With all the choices for destination wedding venues these days, brides and grooms can plan almost anything they can think of. Whatever your dream wedding theme, whether coastal casual, country western, upscale contemporary, or something completely unique and individual, you can have it. Whether your preference is to get married at an intimate bed and breakfast or a large resort, you can choose it. Add in the options of traveling with your guests to a destination relatively close to home or someplace more exotic, and the decisions to be made are endless. But no matter what you decide upon, consider our top 10 tips for choosing a destination wedding venue that suits the two of you, your guests, and your budget.
1. What Does Your Dream Wedding Look Like?
Some engaged couples know exactly what they want their wedding day to look like while others haven’t even begun to think about it. Knowing each other’s desires will go a long way toward deciding on the perfect venue for your destination wedding. Talk about your dream wedding with your soon-to-be life partner and settle on a vision. Some brides like to build a storyboard of wedding ideas by looking online or at magazines to choose the colors, backdrops, and themes that best represent them. Do you want a beach wedding at sunset? How about a formal church wedding with an outdoor reception? Would you rather be married in a beautiful garden on a breezy autumn day? Will you be holding your reception at the same venue as your wedding ceremony? How many guests will you invite? Once you both have a clearer vision of your dream wedding, set your budget. This is your day and these upfront steps will make choosing a venue much easier.
2. Choose a Wedding Planner
Get ready for our best tip! Wedding planners can take much of the stress out of planning and executing your destination wedding and every couple should strongly consider hiring one. Because the right planner is familiar with the choice of venues, vendors, and accommodations at your destination, that person should be able to carry out your vision to match or even exceed your dreams. A wedding planner can also save you money overall by avoiding costly mistakes and by negotiating deals with preferred vendors. Choose a destination wedding planner where you live by asking your friends or looking online for reviews. Or if you already know your destination city, ask some venues to provide you with the names of a couple wedding planners there who specialize in destination weddings. Talk to each of them and choose one you trust and communicate well with to oversee your entire event. You’ll be glad you did! Planning a wedding is complicated and very few brides want to handle all the ceremony and reception details on the day they are also getting married.
3. How Many Guests Will You Have?
Knowing the size of your guest list will be important before locking in a destination wedding venue. Granted, this can be difficult to predict since you won’t know until your guests RSVP who is actually going to be traveling there with you. So you may even want to contact your guests in advance of the formal invitation to get a better count. With social distancing limits, weddings are getting smaller around the USA. Some guests may choose not to travel at all, while some couples may decide that a smaller crowd and a smaller venue is the safer choice for all their guests. But once you have a better idea of the size of your guest list, your destination wedding planner can help you choose a venue that’s big enough– or small enough– for your celebration.
4. A Pre-Booking Visit to Your Destination Wedding Venue is Ideal
If you can possibly visit and even stay at your destination wedding venue before you book, you should try to do it. This is a great time to meet your wedding planner in person, if you are using one local to the destination, and to make sure the services you want can be provided the way you want them. Take a tour of the venue with your wedding planner and the point person at the venue. Your wedding planner should also be able to arrange a visit with your caterer so you can sample the food you plan to serve, the cake you intend to cut, and other catering details. This is a also great time to make some choices about music, linens, flowers, and photography. Imagine how it will all fit together on your big day and make the adjustments while you’re there rather than remotely. However, if you can’t get there, this is the time to rely on your wedding planner and be grateful you have one!
5. Think About Your Guests’ Expenses and Time
Consider your guests’ and your own budgets when choosing your venue. Destination weddings don’t have to be far away and expensive to be fun and romantic. While a glamorous wedding in a remote medieval castle accessible only by a 3 hour train ride that leaves once a day from a major European city may sound romantic, think about your guest list before you lock in that kind of venue. How much extra time away from home and work will that require of your guests? Would your elderly relatives enjoy such an excursion? What about young children? Where’s the nearest airport? Can your best friends even afford such a wedding? Maybe it would be better to book that castle for your honeymoon trip instead!
6. Think About Your Guests’ Accommodations
Figure out where you and your guests will stay before and after your destination wedding. Many couples get married at their destination wedding venue and stay on to honeymoon there. But finding the perfect wedding venue also involves planning for the comfort of your guests who will be traveling to celebrate with you. If your guests are able, many will want to stay on and vacation for a couple of days after the ceremony, so plan affordable and convenient accommodations for them. Is there availability at the same hotel or bed and breakfast venue? Can you reserve a block of rooms? Where will they eat in the days before or after the wedding? Look into transportation options as well. Will travel between the ceremony and guests’ accommodations be provided? Think about everything from your guests’ point of view when you’re choosing your venue.
7. What Kind of Ceremony Do You Want?
You’ll want to know all the options for where you can hold your ceremony at your destination wedding venue and see if it matches your vision. Will it be outside? What is the weather likely to be? Having an outdoor wedding means you can choose your setting, the time of day, and the views to make sure you and your guests are comfortable during the ceremony. You can choose to hold your wedding on a sunny lawn, a gorgeous beach, in a gazebo, or under a canopy of trees. For each of your choices you’ll also want to consider the likely temperature on your wedding day, if you’ll be alone at the venue or sharing the space with other guests, and any traffic noise from cars or boats in the vicinity, among many other things. A large resort may sound more exciting, but it can also feel impersonal. Perhaps an intimate private venue would better suit you and your guests, especially if your list is small and social distancing is an issue.
8. Get a Detailed Quote
Be sure you know exactly what the wedding venue will be providing and get it in writing. Again, a wedding planner is invaluable at this point because they know how to get a quote that includes everything you want to know and everything you need. What’s included? What’s not? Who is your point person? When can you have your vendors and planner start setup? Where do the bride and groom parties get dressed? When does your celebration have to end by? How many helpers will the venue provide? Where are the tables and chairs going to be set up? Are there preferred vendors for catering and beverages? Linens? Tents? Flowers? Photographers? Are there noise restrictions? How much parking is available? Other transportation options? Your wedding planner should be able to provide you with a long list of questions and answers to these and many other areas of concern. Just be sure you know the answers before you book so you can stay within your budget.
9. What’s the Rain Plan?
It’s a fact of life that every destination wedding runs the risk of being rained out. Know whether you’re the type of couple that can roll with last minute changes in the weather or if you’d be happier planning an indoor wedding at your destination. If you go with an outdoor wedding, be sure to have a backup plan just in case. Think through every detail of your outdoor wedding and make sure the venue has the space to move indoors and that it can be quickly and easily set up inside in case of rain or high wind. Will they reserve a backup space to accommodate at least as many guests inside as outside? Where will the band set up? Is there enough room for both the catering functions and the dining tables inside? Are there enough rest rooms? Where will the bar be moved to? Having a detailed backup plan will reduce the last minute panic that can happen if the weather turns south.
10. Read the Reviews for Your Destination Wedding Venue
Before you sign anything, take some time to read the online reviews for each of the venues you’re seriously considering. You can learn a lot by reading what other bridal parties have to say about their wedding at the venue. While a website is often written to sound like you can’t go wrong, we all know things happen! If you spot a terrible blunder, talk to the venue managers about how they plan to avoid that same problem in the future. Look for a venue that fits your personality with personnel you think you’ll really like to work with. Remember, it’s your dream wedding and the more you know before your big day, the more relaxed you’ll be for your ceremony and reception. Ask questions up front, make thoughtful choices, delegate what you can, rest up, and get ready to truly enjoy yourself. Happy wedding day!
If you’d like a tour of Jubilee Suites, please contact us. We’d love to show you around our beautiful property overlooking Mobile Bay and point out the many options you have here for a spectacular intimate wedding of up to 30 people. We would love to host your entire wedding, inside or outside, from your rehearsal dinner to the ceremony and reception. We’re an intimate boutique bed and breakfast and we can accommodate up to 30 wedding guests in our 7 fresh and airy luxury suites overlooking Mobile Bay. Each suite is equipped with full kitchens and living areas so you and your guests can spread out and spend your time enjoying each other rather than running from one venue to another. And be sure to ask us about our bridal suite!