Destination Weddings: Part I

Posted by C&G on Tuesday, April 28, 2009

With summer right around the corner, we thought we’d weigh in on the ever popular Destination Wedding. Clearly, there are a few good reasons to do destination weddings, and as couples embark on a discussion of if they should or should not, consider the following:

1. Is your aim to limit the budget or the guest list?
We find that most couples who begin to plan destination weddings do so because they are either trying to save money and figure that a far away wedding, will not only limit the budget, but also inevitably the guest list. Neither is necessarily true. Many of our clients are shocked when they
realize how much more a destination wedding can cost. And since most would have in theory preferred a big city locale, they are often pleasantly surprised to find that their dollars will go a lot farther at home. Why? Simply because there are so many additional costs that you have to
cover when getting married farther away.

i) You will usually have to foot the bill for at LEAST one trip to the destination of choice before the wedding. Our experience shows that it will probably be two or three to make sure that everything is in place and in order. This will require hotels, flights, transportation and food. This
adds up pretty quickly, particularly if you have chosen a destination that is also popular for the rest of the world.

ii) Hotel accommodations for guests when you are planning a destination wedding become a lot more important for the bride and groom to arrange for obvious reasons. Many couples will choose to subsidize the room rate for the hotels, or they will feel obligated to if they have chosen a destination and time of year that is particularly costly. This is something that many couples
struggle with, but we find that since the hotel rates are usually the biggest reason that guests are not able to come, the majority of couples tend to subsidize rates.

iii) Events as a whole for the time that guests are with you for your wedding become more important. If you are doing a wedding in a city with which everyone is fairly familiar or lives, its less important to ensure that a) all guests are invited to the rehearsal dinner, or that there is
a farewell brunch b) all guests feel that they are able to see the location, or be given a tour of some sort to get to know it and c) feel that they are participating in more of a “wedding weekend” rather than a 1 day event – especially if costly or lengthy travel is involved.

iv) Welcome baskets are a must. When you invite every single guest to travel for your wedding, the least that you can do is give them a small token of your appreciation upon arrival – clearly, this is a lovely gesture for any wedding, but it’s an absolute necessity for a destination wedding. Not doing so would be an egregious breach of etiquette and not spending the time or even money to make it something special or meaningful would be even worse!

v) Don’t ever expect that your guest attendance list will be lighter just because the wedding is farther. The attrition rates for destination weddings tends to be in line with those close to home mainly because travel for weddings is so common place now a days and also because people use destination weddings as an excuse to get away or go see a location to which they have not been
before. The higher than expected rate of return always shocks destination wedding couples; both emotion and purse alike. Many expect that the decrease in guest count will reduce the costs, but when the guests send the excited responses, the dollars go up!

image by King Street Studios

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