Should You Have a Destination Wedding?

The perks and drawbacks of hosting your nuptials in a distant location.

Should You Have a Destination Wedding?

Photo: Amy & Stuart Photography

One of the first decisions couples must make after getting engaged is where to host their wedding. This is especially complicated if the two families are from different cities, and the happy sweethearts live in yet another town. Instead of choosing one or the other, many soon-to-be newlyweds opt to have a destination wedding – holding the ceremony in a faraway state or foreign country. 

A destination wedding can definitely add a special touch to your celebration. After all, instead of the “big day,” it’s closer to a “big week!” However, long-distance planning for an event that requires major travel for your family and friends certainly has downsides. To help you decide if a destination wedding is the right choice for you and your beloved, we’ve put together a list of the pros and cons. 


-   Destination weddings come in packages. Resorts in the destination wedding business will have a tried and true venue, officiant, caterer, photographer, and more ready to book all at once. As soon as you commit to a wedding location, you’ll already be almost done with planning the celebration. Any stress caused by planning remotely will be alleviated by this streamlining, making this a great choice for brides overwhelmed by options.

-   It will be easier to avoid family drama. If you’ve dreamed of having a smaller, intimate ceremony but you or your partner’s large family makes that feel impossible, this is your workaround. All of your bickering cousins can still be invited, but likely will “respectfully decline,” allowing you to enjoy the day with those who matter most. You will also have more time to spend with your sweetheart – enjoying your wedding weekend with the one you are marrying – instead of dealing with any last minute guest-related issues. 

-   The right location will be beautiful and memorable. It’ll be harder to fret about centerpieces when you know you’ll be married on a tropical island at sunset. Exotic locations with destination wedding packages have deals for a reason: they are great locations to get married. Whether or not you choose to honeymoon at your wedding location, you and your spouse will always have somewhere special to travel to on anniversaries or other vacations. 


-   Not all of your guests will be able to come. Chances are, you’ll receive more “cannot attend” responses after invitations are sent out than you might with a local wedding. Traveling is difficult, and you’ll probably have some unhappy friends and family who might want to witness your vows, but find it impossible to fly to Costa Rica for a weekend. Expenses and work/school will be your enemy when trying to finalize your guest list and seating chart.

-   The planning process might prove more difficult. More than likely, you’ll be doing most of your coordinating from afar, which can make the bigger decisions more challenging. Selecting a venue and vendors sight unseen is always a risk, especially if you’re without a wedding planner who has experience in organizing destination weddings. Not to mention the lack of direct communication you’ll experience – you’ll just have to take the caterer’s word when he swears the cake will be delicious. If he’s wrong, you won’t find out until your last-minute tasting, and you may be stuck serving dry cake at a venue that looked prettier in the pictures.

-   It may complicate the honeymoon. If you’re planning on celebrating your marriage with a post-nuptial getaway, you’ll have a lot more to consider in a foreign land. If you decide to have your honeymoon in the same location as your wedding, you run the risk of involving your family and closer friends in your festivities. If you elect to travel yet again, you’ll have another level of long-distance planning to contend with, not to mention the extra costs you’ll face.

For more helpful tips and advice, discover the must-know etiquette for destination weddings and learn the 16 secrets to an effortless destination event.

Opening photo by Amy & Stuart Photography