Selecting a Site for Your Wedding Abroad

Consider these long-distance planning tips for destination weddings.

Selecting a Site for Your Wedding Abroad

Photo: lunaphoto

Congratulations: You are engaged! While friends and family are "oohing" and "aahing" over the happy news, the big question for you is, Where am I getting married? For the couple that wants to create a sense of adventure and a weekend experience for their guests, the destination wedding is the perfect celebration. 

Location, Location, Location
The world has endless location options, but there are several things you can do to narrow down your search. Is there a country or city that is particularly meaningful to one or the both of you? Is there a specific type of landscape you want to be near? Your options for a beach, mountain, or metropolitan backdrop will vary, so consider which you prefer and focus on destinations that are known for your particular favorite.

Once you've narrowed your options, consider the best time of year for great wedding weather for each. Check for national holidays and local festivals, and determine if you would like these events to coincide with your date or if they will interfere with your planning. It's also important to consider if airlines have accessible flight times, days, and routes to your preferred destinations from the departing cities for the majority of your guests. Bear in mind the costs of travel and accommodations for you and your loved ones, and then select the destination that meets all of your needs.

The Perfect Site
Now that you know which country will be stamping your passport next, you need to find the perfect spot for your international nuptials. It's important to consider all of the details below when selecting the right resort.

• Event Spaces
     • How many different areas does each resort have, and what is the capacity for each?
     • Do they have both indoor and outdoor options?
     • What, if any, are the noise restrictions?

• Room Blocks
     • What are the room block minimums?
     • Is there a discounted room rate for groups?

• Food and Beverage
     • Is there a food and beverage minimum that you are required to meet?
     • What are the menu options and pricing that goes along with each of your hosted events?

• Rentals
     • Does the resort include their own rentals, e.g., tables, a choice of chairs, and specialty linens?

• Transportation
     • Will you need to transport guests through the resort for your celebrations, and if so, can the property accommodate your needs?

Hit the Road
After you've chosen the best resort option, you'll want to travel to your location for a site visit. While the length of a visit varies from person to person, make sure to give yourself time to cover the basics at your potential wedding site. First, you'll want to set up a tasting so you can review your menu choices. Sample a variety of dishes so you know the quality and presentation of the food. Next, visit the available event spaces and consider which is the best fit for your various events. You may want to host a cocktail party the night before the wedding to welcome arriving guests, and you'll also need a space for your rehearsal dinner. Inspect what's available with an eye towards double duty with the help of different décor designs. Finally, make time to participate in any potential activities you are exploring for your guests.

There are some off-site visits you'll want to make during your trip as well. Set up initial meetings with local vendors, and determine which you will use locally and which you will bring from home. Wedding planners, floral designers, photographers, videographers, and hair and makeup artists are among the most popular vendors to import from home. You should also seek out alternative hotel accommodations in case of overflow from your main location, and to offer an additional room rate for guests.

Seal the Deal
There are a few details to look for before signing on the dotted line. Be sure all the important points discussed during your site visit are clarified and in the contract, especially if there are any exceptions to the norm. Finally, double check for the below, and make sure they are spelled out clearly.

• Food and beverage minimum
• Room block policy
• Noise and area restrictions
• Terms of spa usage
• Policy for outside guests
• Local tax rate and service fees
• Deposit and cancellation policies
• Weather contingency plan

Thinking ahead is essential when planning a destination wedding. Stay true to your vision, and you and your guests will walk away with the experience of a lifetime!

Opening photograph by lunaphoto