What You Need to Know Before Planning a Destination Wedding

Many of my couples tell me that they have always wanted to get married somewhere exciting away from home.  They knew that the traditional option with lots of guests close to home wasn’t for them.  For some people it is difficult to make a move from the big dream of a destination wedding in to the practicalities of choosing the location and starting to make decisions on the details.  Here are a few things to consider when making the choice as to whether a destination wedding is right for you and your partner.

I write the ceremony wording for all of our couples, so I get to know them at least a little during the wedding planning process.  Lots of our couples are fond of travel, and have visited some amazing locations together in the past.  I think this helps when it comes to planning a destination wedding and letting go of the concern that they may not actually see their wedding location in person until they get there!  Many of our couples have visited New York before, some even got engaged in New York, but some have never been to the city before.  They certainly won’t be able to meet all of their vendors in person before the wedding and they may well not have set foot in the place where they will have their reception.  Couples from abroad need to be aware of this and unless they plan on making a trip to New York to scope things out in advance they just need to accept it.  If you hire a wedding planner such as myself to deal with a lot of this, then there is also some letting go involved. 

When choosing the country in which you want to say “I do” make sure that it will be legally recognised in your home country!  Lots of countries have stringent requirements for people to get married there, such as the language the ceremony must be in, the length of time the couple have to be in the country before they get married, or perhaps blood tests.  So, some couples have a legal ceremony in their home country before the symbolic ceremony abroad.  I often wonder when these couples celebrate their wedding anniversary.  In New York State, there are no restrictions on how long you need to be in the country before you get your license, only that you wait twenty fours between getting the license and having the ceremony.  After your marriage is registered it is legally recognised all over the world, although some countries require a long certificate instead of the standard certificate issued by City Hall.  It’s easy to get this and I can tell you all you need to do to get it.  For residents of the UK, as many of our couples are, here’s what the UK government says about the legalities surrounding a wedding in the US.

Often, our couples tell me that the trip to New York for their wedding might be the first time for many of their guests.  Keep in mind your loved ones’ appetite for travel when considering who you will invite.  Our couples tell me that their guests loved the idea of them getting married in New York, but it won’t be everyone’s idea of fun.  When considering a destination wedding it is wise to accept early on that not everyone in your life will be able to come.  They may not be available for your date; since a trip to New York requires much more of their time than an afternoon at a church or hotel in their town, or they may not be able to afford the trip, or they may just not be physically able to travel that far, as we find with many couples’ grandparents.

Another thing to keep in mind, as an extension to the point above, is that some people won’t like your choice.  I absolutely believe that a couple should have the wedding day that they want, not what others want, but friends and family may feel otherwise.  Some family may have their own ideas about what your wedding should be like, or they may resent being asked to pay for travel and accommodation to attend. 

It is so important to try to avoid stress when planning your wedding.  This is as true for a destination wedding as it is for a traditional wedding close to home.  I wrote a blog post with some tips on how to reduce stress when planning a destination wedding.  There are just some things that you can’t control when getting married far away and a bit part of reducing stress is to accept that.

This is an important one: check what the weather will be like when you get married.  This may help you to choose what time of year to go, or if you have a date in mind that you don’t want to change for whatever reason, this will help you to prepare for the weather.  The time of year you get married may also affect how busy the location will be and perhaps any holidays.  Of course you will need to think about the weather when you decide what to wear, and to advise your guests what they may wear. 

If you’re planning to get married in New York then the budget can be as big or small as you want it to be.  You should consider this at the start.  You can stay in a fancy, swish hotel, something more basic, or keep the costs down with an AirBnB stay.  There are hundreds of restaurants in walking distance of Central Park, and many more if you get in a cab, so the same goes for the reception location!  The cost of a destination wedding is likely to be well below the average cost of a traditional wedding, but you can still spend an awful lot on a trip like this if you don’t consider the budget early on.

Your wedding is your special day, but if you invite your nearest and dearest along to share in your special day then the comfort and happiness of you guests should be a big consideration.  In some way, this is even more true for a destination wedding; partly because you’ve asked such a lot of your guests for them to travel a long way to attend, and partly because you only have a small group, there are the people who matter most to you.  I wrote a couple of blog posts on how to make a destination wedding better for your guests.  I think it’s all about considering their needs, and clear communication about what you will be doing, and what is expected of them.

If you would like me to help you with planning your own Central Park wedding or elopement, large or small, visit our website.  Keep updated with our news and see lots of beautiful photos, “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and follow us on Pinterest

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