Delving into Details
How would you compare an in-town wedding to its destination sister? Are they complete opposites? Not really. There are significant differences, but there also can be startling similarities. It depends on what you and your fiancé want and what you're willing to do to make it so.
The Guest List
You've been to local weddings where 400 guests gathered under a tent and danced the night away. Although the idea of a destination wedding appeals to you, you know you can't invite all of your friends and family — or can you?
Traditional wedding etiquette says that as long as someone is invited to the wedding, she can also be invited to the bridal shower. Now turn that around: Don't invite someone to your shower if you know her name is not on the guest list for the wedding.
A destination wedding can be as big or as small as you want it to be. In order to be able to invite hundreds of guests, however, you'll have to find a location that can accommodate your party, and you'll have to take the cost of entertaining so many people into consideration. For now, though, just know that at least theoretically, you
The Bride Wore a Bikini
For many brides-to-be, the dress is the thing they've dreamed about since childhood, and finally having the chance to wear it is worth any hassle involved with planning a wedding. But you can't very well sashay your way down the beach in a heavy satin beaded gown, and you have no intention of wearing flip-flops to your wedding. Hence, you say, the destination wedding is off!
Hold on there, Sister. Very few brides actually show up at their oceanside weddings wearing a bathing suit (but for those who do, more power to them). While heavy gowns are not exactly the best choice for tropical weddings, bridal dress manufacturers have seized upon this very concern of brides who are planning destination weddings. You'll find no shortage of light, beautiful, almost indestructible (read: very packable) dresses. And if you're really set on planning a wedding around a heavily beaded dress, consider a Valentine's Day wedding somewhere in the Rocky Mountains.
Dinner, Dancing, Tossing the Bouquet
All right, so tradition is fairly important to you and your groom. You have an image of the two of you reciting your vows on the beach, and you're wearing a lovely, lightweight wedding dress (score one for tradition!). The image starts to fall apart, though, when you imagine your reception as a bonfire on the sand with a keg of beer and a bucket of clams for refreshments. Might you have to make these types of serious concessions in order to have a destination wedding?
No concessions are necessary. Your destination wedding reception can include the most traditional elements. Consider whether you'd be sorry if the following things were excluded from your wedding day:
Being escorted down the aisle by your dad and/or mom
Gathering with your bridesmaids before the wedding
Religious elements (vows, a canopy, exchange of blessed rings)
A reception, whether cocktails only or a full meal
Cutting the cake
Toasts from members of the wedding party and/or families
Dancing with your father and your new husband
Throwing your bouquet
Yes, you really can have an otherwise traditional wedding somewhere in paradise. The two ideas are not mutually exclusive, and in fact are combined every day by brides and grooms in this country (and many others).
Will You Miss Out on the Honeymoon?
Here's another nice thing about the destination wedding: You're essentially honeymooning the entire time you're there. In fact, a lot of couples refer to their destination weddings as a “weddingmoon,” because it so successfully blends the two events.
The wedding and the honeymoon often blend together at destination weddings. Unless you pick up and move to another hotel (which you probably won't do, as your room will likely be included in any wedding package), you may run into friends and family at the pool and in the dining room, even after you think you're officially on your honeymoon.
Of course, even though one benefit of this trip is that you get to spend loads of time with your guests, you may expect a far different level of privacy after the ceremony. This preference may vary from couple to couple. Some brides and grooms opt to spend all of their time — before and after the ceremony — with their friends and family, reasoning that it's kind of weird to be on a faraway island or in a hopping city and not have anything to do with their loved ones just because they're now officially man and wife (and especially if they've been living together for quite some time, anyway). Other couples part ways with their guests right after the ceremony and move their belongings to a honeymoon hut or suite, where they will be (mostly) out of view — but probably not completely.
In these ways, the honeymoon may differ for couples who opt to have a destination wedding. If you are dead-set on having a private, separate honeymoon, you can either plan one for later, or hop a flight to somewhere else after the wedding.