Say I Do to a Destination Wedding

If you’re the kind of bride that would rather skip the ballroom and head to the beach, a destination wedding is the hottest way to get hitched. Celebrity wedding planner JoAnn Gregoli shares her tips on how to make planning one stress-free.

1) The first major step in planning any wedding is determining a realistic budget. Next the most challenging, but FUN choice is deciding on a location. Make sure you pick a place that’s easy to get to, fits into your budget, and also factor in the cost of the rooms for your guests. If you want most of your guest list to come, make sure the room rate is affordable.

2) Choose a resort that has wedding planners available on site so you can communicate with them in the months leading up to the big day. The wedding coordinator will be your “go-to” on the location, sites, weather conditions, restaurants, the actual ceremony and the reception. A great planner will help keep you calm, while they tackle any challenges along the way.

3) Once you select a destination, decide on a date that works best at the location. If you plan on getting married by the beach, avoid dates during rainy season or even worse, hurricane season! Don’t take any chances!

4) Keep in mind: language and cultural barriers are often a challenge with a destination wedding. For example, at a wedding in New York City, a reception may last five hours. But on many remote islands, parties are only two or three. Small details like this are important to talk with the resort planner about to ensure your wedding is what you want.

5) One thing all couples must look into and understand is the legal marriage requirements at the destination of your wedding. These requirements vary from place to place — and it’s critical for your wedding planner to find this out.

6) Finally, learn how to pack for your wedding! The bride should never pack her wedding gown in checked baggage! If your luggage doesn’t make it to the resort, neither will your dress! And after all of those dress fittings, THAT would be a disaster!

Some final words of wisdom — just be relaxed, ready to roll with the punches, and prepared for the unexpected! Before you know it, you’ll find yourself barefoot in the sand saying “I do” at your dream wedding.

Check out the rest of our Love & Marriage section for more wedding planning tips.