Photo: Marie Labbancz Photography
Where in the world do you want to get married? The possibilities are endless nowadays. You can have a big traditional (or not) wedding at home or an intriguing getaway to a fabulous destination for all of your friends and family — or you can elope! The trick is that you have to decide where you're getting married before you can start looking at venues and wedding locations.
Most brides and grooms have a pretty good idea of whether they want an at-home or destination wedding when they get engaged because they've talked about it. The biggest factor usually has to do with the size of the guest list and the number of important family and friends who wouldn't be able to attend if they didn't get married in the hometown of the bride or the groom. It's also popular for brides and grooms from two different regions or countries to get married in the town or city they currently call "home" so that both families have to travel and most friends are not as inconvenienced.
Some couples decide against their dream destination weddings because of health considerations for parents or elderly relatives who would be crushed to miss the affair but couldn't possibly travel. That's a very legitimate reason to get married at home. And remember, you can always have an amazing honeymoon afterwards and fly away to someplace exotic to celebrate your new marriage.
Not every couple are good candidates for a destination wedding. Likewise, many brides and grooms choose to get married someplace else for the sole purpose of skinnying down an out-of-control guest list. If getting married in your hometown means you have to bump up the headcount by more than 100 extra people you really don't feel like you want to invite (but would be obligated to because of familial or professional obligations), then tying the knot someplace that neither of you calls home might be the most fiscally-responsible decision. Remember, you have a year to throw an at-home reception for those folks who want to help celebrate your good news. And that reception can be something much more casual and inexpensive, meaning you'll be more relaxed and have a better time when you go to your own party.
You have to figure out where you're getting married before you can actually start the rest of your wedding planning. It isn't worth the venue's time or your money for you to visit five different islands or mountain getaways scoping potential venues if you really don't know where you actually want to exchange vows. The banquet manager at the venue can't help you make that decision, either. It's one of those things brides and grooms must sort out on their own (or with their families) before they start the next step of the process. The Internet makes it possible for you to do lots of research without ever leaving your desk.
Owner of Weddings in Vieques, a destination-wedding planning company off the coast of Puerto Rico, Sandy Malone has helped countless couples plan their big day since 2007.