Chart course for low-has­sle des­ti­na­tion wed­ding


Plan­ning an over­seas des­ti­na­tion wed­ding is no day at the beach — even if that’s ex­actly your vi­sion for your big day.

De­tails could be lost in trans­la­tion, travel re­stric­tions might dampen at­ten­dance and le­gal re­quire­ments may get com­pli­cated.

Be­fore you men­tally dig your toes into that sand, dig into the de­tails so you don’t end up be­ing your own “some­thing blue.”

Fac­tor in costs, travel re­stric­tions

Ac­cord­ing to a 2016 sur­vey from wed­ding site The Knot, the av­er­age cost of an in­ter­na­tional des­ti­na­tion wed­ding is $25,800. That fig­ure may be within your event bud­get, but for guests, in­ter­na­tional air­fare and mul­ti­night lodg­ing could be out of reach.

Of course, a smaller, more in­ti­mate gath­er­ing may be what you’re af­ter. In ad­di­tion to costs, con­sider lo­gis­tics for your guests. Work sched­ules, health con­di­tions or a lack of child care may pose ad­di­tional hur­dles. Crim­i­nal con­vic­tions may also be an ob­sta­cle. For ex­am­ple, if you have a DUI on record, you may not be al­lowed en­try into Canada, Ash­ley Mor­ris, owner and travel concierge at Al­paca Your Bags Travel, said.

Con­sider a travel agent

Travel agents can al­le­vi­ate some of this pres­sure by han­dling guests’ needs, ques­tions and pay­ments.

They also may be able to ne­go­ti­ate dis­counted group quotes based on their part­ner­ships. They might also ne­go­ti­ate perks when more guests stay at the host ho­tel, such as a free wel­come happy hour or brunch, or even free rooms.

Your guests might try book­ing a dif­fer­ent ho­tel on their own to save money, but be aware that they may have to pay a day fee — some­times $100 to $150 — for ac­cess to wed­dings at pri­vate re­sorts abroad, Mor­ris said.

An­tic­i­pate guests’ needs

When Elise Gian­nasi, style and beauty blog­ger at Belle Meets World, planned her wed­ding in San Miguel de Al­lende, Mex­ico, she did the re­search for guests. Her wed­ding web­site an­swered fre­quently asked ques­tions about travel re­quire­ments, ho­tel op­tions, restau­rants in the area, sched­uled ac­tiv­i­ties and more.

“It’s a bal­ance be­tween giv­ing too much in­for­ma­tion and mak­ing them think they can come to you with any ques­tion ver­sus giv­ing them enough in­for­ma­tion so that they know how to fig­ure their trip out,” Gian­nasi said.

At a min­i­mum, give guests enough no­tice to save the date; Mor­ris ad­vises around 11 months.

Del­e­gate some plan­ning

A wed­ding co­or­di­na­tor can keep de­tails from fall­ing through the cracks.

Con­sider a co­or­di­na­tor in the U.S. who has re­la­tion­ships with ven­dors in the des­ti­na­tion; a pri­vate on-site wed­ding co­or­di­na­tor; or an on-site wed­ding co­or­di­na­tor pro­vided by an all-in­clu­sive re­sort.

For des­ti­na­tions over­seas, on­site co­or­di­na­tors who speak the lo­cal lan­guage can make com­mu­ni­ca­tion with lo­cal ven­dors eas­ier.

Make room for mishaps

Speak­ing of lan­guage bar­ri­ers, de­tails for a des­ti­na­tion wed­ding

can of­ten get lost in trans­la­tion be­cause you’re not on site to over­see them. That’s what hap­pened to Gian­nasi when the wreath on the front door of her venue didn’t meet her ex­pec­ta­tions.

“You just roll with it,” she said. “For a des­ti­na­tion wed­ding, you do need to go in with an un­der­stand­ing that you need to re­lin­quish a lit­tle bit more con­trol.”

If you live in a dif­fer­ent time zone from the des­ti­na­tion, pa­tience is es­pe­cially im­por­tant, as you likely won’t get im­me­di­ate re­sponses from ven­dors there.

Un­der­stand for­eign fees, pay­ment meth­ods

With a year or so to plan, you can map out a bud­get, but that bud­get can quickly bal­loon with for­eign fees.

For ex­am­ple, debit or credit cards may charge for­eign trans­ac­tion fees rang­ing from 1 per­cent to 3 per­cent of each pur­chase. A no-for­eign-trans­ac­tion-fee credit card can elim­i­nate that cost.

Some des­ti­na­tions abroad may op­er­ate mostly in cash, but your bank might charge a fee for in­ter­na­tional ATM with­drawals. Re­search your ven­dors’ pay­ment meth­ods.

Know le­gal re­quire­ments

Get­ting legally mar­ried abroad can be costly and time-con­sum­ing, the U.S. State Depart­ment notes on its web­site. Among the re­quire­ments could be blood tests, a res­i­dence re­quire­ment, and the trans­la­tion and au­then­ti­ca­tion of doc­u­ments. Con­tact the embassy or tourist in­for­ma­tion bureau of your des­ti­na­tion for specifics.

Mor­ris avoided such hur­dles by hav­ing two events: a le­gal wed­ding in Las Ve­gas and a sym­bolic cer­e­mony in the Do­mini­can Repub­lic.

One perk of such an arrangement? Any­one can per­form the sym­bolic cer­e­mony, Mor­ris said.

“My hus­band’s best friend was our of­fi­ciant be­cause we did a sym­bolic wed­ding,” she said.


Pho­tog­ra­phers take pho­tos of a tourist cou­ple’s wed­ding at the fa­mous Kuta beach dur­ing sun­set in Bali, In­done­sia. Ac­cord­ing to a 2016 sur­vey from wed­ding site The Knot, the av­er­age cost of an in­ter­na­tional des­ti­na­tion wed­ding is $25,800.


A pho­tog­ra­pher as­sis­tant takes a light me­ter read­ing by the bride dur­ing a photo shoot for a Malaysian cou­ple, back­dropped by the Houses of Par­lia­ment on the op­po­site side of the River Thames in Lon­don. The bet­ter pre­pared you are to nav­i­gate vari­ables...

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