smaller property offers.  Smaller properties also offer buy-out opportunities whereby you and your guests have the exclusive use of the property.  Given the pandemic, some couples find this to be a very attractive option in order to mitigate contact with strangers.

Hyatt Zilara Cancun offers an array of luxury rooms for your destination wedding in Mexico. Read more Hyatt Zilara and the wide range of activities available at the resort for your guests.
Italy Destination Weddings at Masseria Salamina
Masseria Salamina offers an intimate setting for a beautiful destination wedding in the Puglia region of Italy. Learn more about this beautiful historic wedding venue here.

Are there any locations you absolutely would not consider.

Some couples won’t consider a location that may be associated with an ex. One of our clients understandably refused to go to Paris for their wedding or honeymoon because it was where her finance had previously proposed to another woman.

Have fun embarking on your search for the perfect destination wedding location.  Need some help planning a destination wedding?  Contact us for a complementary consultation.

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