Destination weddings continue to become increasingly popular. The idea of jetting off to a picturesque spot in the mountains, a vibrant, tropical beach, or a historical chateau is nothing short of dreamy. And while destination weddings certainly do require travel and quite a bit of logistical planning, for many couples, it’s all worth it. Nothing compares to the experience of a destination wedding, especially if you and your partner have a love for adventure.
If you’re debating on having a destination wedding, you may want to weigh a few pros and cons before making the ultimate decision. There are plenty of major bonuses that come with having a destination wedding, but there are also a handful of downsides that can be tricky to navigate. Or for some couples, they may be entirely prohibitive. To help navigate the decision, we sat down with Alison Laesser-Keck, destination wedding planner and founder of Alison-Bryan Destinations, for her expert insight.
Meet the Expert
Alison Laesser-Keck co-founded Alison-Bryan Destinations with her husband Bryan Keck. The California-based team offers destination wedding planning for couples around the globe.
Read on for the top pros and cons of destination weddings so you can make the best decision for your big day.
Pros of Destination Weddings
Epic Views and Photos
Chances are, choosing a destination wedding will come with the opportunity to say "I do" in front of an epic backdrop. Whether you choose to host a beachfront celebration or an elegant, al fresco party at a historic chateau, your photographer will certainly thank you. Gorgeous landscapes or intricate architecture will only make your wedding photos that much more stunning.
Intimate and Immersive
While there are no rules on how large your guest list can be for a destination wedding, they tend to be more intimate. According to Laesser-Keck, one of the main pros is that you’ll have an immersive experience that really transports your guests. "You will never experience this again," she says. "It's also really cool for your guests to get to know each other."
Potential Cost Savings
Depending on the locale you choose, along with how elaborate of a wedding you’ll host, there could be some cost savings involved with a destination wedding. "Many things cost far less and you get way more bang for your buck," notes Laesser-Keck. This can be especially true if you look to local vendors with in-season options.
You may choose to plan a destination wedding somewhere you and your partner have visited before and truly love. Another option? You may be planning to jet off somewhere entirely new, which can be exciting in and of itself. Either way, you’re getting a built-in vacation to a beautiful place. And a destination wedding planner will certainly help to make it stress-free. Your guests will also play a huge role in making the trip that much more fun. "There is nothing like being on vacation with everyone you love simultaneously," says Laesser-Keck.
If you’re not dreaming of hosting a traditional wedding, a destination wedding truly can spice things up. It offers exciting, new experiences and the opportunity for quality time with loved ones. All in all, it’s a more unique option and can certainly be an exhilarating adventure for couples who love to travel and explore.
Cons of Destination Weddings
Rules to Research
While you may be used to the typical rules of traveling throughout the U.S., heading to another country can add plenty of other requirements into the mix. "Some [countries] require blood tests, while others require you to invite the whole town to your ceremony," says Laesser-Keck. "Every country is different, so you have to make sure to do your homework."
Making Sure It’s Legal
The last thing you’d want is to get married in another country, only to find out it’s not legally recognized at home. Destination weddings require a bit more thought put into how you can legally visit, along with how you can legally tie the knot.
Potentially Cost-Prohibitive for Guests
While a destination wedding has the potential to be more cost-effective for a couple, it can pose a challenge for many friends and family members on the guest list. The expense of traveling to attend your wedding may not be feasible for some guests.
Planning for Language Barriers
Jetting off to another country can always present a challenge when it comes to communicating. A language barrier is another piece of the puzzle to consider when choosing a destination wedding. However, it’s certainly something that isn’t a deal-breaker if you’re able to find an interpreter.
Navigating COVID-19 Restrictions
No matter when you host a destination wedding, there will be rules to navigate within other countries or even states. The importance of doing your research to learn about specifics is even more important with restrictions put in place due to COVID-19. "With COVID, borders could shut at any moment," notes Laesser-Keck. It can be tricky, but it’s important to look into the vaccination, testing, and quarantine requirements of a location to see if it’s a good fit.