Unpacking the Basics of Destination Weddings
Have you seen our favorite movie? Zoom in on a wedding at a tropical paradise, zingy jokes, and Keanu Reeves: comedy ensues. But what are real destination weddings like?
That’s right, THE Keanu starred in a destination wedding movie. There’s not a lot of them out there.
Besides an absence of Neo, real destination weddings are perhaps one of the most rewarding ways to walk the aisle – all while saving some dough.
For those lovebirds thinking about tying the golden-sand knot, welcome to the Destify Starter Kit, equipped with a brief, yet info-packed dive into destination weddings (Keanu Reeves not included, sadly 😭). Let’s get started:
Destination Weddings 101
When one looks up the definition of “destination wedding” in the Destify Dictionary, they’ll find the following:
“A destination wedding is a wedding that takes place away from your home city. It’s most likely held at a resort or hotel. Everything is done on-site with no need for extra travel. Destination weddings are where all your friends and family come to one place to celebrate you.”
Easy enough? Sweet! Now let’s dive into the factors that go into building a dream destination wedding.
Types of Destination Weddings
There are four types of destination weddings you can plan:
- Symbolic: Most affordable, hassle-free experience. Marriage licenses are obtained in the U.S. before hosting your ceremony in paradise.
- Legal: Your own Princess Bride officiant gets to oversee and legalize your matrimony. Incurs some additional fees and requirements (and lots of twue wuv).
- Religious: Want to tie your religious traditions into your celebration? Great news! Most wedding resorts offer on-site chapels and Sangeet spaces to honor your spirituality.
- LGBTQ+: We’re proud to report that most of our destinations welcome LGBTQ+ couples to tie the knot in your own personal oasis!
Maybe we’re biased, but we believe one of the BEST perks of a destination wedding is the Hollywood treatment. And when you plan your wedding getaway with Destify… you’re guaranteed the luxury of an all-inclusive stay.
But where will you stay? Well… we have some thoughts.
Destination Wedding Locations
Speaking of locations, you didn’t think we were gonna leave you hanging right? Ranging from sun-kissed Mexico-Caribbean havens to lakefront forest kingdoms, our Destify-certified wedding destinations will have you rushing to our Instagram for more inspo! Without further ado, here are the many top-tier locations you can choose from while planning your destination wedding:
- Mexico: Positioned perfectly near the balmy equator, this multi-coastal destination offers sun-soaked weather, enriched culture, and endless luxury for your unforgettable day.
- Dominican Republic: Showcasing globally-acclaimed beaches and destination wedding elegance, this location is perfect for couples seeking that enticing mix of white-sand, tropical magnificence and lively city culture.
- Jamaica: Let your wedding worries sail down the Caribbean to this opulent paradise, filled with lavish properties and excursions of all activity levels ranging from bubbling waterfalls to private catamaran tours.
- Caribbean Islands: The eclectic, remote stretch of islands in the Caribbean guarantees the destination wedding location of your dreams – there’s an island for everyone.
- Costa Rica: A wild wonderland of rainforests and celebrated national parks. A nature-lovers dream destination.
- Panama: Panama is the tropical isthmus bridging Central and South America, a two-sided coin featuring skyscrapers and casinos on one end and tropical jungles and sun-dappled sand on the other.
- United States: Paradise need not be a country away! With beautiful, snowy vistas and lakefronts, the United States offers some truly unique resorts from our usual fare — picture-perfect for some amazing wedding day photos.
Destination Wedding Packages
Imagine everything you could possibly want for your destination wedding: handcrafted wooden chairs, mouthwatering food stations or plated courses, your pick at a selection of lavish venues. Now put it all in one basket. You’ve got yourself a destination wedding package!
While they vary in cost and amenities, here are a few stellar examples to get your beachfront daydream started:
Intimate Elegance at Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana
Guests: 10 included
- Symbolic marriage
- 10 guests included (additional guests can be included with extra cost)
- Ceremony and certificate, performed by a Secular Bilingual Wedding Officiant
- Bridal floral Bouquet and Boutonnière for the Groom
- Signature Wedding cake
- Special decoration of the Couple’s room
- Complimentary wine delivered to the Couple’s room
- Late check-out for the couple up to 3:00 p.m. (applies for the Couple, subject to availability)
- Onsite services of a professional Wedding Specialist
- Complimentary online bridal registry and Wedding website
- Ceremony table with white linen and folding Wedding chairs
- Sound system for the Ceremony
- Massage for the Wedding Couple (25-min each one)
- Romantic dinner for the Couple
Pros: Complimentary amenities galore! Affordable and guarantees a majestic ceremony at any of the property’s breathtaking venues.
Cons: Complimentary amenities galore…for the couple! Guests will still be able to leverage all-inclusive benefits during their stay, however, most entry-level packages only reward couples with those free listed perks. Therefore… ensure your guests know ahead of time you and your spouse to be will be a bit more pampered, and let them be a lil’ jelly.
Dreams of Love at Dreams Tulum
Guests: 30 included
- Service of judge or minister
- Wedding organization and personal touch of on-site wedding coordinator
- Preparation and ironing of couple’s wedding day attire
- Complimentary room for one member of the wedding couple the night before the wedding (based on availability and upon request)
- Bouquet(s) and/or boutonniere(s) for wedding couple
- Two boutonnieres and two corsages for wedding party
- Sound system with speaker and microphones
- Hairstyling and makeup application for one member of the wedding couple for day of ceremony
- Wedding cake and sparkling wine (up to 30 guests)
- Private cocktail hour with hors d’oeuvres (Silver menu, up to 30 guests)
- Private dinner reception (Silver menu, up to 30 guests)
- One natural floral centerpiece for the sweetheart table (one)
- 36 full color photos and wedding album
- Special turndown service night of the wedding
- 15% discount on all spa treatments (Spa boutique purchases not included)
- Newlywed Package
- Welcome letter
- Fresh fruit
- Bottle of sparkling wine
- Breakfast in bed with mimosas (reservations must be made in advance with concierge)
- Late checkout for the couple (based on availability and upon request)
- Free anniversary nights
Pros: All of those perks…for that price? 😲 You bet! Oh and, that’s not even the most expensive wedding package available at Dreams Tulum.
Cons: We see them too. “Based upon availability and upon request.” We’d like to say that most, if not all, of those special benefits can be fulfilled; however, there’s always the slight possibility that they might not be truly available. When in doubt, request ahead of time.
Exclusive Wedding at Royalton Blue Waters
Guests: 40 guests included
- Personal wedding planner & onsite coordinator
- VIP welcome & late checkout for bride & groom (based on availability)
- Bride & groom room upgrade (based on availability)
- “Getting Ready” refreshments & fruit platter for the bride & groom on the wedding day
- 10% discount on spa services for entire wedding group
- Breakfast in bed for the morning after the wedding
- $150 spa voucher, no cash value – 6 coupons each of $25 USD value
- Couples massage (25mins)
- Includes 2 hours of standard open bar
- 2 hour private BBQ party
- 10 Tikki Torches
- Caribbean Trio performance (45 mins)
- Ceremony location
- Symbolic ceremony
- Chairs included
- Sound system for ceremony
- Ceremony table with linen & tropical centerpiece
- 1 tropical bridal bouquet
- 1 tropical bridesmaid bouquet
- 1 tropical groom’s boutonniere
- 1 tropical groomsmen boutonniere
- Aisle chair tropical floral corsages (up to 8)
- Sparkling wine toast
- 3 cocktail tables with white linen
- 5 appetizers from our signature cocktail menus
- Bride & groom signature drink
- 1 hour of standard open bar service
- Solo Musician – violinist, saxophonist or guitarist (45 mins)
- 4 hour private reception
- Includes 4 hours of standard open bar
- 4 hour sound system
- Round tables with white linens
- $300 USD reception floral centerpiece credit
- 2-tier wedding cake
- Cake table dressed with white linen
- Personalized menu cards
Pros: It doesn’t get more elegant than Royalton Blue Waters. We’re pretty certain it’s the Oscars and Oscars After-Party of wedding packages.
Cons: A lavish package is pricey. That being said, when you think about it, you’re still getting a better deal than what you would pay at most stateside locations (try $30,000 for an entry-level package 😶)
Destination Wedding Costs
It’s easy to assume that destination weddings might be more expensive than they really are. We totally get it. The extravagant resorts, airfare, and just extra perks that might cost more dough?
Here’s the thing: most of our offered locations and resorts not only showcase more affordable wedding packages compared to stateside weddings, they also guarantee all-inclusive status. Quite literally everything, from poolside bites to wedding venues, are included with your package and stay. Most resorts within the US (including those Destify partners with) do build their weddings out as more a la carté fair. Consider it a polite note as you consider your budget for the big day!
Destination Wedding Venues
Choosing a destination wedding automatically increases your chances of reserving a pristine, Caribbean or mountain breeze-imbued wedding venue. Be it against an ocean backdrop, lush tropical garden, or being modern and chic on a rooftop terrace overlooking it all, our resorts offer a variety of picturesque spots to tie the knot at. Here are some of our top picks:
- Lighthouse Gazebo at Hyatt Ziva Cancun
- Gazebo at Dreams Riviera Cancun
- Eclipse Canal at Hard Rock Punta Cana
- Beach Gazebo at Royalton Blue Waters
Did you know: you could hypothetically grab a hot-stone spa treatment and paddleboard just hours before your ceremony?
True story? Yes. Recommended? Erm, we’ll leave that up to you.
Either way, on top of your jaw-dropping location and venue, your destination wedding also comes with an all-inclusive resort! And that all-inclusive resort comes with a selection of on-site luxury activities perfect for every guests’ speed. From salsa dance classes to tequila tastings, the following resort activities barely scratch the surface of what you can enjoy just steps from your elegant suite:
- Hydrotherapy Circuit Spa Treatments
- Flowrider Surfing (electronic wave generator)
- Yoga Classes
- Spin Classes
- Live Nightly Entertainment (al fresco dancers, Michael Jackson impersonators, acrobats, etc.)
- Beach and Pool Volleyball
- Tennis Lessons and Matches
Make sure those tennis shoes and thirst for adventure are packed. Getting married in a tropical paradise brings a dizzying array of off-site excursions unique to each destination – all of which will make you and your guests perhaps spend less time at the resort!
Whether you’re swimming the shimmering freshwater cenotes of Riviera Maya or embarking on Montego Bay’s rum tasting tour, you can rest assured that your wedding/travel itinerary will be saturated with more excitement than most traditional weddings.
Take a gander at a few more excursions…and see if you can keep that wanderlust under control:
- Historic Mayan ruins of Chichen-Itza
- Shopping on Playa del Carmen’s Fifth Avenue (the Rodeo Drive/Mag Mile of Mexico)
- Snorkeling off the Yucatan coastline
- ATV Tours at Cabo or Cancun
- Zip-Line Courses in Punta Cana
Optimal Wedding Seasonality
Yes, in theory, you can look up any stateside resort and find a wedding date that works for you and your guests to attend. But…if you’re looking for more “Yes”s in that RSVP window, definitely give destination weddings a longer glance.
Most peak tourist seasons for Mexico-Caribbean resorts tend to coincide with fall and winter holiday seasons, meaning more availability from younger guests on break from school or professionals approaching their seasonal PTO. Oh and surprise surprise, you get to leverage year-round sunshine and warm breezes.
Destify Tip: For even more savings on your destination wedding budget, book your celebration during the Low and Shoulder Season, where deals are abundantly available!
Wedding Director Notes
Destination weddings are inherently beautiful celebrations that enable to-be newlyweds the opportunity to truly maximize and elevate their roll-credits-worthy “I Do.” Simply put, if you’re looking to save money on your wedding aisle, all while tying the knot in a lavish paradise…a destination wedding might be the thing for you.
Still wondering whether or not a destination wedding is right for you? Take a look at our satisfied Destify Couples and their heartwarming destination wedding stories:
- Chavisse and Chavonna at Hard Rock Punta Cana
- Robin and Daniel at Dreams Tulum
- Ed and Billy and The Fives Beach
- Jasmeka and Sylvester at Royalton Blue Waters
So, ready to say “ACTION!” on your destination wedding planning? Follow the link below to our luxury destinations, and let the daydreaming begin…