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You’re not the only one!
Book now for September and October 2024 so you don’t miss out on popular spots.    DON’T MISS OUT

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Destination weddings are exciting, but have their challenges. Are you a couple that can handle them?

Hitting the road for a destination wedding is a romance-filled adventure. It’s a beautiful, mind-blowing experience unlike any other. And it gets rid of the fuss attached to a huge wedding.

OK, OK! As the owner of a destination wedding company and as a bride who eloped, I may be biased. So, in the spirit of fairness I confess that destination weddings do have their share of challenges. Bumps in the road do happen.

The best way to avoid them? Make sure you see them coming.

I’m going to share seven destination wedding truths with you. Not all of them are easy to hear. But being aware of possible problem means you have the best chance of avoiding any bumps.

Truth 1: Some family and friends won’t make it

The distance, the expense, the time off work… It sucks when your nearest and dearest RSVP blaming everyday life for their reason not to come to your wedding. But don’t be blue! Hearing from guests who can make it — particularly if they’re a surprise “yes!” — is special and exciting.

For those who can’t be there on the day, you now have a great reason to arrange some quality one-to-one catch ups on your return.

Truth 2: It’s 24/7 family and friend time

As the happy couple, you’ll be in demand. Don’t be surprised when family and friends search for ways to be with you all. The damn. Time.

In one way, it’s real sweet. After all, your guests have travelled because you’ve asked them to. They’re happy for you and want time with you.

This is touching, but being with them 24/7 easily turns into overwhelm. An elaborate hotel escape mission with a plan as slick as Ocean’s Eleven is an option, but geez! That’s a lot of hard work. Instead, take the easy route.

Chat to your guests before you leave. Folks are likely to have their own plans, but to make sure everyone’s on the same page explain that you and your partner intend to enjoy some time that’s just the two of you. Reinforce there’s no pressure for everyone to gather for dinner every night or live in each other’s pockets during the day.

Truth 3: There comes a time when you have to share the news of your secret elopement

Having guests isn’t for everyone. If you’re planning a secret elopement you will need to break the news to your nearest and dearest that you went and got married. From my own experience, this was one of the hardest things to do.

Before leaving for your wedding prepare how you’ll share the news when you get back. You’re likely to encounter a range of reactions. Be understanding and take a little extra time for anyone who feels sad and disappointed that they missed the chance to celebrate your happy day.

A couple of nice ways to share the news include arranging a reception style party. Or you might post out your favorite wedding day photo along with a handwritten note.

Truth 4: You’ve got to trust your wedding vendors

Your wedding vendors might have to make decisions about your day in your absence. So if you have to be in the driving seat at every step a destination wedding probably isn’t for you. Not only will you stress yourself out, but your planner, coordinator or vendor will struggle to do their job well if you constantly need reassurance via phone or email.

Wedding vendors worth their weight in gold do everything in their power to make sure your destination wedding runs as smooth as possible. In the unlikely event anything does change you’ll be contacted straight away. A good way I like to think of vendor correspondence is like medical tests: no news is good news.

In all seriousness though, before committing to a destination wedding ask yourself: Are you going to be OK with someone else taking decisions on your behalf?

Truth 5: Buying a package doesn’t mean the planning’s done

Wedding packages makes organization easier because several essentials are crossed off in one go. But that doesn’t mean all of the wedding planning is done.

You still need to sort out flights, accommodation and transport for the time you’re here, and if you’re from overseas arranging all the legal stuff like visas and marriage licenses is your responsibility.

Be mindful that by the time you add these things in, your destination wedding might not be as cheap as you imagined. Sure, you might save in terms of guests, but there are other expenses your wedding budget will need to cover.

If the thought of all that sounds like more than you want to handle, you should consider our partial planning service to lighten the load.

Truth 6: Exchange rates can impact your budget

This one is for folks outside America. Prepare for the cost of your vendors to go up and down in line with exchange rates.

Sometimes rates are in your favor, so yay! You get a deal and save a few dollars. Other times it may mean spending more on a service than you originally thought. Ideally, you should have a bit of flexibility in your budget so any stings won’t leave you feeling too hard done by.

Truth 7: Getting your wedding outfit requires extra thought

You have two options when it comes to destination weddings and outfits. One, you can buy your outfit and travel with it. Two, you can hire your suit or dress when you reach your destination. Both have their pros and cons.

Already having your outfit means you know it’s tailored to perfection for your special day. But dangers such as lost luggage and there being more creases in your outfit than an origami swan, are drawbacks.

Renting eliminates these risks, but only take this path if you’re flexible in terms of style, adjustments, and available sizes. It is possible in Vegas to get a wedding dress or tux an hour before your service, but be aware your options might be limited.

Are you a perfect match for a destination wedding?

Eloping was the best decision my husband and I ever made. And, through my work, I’ve seen how happy it makes thousands of other couples. A destination wedding is equal parts beautiful, carefree, and intimate. Being aware of the potential bumps in the wedding planning road is just another part of the destination wedding planning process.

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McKenzi Taylor
McKenzi Taylor

McKenzi Taylor is America’s go-to elopement and micro wedding expert, often featured in small and major media outlets, such as the New York Times. With over 15 years of wedding photography experience, it was after planning her own Las Vegas elopement in 2016 that McKenzi felt her purpose shift into elopement coordination. She started Cactus Collective Weddings soon after in 2017. Since then, she’s become a WIPA board member, and has helped well over 1000 couples get hitched in style around Las Vegas, San Diego and Black Hills.