Your budget, guest list, personality, and style preference are the main factors to consider when it comes to choosing a wedding venue. But if you're looking for the perfect place to host a destination wedding, things can quickly get a lot more complex. To help you simplify the search, we asked two planning pros, Marcy Blum, founder of Marcy Blum Events & Weddings, and Kimberly Richmond, president of Runaway Bride Destination Weddings to share five of the most important things to consider.
1. What style wedding do I want to have?
"Couples first need to know what they want their wedding to look like," says Richmond. "Are they beach people, country people or city people? Do they want something formal or casual? Do they want a traditional event or something modern or eclectic? Is there a place that's particularly meaningful to them or that they've always wanted to go to? Figuring all this out is the first step in the search."
2. How much money can my guests spend to attend my wedding?
Make sure you consider the guest list. "If most of your friends are still in school, or just starting their first jobs, it's inconsiderate to ask them to spend thousands of dollars to travel to a remote location and spend hundreds of dollars per night for their rooms at a luxury resort," says Blum. "In situations like this, unless couples can offset some of the cost for their guests, they should consider places that are more accessible and affordable — for example, destinations within the US such as Napa or Maine."
3. How many people do I want at my wedding?
Budget restraints aside, the number of people you plan to have at your wedding can quickly eliminate venues — or even destinations. "If you want to have a 200 person sit-down dinner, certain places such as St. Barths or Tuscany or Croatia might be completely out of the picture. They don't have venue spaces designed to hold that many people," explains Blum. "You'll be better off at a resort in a more tourist friendly location than a remote part of the world where most hotels are older, don't have ballrooms, and are designed for intimate gatherings."
4. How much control do I need while planning?
The nature of a destination wedding is that you will do the bulk of the planning remotely. "If you're the kind of bride that gets freaked out at the thought of not having control every step of the way, then you'll feel more comfortable having your wedding at an established resort," says Richmond. "Many properties that frequently host weddings offer package deals that make planning the event seamless. Plus they'll also have a dedicated list of vendors, either in-house or that they've teamed up with before, that already know the ins-and-outs of the property."
But perhaps you're thinking of hosting a destination wedding because you're adventurous. "Places that are off the beaten path can offer some of the most stunning and unique backdrops — for example, having your ceremony in front of Mayan ruins then renting a private hacienda for the reception," says Richmond. "The flip side is that you might have to piece together the day and work with local artisans that probably don't have the same experience producing weddings."
5. How much budget do I have to accommodate vendors?
Unlike with local weddings, couples planning destination nuptials will have to allocate a significant amount of budget to providing travel expenses, accommodations, and a per-diem for each vendor that they fly in. "If you don't have a lot of money set aside for this, then look for a place where there are plenty of talented local vendors and where your money will go further," advises Richmond. "For example, if you're set on having a beach ceremony, choosing a resort in Mexico or Hawaii will make more financial sense because they are popular wedding destinations, as opposed to having it in St. Lucia, where there are fewer local vendors and you'll have to fly them in yourselves."