Hey, come in real close — we have to tell you something. There is a razor-thin margin between having a memorable and fun destination wedding and having your friends hate you for all eternity, no take backs. Can you err on the side of the former and keep your friendships, though? Yes, absolutely, and we’ll tell you how.
So, destination is a relative term, right? One man’s destination is another man’s day trip, as the saying goes. The saying does not go that way, but still. Is your destination Cabo? Bali? Austin, Texas? How far are you willing to go to find the vibe that you’re going for?
Source: shutterstock.com/Megan Mahoney Photography
Get Your Rings in Order
Yes, the rings are the most important thing. However, now that you have a bunch of extra potential headaches, it’s easy for them to drop down the priority list. Get your sleek black wedding bands ahead of time, put them on ice and don’t worry about them until it’s time to get yourselves wed. Since you’re traveling with these rings though, you may want wedding insurance.
Plan So Far in Advance It Feels Ludicrous
You should always be planning in advance when it comes to weddings. We don’t have to tell you that. If we do, boy, are you in for a shock. Good luck.
Seriously, you want to plan as far in advance as you possibly can. As a rule of thumb, you want to start planning for a traditional wedding about 12 months out. For a destination wedding? You could start a year in advance, but that sure could cut it close. Err on the side of 16-18 months out, especially if you’re crossing several time zones to get where you’re going.
Trim That Guest List Down
We’re going to tell you the hard truth: your acquaintances are not going to go to your destination wedding. They just aren’t. Your co-worker from two jobs ago who you text monthly is not going to fly to Cape Town to see you exchange your gold-plated wedding bands. It just won’t happen. This is a feature, though, not a bug.
You want to trim your guest list down to just the essentials. Basically, it’s groomsmen, bridesmaids, family and maybe some close friends who didn’t make the groomsmen/bridesmaids cut. That’s about it. Your acquaintances aren’t coming, and you really shouldn’t want them to anyway. It’s only going to cost everyone more money.
Know the Laws of the Country You’re Visiting
We know what you’re thinking. “But I’m an American! I don’t have to know the laws of the country I’m visiting. It’s my right as a citizen of the Land of the Free!” Okay, you probably weren’t thinking that, but someone definitely was.
Genuinely, though, familiarize yourself with the laws of the country you’re visiting. Even though marriage is spiritual and all that, it’s also a legal contract with intricacies that can be complicated when you get married in your own country. When you cross borders to do so, you want all your tuxedo-wearing ducks in a row.
Consider Hiring a Pro
Laws are complicated, especially when they’re not your own country’s. Hiring a destination wedding planner is an extra line item in your budget, but there’s a decent chance that it’s a line item that’ll pay for itself. Not an international law scholar? Well, now you don’t have to be! If your budget is tight, maybe just get married in your own country anyway.
Your Budget Is So Important It Hurts
Back to budget because it’s that important. It’s easy for couples to go over budget when getting married domestically. When you add in travel expenses and reserving all your wedding venues, vendors, etc., the number of dollar signs you see can skyrocket. You need to ruthlessly stick to your budget or spend a lot of overtime hours making extra money.
Give Your Guests Several Fiscal Quarters’ Worth of Notice
This is for two reasons: convenience and cash.
Reason the First: Planning an International Trip Is a Hassle
It just is. If you’ve ever left the country, you know what we’re talking about. You want to book an international flight pretty far out to get the best deal, so you want to give your guests at least six months of notice, though more is definitely going to be appreciated. This gives your guests the maximum flexibility in both flight itinerary and cost.
Reason the Second: Planning an International Trip Costs Money
As Aristotle famously says, “Cash rules everything around me.” Have you ever tried to leave the country without paying a small fortune? Yeah, it’s not easy. Can it be done? Certainly. Can it be done at the last minute? Not without the direct intervention of Almighty God and Delta Airlines. Even then, the odds are low.
Your friends love you and want to see you get married. However, destination weddings cost an absurd amount of money and time, so you want to do absolutely everything in your power to make your guests’ lives easier. When they get in, be sure to shower them with gifts because they made a big sacrifice to be there for you.