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7 Things You Must Consider When Planning a Destination Wedding

Considering a destination wedding? You’re not alone. According to a recent study, as many as 40 per cent of millennials are planning to take the plunge in a far-flung location. Before you get swept up in the glossy resort brochures and Pinterest boards, you should know that a destination wedding isn’t always as effortless as it’s made out to be. Here are seven key considerations that could make or break your plans for the perfect beachfront ceremony.

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Destination wedding tipsPhoto: ShutterStock

1. Will your destination wedding be legally binding once you’re home?

Watch out! Some resorts don’t disclose the fact that your destination wedding is merely a blessing ceremony, and not one that’s legally binding. Before booking, find out the marriage requirements and laws at the destination. Local legislation might require couples to be in the country a certain number of days before applying for a marriage license. What’s more, wedding certificates need to be signed by a legal officiant and registered with the proper authorities. Let your on-site wedding planner know your wishes and be prepared to pay extra for the proper documentation so you can register your marriage once you return home.

Bonus: These are the 10 luckiest wedding traditions from around the world!

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Destination wedding budgetPhoto: ShutterStock

2. What’s the budget for your destination wedding?

The price tag for the average Canadian wedding comes in at $30,000. A destination wedding, on the other hand, generally costs around $10,000. What’s more, some sun destination resorts (including Sandals) offer free weddings with a minimum three-night stay.(Here are 9 more ways to save money on your wedding!) Keep in mind, although you and your beloved may be saving a bundle by getting hitched in the sunny south, your guests are picking up a lot of the slack. Shelling out for flights and multiple nights at a hotel or all-inclusive resort is a bigger commitment than simply buying a gift that’s listed on your registry. Although you’ll naturally want to go big for your big day, try to be considerate of your guests’ financial situations before choosing your venue. If the people who mean the most to you can’t afford to be at your side, you may need to rethink your destination wedding.

Check out these 10 dreamy wedding destinations from around the world!

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Flying to a destination weddingPhoto: ShutterStock

3. Can everyone make it to your destination wedding?

Newly-engaged couples considering a destination wedding will want to send out save-the-date notices as early as possible. Once you know all of your key players can attend (both from a financial perspective, as well as scheduling the time off from work), focus your location scouting on destinations where everyone feels safe and is allowed entry. For example, not all Caribbean countries are LGBTQ-friendly. Do any potential guests have a DUI or other criminal offence? If so, that could rule out tying the knot in the United States.

Looking for inspiration? Check out the best the Cayman Islands have to offer!

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Accessible destination wedding venues Photo: Shutterstock

4. Is the destination wedding ceremony venue accessible?

When you think of a destination wedding, it instantly conjures up visions of beach ceremony at sunset, with the sea stretching out to the horizon. Trouble is, sand and wheelchairs don’t mix. How will guests with mobility issues be able to participate in your “I do’s”? Check in advance whether or not the venue is accessible by a paved walkway or boardwalk. If you’re booking into one of those sprawling all-inclusive resorts, inquire if they offer transportation from guest rooms to the ceremony location. The last thing you want after dolling yourself up is to get drenched in sweat hoofing it down to the service.

Strange but true: This is the notably unromantic reason we have bridesmaids and groomsmen at weddings!

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Destination wedding health concernsPhoto: ShutterStock

5. How can you ensure everyone’s health and safety?

Food poisoning can happen anywhere, as can Montezuma’s Revenge. Still, you’ll want to ensure your destination follows best practices for food safety. Next, research what vaccines visitors need and share your findings quickly. It’s not unusual for certain travel vaccines to be out of stock, and some require booster shots spaced months apart. And just because Zika isn’t front page news doesn’t mean it isn’t still a concern. Besides the risk factors pregnant women face, the virus can affect the development of young children’s brains as well. (Here are 8 more common travel illnesses—and how to avoid them!)

Check out our countdown of the top 10 wedding etiquette rules you should never, ever break!

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Destination wedding in a Canadian vineyardPhoto: ShutterStock

6. Have you considered a domestic destination wedding?

As magical as far-flung destination weddings often are, they can be overshadowed by rain, sunburns and bug bites (not to mention that obnoxious relative who spends too much time at the swim-up bar). Keep in mind, you don’t have to leave the country to make your wedding an affair to remember. Consider trading the passport for a domestic destination, whether it’s a classy Canadian vineyard or ski resort, many of which remain open in the off-season and serve as ready-made wedding venues. (Imagine an entire mountain at your disposal!)

These are the 10 most romantic places in Canada. (And while you’re at it, check out Canada’s 10 greatest hotels!)

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What are the resort rules for your destination wedding?Photo: Shutterstock

7. Can you party all night long?

Obviously, you’ll want to follow up your big day with an even bigger night. Although you’re usually welcome to bust a move well into the wee hours at an indoor reception venue, that’s not always the case when you’re celebrating under the stars. In fact, most beach resorts will insist the DJ shuts down around 10 p.m. so as not to disturb other guests. As a work-around, why not book the resort’s ballroom or party room from that time onwards, so that even if you begin your reception al fresco, you can continue the party indoors? These 12 songs are guaranteed to get everyone dancing at your wedding!

Check out 10 more do’s and don’ts for tropical weddings!