The idea of the perfect sandy beach at sunset with the waves crashing in the background saying your “I do’s” is a dream for many. But if it is something you are planning, there are some common destination watch-outs to be wary of.
While the fantasy of a destination wedding is certainly enticing and more popular than ever, the reality can be entirely different if you don’t plan ahead. While destination weddings definitely do cut down on some headaches, they can create a migraine of their own. Read on for destination wedding pitfalls to watch out for and how to avoid them.
Destination Wedding watch out #1: Your Parents Are Unhappy
Maybe your mum wants to invite her entire bridge club to your wedding or his dad wants you to get married at the golf club where he’s played for 20-plus years. But just as you would if your wedding were in town, you and your fiancé need to gently remind your parents that it’s your special day.
That doesn’t mean they don’t get to voice an opinion or can’t help out. One strategy is to have your parents call and talk to the wedding coordinator at the resort or hotel you have chosen. That way, they can feel like they’re part of the wedding planning and can address any special needs or concerns, like if any guests need wheelchair access and need help getting to the beach for the ceremony.
Destination Wedding watch out #2: Bad Weather
Rain is every bride’s worst nightmare wherever you are. Now magnify by infinity when you’re getting married at a resort you specifically chose for its stunning location. To minimize the impact, make sure you know what Plan B is, often an enclosed gazebo or covered deck, and that you can live with it if it does rain.
Worse than getting rained out, however, is most tropical paradises have that tropical climate. That means flash thunderstorms and hurricanes. Even if you’re not planning your wedding on a tropical isle during hurricane season (June through November), it’s possible a storm could render your destination a temporary disaster area as Rita did to Cancun in 2005.
Before you book your wedding and pay any deposits, ask about the refund policy. Many resorts will refund your deposit or transfer it to a different set of dates in the event of a weather disaster. Bigger hotel chains will likely allow you to use your deposit at a different property if the hotel is seriously damaged. Make sure you know for sure before you part with any cash.
Destination Wedding watch out #3: Wedding Dress safety
In these days of add-on airline fares, don’t count on a flight attendant to happily find you room in the first class coat closet for your dress. Instead of risking having to walk down the aisle in a wrinkled dress, ship your wedding dress at least a week ahead of time. Many hotels will have it professionally steamed for you before the big day.
If you’re getting married in another country, including the Caribbean or South East Asia, make sure to research customs requirements for the specific country. This goes for any welcome bag items or favours, too.
Destination Wedding watch out #4: Language breakdown
Working with vendors you’ve never met can be challenging. Your band may play a song you didn’t request, your florist may confuse the flower order, and your caterer may misinterpret your request when a member of the wedding party is deathly allergic to nuts. To avoid all these scenarios, work closely with a reputable wedding coordinator. If the resort you chose doesn’t have one, call the local tourism board and request a list of providers. As with any other vendor, ask for references.
Destination Wedding watch out #5: Other guests
Arriving at your destination to find it teeming with folks all wearing identical logoed tees slamming Pina Coladas between meetings will give your wedding trip a slightly less romantic vibe than intended. Always ask when booking your hotel if there are any other weddings, conferences or other big groups staying at the property during your stay. After all, you don’t want your dream wedding crashed by drunk conference-goers you don’t know.
It’s also a good idea to check with the local convention and visitors bureau to make sure your big day doesn’t coincide with a Harley Davidson festival. Even if the festival sounds like something you want to attend, like a food or wine festival, it can drive up prices, making your hotel more expensive for you and your guests.