By Deanna Spagnuolo, The Lloydminster Source
Photography by Amy Reber
Whether you want to say your vows with an ocean background, or have a view overlooking mountains, destinations set the scene for romantic and breathtaking weddings that take a considerable amount of planning.
Travel agencies recommend planning your destination wedding anywhere from 10 months to one year in advance. The farther out you plan, the better chance you have of getting everything you want out of your day, it also helps your guests so they have time to save and plan.
Although there’s less stress with planning a destination wedding, many brides have a tough time loosening the reins and being comfortable with a wedding coordinator.
“I don’t want to say that if you’re a bridezilla you should stay home,” said Becky Cheley from Marlin Travel. “[A destination wedding] is a big step people are taking because they’re giving up control to someone who is far away and they don’t get to meet them prior.”
“Typically a wedding coordinator will touch base with a couple two to three months before the wedding,” said Cheley. “They’ll try to nail down things like flowers, if you want a beach or garden wedding… When you go to a travel agency to decide on a destination, you’ll be set up with a Canadian tour operator that will set you up with a wedding coordinator in the country of your choice.”
With putting faith in your wedding coordinator and having your wedding in a whole new place, brides have to consider that everything is going to be different, from the food to the flowers, and usually couples meet their coordinator a couple of days before the wedding.
But there are still quite a few reasons why a couple would opt for a getaway-wedding. For starters, you’re able to have a honeymoon and wedding all in one.
“A lot of people are starting to like smaller and intimate weddings,” said Cheley. “Most people will still do a reception when they come home, and the pictures are beautiful with the blue water and you’re able to take in a different atmosphere.”
As for atmospheres, most couples prefer tropical, all-inclusive places in countries like Mexico, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic.
“For people who don’t mind not having all-inclusive, Hawaii would be a popular choice too,” said Cheley.
She also suggests that couples do their weather research before officially deciding on a destination. A lot of countries experience hurricane season and extremely rainy seasons, just the thing to put a damper on your special day.
“The two busiest months are February and March,” she said. “The season for destination weddings is really anytime from November to April. Hurricane season is usually over end of October. So typically you’re going to get your best weather in late winter or early spring. You can get great prices if you don’t mind having it in November, December or January.”
Along with researching weather patterns, another thing to add to your wedding checklist is researching marriage laws in the country you plan to wed in. When visiting a travel agency to plan your big day, they should give you the info on how to fulfill the requirements, but it’s ultimately up to the couple to make sure they have everything they need.
“There are some countries that require your documentation to be translated and legalized by their embassy or consulate in Canada,” said Cheley. “Your best option would be to sit down with a wedding professional at a travel agency. They know the laws and customs.”
Your travel agency is going to be your best friend in your wedding journey, delivering a wealth of knowledge on subjects you might not have considered from everything from avoiding scam artists to invitation information
“On invitations we recommend including hotel info, travel dates, departure cities, name of hotel, as well as a little bit of destination info like things to see and do. Even though this is your wedding, it’s also your guest’s vacation. Include the star rating of the hotel and its brochure,” she said.
To avoid scam artist, if you’re booking through a travel agency then you’re set. Cheley recommends that if you’re planning solo, do some online research and make sure you’re purchasing your package through a reputable hotel.
All in all, destination weddings are magical events and hotel wedding packages can run you anywhere from $1,000- $5,000. Be prepared to be swept off your feet with surprising affordability in an awe-inspiring place with the love of your life.