Wedding Themes By Jessica Weltersen A lot of couples are planning destination weddings today, for a lot of different reasons. Some couples only want a few people at the wedding, and they’re looking to save money by combining their wedding with their honeymoon getaway. But if you think planning destination weddings is easier than planning your special day at a local venue, there are a lot of other things to consider. This is especially important if you’re thinking of getting married out of the country. Locations for Destination Weddings If you live in the U.S. and you’re planning to get married in the States, your travel to set things up won’t be that difficult. For example, if you’ve always dreamed of heading to Vegas, you might just need to save up for your air fare and hotel accommodations. But if you’ve always wanted to get married, say, in the Bahamas or Mexico or France for example, there are a lot of other things on your wedding checklist that just might cost you more than you’d planned on. Here are just some of the things that you’ll need to research and plan ahead for in the country where you plan to go: Seasonal weather conditions – Think hurricane season in some tropical locations or severely cold winters in other countries.Language barriers – Be sure you know what that country’s native language is. If you have a year or so to get ready, you might want to learn a new language! Or maybe someone in your wedding party is fluent in that country’s language and they can be your translator for the weekend.Cultural and legal differences – You don’t want to do anything that might land you in jail abroad! As they say, “When in Rome…”Specific holidays in that country – You need to know what days in the year the natives celebrate different holidays because you may not be able to get married on the weekend you want.Passports – Check to see how long it will take to get your passport, if you don’t already have one. And make sure the people you want in your bridal party can get a passport in time as well.Immunizations – In addition to passports, depending on where you’re headed when you leave the country, you may have to get some shots too. More Tips for Planning Destination Weddings Whether you’re planning to get married outside of the States or stateside, there are other things that go into planning destination weddings. 1. Ask if the venue offers off-season discounts. If you’ve always wanted to be a June Bride but it’s not quite in the budget, maybe you can be an April or September bride instead and knock off a good chunk of the expenses. 2. Plan your wedding at least a year ahead of time. And if you’re planning on getting married out of the country, give yourself a two-year lead time so you’re as stress-free as possible while you plan the event. 3. Can your guests and bridal party afford the trip? Destination weddings can be costly for your guests and bridal party too. If your guests are going to have to lay out a few thousand dollars to be in Vegas with you or even a few hundred bucks for hotel and travel expenses, you might want to do a couple of things. Send out Save the Date announcements at least a year in advance. And send out the wedding invitations at least six months in advance. Your guests will want as much advance notice as possible so they can adjust their schedules and put some money away for traveling.Plan to set aside some money to help toward air fare and hotel expenses for those on a tighter budget.Include a “no gifts policy” on your Save the Date notices and wedding invitations.See if the venue will give you a discount on rates for your bridal party and a block of rooms for your guests too. 4. Does the venue have an on-site coordinator? The last thing you need is to get to the venue and nothing is ready! The florist hasn’t been contacted, the DJ doesn’t know where to set up, the cake was delivered but still has to be assembled. Things are stressful enough when you’re getting married locally, but when things go wrong with destination weddings, it can be a disaster! It’s a good idea to check with local vendors for referrals to venues that have experience with destination weddings. 5. Destination wedding favors. Choose your wedding accessories and favors well ahead of time and carefully so you can have them assembled – if assembly is required – and shipped to the destination venue on time. You can also select your wedding favors locally on one of your trips to the location and ask if the vendor can hold them for you. 6. Hire a professional wedding planner! When it comes to destination weddings, even if the venue has an on-site coordinator, you’ll save a lot of headaches and probably even some money if you hire a wedding planner to handle most of the smaller details for you. Make sure the professional coordinator you hire has extensive experience in destination weddings, especially in the particular area where you’re getting married. Did you have a destination wedding? Where did you go? Did you save money? Have any disasters? Share your story below!