Destination weddings have grown tremendously in popularity over the past 10 years. Before that, only celebrities and the most adventurous brides and grooms would dare to ask all of their wedding guests to travel thousands of miles to celebrate their big day. Now, destination weddings are barely even considered a trend anymore, and many brides and grooms are getting their friends and family together in tropical destinations to say their "I dos." But what's the most popular location for a destination weddings with U.S. couples? Read on to find out.
Technically speaking, any wedding not in your hometown, or where you and your fiancé currently live, can be considered a destination wedding. But far and away, the most popular places for U.S. citizens to have destination weddings are in the Caribbean and Hawaii. Any place that requires a passport drops lower on the popularity list since most brides and grooms-to-be consider the fact that not all of their guests might have a passport.
You might think that means that couples on the West Coast would gravitate toward Hawaii, and that brides and grooms on the East Coast would head to the Caribbean. But that's not actually what happens. In fact, the Caribbean has inched out Hawaii to become the most popular destination wedding location with American brides and grooms.
It turns out that it takes the same amount of time to fly to Hawaii as it does to fly to Puerto Rico from Los Angeles. And it costs about the same if you're booking your flights at least a month in advance.
However, it costs twice as much money, and takes three times as long, to get to Hawaii from the East coast. And for many wedding guests, spending a full day traveling on each end of the trip is more vacation time than they can afford to spend to attend a wedding as a guest.
The perks of getting married in Hawaii or the Caribbean are much the same. You'll have mind-blowing backdrops for your photos, beautiful wedding venue options, and countless activities to keep your guests entertained. Both destinations, depending on which island you choose, have fantastic beaches, tropical rainforests, volcanoes, and tons of historic sites to explore.
But weddings in Hawaii tend to be more expensive than weddings in the Caribbean overall. Why? Because many things that go into making your destination wedding a success must be shipped to the island for your festivities. You can use local flowers and fruits, but almost everything else that goes into the wedding is imported.
The same can be said for destination weddings in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, except that what's imported doesn't have to come from as far away as it does in Hawaii. The distance makes a difference to your wedding budget.
Sandy Malone is the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events and author of How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional. Sandy is the star of TLC's reality show Wedding Island, about her destination wedding planning company, Weddings in Vieques.