Destination Wedding Guide

Destination Wedding Guide

Imagine saying “I do” mere feet from the turquoise waters of the Caribbean with your friends and family all gathered to share in that life-changing moment. The appeal and popularity of destination weddings are only increasing, especially as the trend of moving far from one’s hometown becomes commonplace. If many guests will be traveling to attend your wedding anyway, why not share an experience with them that you’ll all savor for a lifetime?

A destination wedding combines an intimate ceremony with a spectacular honeymoon, giving couples and their guests a chance to visit some of the most beautiful locations on earth. It also offers you and your fiancé limitless ways to bring your dream wedding to life!

If you’re considering a destination wedding, these tips from our expert travel advisors will help you plan the best one possible:

Why Should You Consider a Destination Wedding?

Why Should You Consider a Destination Wedding?


It might seem too good to be true that an exotic wedding could be cheaper than a traditional wedding, but it can be! Between the venue, wedding professionals, food, flowers, and countless other considerations, the costs of a traditional wedding can easily add up to tens of thousands of dollars. A destination wedding pares down the guest list considerably, and package deals help bundle all the services together for considerable savings.
In fact, if you’re choosing an all inclusive resort, many of them offer a free basic wedding with a minimum number of nights booked for your honeymoon. This can include a personal wedding planning team, preparation of marriage documents, a ceremony with floral arrangements, a fully catered reception, and plenty of other perks. And, if your budget allows, you can also add on special touches to create the wedding of your dreams!


Even though a wedding thousands of miles away from home means not everyone you invite will be able to attend, the reduced guest list allows a destination wedding to be more memorable than a traditional wedding. The limitations that travel and cost impose actually serve to enhance the intimacy of the event, as you’ll be surrounded by only your closest family members and friends. Plus, you’ll be able to spend more quality time with your guests while experiencing the magic of a beautiful location together!

Dream Destinations

When it comes to selecting a venue for your big day, a destination wedding allows you to consider any location around the world! Some couples choose a spot that has special meaning for them—maybe because of a memorable trip they shared together, a mutual favorite book or film was set there, or it’s somewhere with family history. Others prefer a dream location, utilizing the wedding as an opportunity to visit a beautiful country that they have only imagined traveling to. Whichever way you prefer to choose a destination, you and your fiancé will be able to make it special.

All-in-One Wedding and Vacation

A traditional wedding might feature just a ceremony and a reception, but a destination wedding combines the event with an unforgettable vacation! Planning a trip with loved ones is exciting, and a destination wedding is the perfect opportunity to share a unique experience. By combining your wedding with a vacation, you’ll ensure that your guests have the trip of a lifetime that they’ll talk about for years to come.

And if you plan to stay at an all inclusive resort, you’ll be able to take advantage of countless activities and excursions—many of which are included with your stay. From scuba diving and water sports to live entertainment and adventure tours, you and your guests will have thrilling experiences at your fingertips. All inclusive resorts also make group dining easier than ever thanks to the effortless joy of unlimited food and drinks to be shared with family and friends—all only steps away.

Stress-Free Honeymoon

The majority of couples embark on a honeymoon within a week of their wedding, and the days between the ceremony and honeymoon can actually be quite stressful with packing and travel still ahead of you. A destination wedding eliminates all of that stress! You’ll arrive at the stunning location you have chosen prior to the wedding, and your honeymoon begins immediately after your vows are exchanged and the reception is enjoyed.

All inclusive resorts can make the transition from wedding to honeymoon even more special with romantic additions like chilled champagne and fresh flowers in your room, a romantic turndown service with rose petals strewn over your sheets, and an intimate breakfast in bed on your first morning as a married couple.

How To Choose A Location For Your Destination Wedding

How To Choose A Location For Your Destination Wedding

Choosing the right location for your destination wedding can mean the difference between celebrating the wedding of your dreams with your nearest and dearest and fretting over a disappointing turnout for your big day. Read on for our top tips on choosing the best location for your destination wedding.

Guest Considerations

While any wedding should be a reflection of the happy couple’s tastes and interests, when planning a destination wedding it’s best to consider the situations of your essential guests. A few important questions to ask yourselves when planning are:

Is the location accessible from major airports?
This is both a consideration of convenience and practicality. If there are daily flights to the destination from major airports (especially those near where your guests live), booking a flight should be relatively straightforward.

Some of the more exclusive tropical islands and remote destination wedding venues can require multiple connection flights, with some also needing a ferry or lengthy land transfer to get to the specific spot.

Not only does this create logistical challenges for your guests, but older travelers, those in poor health, and families with children might be forced to decline your invitation altogether.

What will be the travel expense for your guests?
The general rule is that popular and easily-accessible destinations will likely have cheaper airfare options. Multiple flights, ferries, or other required transportation, likewise multiply the cost—and time—of travel.

If you plan on inviting friends and family that are limited by budget constraints and minimal time off from work, selecting a location that has only expensive flight options or otherwise demands significant travel time will result in fewer attendees.

What accommodations are available, and are they affordable?
If you’re planning to stay at an all inclusive resort and have the wedding on-site, you’ll want to consider any restrictions that could exclude guests. For example, if you’re inviting anyone under the age of 18, a family-friendly resort will be essential, as opposed to the numerous adults-only options.

If your resort of choice falls outside the budgets of your guests, you might want to consider choosing a destination that has other resorts and hotels in the area to increase your guests’ options. But in this case, resort day passes will need to be purchased for wedding attendees not staying at your resort.

For an intimate destination wedding, you might also think about renting a large villa or house to simplify the booking process for everyone. You’ll also be able to share more time together and experience the destination as a group, which will definitely lead to enduring memories!

Personal Value of the Destination

Spontaneous travel is one of life’s great joys, though for your big day it’s best to choose a destination that is imbued with special meaning for you both. This doesn’t necessarily mean a destination you have been to before, but try to pick one that you and your fiancé have long dreamed about, are interested in, or have a personal connection to. The excitement surrounding a wedding is contagious, and if your guests understand and support your choice, the decision to attend is made all the easier!

Weather and Climate

There are a few reasons to consider what the weather will be like at your destination of choice. The most obvious of which is that nobody wants the elements to ruin an outdoor wedding. If the ceremony or reception will be outside, climate consideration is a must.

One of the more popular guidelines for an outdoor wedding is a temperature above 65 degrees and below 80 degrees, so it’s best to look at historical weather averages for your desired destination and time of year. Be sure to also consider precipitation, as the Caribbean’s rainy season can dampen plans. Likewise, heavy snow in mountainous regions may make travel impossible.


Most guests traveling to a destination wedding will make a vacation out of it, so it’s best to choose a destination with a terrific variety of activities and excursions. You’ll want to make sure that there are adequate dining options, adventurous tours, cultural landmarks, and interesting locales for multiple days of relaxation and sightseeing.

Nowhere makes these considerations easier than an all inclusive resort! Beyond having a rich selection of indoor and outdoor activities to keep guests entertained for days, activities are included in the price or are available at a special discount.

Availability of Wedding Professionals

The location you pick could very well be determined by the type of wedding professionals and services you’ll need. The most significant consideration is the wedding venue. With some locations offering seemingly-endless options, others might be more limited. This is also true of wedding professionals, especially if your requirements expand outside of the traditional caterers, florists, and photographers.

One of the easiest ways to arrange everything is through a resort, as they will either be able to assemble everything you need for one packaged price or helpfully recommend some of their preferred vendors. All inclusive resorts are renowned for destination wedding packages that make planning a breeze!

Booking Considerations

Be sure to keep the time of year and popularity of your destination in mind. For destination weddings with extensive guest lists, booking early and letting your guests know with ample time to plan and prepare is essential. This is important for smaller groups, too, as the best rooms and amenities are typically booked far in advance in popular locations.

If you’re interested in a Caribbean island wedding, you’ll likely find greater availability and affordable options during the summer and fall, but this ties back to considering the climate (rainy season/hot temperatures) and making a decision that you and your guests will be comfortable with.

Destination Wedding FAQ

Destination Wedding FAQ

How do I plan a destination wedding?

With so many aspects of a destination wedding to consider, knowing where to start might seem a little daunting at first. It’s best to take things one step at a time and remain organized to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

The best place to start? A checklist! On it, you’ll write down everything that needs to be done in terms of choosing a destination and venue, figuring out marriage requirements at your destination, booking accommodations and flights, arranging wedding professionals, sending out save the dates and invitations, and anything else you might need.

If you’re someone who prefers simplicity over managing every aspect of the event, there’s nothing wrong with asking for help! Assistance can come in the form of an experienced travel agent or a wedding planner that is often provided by all inclusive resorts at no extra cost. Planning your dream wedding should be fun, after all, so choose whichever method works best for you.

What is the average cost of a destination wedding?

Pinpointing an average cost is difficult due to the enormous differences between weddings, though the average cost of a destination wedding is similar to a traditional wedding at around $35,000. This price includes accommodations, travel, and everything else that goes into the wedding, so while the price tag might appear similar at first, you and your guests will receive much more for your money with a destination wedding.

It doesn’t have to be expensive, though. Resorts like Sandals offer a free wedding package when you book a stay of just a few nights, which can lead to fantastic savings of tens of thousands of dollars. The great part about planning a destination wedding is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach, so your dream wedding (and honeymoon!) can be booked on even the most modest of budgets.

What is included at a destination wedding? What costs extra?

When booking a wedding through an all inclusive resort, you’ll typically receive a venue (or venues) for the ceremony and reception, preparation of marriage documents, flowers, cocktail reception, a modest wedding cake, and maybe some small extras like a centerpiece.

Extras are always available, and they can include professional photography and drone videography services, spa experiences, a personalized wedding website and gift registry, premium cocktails and dinner menus, excursions for you and your guests, and honeymoon suite upgrades. Resorts will clearly outline their available services and amenities, so be sure to take time during planning to eliminate surprises!

What is the average size of a destination wedding?

Most destination weddings involve a guest list of around 20 to 30 people, though there are plenty that remain in the single digits and some that are in the triple digits! It all comes down to personal preference, budgetary considerations, and the potential availability of the guests you plan to invite. Keep in mind that while traditional weddings tend to see 75-85% of their total invited guests in attendance, a more modest 35% attend destination weddings.

Who pays for a destination wedding?

A couple will generally pay for the wedding itself while guests will pay for their own transportation and accommodations, like they would on a personal vacation. The out-of-pocket cost to guests can be a significant factor in accepting or respectfully declining an invitation, so it’s always a good idea to arrange a discounted room block for your guests, if possible. An all inclusive resort can make the journey more appealing for invitees as it combines accommodations, activities, and dining into a single price to keep things on budget.

What are the requirements for getting married internationally?

It depends. According to the U.S. Department of State, “Marriages performed overseas are considered valid in the country where they take place if they are entered into in accordance with local law.” Typical requirements include proof of citizenship, documents from a previous marriage (if applicable), and a processing fee. These vary, so it’s best to do some research or have your travel agent find out what the requirements are for your destination. Many all-inclusive resorts include a wedding planner that will prepare all required documents for a stress-free ceremony.

When do I send “save the dates” and invitations?

The more time you can give your guests the better! Save the dates might go out 4-6 months before a traditional wedding and invitations about 1-2 months before, but you’ll want to give guests a minimum of 6 months to plan for a destination wedding—maybe even 12 months, if you can. Guests will want to track and compare airfare prices, book accommodations, and give their employers plenty of notice for time off, so ample time for planning is a must.

What is the dress code?

Outside of any restrictions that a venue or country might have, the dress code is up to you! Many destination weddings are held in tropical climates and on beaches, so traditional formal wear might not be ideal in every scenario. Also, consider that luggage space will be exceedingly limited for most guests, so try to be accommodating or clear in your expectations ahead of time. It’s a great idea to check the average weather for your destination around the time of your wedding to guide your decision.

Our Favorite Destination Wedding Resorts

Our Favorite Destination Wedding Resorts

Looking for some recommendations to help select the best all inclusive resort for your destination wedding? We’ve got you covered with some of our favorites that are well known for their stellar amenities, abundance of activities, and phenomenally beautiful settings!

Beaches Turks and Caicos:
Located southeast of the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos offers a relaxed island vibe and stunning ocean views within easy travel distance from the continental U.S. Beaches Turks and Caicos is a family-friendly resort situated on a prime section of expansive white-sand beach where turquoise waters give way to breathtaking sunsets. You and your guests will enjoy more than 20 restaurants, 10 luxurious pools, and a pirate-themed water park nestled among five destination-themed villages, each with their own stylistic elements that give the resort a pleasing touch of originality. It’s also a phenomenal place to get married thanks to a complimentary wedding with a 3-night stay, premium upgrades for groups, and customizable add-ons that can enhance your special day.

Sandals South Coast:
For a quiet Jamaican destination that offers some of the most breathtaking views of the Caribbean you’ll ever experience, look no further than Sandals South Coast. This all-beachfront resort is the epitome of romance, featuring ultra-luxury Over the Water Bungalows and Rondoval Swim-Up Suites situated along the Caribbean’s longest river pool, spanning 17,000+ square feet! This adults-only resort offers fine dining at 9 restaurants, and a terrific selection of watersports. When it’s time to tie the knot, you and your guests can gather in an over-the-water chapel that features 360-degree ocean views and a glass-bottomed aisle that has to be seen in person to be believed. The included honeymoon package adds chilled champagne in your room, a romantic turndown service, and fresh flowers alongside breakfast in bed. You can also add on a candlelit dinner for two on the beach with white-glove service and a sensuous couples massage at the on-site Red Lane Spa.

El Dorado Maroma:
Cancún is certainly a favorite for destination weddings and honeymoons, and El Dorado Maroma on the Riviera Maya is an idyllic resort for taking in the beauty of the Yucatan. Romantic above all else, this adults-only resort features honeymoon suites, swim-up suites, over-the-water bungalows, and even 10,500-square-foot villas that are perfect for destination wedding groups. The five-star resort features exceptional experiences for all, including jet-skiing, beachfront yoga classes, interactive cooking lessons, and mezcal tastings. The wedding ceremony options are infinite at the resort, with a beachfront gazebo, rooftop sky terrace, grand ballroom, and traditional chapel all available for your big day. An expert wedding planner will help you organize the entire event from the gourmet food to the floral design, and you can even book a sunset cruise in the evening for a wedding finale that you and your guests will never forget.

Sandals Grande St. Lucian:
You’ll find Sandals Grande St. Lucian situated on its own peninsula near the northern tip of its namesake island, St. Lucia, guaranteeing picturesque views of the endless Caribbean and dramatic Piton Mountains. Roundtrip airport transfers, fine dining at 12 on-site restaurants, 7 bars with swim-up options, and numerous watersports and land activities make it an all-in-one favorite for a destination wedding and honeymoon. For your wedding, you can choose between an over-the-water chapel, over-the-water gazebo, oceanfront gazebo, or beachfront ceremony. Your personal wedding planning team will arrange everything from the marriage documents to a specialized cocktail that will be served to your guests. Following your wedding, you’ll be treated to a romantic turndown service, honeymoon breakfast in bed with mimosas, and honeymoon dinner, with additional options for a sensuous couples massage and other romantic favorites. You can even choose to play a round of golf with your guests at Sandals Golf & Country Club, or explore the nearby Sandals Regency La Toc and Sandals Halcyon Beach resorts at no extra cost!

Sandals Montego Bay:
The Sandals story began in Montego Bay, and the legacy of luxury and romantic splendor continue to live on at this magnificent property. The adults-only resort is ideally situated on Jamaica’s northern coast, offering sweeping Caribbean views and unfettered access to an immaculate white-sand beach. The resort has been upgraded to now include 12 renowned restaurants, beachfront swim-up suites, and a Latitudes Over Water Bar that is the perfect spot for enjoying a cocktail with your guests. Speaking of your guests, prepare to amaze them with an intimate wedding ceremony at the over-the-water wedding chapel overlooking the crystal-clear Caribbean, an oceanfront gazebo, or private chapel surrounded by lush greenery and spotless fountain pools. A stay at the resort features full access to the nearby Sandals Royal Caribbean resort with included transportation for even more fun and adventures.

While planning a destination wedding may seem like something one could only dream of, it’s actually a reality within your reach! No matter your desires or your budget, there is a perfect destination for you and your sweetheart to exchange vows and begin your happily ever after.

Click here for your custom destination wedding quote from one of our certified destination wedding specialists today!