You’ve probably heard the news by now – Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are engaged and a royal wedding will soon be upon us! We can’t all have a royal wedding and marry a crown prince, but as someone who just had a wedding of my own a few months ago, I know for certain that having a destination wedding is a great way to make you feel like royalty while you marry that special someone. But is a destination wedding right for you? Here is our story in hopes that it helps you decide whether or not to have a destination wedding of your own.
My husband and I tied the knot in a beautiful ceremony in Tulum, Mexico, surrounded by family and close friends. It was magical; however, growing up, I never wanted to have a destination wedding. In all honesty, I was opposed to them. They seemed like a big hassle, too expensive, and a pain in the butt for guests. So, what changed my mind?
When we got engaged, we knew that no matter where we decided to get married, one of our families would have to travel. After all, I am from the United States and my now husband is from the Spanish Canary Islands. My love affair with Spain began long before I met my husband. I studied the language throughout school, studied abroad there in college, and even obtained Bachelor’s degrees in International Business and Spanish. Getting married in Spain was definitely something I had an interest in, but then the planning began…
First things first, it was very difficult planning a wedding at a venue half way around the world. Time zone differences and the inability to easily visit the venue and meet with vendors made it tough. Language and culture barriers were also a concern for us. My family only speaks English and the place we wanted to get married in Spain was not a bilingual venue. This wouldn’t allow for us to have the bilingual English/Spanish wedding that we desired.
The Spanish hotel was also in a location that would not give our guests accessibility to a variety of activities. They would have had to drive to activities around the island or we would have had to charter transportation to every event. We didn’t really want to have to worry about those details.
So after a lot of research, we decided that Mexico was the best place for us to get married. We chose Dreams Tulum Resort and Spa in Tulum, Mexico for our wedding venue! It was the perfect place for us to celebrate our nuptials. It had everything we were looking for and helped make our wedding dreams a reality.
Here are the reasons why we chose this venue…
Bilingual Hotel Staff
As I mentioned, all of my family and friends speak English and most of my husband’s loved ones speak Spanish. It was extremely important for us to pick a destination where the staff at the resort could speak both languages. We wanted everyone to be comfortable and able to enjoy their vacation and our wedding without language barriers. As my husband put it, “people are traveling from far away, they should at least be able to understand what is going on.”
Having a destination wedding at a venue that valued both the English and Spanish languages made this feasible for us. Our ceremony and reception were in both languages, allowing us to include traditional aspects of both of our cultures. Our coordinator was even able to deliver directions in English and Spanish to our guests. And during our guests’ stay at the resort they were able to order room service, talk to hotel staff, and even read all of the hotel materials in their native language. A win-win for everyone.
What does the resort/venue offer? A must for us was to have a luxury, all-inclusive hotel. My now husband and I wanted our guests to have an abundance of activities and food and luxury accommodations available to them during their stay. We also didn’t want them worrying about exchanging currency or having additional expenses when they arrived to the resort. We wanted them to relax, drink as their hearts desired, and have a good time.
Going to the Chapel
I have always said that I wanted to get married in a church; no ifs, ands, or buts. So, when looking for a venue, I specifically was looking for somewhere with a chapel or church on site. Dreams Tulum has a charming chapel with enough space to accommodate our guest list. Even at a beach resort, having the option of being indoors and away from the July, Mexico heat was the perfect decision.
Experience, experience, experience
A venue with a lot of experience coordinating and executing weddings was also an important factor in our decision making process. Since we were planning our Mexico wedding while we were in Texas, we picked an experienced facility for peace of mind. The day of the wedding, our vision for our special day completely came to life!
Ambiance and a beautiful backdrop for wedding photos
If you’ve ever seen my photography (it’s all over this blog and on Instagram), then you’ll know that I love color. Lots and lots of color. Getting married in a place where the scenery was beautiful and colorful was a must. We wanted various settings for our photos and Dreams had just that. If you have specific desires when it comes to wedding photos, then pick a destination that meets those needs.
My husband is an island-guy (he’s from the Canary Islands), so a beach destination was essential. We love the beautiful sea views and crystal blue water of the Caribbean Sea, so Tulum was the perfect location.
Another thing that made Tulum a sure fire pick was that there’s isn’t a time zone difference from there to Texas. This made it super easy for us to plan our wedding from afar. No six hour time difference to add stress to the already complicated process of wedding planning.
Even if something is close to perfect, there are always cons to consider.
Here are some of the cons of having a destination wedding
Con #1 – It can be very expensive
Contrary to what many people think, destination weddings can be very expensive. Even though we had our wedding at an all-inclusive hotel, everything that was wedding related was still an extra cost. We still had to pay for each meal, pay for all of the flowers, the decor, the cake, the staff, etc. None of these costs were included.
Another thing to be aware of for a destination wedding is that resorts and hotels charge lots of fees. We paid 31% in fees for each and every item that we included in our wedding. It added up to A LOT.
How to turn this con into a pro
Do your research and come up with a realistic budget. As long as you know about these costs in advance, you can plan them into your budget. Ask your venue about the existence of fees before booking, because they’re probably not going volunteer that information to you. Do not go into a destination wedding thinking that It’s going to be “so much cheaper than getting married at home”. It may not, it may cost more. Set realistic expectations and plan ahead.
Con #2 – It’s a lot to coordinate
This is true with planning a wedding in general, but when you add travel arrangements as well, things can get busy.
How to turn this con into a pro
Seek help. Ask the venue if they have a coordinator available or hire a wedding planner to help you. Refer to groups and forums where you can get advice from people who have had destination weddings. Use a travel agent for all of your lodging and flight arrangements. We used Legacy Travel in Dallas to help plan our wedding arrangements and they were amazing! Alyssa E. really helped to make our lives easier.
Start planning early! Give yourself some time to enjoy your new engagement, then jump in with the planning. We were engaged for 14 months total and didn’t start the planning process until month three. 11 months felt like just enough time to get everything done.
Con #3 – There are too many destination options
There are a lot of places you can get married, both domestically and internationally. How can you possibly decide on just one ?
How to turn this con into a pro
Think about what you really want and use the information in this article to help you.
Con #4 – Not everyone will be able to attend
This is one of the biggest cons of having a destination wedding. Some people are simply not going to be able to come. Finances, schedules, and life in general can drastically reduce your attendee list.
How to turn this con into a pro
Know that the people that want to be there will be there. With our loved ones being on two opposite sides of the world, we were concerned with the possibility of a very small wedding. We invited only those people who were truly close to us, which shrunk our guest list from the get go.
Initially, we told ourselves that only about 20 people would attend. However, we actually had double that number attend our wedding. We had friends and family that flew in from Spain, England, Mexico, and the United States to attend our wedding. We were thrilled and had a wonderful time. Stay positive and be thankful for those who can come instead of focusing on those who can’t.
So, is a destination wedding right for you?
I hope this post has been helpful and that you have additional insight that you can use to plan your own fabulous destination wedding. So, is a destination wedding right for you? If you are still unsure and have questions that you would like to ask me that weren’t addressed in this article, please contact me and I’ll do my best to answer them!