Planning a Destination Wedding

Ah, the destination wedding – for the couple who aren’t satisfied with just making one day all about them, and instead plan a holiday all about them – for everyone!  Of course, I’m joking – we had a destination wedding too.

Why have a destination wedding? 

Many of our VIPs were visiting New Zealand from far and wide to attend our wedding, so we really wanted to make it more than a one-day experience. This way, our guests could soak up as much of their holidays with us as possible. It also enabled us to introduce our guests and extended families to each other over a few days, instead of just an afternoon in Auckland.

While remaining in New Zealand, we settled on a destination-wedding appropriate Coromandel venue (a couple of hours from Auckland). Guests are invited to arrive two days before the wedding and to stay another night after, during which time we’ll have parties, classic Kiwi BBQs and boat trips (and a wedding). We could showcase the best of NZ life to our international friends.

Why else to have a Destination Wedding? 

Another of my best friends is also planning a destination wedding for her own next year, inviting her guests to join her and her fiance for a 5-day Pacific Island destination wedding.  Many of her family are overseas too, so it will be a small wedding, and she wanted to spend a week with family soaking up the sun in Rarotonga.  We’ve both talked about and struggled with aspects of planning a destination wedding.  She’ll save on the cost of having a wedding in New Zealand, and put those savings towards helping friends and family out with the cost of accommodation.  Of course, there are lots of other reasons to have a destination wedding, which you’ll pick up from the “Pros”, below.

I also attended a destination wedding in Ireland last year, so with a bit of experience  I thought I’d help out, in case anyone else is struggling!

The Pros of a Destination Wedding

– It’s a holiday for your guests.
– You can combine a destination wedding with your honeymoon, or go somewhere nearby afterwards.
– Guests will feel more connected, getting to know each other better in the surrounding days, and can spend time bonding. That’s your family and friends becoming one, and that’s one huge advantage!
– Many international destinations are cheaper for food, wine and accommodation, e.g. Rarotonga, Thailand, or Bali, and resorts my have ‘All inclusive’ deals.
– It’s unique: While local venues will be used and reused in succession by friends and friends-of-friends, widening the pool of venues makes it less likely your guests have already attended a wedding at your chosen venue.
– You can have more than one party!  With more nights together, have a dress up party, rehearsal dinner, charades night, girls’ slumber party, etc.
– Not everyone will be able to make it, thereby reducing your guest list.

The Cons of a Destination Wedding:
– Not everyone will be able to make it (due to budget, child constraints, etc), thereby reducing the likelihood of having all your closest friends and family there to celebrate with you (though with the money you save on catering you could offer to help them out).
– You’ll have to finalise details much sooner, giving your guests advance notice to book flights and accommodation.
– If you had wanted a child-free wedding, you can’t really insist on it overseas, as it’s unreasonable to expect parents to leave their children at home while they disappear for a few days.  Alternatively, you (or the venue/planner) might be able to organise a sitter to look after all the kids.
– The same goes for plus-ones: If you don’t have the venue space or budget to include a plus-one for every guest, you may find that some guests aren’t willing to travel far and wide without their significant other.
– You may have less control over a destination wedding, especially with an overseas wedding, perhaps delegating various styling and design tasks to the venue’s staff or a wedding planner.
– If you ask for physical wedding gifts, as opposed to a donation towards your honeymoon, etc, you may have the hassle of having to ship them all home – or you may have to organise an alternative beforehand).

Now head to the wedding planning page for an index of our content, and if you haven’t already seen our wedding organiser and diary, take a little look at the little white book.

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