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Ten Tips for Planning a Destination Wedding

  1. Food, drink and venue costs make up a large part of most wedding budgets, but when you have your wedding at an all-inclusive resort, these costs are built into the rates both you and your guests pay. This means you don’t end up paying for everyone’s meals. When five or more rooms are booked most all-inclusive resorts also provide a free wedding and sometimes a free reception.
  2. While guests are only expected to pay their own way, many couples choose to treat guests to a rehearsal dinner, as well as to one or two thank-you meals, such as a post-wedding day brunch or a welcome dinner when everyone arrives. 
  3. Besides finding discounted group airfares and room rates, a good travel agency with experience in destination weddings can arrange these other activities as well.
  4. Before booking your trip, ask yourself if you really want a destination wedding. If you’ve dreamt of having a large wedding with all your friends and family, or want to be heavily involved in planning, it’s probably best to find a local venue.
  5. If you must have certain people attend, ask them first if they are willing and able to come.
  6. Larger resort chains in Mexico and the Caribbean offer tempting package deals, but it’s worth checking out mid-size resorts, where you can have a unique and personal experience. At the very least, talk to someone who has been there.
  7. Your travel agent should alert you to any residency requirements, required medical testing or translation fees (which can cost around $85 to $100 per page).
  8. Couples who want a legal marriage without the hassles should tie the knot officially in the United States.
  9. Find a wedding coordinator or travel agent who specializes in destination weddings and can alert you to any legal hurdles. If something happens during your wedding, you shouldn’t be the one stressing over it; let a professional smooth out the wrinkles for you. Most important, they should do all of this for free. Travel agents, or destination wedding coordinators, get paid by the vendors and hoteliers they work with to bring in business, so why charge the brides? 
  10. If you’re considering the Caribbean islands or Mexico, be aware that hurricane season peaks from August to October. Most major resort chains offer hurricane protection. You should also consider travel insurance, but read the fine print in case the policy has restrictions that make it useless for your travel plans.

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