5 Top tips for planning your Destination Wedding
14 october 2022 - weddings
Have you been fantasizing about saying ‘I do’ in Mexico since you can remember? Do you have absolutely no idea where to start? Welcome to the club. It won’t come as a surprise to you that you’re not alone… it’s pretty daunting! Why not take a look at our 5 top tips for planning your dream destination wedding in Mexico for some inspiration…
Planning a wedding can be both one of the most exhilarating and one of the most stress-inducing periods of your life. Do we invite estranged Uncle Brian? Where is quirky Auntie Hilda going to sit at the rehearsal dinner? Lemon posset or chocolate fondant? Or both… Do we sit all the vegans on table 5? Should we let Tallulah bring her slightly strange on-off boyfriend as a plus one?
Arrrggghhhh. We feel your pain.
Too. Many. Questions.
With vaccines being rolled out en masse, travel restrictions easing, and borders reopening the world once again, leisure travel has been on the increase since 2021. It’s no wonder that destination weddings have surged in popularity in the last few post-pandemic years.
With around 350,000 destination weddings taking place every year, it’s a $16 billion industry. Yup. Mucho. And it’s no wonder…getting married abroad is essentially a 2-for-1 deal: you get your wedding and honeymoon wrapped up in one big sunny parcel of sand, sea and…. suncream!
They are also ideal for couples with friends spread out across the globe—if everyone has to travel, why not make it a dreamy beach-side location where you can sip your frozen margarita AND get a tan at the same time? Seems like a no brainer to us.
However, throwing a destination wedding into the mix is certainly a whole different ball game… Uncle Brian and Auntie Hilda issues are now replaced by travel expenses, guest accommodation, unpredictable monsoon weather, sweat-proof attire…
It’s a daunting prospect, there’s no doubt about it. But, we’re on hand to help!
DreamArt has been working in this industry for 15 years and so, unsurprisingly, we have picked up a fair few tips along the way. So, without further ado, here are our top 5 do’s and don’ts when it comes to planning your destination wedding.
1. Pick a location
There’s a reason why Mexico and the Caribbean are two of the top locations for destination weddings for U.S couples. Even in 2020, where travel was (supposedly…) restricted due to the pandemic, over 23 million tourists traveled to Mexico. 23 million!!
But Mexico is kind of large… it’s easy to get lost and overwhelmed.
Let’s make finding The One a little easier…
The Yucatán peninsula is considered one of Mexico’s most scenic spots; it’s a beachy paradise with pockets of lush jungle and you’re never more than a stone’s throw away from ancient mayan ruins or a stunning cenote. It has it all, quite frankly. Some of the dreamiest wedding venues for us are Vidanta (pictured below) and Valentin in The Riviera Maya and Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach and Live Aqua in Cancun…all totally different but united in their 5* luxury approach to organizing engagements and weddings.
Why not check out our Instagram to see how our DreamArt team could capture your wedding on film? And head to our blog on the best proposal spots in Mexico to get a flavour of what these different hotels have to offer. Below is the outlook from the stunning Marquis Los Cabos, one of our partner hotels. This couple is keeping it unconventional and we LOVE it!
Perhaps the wedding destination of your dreams is a location with sentimental meaning behind it for you and your partner. Maybe it’s where you met? Maybe DreamArt captured your engagement at one of our fabulous partner hotels in the Riviera Maya, Cancun or Los Cabos and you want to relive that experience all over again… with all your family and friends in tow ;).
Whatever the reason, it’s worth thinking seasonal. A little risky to schedule your event right in the middle of hurricane or monsoon season! Similarly, be aware of annual fluctuations in tourism: high season = more expensive everything and congested sights, but low season = deserted streets, closed hotspots and sometimes a bit of a flat vibe.
Just food for thought.
TRAVEL TIP: Heavy travel might just be impossible for your great aunt Susan, walking-stick bound grandpa joe or heavily pregnant sister-in-law. It IS your big day and yes, of course you should be selfish to a certain extent, but don’t be a bridezilla… you’ve also got to prioritize your least jet-set guests. A 5 hour taxi ride, 3 bus changes and a speed boat later could all be a bit much for those who perhaps aren’t quite as able as they once were…we want everyone to make it to the wedding in one piece! Keep it simple; stay relatively close to large cities with good transport links; find direct travel routes.
2. Hire a professional
Let’s chat wedding planners. Do I…don’t I?
Let’s cut to the chase. A wedding planner is totally necessary for a destination wedding. Choosing a location and destination abroad without guidance from eyes on the ground is going in entirely unprepared. It’s the biggest day of your life and you’re going in blind?! No thank you!
Similarly, when it comes to choosing your own wedding vendors from the extensive sea of providers and suppliers online, it is quite honestly an impossible prospect. Wedding planners are you fairy-godparents. Remember that.
They are the direct contact between you guys and potential vendors, suppliers and ministers. Like the magical middle-man who will make all you dreams come true…and for a good price. Here’s the major perk…
Sadly, some wedding providers tend to boost their prices for clients from out of town. However, a local wedding planner will know exactly how much services should cost; not only that but they have contacts…they know people. Make use of this established web of connections.
It’s not a discount as such, but their superpower is that they can negotiate exclusive prices from their preferred vendors. This means that when they package everything up for the client (you!) the price will be significantly reduced.
You might discover local companies you didn’t know existed and of course, going local will also cut costs.
3. Be dress smart
Consider the climate and terrain for your wedding day. Beach wedding? Probably best to leave the stilettos at home and avoid a bride with a broken ankle…
Many brides choose to go barefoot on the beach and we love this vibe! You can always slip into some comfortable wedges, heels or bedazzled sneakers for the reception ;).
Dress code for your guests is another interesting one. Black tie can go out of the window. You’re in Mexico! Make it casual! Think linen and you simply can’t go wrong. Your guests will thank you later…plus the LAST thing you want is all your photos to come back with guests dripping in the heat. Sweat patches look good on nobody. NO.BODY.
Guys: listen up. No excuses here. Guayabera shirts, known more commonly as ‘Mexican wedding shirts’, are a failsafe option for a destination wedding. They’re short-sleeved (we heard that sigh of relief…) button-down shirts which usually have decorative square pockets and embroidery.
The Wedding Dress. Think weather. Think fabric: lightweight breathable dresses in lace, crepe or chiffon are winners any-day over larger-than-life, satin ballgowns. If you hear the words Mikado, Faille or Gazar (remember Kate Middleton’s wedding dress?), I would think twice. If the Mexican climate had a nemesis, these fabrics would form a formidable trio. #SweatCentral.
If it has multiple layers of tule…run away.
If we’ve lost you with all this fabric lingo, not to worry! Check out what bridal expert and curator Mark Ingram has to say…he brings it riiiiight back to basics.
So you’ve found THE dress. Congrats! Now, for the love of God…do not, I repeat, do NOT check your dress into the hold. We’ve all been there when our luggage disappears into thin air.
Not the dress. She stays with you at ALL times. Treat her as gold dust.
Pick a well reviewed dress bag off Amazon and consider it your carry on. Wrinkles are inevitable but most likely there will be someone on hand to press and steam her the other end. Don’t fret.
4. Go the extra mile…
Let’s be totally honest here. A destination wedding cannot be a one day affair…absolutely not. The idea is almost offensive. Your family and friends have bought flights out to the Mexican Caribbean and after the ceremony you’re saying ‘right, that’s it. We’re off on our honeymoon down the road, safe flight home ya’ll!’
You HAVE to organize some festivities either pre or post wedding. Let’s be honest, you’re not exactly limited for choice in Mexico now, are you? No excuses…
Why not visit one of the Yucatán Peninsula’s 6000 cenotes. If you’re thinking…ummmm, what’s a cenote? Oh you’re in for a treat.
They are mystical holes in the earth created over time by erosion; over decades they’re filled with rain water or from underground rivers. They range from supersized 140-meter-wide aquamarine waters to enclosed secret plunge pools with stalactites adorning the cave ceiling. There’s something tranquil and sacred about them. If you visit one away from the tourist hotspots, its an intimate experience like no other…perfect for a newly-wed trash the dress photoshoot, for example. We’ve done a few of these and the results are truly breathtaking. Take a look…
Want to take it to another level and get your guests involved? Picture this…a trash the dress but with everyone. Your whole wedding party jumping into the cenote, barefoot but fully clothed in wedding ceremony attire. What an unforgettable wedding group pic. Mexican Mamma Mia vibes for sure.
Plus, after we’ve got the shot, everyone can bring their swimsuits and just enjoy the cenote for the day. Memories captured AND an epic day out post wedding. The celebrations just never stop…
5. Do your homework
Getting married abroad definitely requires that extra bit of admin; new country = new rules. So now, let’s move onto a couple of the more yawn inducing formalities and legalities…promise we’ll make it speedy!
Firstly, when you’re tying the knot in a far-flung foreign land, it’s always best to expect the unexpected. It’s worth looking into securing wedding insurance. Not the most romantic of subjects, we know. But there’s no doubt that all pandemic brides can attest to the importance of splashing a couple hundred bucks more to cover the risks of cancellation and postponement…
You might be thinking: do I really need it?
A couple hundred dollars buys you insurance but also reassurance…a peace of mind. Check out more on exactly what obtaining wedding insurance abroad looks like…
Secondly, it’s vital that you check local marriage requirements. Mexico, like the U.S., is a federal country, meaning that every state has its own rules. In some cases, it can be easier to roll out a low-key civil ceremony before you depart, get a domestic marriage certificate under your belt and then do everything fiesta related abroad.
DID YOU KNOW? Civil weddings are the only legally recognized weddings in Mexico. While religious weddings and other symbolic blessing ceremonies do happen, you can’t technically be declared ‘married’ without also having a civil component. Time to find your nearest Registro Civil!
The good news is that, in true Mexican style, everything seems pretty relaxed! Two foreigners can get married on the beach and hop back home with as little as their passports, tourist visas and minimum amount of paperwork. Check out this ultimate guide to getting married in Mexico which goes a little deeper on the legalities side of things.
ARE YOU HAVING AN LGBTQ+ WEDDING? Same-sex marriage in Quintana Roo is performed and recognized in all municipalities of the state. Fun fact is that Quintana Roo was the 1st Mexican State and 2nd jurisdiction after Mexico City to legalize same-sex marriage. Have you thought about tying the knot in Latin America’s biggest gay neighborhood: Zona Romantica in Puerto Vallarta. It’s on the Pacific Coast on the southwestern rim of Mexico and the LGBTQ+ scene is BUZZING here, much like London’s Soho.
Now here’s the most important thing. Double check your passport’s expiration date. Now check it again.
Aaaand one more time for good luck.
It may seem totally obvious. “Of course I won’t get married abroad without an up-to-date passport!” You’d be surprised how many times we’ve heard that one…
One time, one of our grooms misjudged his passport’s expiration date and couldn’t fly out to Mexico to marry his fiancée. But that wouldn’t stop his bride! Oh no! The boss queen flew out and had the ceremony virtually! She was greeted with an iPad with her husband-to-be on Facetime at the end of the aisle.
Adapt and overcome…I guess?
Moral of the story: don’t get caught short…leave a bucket load (and we mean a bucket load) of time to renew your passport!
So, there you have it. Our 5 top tips for planning your ultimate destination wedding that will run without a hitch…
Happy wedding planning!