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Destination Weddings vs. Traditional Weddings: Pros and Cons

A bride and groom walk down the aisle at a destination beach wedding.

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Congratulations! You’re engaged! Now comes the fun part: planning the wedding. You’ll look at many different wedding planning checklists, and receive much unsolicited advice from well-meaning friends and family, but in the end, you’ll say “I do” to the love of your life. 

Before you can book florists, and caterers, or even send save the dates, you need to determine the venue. That leads to the big question: traditional, stateside wedding, or the destination wedding of your dreams? From the beaches of Jamaica to the rooftop wedding venues in Cancun, there is much to consider. What are the pros and cons? Which one is the best choice for you and your soon-to-be spouse? Lucky for you lovebirds, Destify is here to help you decide. 

wedding ceremony

Wedding Basics 

Traditional and destination weddings have many things in common. They both feature a happy couple and promises of commitment. There’s generally food and drinks, and friends and family. There’s also a lot of difference. Even between one couple’s destination wedding and another’s, the event will be different. What are the basic aspects of a traditional wedding? How does a destination wedding work? 

Traditional Weddings 

When planning a traditional, stateside wedding, the first thing is generally setting the date. Once the date is set, a venue can be booked, save the dates can be mailed, and invitations can be sent. There are meetings with vendors, coordinating hotel blocks, and dealing with RSVPS. The average wedding guest list is around 100 or so people, with the average cost being around $240 per guest. Traditional weddings allow the couple to celebrate their day with all of their family and friends, whereas destination weddings tend to be a more intimate celebration with just the closest friends. 

Destination Weddings 

How do destination weddings work? For starters, you’re not just picking a venue, you’re picking a destination. The beach, an island, an entirely different country, or anywhere else you desire. Other than the happy couple, the venue is the focal point of the whole event. Oftentimes, couples opt for their destination wedding to be symbolic. But they may also have to deal with the legal aspects of their destination trip. Different countries have different requirements for legal ceremonies which can add more logistics, paperwork, and costs to a destination wedding. 

Pros of a Traditional Wedding 

If you have a large family or a large friend list, having a traditional wedding can allow you to invite all your friends, your cousins, and whoever else makes the list. The maximum number of guests will depend on the venue, so you can find one to fit as many people as you need. If you have friends or family who cannot travel, whether it’s for personal reasons or simply the inability to take time off work, they can still attend your local wedding. 

On the topic of venues, having a local wedding celebration allows you to visit the venue before your big day, or even before paying a deposit. Couples can also meet with possible vendors, caterers, and everyone else involved, in person, prior to finalizing any decisions. Meeting with vendors becomes much more difficult when your venue and caterers are a plane ride away. Having a stateside wedding also means the legal and symbolic aspects can be handled at once. The wedding ceremony can be legal, without the added logistical hurdles of working on a ceremony in a different country. 

wedding on the beach

Pros of a Destination Wedding 

The biggest benefit of a destination wedding is location. A destination wedding can be at your absolute dream location. While stateside wedding venues are beautiful, there is something extra special about the beach wedding venues in Mexico versus a brewery in Buffalo. 

The guest list can be a major stress point in wedding planning. Choosing a destination wedding automatically lowers the number of people on the guest list. It may be more challenging picking your closest friends and family. Your mom’s co-workers and their spouses won’t be invited. The cousins you hardly ever talk to won’t be invited. Who will be invited? Your closest family, and your best friends. The people you really care about.

An all-inclusive destination wedding package can eliminate some of the stress of wedding planning. There’s no need to act as the liaison between vendors and engage in lots of phone calls and emails. An all-inclusive destination wedding package handles it all. 

Planning a destination wedding means planning a built-in vacation as well. Has it always been your dream to visit Jamaica? Consider your wedding your excuse. And what’s more romantic than a vacation built around saying “I do?” Rather than spending thousands on a wedding, and thousands more on a honeymoon, you can combine the two and kick off your honeymoon the moment the wedding celebration has ended. 

When it comes to Destination Weddings vs. Traditional Weddings, destination weddings can provide the location, the small celebration, and the honeymoon of your dreams. 

Cons of Destination and Traditional Weddings

Most of the downsides of a destination wedding are also the upsides of a traditional one – including the limited guest list and the inability to see the venue in person beforehand. If you are not a fan of traveling, a destination wedding probably isn’t the best option. One of the biggest struggles of destination weddings vs. traditional weddings is the greater room for error. While luggage can go missing and weather can cause problems stateside, there is slightly more risk when flying hundreds or thousands of miles. 

The cons of a traditional wedding are generally the benefits of a destination wedding. A traditional wedding can feel more like a dramatic event than an actual commitment ceremony. While we all enjoy a party, having people you hardly know dancing around a barn can cost probably more than it should and can distract from the real reason you’re there – to get married and to share your love for each other and those you care about most.  

People may assume the cost of a wedding, traditional or destination, would be a downside to doing anything other than visiting the courthouse on a Tuesday afternoon. While it’s no secret weddings can be expensive, destination weddings can actually be more affordable. With a smaller guest list, and an all-inclusive package, the destination wedding cost can be a huge benefit. The low end of the cost of an average stateside wedding with 100+ guests is around the same as the maximum average price tag for a small destination wedding in Mexico. 

Destination Weddings vs. Traditional Weddings

The Wedding of Your Dreams with Destify

If you’re debating a destination wedding vs. a traditional wedding, Destify can help answer your questions, and plan the destination wedding of your dreams. We don’t just help couples figure out how destination weddings work, we create meaningful and lasting memories. Contact us to help plan the wedding of your dreams. 

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