After the rocky year of 2020, we all want to escape on a long, tropical vacation. That includes weddings! Destination weddings make up 25% of total weddings per year, and that number is only expected to increase. Before planning your own destination wedding, here are 10 things you should know:
The Very First Steps
Pick the Location
The location of your wedding will determine so many other factors such as date, price, type of dress, and more. Think about what is most important to you. If the location is most important, then you should be flexible on the date. If you want a certain time of year, then be flexible on the location, etc. When doing research, be thorough, and don’t forget to check the weather in advance!
Visit in advance
Before you start making the invitations, take a trip and visit the location in advance. Pictures, videos, and reviews are great, but nothing can be compared to seeing the greater location in person for general feel, travel restrictions, and photographic moments. By seeing it for yourself, you can make the final decision if this is the right location for your big day.
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While you are taking your trip, you can start looking at accommodations and venues once you find the right city. Having accommodations for your guests in advance is common destination wedding etiquette since it will be an investment for all.
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Give a heads up to your guests
Once you fall in love with the location, the venue, and the date, let your guests know as far in advance as possible that you will be having a destination wedding.
Give your family and friends time to take off work and make arrangements for pets and kids, so they can be there on your special day.
Depending on your budget and taste, consider keeping the guest list smaller than normal, because of the extra expenses and travel. Also, expect to have some people decline the invitation.
Plan other activities
Because your guests have to travel, some might make an extended vacation out of it. Make plans in advance for guest activities to do, whether it’s specific wedding activities or things they can do on their own in small groups. This gesture will go a long way!
Check local marriage requirements
This is a must for any marriage—not just destination weddings—but check the marriage requirements for where you will be getting married.
For weddings outside of the U.S., the most common locations are the Caribbean, Hawaii, and Mexico, and they each have their own marriage requirements. For Puerto Rico, you must have the following:
- Official State Government Birth Certificate (long form). (Passports are not a
substitute for this and neither are Hospital Birth Certificate.)
- Official ID: Driver’s License; State ID, or Passport.
- Divorce Decree of all previous marriages (if applicable)
- *Lab Test: Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Syphilis & HIV.
- **Medical Certification from a Doctor in Puerto Rico.
*Lab Tests: These lab tests Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Syphilis & HIV have a validity of days. Let’s say if your wedding is in August 24, we recommend you do the Labs on August 8 or later. It is important we have the results 10 days before the ceremony (less than that could delay the process). In the example above, August 15 is the day we should
have the labs. Labs can be done within the United States. Technically they can be done in Puerto Rico as well but as it takes from 24-48 hours to be ready, couple would have to make sure they arrive to Puerto Rico with plenty of time. Cost to do that in PR is approximately $300 per couple. You must arrive with plenty of days before if doing labs here.
**Medical Certification- This is done by a doctor in Puerto Rico.
To learn more about specific marriage requirements in Puerto Rico, contact us so we can put you in touch with our recommended wedding ministers and officiants that can properly legalize your wedding. Make sure to be aware of the policies before you get on the plane!
Top Tips for Planning a Destination Wedding
Hire a wedding planner
Planning a local wedding is a lot to take on, let alone a destination wedding! You don’t have to do it alone, in fact, over half of destination weddings are planned with the help of a wedding planner. A wedding planner can take the stress out of planning so you can focus on the excitement of it all!
If you need help with your wedding planning, don’t hesitate to learn more about our services for wedding planning in Puerto Rico.
Take your time
While you and your wedding planner are planning the wedding, don’t forget it’s okay to take your time. Especially because there are extra things to plan for a destination wedding. Give yourself peace of mind knowing everything is perfect and ready to go.
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Lastly, as of this year, it’s important to look into travel restrictions for every destination. Whether you and your guests need to be vaccinated or wear a mask, check that out before making a decision and let your guests know as well. This may not be a factor to consider forever, but for the near future, it probably will be.
This is your wedding after all, and there will hopefully only be one you have to plan for! When you are deciding on the location, guest list, your dress, and vendors, don’t settle!
There are so many options out there your wedding planner will help you find, that you can find exactly what you are looking for. Ask questions, do research, until everything is just right.
If a wedding planner isn’t in the budget, find my I Do! Wedding Planning Guide created to help you easily plan your wedding and make those decisions.
All in all, your dream destination wedding will become reality by hiring help, choosing the right destination, and taking your time to get every detail exactly how you want it.
If you need help, be sure to reach out so we can start planning your dream wedding in Puerto Rico!
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