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Thinking About a Destination Wedding? Here are the Pros and Cons

Destination wedding by the sea

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For many couples, a destination wedding offers a way to have a unique wedding and a dream holiday at the same time, while saving some money while they’re at it.

But it’s easy to overlook reality when you’re mooning over photos of gorgeous far-flung venues and dreaming of the unknown. Destination weddings can be an amazing option but there are two sides to every story and it’s important to consider both sides before making a decision.

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Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of destination weddings and how to decide if it’s the right option for you.

The Pros – Why Have a Destination Wedding

couple in the destination wedding

Let’s start with the good stuff. There’s no denying that a destination wedding comes with many advantages. Here are some:

Range of all-inclusive packages to choose from

One of the best things about destination weddings is that all-inclusive packages are easily available. These may be offered by the resort, hotel or an agency but you can find one to suit almost any budget and style of wedding.

When they say all-inclusive, they really mean it, down to the boutonniere for the groom and the wine to toast with.  To show you what we mean, here’s a list of what’s included in a wedding package on a Greek island we came across.

Wedding package inclusions

These venues and agencies try their best to keep the entire process stress-free and simple, and some even include sightseeing tours.

All this means that you don’t have to stress all that much about the details of your wedding. You simply have to show up on the day with your dress and entourage and you’re good to go.

Shorten your guest list

Wedding venue by the sea

How many of you have started writing up your guest list only to be amazed that you know so many people? And what’s hardest of all is that it can be really difficult to cut people out of the list. This is when a destination wedding comes in handy. You can easily cut the people you don’t want at your wedding (but feel compelled to invite) off the list and only invite the ones who really matter to you.

Not only does this mean less drama and expense but also more quality time with the people that truly matter to you on your special day. And if you don’t want any guests at all? Opt for an elopement package celebrating just the two of you… with you.

You get to have a holiday too

couple kissing in the destination wedding

If you’ve always wanted to visit Tuscany, Malaysia or The Lake District, to name a few, but never had the chance, why not make your wedding the reason to go there? Seeing as you’ll be already saving money on your wedding, you can put what you save towards sightseeing and having your dream holiday. 

A wedding in a far-off locale typically takes at least 3 days but by adding a couple more days, you can go around and enjoy what the destination has to offer. Plus you’ll have your best friends and family around hopefully and will be able to share this experience with them.

Have amazing photos to look back on your wedding day

Destination wedding photos

That’s one of the biggest perks of destination weddings – unusual wedding photos with stunning scenery and gorgeous backdrops. Considering that your photos are what will last the test of time, this is nothing to scoff at. Think blue domes of Santorini, the tea hills of Sri Lanka or even the gorgeous snowfall of New York.

They’re a lot less serious and (can be) a lot more fun

Couple laughing in their destination wedding

While we tend to think of weddings as serious and formal affairs, a 2013 US Mintel survey found that over half of all brides prefer a less serious, party-like event where their guests have fun and enjoy themselves. After all, isn’t that the point of a wedding? To gather together to celebrate a couple’s union with music, laughter and dancing?

Destination weddings can be more fun, less serious and a whole lot of crazy depending on the venue and how casual you want it to be. Because everyone’s in holiday mode, with traditional rules somewhat suspended, destination weddings can be truly events to remember. Think Mamma Mia wedding-esque.

Destination weddings are typically less expensive

Destination weddings are typically cheaper than weddings closer to home for a number of reasons:

  • You’re cutting down your guest list which automatically means more savings
  • Not everyone will show up which reduces your list even more
  • You’re honeymoon is included as you’re already there anyway
  • Your decorations are the environment and natural scenery of the location because that’s what you went all the way there for in the first place
  • Your wedding is probably going to be more casual which means less expensive bride and groom attire and accessories
  • You might not have a bridal party which equates to more savings
  • The location might look expensive but could actually be really affordable.
  • The exchange rate might be very favorable and the venues or packages could be much less expensive than you expect
  • You can benefit from group discounts and other incentives often offered to keep up with the high competition in the industry

The Cons – Why Not to Have a Destination Wedding

There’s two sides to every story and unfortunately, there are wrinkles to destination weddings too. It’s not all perfection like the pictures of couples getting married in exotic locations tend to show. In reality, there’s a fair bit of drawbacks to consider:

You might not get to see the venue beforehand

Wedding venue by the sea

One of the best things about getting married closer to home is that the number of unforeseen circumstances can be reduced but not so with destination weddings. Unless you have the good fortune of visiting the venue beforehand and checking everything out, you might not have any idea of where you’re going apart from what you’ve seen on photos. Photos don’t always show the real picture, so there could be unpleasant surprises.

The people you hire might not care

One thing with destination weddings is that most of the vendors may not care about the event and may make changes or do as they please. After all, they know they won’t be getting repeat business from you and your referral doesn’t mean as much to them as the referrals of locals so they might see your event as a way to make a quick buck without many repercussions. There’s no way to foresee this happening and even if it does, you can either fight it or just go with it. To be fair though, most agencies and venues take their business seriously and do their best.

It’s hard to control everything

Needless to say, destination weddings come with their many challenges. There can be lots of barriers and lost in translations, from bureaucracy to language issues. If you’re someone who wants everything to be perfect, then this could drive you crazy. There’ll be many things that you’ll have to leave to chance, crossing your fingers and hoping that it all comes together. If you’re not someone who can take this kind of pressure, then this might not be the best option for you.

Not everyone will be able to make it

Couple standing at their wedding venue by the sea

Yes your guest list will be shorter and you’ll be able to cut out all those extra people you didn’t want at your wedding. But what about those close family and friends who might not be able to make it for one reason or another? Making the trip over to your destination might not be feasible for them, due to health, financial, work or other concerns.

This could be a damper on your wedding day as you may not have the people you’ve always dreamed of having at your wedding there to share the occasion with you.

You’ll bump into family and friends on your honeymoon

Whether you like it or not, your family and friends will be hanging around for a few days too making the most of their trip to your destination. This means that unless you leave the locale for another destination, you’ll be bumping into them on your honeymoon. Not the most ideal scenario but I guess it could be worse.

More costly for guests to attend

Some people say that having a destination wedding is selfish. The reason they say this is because destination weddings mean smaller weddings with reduced guests, making the event more about the couple and less about the guests – as it should be.

However, there is some truth to the complaint. For many guests, taking time off work, paying for flights and accommodation as well as wedding attire all add up to being too much.

The legal side can be a nightmare

If you’re planning on having a legal wedding at your destination, there can be a lot of red tape, translations and documentation to provide to have your marriage registered in the country. This can pose a headache to many couples and can take months.

The simple solution to this is to register your marriage in your home country and simply have a symbolic wedding or a vow renewal at the destination. No one has to know, if you want to keep this private.

Wrapping Up…

So there you have the pros and cons of destination weddings. While it’s not all roses and sugar, it’s very appealing compared to a traditional wedding.

Is a destination wedding right for you? Consider the pros and cons and balance them out. What are your non-negotiables? What are you willing to give up? By weighing the pros and cons, you can decide which of the above aspects mean the most to you and which you can ignore. That’ll help you to make your decision.