Tell me about your favorite (destination) weddings.
July 10, 2019 3:14 PM   Subscribe

We are just starting to think about our wedding, and have decided to do a destination wedding. Please tell me about the best destination weddings you've been to (location included if you have it) and what was memorable about it.

We're planning to pick a place that is warm and beach-y, and go with an all-inclusive resort to host all events. We'll be doing four wedding events (welcome drinks, Indian sangeet, ceremony, reception), plus a handful of optional recreational activities like snorkeling/scuba/hiking for those interested in exploring the destination.

I am looking for ideas and destinations that the hive mind has enjoyed in the past.
posted by fonzie to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I've been invited to 3 or 4 international "destination" weddings. I didn't go to any of them...I sort of assumed people who did this didn't want anyone to come except immediate family and the wedding party (or ~5 best friends, if you aren't having a wedding party...which you really shouldn't, at a destination wedding)?

On the other hand, I will take a 5-6 hour flight to the other side of my country, and take a day off work, to go to a domestic wedding. So it's all relative.
posted by amaire at 4:01 PM on July 10 [6 favorites]

You'll have to consider if all of your guests have or can afford passports by the wedding date, as well as any visa/travel documentation.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 4:29 PM on July 10 [2 favorites]

The nicest 'destination' weddings I've been to were in lodges in state parks.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 4:32 PM on July 10 [2 favorites]

[Couple comments removed. It's okay to not like destination weddings but you need to either actually answer the question asked or skip the thread.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:34 PM on July 10 [5 favorites]

I'm not usually this sort of person, but I went to one that was memorable. My friends (we all lived in Seattle) got married in Las Vegas. About 12 people were invited, no family. Their wedding was three events.

- a nice dinner at a Vegas restaurant
- a very simple ceremony in their hotel room (the bride used a wheelchair and this arrangement allowed for maximum comfort and for her to have her wedding photos standing up next to her husband which was important to her)
- we all went to Cirque de Soleil (my friends paid for tickets), a fancy thing I NEVER would have gone to on my own but was actually really fun to go to with my friends and their friends

We stayed at our own choice of hotel and spent an extra day there afterwards just noodling around the two of us (I don't really drink or gamble so we mostly rode roller coasters and went bowling), so it was a great excuse to go somewhere I might not have already gone. I think they did a family ceremony somewhere else at a later time. I did not know my friends' friends but they were nice to hang out with for the few events that we spent together, but I also appreciated having all the rest of the time to ourselves, not all staying at the same hotel, not feeling like we all had to do everything together, being somewhere that was interesting on its own. I know this is very much a YMMV situation, so I'll stick to "This is what I DID enjoy" parts. People definitely Have Opinions about destinations weddings and I hope yours is lovely. Mazel tov.
posted by jessamyn at 4:49 PM on July 10

I went to a destination wedding at Como Point Yamu in Phuket, Thailand. I'm not a resort person but the other guests loved it. It was very stylish, excellent service, and quite good food. (It was not all inclusive, but I would not be surprised if you could negotiate with them). The photos on the website are fairly accurate, allowing for colour saturation, etc. They had very nice infinity pools including sections suitable for small children. There was also a private beach that could be reached by boat. Plenty of activities and what I'm told was an excellent spa. The wedding events were as follows: a welcome with Thai streetfood stalls set up around the pool, a late night party at a separate beach club (guests were ferried there on a bus), a day to relax on the beach or do activities. And, finally, a ceremony/sit-down banquet with a three course Italian dinner. It was all fairly pricy.

A destination wedding I enjoyed more was on the Côte d'Azur where the bridal party stayed in a villa in Villefranche sur Mer where they also hosted the wedding ceremony on the grounds, managed by a very good events person. They hosted the sangeet and mehndi in the villa. This was a Hindu wedding and they imported a priest from (I think) Paris and performed the pheras overlooking the sea. All the guests stayed in a couple of hotels and B&Bs in Nice, which was really nice as there was plenty of scope to do things together or separately and it was a short train or taxi ride to Villefranche sur Mer. So not what you are looking for, perhaps, but I enjoyed it.
posted by tavegyl at 5:02 PM on July 10 [4 favorites]

If you're thinking warm and beachy this might not be for you, but I went with my family to a late spring wedding in, maybe ten years ago? I vaguely remember the bride and groom got married on the mountain, in front of a truly breathtaking view. I enjoyed it. You get the benefits of a place that's built around tourism (with lots of activities, great amenities, and plenty of places available to host your parties), but it's a decently sized town so your guests won't feel confined to the hotel. Spring is also nice because it's out of the crush of regular tourism (being too hot to ski and too cold to attract a lot of spring breakers). I suspect Whistler, Jackson Hole, etc are pretty interchangeable for warm season weddings.
posted by grandiloquiet at 6:24 PM on July 10

I've done a few 'destination' weddings, all in tropical, humid environments but the nature of them have all been very different.

Most memorable in terms of the event (as opposed to the people getting married and how close I was too them) was in Bali. We have another wedding in Bali later this year that is a Hindu wedding and will be multiple days. So far information has been scant, which makes it difficult to plan - so I would recommend a rough itinerary to potential guests early on!

My favourite ones have been where there has been a a structured itinerary for the the main couple of days, that was also clear about what was optional and what was 'the main event'. I like to be in the mix but I also liked having my own downtime to relax and get away from the group for a bit.

The Bali one had a joint hens/bucks event, which was more of a family friendly event - that was held at a water park, that was super fun and relaxed.

I've found them all memorable - it's always exciting to be in a different location, have fun, relax, make it a little holiday that isn't *just* about the wedding. All-inclusive has always been preferable - especially with the beach type destination weddings - they tend to be of a more relaxed vibe and the less thinking the guests have to do - the better, but providing alternate options (especially for people that don't drink, there might be a cheaper option) is also recommended.

I also wanted to add - travelling to places like Indonesia and Fiji for a wedding can be cheaper than travelling within Australia when flights, accommodation, etc is all included so it's very relative how people view a 'destination' wedding versus a local one.
posted by liquorice at 7:20 PM on July 10 [1 favorite]

I’ve been to a couple - one in Turkey and another in Mauritius, both beach oriented. The one in Mauritius was full Indian, and lasted several days with the traditional events. Both were amazing - gorgeous locations, and unique (for westerners) enough that many of the guests took the opportunity to make the trip a long vacation, which I thought was a big plus. The mehendi ceremony for the Mauritius one was at a nature park with giant tortoises, and it was jack and Jill (though of course only the women got the henna done). Also, the beach In Mauritius was amazing, and the guests often ended up on the beach after the evening events, which was fun; the night time sky there was spectacular.
posted by odin53 at 7:54 PM on July 10

My perspective is slightly different, having got married last year at a venue in Scotland which is frequently used for destination weddings - but which happens to be on our door step. Before settling on that venue we looked at destination weddings ourselves - and were particularly interested using a hotel we had stayed at in Morocco.
Here is the Moroccan hotel - in the Atlas mountains and accessible by mule. Here is the Scottish venue we got married at.

I list these two venues - both of which I would recommend - to illustrate 3 practical questions :
1. Do you want to hold a local celebration for people who are unable to make it to your destination? If so then you need to add it to your budget and planning list.
2. Can you actually get married in the location where your destination wedding is? In the case of Morocco - and many other countries - the answer is effectively "no" - because of religious or legal restrictions that would be wildly difficult or impossible to overcome. That means that your official wedding probably needs to take place back home - with the destination being the big celebration. That is potentially a second or even third event you need to plan for. There are many countries (Scotland being an example) where it is relatively straightforward for foreigners to actually marry. Choosing somewhere in that category can help.
3. How accessible is your venue? I mean this in two senses: first of all the obvious one of physical access (for us we knew the mule trip would not work for some of our prospective guests) but also in terms of how much it will cost your guests to travel to and attend your wedding. Many idyllic destination venues are in out of the way locations - but ones where the venue itself may offer the only effective place to stay. This creates an accommodation monopoly for them that can act to your guest's disadvantage. The rule applies for any wedding venue - but especially for destination weddings where you are already asking your guests to spend quite a lot of time and money to be there.

Finally a potential money saving tip: if you are a foreigner visiting a destination to get married then you may not care whether the event is on a weekend or not. If you don't you can get some good discounts.
posted by rongorongo at 12:21 AM on July 11 [2 favorites]

In 2005, I attended a family wedding in Cartagena, Colombia. The family rented several small homes in the city in addition to some hotel rooms, and I got to share a home with my brother and a few cousins. Apart from it being ridiculously hot and humid, it was wonderful.
posted by emelenjr at 9:59 AM on July 11

We had what was functionally a destination wedding in that it was in a place that neither of us lived, and most of our guests had to travel to the wedding - but it was bigger than what one would expect a destination wedding to typically be (about 100 guests).

We got married outside of Fort Worth and it was awesome - we booked a venue that also had a large house and several small cabins for rent; we also had two blocks of rooms held at a budget and a more expensive option. Because it was Fort Worth, there were lots of other options, and two airports, so good flight options.

I think that no matter where you have it, make sure that the dinner is great. One of the great parts about doing a destination wedding is that you can have a reception at a really great restaurant that might otherwise be off the table for a larger party.
posted by honeybee413 at 6:44 PM on July 11

I’m going to add one more “question to consider”, if I may: Do weddings constitute the “bread and butter” for your chosen venue - or are they an add on? With most “exclusive use” venues it is the former: if you are not there getting married then they have limited or no alternative income for that day; they will be focused on keeping you happy. This can also be the case of a venue like a hotel that you take over completely. But sometimes - especially at their peak times of year -the venue could be doing better by not having your wedding at all - catering for standard guests who aren’t getting a bulk room booking discount. The venue may have an events co-ordinator who tries to do the best for you - but this person is probably not the boss. Be suspicious of choosing such a place: for a destination wedding in particular you need to trust your venue to have interests which are aligned with yours.
posted by rongorongo at 3:09 AM on July 12

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