Why Destination Weddings are More Than a Trend

Wedding trends come and go. The “all-white” wedding, dance entrances, naked cakes—they all had their heyday at one point or another. This fact makes it easy to categorize a good number of wedding conventions that experience a sudden or surprising rise in popularity as trends, but one in particular, the destination wedding, seems to be breaking the mold.

According to the most recent Destination Weddings Report (2017), there’s growth in the destination wedding market, growth that has been climbing steadily and shows little sign of taking a dive. Changes in attitudes among couples (most notably, the desire for something fresh and the ability to save some money) seem to indicate that the destination wedding is around for the long haul:

“The 2017 report reveals that the majority of couples who choose destination weddings are doing so to find extra unique opportunities for themselves and their guests.”

One out of every four weddings is a destination-style wedding. What factors have come together to allow them to maintain such staying power? There are several angles to look at, and today we’ll be exploring why traveling far from home to get hitched has achieved its level of mainstay appeal.

Destination Weddings Offer A Wide Range Of Choice

That trends report mentioned above highlighted one of the overall reasons that destination weddings have such an enduring quality:

“Personalization remains a priority for destination wedding couples, according to the 2017 Report.”

The destination wedding gives couples an unbelievable berth when it comes to getting creative with ideas. They can essentially create the fantasy wedding of their dreams because of the number of variables that are opened up by not restricting the wedding locale to a spot near home. The normal traditions and stresses that come with planning a traditional wedding close to home are, in many cases, eliminated by choosing a destination wedding. The lucky duos that plan for a getaway wedding enjoy a high level of control, along with a long list of perks when it comes to crafting their perfect wedding.

Couples Can Mold The Ceremony Of Their Choosing

The keyword here is one that was mentioned in the quote above: personalization. Since they aren’t tied down by a particular place, just about every theme imaginable is suddenly on the table. The list of existing themes is a lengthy one. with the ability to select just about any backdrop from across the globe, though, it’s possible to find the one that hits the mark and squeeze in any number of hot wedding trends without them seeming out of place.

While traditional weddings performed close to home may be expected to follow a particular format, destination weddings offer a prime opportunity to experiment with the unconventional. Couples can incorporate customs plucked from the local culture, try some foods that they may never have thought of including back at home, and, generally speaking, go nuts pulling new and exciting elements into their ceremonies.

Since they’re already traveling for the wedding, the choice of venues couples have to pick from is also opened up just as wide as the number of themes. Sure, there may not be rustic churches along the lines of what a couple is looking for in their hometown, but open that field up, and that perfect little church is bound to exist somewhere on the globe. Similar logic can be applied to most other venues couples find appealing (but may not have access too in their location of origin).

The destination wedding also makes it possible to select for the perfect climate. Surveys like this one suggest that the Fall months are the most popular time for nuptials to occur. Among the likely reason is that these months, at least in the United States, offer more reasonable temperatures and allow for a wide range of clothing styles to be worn during the ceremony and reception. While having a wedding during this time might not be feasible for all couples, a destination wedding allows couples to circumvent nature in a way, by picking a place with more favorable weather conditions if they so choose. The wedding party is more comfortable as a result, and the bride still gets to wear that elaborate wedding dress she may have had her eyes on without it being unsuitable for the climate.

With a “run-of-the-mill” wedding, couples might have some expectations placed upon them to have a large guest list with numerous family members in attendance. We’ll discuss the taxing monetary effects of this later, but for now, we’ll highlight the level of dismay this can cause some couples—particularly those with complicated family dynamics. Destination weddings almost always come with smaller guest lists, reducing the likelihood of family drama and saving the lucky couple a significant headache. The tradeoff might be that some particularly cherished friends and family may not be able to attend, but for many, the pros far outweigh the cons in such scenarios.

Fewer guests also helps to increase the quality and individual attention each guest receives. Not only do guests who are invited to destination weddings feel important (knowing attendance for the event was highly limited and they made the cut), more resources can be put into making them feel appreciated for making the trip—generous hotel accommodations, a gorgeous selection of food, etc. Since destination weddings often take place over the course of a few days (as opposed to a few hours on a particular day), the bride and groom have more time to interact with their cherished guests.

For couples on their second-marriage, destination weddings serve as an even bigger headache-saver. They’re simpler, they’re more private, and they can be scaled down as much as the newlyweds like to desire if they’re not keen on having a big to-do this time around. They also offer more flexibility for couples who already have children, and the experience of a destination wedding can serve as a bonding experience for the entirety of the new family. It’s little wonder, then, that nearly a third of all second marriages are destination weddings.

The List Of Destinations Is Always Growing

Take a look at this list, courtesy of The Knot. That’s only 50 of “the hottest” destination wedding locales, and it already covers a wide range of climates and scenery. The complete list provides even more choices, and with some creativity, couples can select a location that meets all of their “must have” requirements and provides a unique setting to boot. According to a recent Wedding Market report, this is exactly what’s happening, with new destinations coming into the fore as inventive getaway spots.

Which destinations are these? Islands and tropical locales remain top contenders in terms of popularity. Places like Hawaii, The Caribbean, and the South of Florida offer beautiful beachside scenery, coupled with fantastic weather and near-ideal locations for coupling the wedding ceremony with a honeymoon. Major U.S. cities offer something a bit more upscale to couples who desire a ceremony that’s classy and urban, with spots like San Francisco and Manhattan taking the cake in this regard. For charming, less populated locations, couples turn to standbys like Colorado, Wyoming, and the northern portion of the Midwest. There are also the “sleeper hits,” places like Canada and Ireland. These locales provide something “off the beaten path,” and a chance for many couples to experience something completely alien in terms of setting.

Technology Is Making The Destination Wedding More Viable For All

One of the central criticisms of destination weddings is that they’re exclusive. That’s changing more than ever, though, thanks to the integration of technology at weddings. Those who aren’t at the wedding can still experience it thanks to advances in video streaming, and photo-sharing online makes it easy for those who couldn’t watch things unfold in real-time catch up on the spirit of the event from afar.

Destination Weddings Are Still Less Expensive Than You Might Think

How much is the average destination wedding? According to a survey from The Knot, in 2016, the average amount spent on a domestic destination wedding was $28,372, while the average amount spent on an international destination wedding was even less—$27,227. Compare these figures to some of the average costs for “at home” weddings in the United States. Even at the lower end of the spectrum, the average figure is $34,874—several thousands of dollars more than the average destination wedding. The cost savings is an obvious benefit, and another one of the reasons why destination weddings will always be around as an option.

One major contributing factor to the reduced cost of destination weddings is the reduced number of guests in attendance. Islands reports that the “average number of guests at a traditional wedding is 140,” while the average number of guests at a destination wedding is a “mere 48.” As the article suggests, destination weddings grant the power to “filter out” certain potential attendees from the guest list. Fewer guests, and the less couples have to spend on accommodating them at the wedding. This is, of course, assuming that the newlyweds aren’t footing the bill for travel. The main reason that destination weddings end up less for the couple is that such costs are, in a sense, distributed among the attendees instead of being shouldered mainly by the bride and groom. What’s more, many hotels in destination locations will offer discounts and group rates for wedding parties, further driving down costs in that regard.

In addition to reducing the number of guests, though, destination weddings provide couples with a chance to integrate their honeymoon into the entire affair, furthering their savings. It’s not uncommon to hear couples bemoaning wedding costs and proclaiming they’d rather save money to travel than to spend on an elaborate ceremony. The destination wedding is a chance for them to do both, the “complete package” that simplifies the entire experience. They can say their “I dos,” then immediately hop into sightseeing, having adventures, or any number of other honeymoon activities without even having to hop on a plane again.

A counter-argument to this point is that with guests along for the trip, newlyweds won’t have nearly enough alone time to enjoy themselves as they would on a traditional honeymoon. Most couples can easily get around this fact, though, with some careful scheduling. By arriving a few days before their guests or remaining well after the guests have come and gone, they can get into the honeymoon swing of things just as they would if they had done things the traditional way.

Reception expenses for destination weddings can, in many cases, be higher than those at traditional weddings (they often account for around 35% of the total budget for a destination wedding). This can be offset, though, by foregoing superfluous extras, being judicious about food selections, and incorporating as many “locally sourced” decorations as possible. There are plenty of additional tips and tricks that couples can use to keep their destination wedding budgets as tight as possible while still having a blast.

Human Beings Love Traveling Together

While it’s not a universal human trait, it’s a need that many people feel, and destination weddings provide couples a chance to sate that hunger together. Couples that love to travel likely already have a lot in common (they’d not be getting married otherwise), but a unique experience like a destination has the potential to deepen their bond to an even greater degree.

Romantic getaways have always been popular, but combining one with a wedding builds an even deeper connection to the destination where the ceremony took place. Couples have even more of a reason to visit on anniversaries—5, 10, 15 years later—with each subsequent visit building on the memories of the past.

The Takeaway

To be fair, there are a few drawbacks to destination weddings. They can be tricky to plan, at times, and coordinating for guests, dealing with legal complexities, etc. can further complicate matters. On the whole, though, the benefits outweigh these drawbacks for those that choose to get married away from home. The benefits listed above, particularly the heightened ability to personalize a ceremony and reception, are timeless. They’re what give destination weddings their perpetual appeal, and what ensure that they’ll remain much more than a mere trend for years to come.

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