With the size of weddings decreasing, the number of couples choosing to do a destination wedding is increasing. Destination weddings, whether domestic or international, provide you an amazing opportunity to spend quality time with friends and family leading up to wedding day. But, while most destinations are fun and relaxing the week prior to “I Do”, they can be quite stressful at every point before that. Not being around to meet with vendors, do site visits, or handle any issues that arise can put a real strain on your mental health. But, with proper planning and a lot of organization, your destination wedding can be a once in a lifetime experience that neither you nor guests will forget!

We are starting a series here on the blog all about planning and prepping for a destination wedding and we’re kicking it off with the six things you need to consider when choosing your destination city.

  1. Time of Year: This is not a reference to the weather (we’ll get to that!) but to everything else that occurs in a city during specific seasons. For example, while getting married in South Beach, Miami during the spring sounds like an amazing break from the bitter cold up north, you’ll be fighting partying spring breakers from across the country. You can figure out the best times to get married in a specific city by doing a Google search or talking to locals. If you don’t know any locals personally, reach out to local wedding planners in that area. Let them know you are thinking of hosting your wedding in their city and want to find out more about it. Most are happy to chat if it means potential business for them. This will also provide you with a great opportunity to interview some planners because trust me, you will want someone who knows the ins and outs of that area to help as much as possible.
  2. The Weather: You will want to do extensive research on temperature highs and lows, sunrise and sunset times, rainfall levels, and humidity rates in any specific city you are considering. Don’t rely on general assumptions or a one time experience visiting the city years ago. You also don’t want to assume that the weather conditions in one city are similar to another in that same state or country. For example, Florida may sound perfect for a winter beach destination wedding but temperatures in North Florida can hit the 40s in December and go even lower in January and February while South Florida rarely drops below 65 or 70 degrees. Making sure you are aware of the average weather conditions prior to booking will guarantee a pleasurable experience.
  3. Travel & Accessibility: Travel to and from a possible location is important whether you are considering a domestic or international destination. You will want to know the location of the closest airport, if guests will need to rent a car or catch a shuttle to get to your wedding locale, or even if the venue is only accessible by boat. Guaranteeing there is easy travel to and from major cities across the U.S. is key in making sure guests can attend.
  4. Lodging: When you have found a few cities you like, look at the tourist lodging in the area. Are there a lot of resorts or is it mainly home or condo rentals? Can you secure the rooms for your guests or will they have to book on their own? These are all things to consider especially if you have guests that are not avid travelers. Some islands nations, like the Bahamas, don’t have many resorts unless you are on a larger, more populated island. The means that in some locations, the only option is to go through a site like VRBO or a local relator to rent a house or condo which typically has a minimum rental of a week during get the high season. If you do choose a location that offers mainly home rentals, you may want to consider contacting a local rental company, telling them about your wedding, and directing all guests to this company to book their individual rentals.
  5. Marriage Laws: This should be a major consideration whether domestic or international. Stateside you shouldn’t have an issue obtaining a license in a state that is not your primary residence but each state has different requirements like holding periods and restrictions on who can marry you. Internationally, you will have the same concerns as stateside plus maybe a few more to consider that are specific to each country. If you are going the international route, you may even consider getting legally married at your local courthouse before traveling out of the country for your wedding.
  6. Currency Exchange Rate/Local Economy: Obviously the exchange rate is not an issue with domestic destination weddings but it is a major consideration with international one. You will want to be aware of the current exchange rate because it could mean more money on your part. Additionally, it could mean your costs could fluctuate over time due to the exchange rate. Domestically, consider the local economy in making your decision. If you are on a budget, getting married at a beach front locale in Southern California may be a bit pricey while a similar venue on Florida’s Panhandle could save you a few bucks. Either way, do some research into average wedding costs in a specific location to get an idea of what to expect money wise.

I hope this information today is helpful in making your destination wedding city decision and be sure to stay tuned for more tips for planning your destination wedding!