It is not an elopement and it doesn’t have to be to a far away beach destination (although who could argue with a Beach Wedding in Grand Cayman?).
According to Destination Weddings & Honeymoons Magazine any wedding that takes place 100 miles or more from where the bride currently lives is a destination wedding.
As a former travel editor and founder of The Honeymoonist, I spend my time trying to make the right match—not just for honeymoons, but for couples and destination wedding locations, too. Finding the right wedding spot is tricky; it not only has to fit what you envision, but also work for guests. Here are three tips to keep in mind.
You dream of a vineyard-themed wedding. That could mean heading to Italy, but it could also mean a vineyard in Napa or a Mediterranean-style resort in the Caribbean. Having a theme in mind makes it easier to narrow down options and express your vision to the planner.
Don’t ask guests to spend days traveling to make your event. When planning, I’ll ask where most of guests are based and start the search there. One airport connection is fine for most guests; for more exotic spots with longer travel time, keep your invite list small.
Your uncle the hedge-fund manager has more to spend than your yoga-teaching college roommate. So look for resorts with various room categories and rates, or with less expensive options nearby. For instance, The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman recommends Sunshine Suites Resort across the street for guests who can’t pay Ritz rates, making things easy on everyone who attends.
A good travel planner will help you find the right destination and resort for your needs and budget. She’ll also go over contracts and booking options to secure the best rates, handle the guest block and any special requests, and plan your honeymoon. Your resort coordinator will handle actual wedding-day details.
Add Rabbi or Cantor to the list of peeps you’ll either need to hire locally or import to the photographer, florist and DJ. Some foreign destinations don’t have any Jewish clergy or Kosher caterers, requiring you to import your own. You need to research the local laws and paperwork requirements as well as your own personal religious priorities. For our wedding, not quite a destination wedding as it was just 90 miles away, we brought our rabbi with us. It was important to us that our rabbi knew us and had visited with us several times before he did our wedding.
We don’t mean the farm to table movement. Although, you may be up for eating the local delicacy or the hot and spicy Caribbean food some of your guests may not have the same adventurous palette. Make sure to have options for everyone–including non shrimp or pork entrees for your guests! They have come all this way to celebrate with you, be a good hostess. The eat local advice extends to cake and cocktails too. Other cultures are not known for the American wedding cake tradition. It’s OK–go with the flow! If you’ve chosen your destination to be different–try the local tres leches. And, don’t feel like you have to serve wine or have that champagne toast. Margaritas or Hot Chocolate with Peppermint Schnaps might go with the atmosphere and menu better!
Still planning for a Saturday night chuppah ceremony? Make sure to check when the local sunset is and make sure your local (or imported) clergy are on board with when you plan to start your wedding. Some clergy make not even leave the hotel to get to the top of the mountain until after Shabbat ends. Don’t wait until the last minute to cover this important detail with your Rabbi–just ask!
A local mariachi band might not know Hava Nagila? When doing your scouting trip make sure you hire a DJ who is capable of playing all the familiar tunes from back home as well as incorporating all the special music you want for your wedding reception. Have the mariachis play for the cocktail hour to infuse local flavor in your reception.