Should I have a destination wedding?

4 pros and cons on traveling for your big day


Destination weddings are becoming increasingly popular. In fact, 25 percent of marriages were destination weddings in 2020 - that’s 340,000 weddings!


Having a destination wedding sounds fun and exciting. A beachside ceremony next to the water, a tropical hillside or mountain backdrop sound romantic, not to mention the stunning pictures you would take! There are many factors to consider, however, before deciding on a destination wedding. While it is the perfect idea for some couples, it is not perfect for everyone. Before you make the many, many other decisions about your wedding day, you must first make one big decision …


Should I have a destination wedding?


Here are four pros and cons to consider, that may help you make the best decision for you and your future spouse.


1. Simplicity (pro)


There are possibly hundreds of big and little decisions that have to be made for your wedding day. Choosing a location for the ceremony, choosing a location for the reception, picking a caterer, a florist, table settings …. The list goes on and on. A destination wedding can simplify many of those decisions. Oftentimes resorts will have wedding packages. The location, food, decorations are all set and decided for you. You just have to show up and say “I do!”


Simplicity (con)


All the decisions are made for you. If you like to be in control, want to see, touch, and get a feel for the space, know that this may not be a possibility with a destination wedding. Many times brides do not see the venue in person until the day of the wedding. You may not be able to sample the food or see how big the space is for the reception until your wedding day. This can be too difficult for some brides. A wedding planner can help and virtual tours can give you a sense of the space, but if you are a see it, feel it, taste it kind of bride, planning a wedding that will take place hundreds or thousands of miles away may be too challenging.


2. Less expensive (pro)


Yes, you read that right. A destination wedding can actually cost less than a wedding in your hometown. Sometimes a lot less. While that doesn’t seem like it should be possible, there are many factors which can make a destination wedding more cost effective than an at-home wedding. Many top destination locations have resorts with all inclusive packages for weddings. These packages could include lodging, location of the ceremony and reception, food, flowers and drinks. While the total sticker price may be a little shocking, when you add up all these items individually for a local wedding, the cost may be much less for a destination wedding.


It is important to also mention the emotional cost of planning a wedding. Making all those choices and arrangements can be emotionally taxing, not to mention time consuming. When it is all included, all those decisions go away, along with the stress.


Less expensive (con)


Traveling can be tricky. Traveling with a large group can be trickier. While you and your sounse-to-be may head to your destination a day or two early, you are at the mercy of the airlines to make sure all your guests, not to mention your wedding party, arrive on time (and with all their luggage). International travel can also be tricky, especially if there is a language barrier. This may be why the top five spots for destination weddings are all English speaking locations: Las Vegas, Hawaii, U.S. Virgin Islands, Jamaica and the Bahamas.


3. Intimate wedding (pro)


Unsure where to cut off the guest list? Should you invite the second cousins? What about your parents' neighbors? Sometimes it can be tough to know where to make the cut off. With a destination wedding, it is much easier to know who to invite (and who not to invite). The average guest list for a destination wedding is just 48 people. This means only close friends and family. An intimate group also means more time to socialize with everyone. Insead of spreading yourself thin making sure you say hello and thank you to every one of your 250 guests, you can sit down and talk with your sister or cousin, or best friend from college without worrying you are neglecting someone else.


Intimate wedding (con)


Yes, an intimate wedding usually means family and close friends, but keep in mind that not all of your family and close friends will be able to come to a destination wedding. While resorts will often offer a group rate for weddings, guests will still have to pay for their own travel and accommodations outside of the wedding day. That may not be financially possible for some people on your guest list. Others may not be able (or willing) to travel. Families with small children at home may pass on a plane ride with kids that is not to Disney World and elderly relatives may not be physically able to travel. So be prepared to have your big day without everyone you would like to be there.


4. Wedding/Honeymoon in one (pro)


When you have a destination wedding, you usually have it at that destination for a reason. If you get married on a sandy beach, you probably want to relax on that beach, too! The majority of destination weddings also double for the couple’s honeymoon. This means no rushing to the airport or packing after the wedding is over and waiting to get to your honeymoon. You are already there! From the moment you say “I do,” you are on your honeymoon! How fantastic is that?


And with your family and close friends with you at your perfect location, you can spend more than just a day together. Your wedding will be more than a day to them, it will be a trip they will always remember.


Wedding/Honeymoon in one (con)


A destination wedding means more time with your guests, but that means more time with your guests. It may be all fun and exciting before the wedding but after the reception is over you now have your family and friends with you on your honeymoon. You love your family, but do you want them on your honeymoon with you? Sure many guests will get the hint and give you your privacy, but some may not and want to hang out with you every moment of their vacation (which is your honeymoon). Spending extra days with your guests may not be a con for many couples, but it is certainly something to consider.


Still unsure?


On the fence? You want a destination wedding but want to include all your friends and family? You want a picturesque backdrop but don’t want to fly to get there? Thankfully we live in a perfect state to get both! Michigan offers some beautiful scenic locations for a not-too-distant destination wedding that everyone can attend! The shores of Lake Michigan, a vineyard backdrop in Traverse City or iconic Mackinac Island are perfect venues for a wedding ceremony, reception or both! Michigan has so many perfect locations - less than a tank of gas away!


Even after listing the pros and cons it may be difficult to decide if you should have a destination wedding. Talk with a wedding planner about your options and they will help you make the right choice for your big day.

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