My husband and I were married in Fiji. It was gorgeous: a little white chapel on the beach. A traditional Fijian Warrior escort down the aisle. A trio of serenaders as the wedding music. I couldn’t imagine anything more perfect.
He is from New Zealand (and many of his family members still live there), while I’m Australian and we live here. So getting married somewhere neutral, that was easily accessible to people from both countries, made sense to us. But aside from geographical factors, here are my top ten reasons to have a destination wedding.
This is the biggest thing, of course. Your happiness on what will probably be the biggest day of your life. So it’s really important to be in a place that makes you happy. For me, Fiji is the pinnacle of this.
Before my wedding, I’d been to Fiji twice, and for me it’s a healing place. A place I’d gone to when things weren’t quite right, and somehow I’d always found all the answers there. So it just seemed completely logical that we’d choose to start our marriage somewhere like this: somewhere we felt had all the answers.
Fiji, like a lot of island destinations, is a place where the people are just HAPPY. They pride themselves on it. It’s a core value of society. You can see that everywhere you turn: everyone always greets you with a smiling “Bula!” When you step off the plane, ukelele-playing serenaders welcome you with a smiling song.
If your family is anything like mine, things are complicated. So putting everyone in a relaxing location like Fiji was a great way to take away some of the tension that the lead up to a wedding can bring. Which in turn made me and my husband-to-be a lot less stressed, and a lot more happy.
When my husband and I sat down to work out a guest list, we had over 200 people! Even when we pared it down, and got super ruthless, we still had over 100. That’s a lot of mouths to feed, a lot of people to organise… and what I really didn’t want was to wake up the next day and feel like I hadn’t seen half the people who attended.
But when we planned a destination wedding, people culled themselves. Some couldn’t get time off, some couldn’t make the financial commitment, some probably just wanted to go elsewhere for their holidays. That was fine. Of course, we made a promise that if someone couldn’t come, we would never, ever hold it against them – it was a HUGE ask. It did mean that many people we loved, who are really important to us, couldn’t make it and sure, we were disappointed. But 60 people did. That number felt a bit more manageable to us. Which was great because the chapel was only meant to seat 50!
There are a few components to this. Firstly, we held our wedding on a Saturday; a few of us flew in the Tuesday, some the Wednesday, and some the Thursday. We all either stayed at the resort where the wedding was held or a couple of hotels surrounding it. That meant everyone was close-by and everyone had the opportunity to get to know each other. The end result? We didn’t even have to do a seating plan for the reception! By the day of the wedding, everyone was old friends so we just said, “sit anywhere!”
Obviously the best wedding photographs are the ones that truly show the love between the couple getting married. But no one gets married at the local tip and there’s a reason for that (aside from the smell). We like to get married in places that add visual beauty to proceedings (there’s a reason why winery weddings are so popular where I live). But think about island destinations like Fiji, Thailand, Mauritius, Hawaii, the Bahamas. They are all take-your-breath-away STUNNING. One of the best things about a destination wedding, I think, is the stories you’ll be able to tell for years to come about the day you said “I do”. And as they say, a picture tells a thousand words.
If you’re getting married in a location known for destination weddings or elopements (think: tropical places) then chances are your venue will have some excellent packages. That means things like the setup, cake, table decorations, signage, service etc could all be included. Similarly, the venue will have food and drink packages that make planning your wedding a lot simpler. No need to see 100 different samples, do a whole bunch of calculations or run around trying to find suitable vendors. All the little details are done for you and included in your package. Which brings us to…
Depending on where you have your wedding, the pricing could work out really favourably. If you’re getting married somewhere with a favourable exchange rate, this will likely be the case. Put it this way: if we’d hosted our wedding in our hometown, everything would have been more expensive. The food and drinks, photographer, DJ, and the venue itself all would have been much more expensive. My estimate is that we probably saved about $15k all up. That’s money that could be spent on your honeymoon or stashed away for your actual marriage (a house deposit, renovations, a squirrel fund for any future maternity leave…)
Getting married somewhere touristy means endless activities. If you have relatives who live far away, having them in town before the wedding can add extra stress in the lead up to your big day, as you might feel you need to play host and show them around or arrange things for them to do. If you’re having a destination wedding, there’s no need to think of activities for your guests to do. There’ll be hundreds of options and they’ll be able to book them at the resort’s tour desk. If you do want to get involved, planning a group activity is a great way to break the ice between guests who may not know each other well. We charted a private yacht for a day and sailed around the Mamanucas. Not something any of us is likely to forget!
One of the reasons I love travelling so much is the food. I love sampling new flavours and enjoying new dishes. Every culture has it’s own cuisine to explore. When you have a destination wedding, you get to experience that on a grander scale: you have the opportunity to see how a different culture feeds their wedding guests. We had a lovo at our wedding: meat and vegetables cooked in an underground oven and served with side after side of delicious Fijian and Indo-Fijian dishes.
In my experience, you might get a little pushback for opting to have your wedding so far away – it can be an inconvenience. That said, most people are pretty keen on the idea of a celebration and holiday rolled into one. But when you get there, everything changes. I found the experience of a destination wedding really strengthened my relationships with a lot of my family and friends – the time away together gave us plenty of opportunities to bond, and I just felt so loved by all the people who made such an effort to be there for our special day.
As I mentioned above, planning a destination wedding is easier in many ways than a traditional one, because there’s often less to do. That means more time to spend with your loved ones and less chance for that pre-wedding tension that so often occurs.
I also found it was a wonderful way to start my marriage. The wedding is just one day – it’s the rest of your lives together that counts. So to start that marriage in a stress-free, happy, loving environment really helped give us some of the solid foundations that matter. Planning the wedding and having that experience really cemented our love and commitment to one another.
The last biggie when it comes to a wedding. There’s a couple of options here. You can honeymoon somewhere else, or you can find a secluded (maybe adults-only?) option for a few nights and continue on. We did the former, but opting for a wedding-and-honeymoon combo is less to organise, likely much cheaper and still just as romantic. Plus there’s no extra jetlag to deal with!
Have you had, or attended, a destination wedding? What did you think of it? Tell me in the comments below!