virtuoso communities Tips for Planning a Destination Wedding

Tips for Planning a Destination Wedding

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Travel advisors share the insider dos and don’ts – plus favorite destinations – for that special day.
Destination weddings have a lot of perks. For a start, couples can opt to marry in a locale that sets the tone for the big day: awe-inspiring like the ocean, lofty like the mountains, timeless like a European castle. But the other reasons can be as practical as they are poetic.

Travel advisors can handle the entire destination-wedding process, just as they would for any group vacation. They help couples choose the right destination, find a venue, and negotiate hotel rates. Then comes booking the rooms, arranging flights and transfers, and reviewing contracts. We haven’t even started talking about managing logistics for off-site parties, planning activities and excursions, and coordinating with the hotel wedding planner, who usually focuses on details for the actual wedding. Having an expert handle these details is the key to a successful, happy celebration.

Here, travel advisors share ground rules and suggestions for planning an idyllic getaway wedding.
A dreamy seaside wedding banquet is within reach.
A dreamy seaside wedding banquet is within reach.
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What to Consider Before Saying “I Do”

DO think about the logistics of a location. Couples may have to ask themselves, “Will my 85-year-old grandma be able to make this trip?” If that’s an important factor, choose a spot that’s easy to get to, such as one that offers nonstop flights from a number of cities.
 
DON’T delay the invitations. Guests need more time to plan for attending a destination wedding, says Virtuoso advisor Susan Moynihan. At least six months’ notice is ideal.
 
DON’T take it personally if a guest can’t attend. It may not be easy for everyone to make the trip, despite their best wishes to be there.
   
DO gift local wedding favors. A regionally specific find from a local market is a thoughtful thank-you to guests for making the trip. For a client’s destination wedding in Jamaica, for example, Virtuoso advisor Margie Hand suggests engraved coffee mugs with bags of the island’s popular Blue Mountain Coffee. 
 
DON’T check the dress. It’s not worth the risk of your gown getting damaged or – worse – lost in transit. But note: A garment bag is considered one allotted carry-on item.
 
DO plan activities. A destination wedding is a vacation for everyone, and it’s nice to keep guests entertained or at least suggest diversions. Plus, group excursions give couples more opportunities to spend time with friends and family.
On Saint Lucia, blissed-out newlyweds <em>and</em> wedding guests can enjoy sunrise views of the Twin Pitons mountains.
On Saint Lucia, blissed-out newlyweds and wedding guests can enjoy sunrise views of the Twin Pitons mountains.
Photo by Getty Images

Where to Go

Saint Lucia for Beachfront Bliss

“I call Saint Lucia the Hawaii of the Caribbean,” says Virtuoso advisor Lindsey Epperly. The island appeals to adventure seekers and beach bums alike. “Imagine the Pitons with a beach nestled in between. It’s like nowhere else in the Caribbean.” Epperly suggests having the ceremony on the beach or a resort’s sunset deck. “A lot of brides have a romantic image of their wedding day in paradise,” she says. “Here, you can actually make that happen.”

Saratoga, Wyoming, for Mountain Magic

While staying stateside is simpler for guests (no passport required), a domestic destination wedding can still capture a far-from-home feeling. Many Western lodges combine rugged natural beauty with five-star-resort amenities. “It’s rustic luxury,” says Virtuoso travel advisor Susan Moynihan. “But rustic doesn’t mean you have to rough it.” Consider a wedding in an outdoor amphitheater or chapel amid gorgeous scenery. Beyond the ceremony itself, guests can try activities such as horseback riding, archery, hiking, and fly-fishing.
After the ceremony, escape the crowds in a tour of the Wyoming countryside.
After the ceremony, escape the crowds in a tour of the Wyoming countryside.
Photo by Getty Images

Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica, for Jungle Adventure

The Arenal Volcano towers over its namesake national park, a central Costa Rican locale blanketed in emerald-green rain forest and enhanced by a soundtrack of toucan calls. Virtuoso advisor Lynn Ciccarelli says it’s a destination ideal for couples looking for their own slice of tropical paradise. Pro tip: A 250-foot wooden bridge under rainforest canopy makes for stunning bridal-party photos.  

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