For some brides and grooms, the best place to have their destination wedding is at an all-inclusive resort. Sometimes, it's the only way the couple can afford to get married in the tropics, and include their friends and family.
The upside to having a package wedding somewhere is that you don't have to do as much wedding planning, because most of the decisions you'll be making will be simple. Choose bouquet A, B, or C. Do you want wedding cake option 1, or wedding cake option 2? You won't have to hunt down, and check references on, a bunch of different vendors because the hotel does all of that for you.
The idea of having a "cookie cutter" wedding is a real turn off for some brides and grooms. They don't want to be one of three couples getting married in the same place on the same weekend (or same day, in some cases). It seems like brides and grooms are always looking to be "different" from everybody else, and the lack of personalization available through the resort can be disappointing.
Do not despair! Creative brides and grooms can personalize even the most generic weddings with a few simple things. If you find ways to infuse the events, and the overall wedding experience, with your own taste and style, nothing about your big day will feel manufactured.
Greet your guests at the resort with welcome bags, or baskets, full of usable and consumable items they'll enjoy during your wedding weekend. Include a welcome letter, maps, and other information about your destination. Don't forget to give them bottled water, something yummy, and perhaps sunscreen or bug repellant wipes. Local edible treats, local beer and wine, and fresh fruit are always big hits. You can make personalized labels for the water bottles, with a special message for your guests.
Although it may seem cliché, invest in personalized, printed cocktail napkins. Maybe get fun striped and polka dot straws in your theme colors, too, if they're in your budget. Otherwise, the napkins and other accoutrements at your reception are going to be the same ones you're getting with your drinks at the pool bar.
Spend time creating beautiful ceremony programs, and place cards and table numbers for the reception. DIY them if you're artistic. Have a talented friend do them, or bite the bullet and pay to have them made if you must. But don't let the hotel use generic ivory or white— choose them yourself and make them beautiful and unique. These are things that some of your guests will be keeping as wedding souvenirs.
Hand-make — or Etsy — something special for your wedding favors. Make it something you obviously did yourselves, not something the hotel could have as standard. Something that's edible is always the most popular, but if you want something permanent, just remember to make sure it's something that can go in carry-on luggage so it doesn't get left behind in a hotel room.
Sandy Malone is the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events, a full-service traditional and destination wedding planning company and Do-It-Yourself wedding planning consulting service for DIY brides and grooms based in the Washington, DC area. Sandy is the star of TLC's reality show "Wedding Island," about her destination wedding planning company, Weddings in Vieques. Sandy's book "How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional," will be released on March 1st, but is available online for pre-orders now where books are sold.