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Destination Wedding Guide: What You Need to Know

You want your wedding to feel like the most magical day of your life. From the decorations and guest lists to vendors and music, you want everything to be perfect. As you probably know, the venue where you get married can completely transform the way a ceremony feels. If you want to get away from the everyday and say your vows in a place that feels too beautiful to be real, then a destination wedding may be right for you. But you shouldn’t start planning a destination wedding without a little research first. We've put together this destination wedding guide to help make your life easier. Here are some of the top things that couples and their families should keep in mind when planning a destination wedding.

Official Documents & Fees

For a wedding outside of the US, everyone who's coming to your ceremony needs a passport. Chances are that not everyone on your guest list or even in the wedding party already has a passport. To make sure all your friends and family are able to make it for the big day, you’ll need to schedule a couple of tasks into your timeline.

  • Visas: Before the wedding, check whether or not your wedding location will require a special travel visa. American tourists do not need a travel visa in many countries with popular wedding destinations, but you should always check to be sure. These can take weeks to process.

  • Passports: Usually, two months before the wedding, contact all guests and family so that they have plenty of time to get their documents in order. It typically takes a maximum of six weeks to get a passport by standard processing if someone simply mails in their documents. If deadlines get tight, you can pay extra and arrange for a new passport within two weeks at some passport agencies. If a visa is required, you should should warn everyone to sort out a passport at least three to four months before the wedding.

You can find a list of passport fees online to get a better idea of what to expect. To find out if your wedding destination requires a visa, you can check this list.

Considering Your Budget

Cost of Airfare

It's no surprise you need a destination wedding guide. Planning a destination wedding can require a great deal of effort to stay within your budget, but you can find the gorgeous locations you want and still manage expenses. One thing you’ll need to do when planning is calculate travel expenses into your budget. Sometimes families are happy to pay for their own plane tickets but you should have the conversation with them early to set expectations and budget accordingly.

Saving on Airfare

For possible savings, you can also have your wedding planner call an airline or travel agency directly to negotiate a lower group-rate airfare for everyone if they're on the same flight. You can also save on costs by watching for deals on online travel venues like Experiences by Welk.

Welk Resorts San Diego - Destination Wedding on the Fairways
Photo of wedding arrangements at Welk Resorts San Diego.

Cost of the Venue

As any destination wedding guide will tell you, the cost of the wedding venue will vary based on where you go and how big your wedding party is. Some resorts have every amenity you need for a destination wedding, including:

  • Rooms for the whole wedding party

  • The venue

  • On-site catering

  • In-house spa treatments

  • Other activities for your wedding and guests

Working with an event planner based at your venue can save you a lot of headaches on wedding planning! With their help, you can book the right package and seriously cut down the length of your wedding planning list and help you save on unnecessary items.

Saving on the Venue

One thing to keep in mind is that your destination wedding doesn’t have to be outside the US, which may save the expense of longer travel. Guests who enjoy road trips can often drive to popular stateside destinations, eliminating the cost of airfare and documentation required for international travel.

Scheduling and Timeline

Booking the Venue

To make sure you're not left scrambling, follow common destination wedding guide advice and book the venue right after your engagement. The more desirable a vacation spot is, the more bookings it will have for weddings. The most popular places may need you to book up to a year in advance, but for many, a few months ahead of time is also doable. This advice is especially true if you want to marry in the spring or summer, which is the most popular time of year to have a wedding.

To avoid the risks of inclement weather during an outdoor wedding, you need to do a little research about what the weather is like in your chosen location throughout the year. For example, if considering the Caribbean, make sure you avoid hurricane season in the fall.

Invitations and Announcements

As soon as you've booked your venue, it's time to tell your guests to save the date! It's never too early to send out your wedding invites these days, and people will appreciate having extra time to plan ahead for it. The sooner you mail out those invitations, the better your chances are at arranging cheaper group travel plans. If guests will come from many different locations on their own, they'll also appreciate being able to buy discounted plane tickets ahead of time. Last-minute tickets are rarely cheap!

Arriving at the Venue

In most cases, you won't need to arrive at your wedding venue more than two days before the event. However, if you're flying a longer distance, two days is the minimum amount of time it will take to recover from any jet lag you may have, and still have time for the wedding rehearsal.

Choosing the Perfect Location

Wedding in Cabo
Location: Sirena del Mar by Welk Resorts. Photo by Daniel Jirah

Do you want to marry in a place that feels like walking into the pages of a fairy tale? Welk Resorts has the stunning views and locations you want. You can go to Sirena del Mar in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, for pristine pools and palm trees overlooking the cliffs of the Baja coast. Let the open skies and the Sea of Cortez be part of your memorable wedding day. At this location, premium villas and accommodations are available for you and all your guests to relax in a home away from home for your special day.

If you want to marry at a getaway spot within the US, surrounded by acres of landscaped lawns and picturesque oak trees, then our San Diego location is perfect. With gorgeous views of the Southern California hillsides, our resort offers a peaceful, relaxed setting for your nuptials. This location also has two golf courses, multiple pools, and other great amenities to make the event a success for the entire wedding party and any guests who stay with us.

Explore the possibilities for your own dream destination wedding at the beautiful locations Welk Resorts has to offer. Visit our Wedding & Events page to get more details for your destination wedding guide and begin planning your magical day. We can also give you great options for a destination bachelorette party.

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