Working in this industry for many years, I've found that because destination weddings are filled with travel, activities, new sites, etc. they tend to be very memorable. In addition, hosting a destination wedding allows you to spend quality time with your family and friends over a longer period of time. When I talk with my clients who are torn about having a local or destination wedding, we usually review these few points:
How do I choose a location? The location should be a true representation of your personality. Most couples will pick a location based upon their vacations or the location where they met or even where they were engaged.
Embrace the destination. If you dreamed of a castle in Ireland, you will experience the beauty of the region around you. Enjoy the culture, experience, and food and have fun.
How does this affect our guest list? The most important people will attend, thus reducing your ever-growing guest list by more than half. This upside not only helps with the overall budget, but it also gives you more quality time with close family and friends. A destination wedding can also become a vacation for the guests, giving them a reason to step away from their day-to-day routine to spend three unforgettable days in a great spot. If you give your guests a 9-12 month lead time, they will be able to plan accordingly.
What are the differences in planning our budget? This is my favorite part. Instead of spending the money on a five hour event, you will get three days of fun with family and friends. You are essentially spending the money for a longer period of party time.
What will we do there? Enjoy the experiences offered at the destination. While in Italy host some cooking classes or wine tasting tours. In the Cayman Islands swim with the stingrays and in Hawaii enjoy snorkeling.
Incorporate the culture into the plans and activities. In Italy we love to hire mandolin and accordion players to serenade our guests. In Mexico hire a Mariachi band on welcome night. In Hawaii, don't miss out on a hula dance!
It's also worth pointing out that any place can be a destination. If you live in San Francisco, you're a stones-throw away from Napa. Hosting your wedding in a place that might be local for you can still be a destination for your guests.