A vineyard in summer, beach at sunset, a glen in the midst of towering trees or an exciting cosmopolitan city -- all are great destination choices for a wedding. Many couples choose locations with romantic associations, such as where they grew up or became engaged. Others choose wedding destinations for the fun or scenic backdrop they offer. Favored wedding destinations in the U.S. include the Sonoma-Napa Wine Country, Hawaii and New Orleans. Las Vegas tops the list as the most chosen destination wedding site. From elopements to grandiose affairs of 200 guests, destination weddings have tripled in popularity in the last three years.
If you don't have family in the area or a trusted someone who can perform the necessary research for you, hiring a wedding planner and coordinator is a must for your destination wedding. A local planner will assist you in finding the perfect reception site, source and secure vendors, make telephone calls, tend to local errands, and save you unnecessary trips to the destination.
If you haven't hired a wedding planner, expect to make multiple trips to the destination; locate the site; interview and hire your vendors; trips to finalize the details; and the final journey to attend your rehearsal, ceremony and reception. Many locations fill quickly, so planning at least twelve to eighteen months ahead is highly recommended.
Most couples planning a destination wedding prefer an intimate feel to their special day and wish to have very close family and friends in attendance; thus the creation of an entire weekend wedding concept. Friday evening starts out with the wedding rehearsal and dinner. All guests that have traveled a great distance should be invited to the rehearsal dinner and/or a welcome reception. Golf, wine tours, spa treatments or sightseeing events are commonly scheduled for guests the day after the ceremony.
Pre-wedding letters are a must for a destination wedding. Your guests will appreciate being alerted to the schedule of weekend activities, information about the area, overnight accommodations, and particular points of interest.
Laws differ from state to state. Avoid last-minute surprises by checking the marriage license laws in the state where you will marry. Most states require a waiting period and blood tests, along with the necessary paperwork. California laws have become less stringent in the last few years. In addition to the scenic vineyards, the elimination of waiting periods and blood tests have probably contributed to the popularity of Northern California Wine Country.
Coordinating a destination wedding requires additional planning. However, destination weddings are preferred by couples who want one-of-a-kind wedding memories. Destination weddings make guests feel extra special and give the wedding couple a memory-filled place to visit for joyous anniversary celebrations.