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CHRISTIAN LIFE IN LONDON | SPRING 2024 EDITION
21 Best Tips for Planning your Destination Wedding (2023)
CURRENT COMMUNITY STORIES
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By Helena Smrcek


All photo credits: Unsplash

This is your day, so what you say goes.

How hard is it to plan a destination wedding? Is it more expensive than a local wedding? What do I need to know to successfully plan a destination wedding?

Planning a destination wedding is not much harder than planning a local wedding. A destination wedding can be less expensive than a local wedding. Here are 21 tips that will help you decide if a destination wedding is a right choice for you, clarify how much to budget, and suggest how to make your special destination wedding even more memorable.

Is a destination wedding right for you? Things to think about before deciding.

1. Choose Your Date – Avoid Major Holidays and Bad Weather

When choosing a date for your special day, you and your fiancé need to think well ahead, because most of your guests will need to take time off work. Avoid major holidays because resorts and airlines always hike up the prices. It’s common to have a month or season in mind while looking for your wedding venue.

We chose a February wedding. Living in a northern climate, this affords not only a dream wedding venue but also a great way to escape from ice and snow, while avoiding the rainy (spring) and hurricane seasons (late summer/fall) at our destination.

2. Decide on Your Location – Take Cost into Consideration

Once you find the perfect place, it is time to consider the cost. A destination wedding may be more cost-effective than a local one for many reasons. I live near Toronto, so renting out a hall, the food costs, and purchasing wine and spirits alone definitely add up.

After considering all the costs, choosing from one of many Grand Palladium’s destination wedding packages made financial sense to us. The basic package starts at about $2,800US. It includes the venue, rehearsal dinner, flowers, all food and drinks, centerpieces for the tables, staff, and most importantly a wedding planner to facilitate the entire event.

3. Make sure you have your guarantees.

Planning a wedding, regardless of location, entails taking a chance. Of course, we hope that the big day will go as planned, but looking back at recent events, we all know that flexibility is of the utmost importance. Make sure that your contract offers a suitable window for rescheduling your wedding in case of weather, health, or unforeseen circumstances. In the worst-case scenario, having wedding insurance and/or travel insurance can help to protect your finances.

4. Consider the Legal Stuff

The specific rules of the state or nation where you intend to hold your special event are another crucial aspect to consider when deciding to have a destination wedding. To guarantee that your wedding is lawful, consider how you will obtain your marriage license. Who will officiate your wedding, and is that person authorized to do so at the location you’ve chosen?

We have decided to hold a civil wedding before our departure, then have a church ceremony on location.

5. Trusting the Wedding Planner

A destination wedding requires a lot of faith in the people who will be handling the details. Keep in mind that most of your planning staff will be located remotely, so having a great relationship with your wedding planner is crucial so that you don’t feel overburdened. It is a great stress relief to have someone who can act in your place and handle all the details.

The resort also has a list of recommended vendors that includes dependable experts such as florists, hairdressers, DJs, and so on.

6. Logistics

You don’t need to opt for the minimalist approach if you plan well ahead. Amazon services most of the world, so check if it is possible to ship your decorations, wedding favors, and other items directly to the resort. Make sure you know who will be the person receiving your packages and make it clear that they do need you to notify you as the items arrive. Also clarify where will your shipments be stored, and who will have access to them.

“I do.”

7. Your wedding attire.

Depending on the wedding venue chosen at your destination you may give special consideration to your wedding dress. Are you opting for a church ceremony? Check for local rules that may affect the choice of your wedding dress style. Is the beach your choice? What type of dress are you going to feel the most comfortable in? Shoes? Is your fiancé set on a tux, suit, or beach casual?

How much should I budget?

8. Who Pays

We have talked with our family members and closest friends and came to a consensus that every additional guest will pay for their transportation and their stay at the resort. Because we hold the Travel Club membership, we have received great deals on our accommodation package, making the stay at the resort very affordable.

Based on these great discounts, we have extended the invitation beyond our immediate family, utilizing the Travel Club Referral Program, thus offering a great vacation to our friends as well. This was received with much enthusiasm, and we are glad we could offer this to our family and friends.

9. What’s Included

I feel that a destination wedding is more intimate and memorable because they often take place in a unique and beautiful location. At Grand Palladium you can choose a beach wedding, a ceremony under a beautiful gazebo, or a chapel wedding.

The resort offers several affordable wedding packages you can pick from, depending on the budgeted cost of your wedding. Each package includes the venue, food, drinks, flowers, and the wedding cake. Additional services and upgrades are available to make each of the packages customizable for your wedding. The resort assigns a destination wedding specialist who will take care of all the little details of your dream wedding.

10. Your Contract

Read your contract carefully and make sure that all that you agreed on is in writing. Often one thing can mean something to us, but due to a possible language barrier, it may mean something different to the resort staff. The more work you put into setting up the right contract for you, the fewer problems and potential unpleasant surprises to deal with later.

11. The Actual Cost

Even on a smaller scale, getting married can still be costly. First price out a traditional wedding in your area and then compare your estimated costs to what your resort of choice may offer. Grand Palladium staff worked with us through our negotiation process, and at the end of the day, we came away with a great deal, not only for us but also for our guests.

Considering the ceremony, reception, and honeymoon, it made sense to select an all-inclusive hotel or resort, TRS in our case.

12. Visit your Destination

If at all possible visit your chosen location before you make your final decision. Set up a meeting to negotiate your contract and make sure your budget is set. The resort will offer many upgrades. Think through the options and select only what is truly important to you and your fiancé.

13. Wedding Gifts

Communicate with your family and friends. Since they will be paying for their travel and accommodations, large gifts are not expected when it comes to a destination wedding. You may still set up a registry, but your guests will definitely not be bringing the gifts to your destination wedding. If cash is preferred, as many couples often live together before the wedding, and already have most of their household items, make a polite note about that.

How to make my destination wedding memorable.

14. When the Guests Arrive

We have booked our wedding ceremony for Saturday, with most of the wedding guests arriving the preceding Tuesday, so that we can enjoy more time with our family and friends and celebrate the special day without time restraints. Arriving a few days before the big day affords time to settle in, relax and enjoy the company of family and friends, making the big event less rushed and more relaxed.

15. Host Responsibilities

As the host, you will need to make every effort to ensure that your guests’ time at the destination is as comfortable as possible, which may involve taking on additional obligations. Grand Palladium offers several great options to entertain your guests as they arrive. Typically, a welcome party is conducted to greet your guests and prepare them for the remainder of the wedding celebrations. One of the grand lobbies offers a great option for hosting this casual event.

We also consider our ‘wedding groups’, for some of our guests are arriving in our tropical location from overseas, and there might be some language barrier. During our planning process, we have chosen several activities that will break down the walls and promote the laid-back atmosphere at our beach destination.

Our Travel Club membership offers a choice of three different excursions at no additional cost. Our wedding package also includes a semi-private rehearsal dinner. This will add a personal touch. As I have already said, the cost is included in the package, saving us thousands of dollars.

16. Additional Perks

Grand Palladium offers not only great beaches, and pools but also Zentopia Spa. A perfect place for the bride to chill with the maid of honor and the bridesmaids.

In addition, there is a private bridal suite available at a nominal fee where the staff displays the wedding dress and provides refreshments for the bridal party, making the anticipation of the ceremony even more special.

17. Wedding Favours

Think practical and easy to pack. Stay away from fragile items, as you will need to bring them to the resort, and your guest will be taking them home in their luggage. Think of customs as well, you do not want anyone having to explain to border officers the items in their luggage.

18. Fun at the Resort

Plan fun events for your guests. After all, not only is this your wedding but an awesome vacation for everyone. Ask the resort activities department to help you out. They will have a list of possibilities. Set up a friendly competition tournament in beach volleyball, dance-a-thon, and karaoke. Make it fun and memorable.

19. After the Wedding

The day following your wedding organizes a farewell brunch, as some of your guests will be getting ready to return back home. Thank everyone and ask them to send you the pictures from your wedding day. It may be fun to upload them to an online wedding photo album for your guests to enjoy later.

20. Your Honeymoon

It is acceptable for the newlyweds to depart after the wedding and spend a few days by themselves, enjoying their honeymoon. Talk to your resort about options, there might be a sister resort nearby, and your wedding planner can arrange for the transportation and room reservation.

21. The Unwritten Rule

There is an unwritten rule that while planning a destination wedding, you should feel free to leave out specific guests if you know they won’t be able to make it or would prefer not to. But that doesn’t mean that those you do invite will necessarily show up. It’s possible that they can’t attend due to logistical or financial difficulties, which could result in a smaller wedding party than you had anticipated. If fewer guests attend, destination weddings can also provide a more intimate atmosphere, cutting down on your stress and anxiety.

The first and most obvious benefit of organizing a destination wedding is the opportunity to wed in a location that holds special meaning for you and your future spouse. Wedding pictures are also a consideration, so pick a place with breathtaking views, romantic backgrounds, and fun locations.

The Knot states that close to 20% of people who are getting married opt for destination weddings. Even though they have their attraction, destination weddings might not be the easiest to plan. You need to consider things such as the exchange rates for currency, flights, potential language barriers, and marriage license requirements as well as the current travel restrictions.

Planning your special day should be a great experience, that will bring you and your future spouse even closer together. It is often the ‘first big thing’ that you take on as a couple. During this special time of planning and anticipation, you will build your communication skills, practice listening to each other’s needs and find out more about your respective families.

Your wedding day is one of the most important days in your life, filled with love and special memories. Taking time to research, plan and ensure that you get exactly what you and your fiancé want is very important.


Out of the countless choices for a destination wedding location, we selected The Grand Palladium, TRS resort at Riviera Maya Mexico. Our family has been visiting this five-star resort for the past ten years and loves the accommodations, amenities, food, and service. Always top-notch, well maintained, and most importantly on the resort’s water, filtered and bottled at the resort’s water treatment plan, so not one family member would get ill. That is huge for us.

About the author...
Helena Smrcek
, a journalist, author, and screenplay writer, believes in the power of a well-told story. Her readers can expect a captivating page-turner, filled with thrilling suspense, and heartwarming romance.

She started in publishing as a high school student, freelancing for her local newspaper. Her journalism carrier took off in 1999. Within three years Helena accumulated over 100 by-lines and interviewed Ann Graham Lotz, Carol Lewis, Cec Murphey, Kelita and others. Her stories, many of them covers, have been published in Canada, USA, Bermuda, New Zealand, and Australia. In 2002 she accepted a position at Listen Up TV, a current affairs program.

Helena became a founding member of Write!Canada, and The Word Guild, a Canadian national association of writers and editors. She is a graduate of Jerry Jenkin’s Craftsman Class, Act One, Donald Maass’ Fire in Fiction, Writer’s Police Academy, and several mentoring programs.

She regularly attends writers’ conferences and is a past or current member of such organizations as Word Weavers, American Christian Fiction Writers, Sisters in Crime, Toast Masters International, Boni, The Writer’s Guild, and others. Helena loves to participate in NaNoWriMo and hosts a writers’ group.

As an entrepreneur, she is familiar with marketing, branding, and social media. She has volunteered with YMCA, mentoring new Canadians pursuing their business dreams, and was an active member of her local Chamber of Commerce.

When not at her keyboard, Helena loves listening to audio books. Working on her hobby farm, and traveling. She lives in the Waterloo Region, Ontario, with her husband, two adult children, two dogs, several cats, and her favorite goat, Rosie.