Planning the Perfect Destination Wedding

Main Line experts offer tips on when, where and how to have a getaway wedding.



See also "When and Where to Say 'I Do.'"

Granted, the beach is quite a dramatic departure from a chapel’s center aisle. But that hasn’t stopped destination weddings from becoming an increasingly popular choice for couples planning an outside-the-box celebration.

“They’re an affordable alternative,” says Tim Mullen, senior vice president of Apple Vacations in Newtown Square, “especially during the traditional times when catering and event sites are booked—namely May, September, October and June.”

Just how affordable? “The packages we see people buying these days are the all-inclusives,” Mullen says. “By their nature, everything is built in, though you might pay a little extra for the cake and additional staff. You can have a wedding at a five-star hotel for $30-$60 a head—and that’s for everything.”

While those figures sound impressive enough, there are a few things to consider—and it begins with the guest list. If it can’t be pared down to 70 guests at most—including the bridesmaids and groomsmen—forget it. “Anything more than 100 people is just too many to handle,” Mullen says. “You have to consider the air and ground logistics, since you’d have people flying in from all over. Then it becomes a matter of how many rooms you need and how many are actually available. From the agent and hotel’s perspective, 50 is the best number.”
 

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From there, the couple must determine how their dream destination will affect their guests. Philadelphia International and Baltimore/Washington International airports provide easy access to just about any destination. But if most people live well outside a major metropolitan area, things can get tricky.

A bride-to-be must also consider the logistics of planning her big day without seeing the venue for herself ahead of time. Unless she brings her glam squad along for the ride, hair, makeup and primping will be left in the hands of resort staff. While this may sound like a potentially terrifying scenario to some, most disasters can be averted with proper preparation.

“Ninety-nine percent of all details are arranged prior to a couple’s arrival,” says Mullen. “She’ll have confident, strong people there, who she’s worked with months prior to the wedding. That includes her travel agent, the wedding coordinator at the venue, and a group coordinator who takes care of all the little day-of aspects.”

Ambiance is also a factor. Destination weddings are typically less formal, which is why they’re often a perfect match for nontraditional nuptials—especially second weddings. Small and simple is the operative term. 

Where to go? Napa Valley, Disney World, and the beaches of Florida and Southern California are domestic hot spots. Mexican resorts offer a ton of options to keep your guests active and entertained. Jamaica, the Bahamas and parts if the Dominican Republic are extremely accessible. English is widely spoken in Aruba, and the food and transportation are close to American standards—though it’s a bit more difficult to get to.

And not every resort specializes in weddings. “Talk to the people behind the scenes, find out how many weddings they do a year, ask for pictures,” says Mullen. “Just do your homework.”

» More Wedding Articles
 

See "When and Where to Say 'I Do'" on page 3 ...
 

When and Where to Say “I Do”

Pick your month, then try one of the destinations listed below.


January + February Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Bali, Belize, Brazil, Canadian ski resorts, Caribbean, Central and South Africa, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Maldives, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand Domestic: Florida Keys, ski resorts

March Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Belize, Brazil, Canadian ski resorts, Caribbean, Central and South Africa, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Egypt, French Polynesia, Hawaii, Maldives, Mexico, Morocco Domestic: Florida Keys, ski resorts, Southeast and Southwest

April Argentina, Bahamas, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Caribbean, Central and South Africa, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Egypt, French Polynesia, Hawaii, Italy, Maldives, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Spain Domestic: Anywhere

May Belize, Bermuda, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Caribbean, Central and South Africa, Czech Republic, Fiji, France, French Polynesia, Greece, Hawaii, Ireland, Italy, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Seychelles, Spain, Thailand Domestic: Anywhere

June Bermuda, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Central and South Africa, Czech Republic, Fiji, France, French Polynesia, Greece, Hawaii, Ireland, Italy, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles, Spain, Thailand Domestic: Alaska, Northeast
 

Continued on page 4 ...
 

July + August Bermuda, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Central and South Africa, Czech Republic, Fiji, France, French Polynesia, Ireland, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Seychelles, Thailand Domestic: Alaska, Northeast

September Australia, Bermuda, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Central and South Africa, Czech Republic, Fiji, France, French Polynesia, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles, Spain, Thailand Domestic: Anywhere

October Australia, Bali, Belize, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Central and South Africa, Egypt, Fiji, French Polynesia, Hawaii, Italy, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Seychelles, Spain Domestic: Anywhere

November Australia, Bahamas, Bali, Belize, Brazil, Canada (ski destinations), Central and South Africa, Egypt, French Polynesia, Hawaii, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Seychelles, Spain Domestic: Western ski resorts, Southeast and Southwest 

December Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Bali, Belize, Brazil, Canadian ski resorts, Caribbean, Central and South Africa, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand Domestic: Florida Keys, ski resorts

» More Wedding Articles
 

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