Photo + Design


Destination vs Traditional Wedding

which is the right choice for you and what should you consider?
Destination vs Traditional Wedding

Your wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so you want to make sure that it’s perfect. With so much inspiration, it can be hard to narrow down your vision to just one single idea. And destination vs traditional wedding is a question often asked!

For many engaged couples, the biggest dilemma is whether to host a traditional wedding at home, or to tie the knot abroad. There are perks to both options! We’re here to help with your destination wedding planning or help you plan a local wedding. In this destination vs traditional wedding guide, we take a look at everything you need to consider in order to decide which is right for you as a couple.

The size of your guest list

There are plenty of stunning destinations to choose from if you want to get married abroad. But the truth is, not every one of your guests will be up for making the journey to your chosen location. This is time and time again the biggest mental hurdle for couples. Please know that even if someone isn’t able to attend, they love you all the same. Costs of travel, people’s health, and ability to take extra time off are all factors that could keep guests from being able to attend. Consider your guest list and then start to go through if you think they’d be able to attend or not based on these factors. After organizing like this, you’ll know just how many guests would be able to attend. More importantly, you’ll know how you feel about this number in your destination wedding planning.

As the couple hosting – planning flights and accommodations for potentially hundreds of guests – this can cause some added unexpected stress. You’ll absolutely want help from a travel agent to make your celebration a little less stressful. I absolutely love working with Beth from Luxury Travel Boutique because of her attention to detail.

Big or Small?

The biggest consideration between a destination or traditional wedding is whether or not a large celebration is important to you both. Does having only your closest people present when you exchange your vows, or perhaps elopement, sound more intimately you? Or have you always dreamed of hosting a big, grand wedding? If so, you may find that it makes more sense to plan a little closer to home. I find typically my destination weddings have about 50 – 80 guests present. When hosting in Mexico, that number can be as high as 80 guests. whereas in European destination weddings, I see closer to 50 guests, due to the flight length and cost.

Your dream venue aesthetic

If you’ve always dreamed for saying “I do” with a world-renowned backdrop of natural scenery, architecture or a popular landmark, a destination wedding provides the ideal opportunity to do just that. Whether you dream of exchanging vows amongst groves of olive trees in Spain, at the base of an Icelandic waterfall or under the warm glow of the Eiffel Tower, a destination wedding is perfect for the adventurous couple.

Bride holds up the back of her dress inside Lake Como, Italy, wedding venue before destination ceremony.

77 Diamonds shares this guide about Europe’s top destinations to get married and the best time of year to do so. Absolutely take a look to help you decide!

For those local to the Midwest, I like to share some of the most luxurious venues that will still give a destination aesthetic. The American Swedish Institute, Bavaria Downs, and Villa Terrace are just a few.

Finding that Dream Venue

Finding your dream venue can be hard. But once you’ve decided destination or stateside, the planning begins. I always, always suggest working with a seasoned travel agent when going abroad for your nuptials. A great travel agent will have a list of venues they can tailor to your wish list – from guest accommodations to beachside or rooftop ceremony locations.

If you’re looking for incredible wedding venues in the United States that match your theme, you’ll find notable options in various states and regions across the country. From the stunning vineyard wedding venues in Northern California to the breathtaking backdrop of Fort Williams Park in Maine, there are countless locations to choose from. We also trust Style Me Pretty’s Little Black Book of vendors as a great tool to search for both venues and vendors. It carefully lays out trusted venues and shares info like starting costs, catering info and gorgeous photos to help you really picture your dream wedding day.

Your budget

Everyone has a wedding budget, whether they’re hosted at home or away. However, it may come as a surprise to hear hosting your wedding at home can make it easier to cut costs. Destination weddings have always been seen as a way to host a wedding for about $10,000. This is doable, but the compromise is a small guest list. The average destination wedding (after everything) is about $20,000 to host a larger group of 50-80 people. Here is your Destination Checklist in helping you to plan your destination wedding, but also to consider any cost factors.

In choosing a wedding abroad, you will undoubtedly have travel and accommodation costs. You may also have to consider the cost of transporting your wedding vendors or paying fees for outside vendors. What we have found is a typical Mexican photographer will cost about $7,000. A Bahamian photographer is similar in cost. Whereas a European photographer will range from $7,000 – $12,000. To adapt to these costs, personally we reduce our photography collection pricing, but ask couples to cover the travel. In the end, it typically is less money to fly our photography team which offers unlimited coverage all weekend long. Your day is so much more than just a “day” when you travel abroad. It’s the welcome party, a sunset husband and wife session the next day while exploring the city or on the beach, and everything in between.

As we mentioned, everyone has a budget, but it really depends on your overall vision for this special day. For this reason, it’s best to consider your must-haves before making a choice. This way, you can figure out which option better suits your wedding budget.

Let’s add some Heritage

There are plenty of ways of honoring your heritage on your wedding day — not only for your families, but also for you as a couple. It can share meaning and add context to your wedding day, explains Diane Kolanović-Šolaja, Creative Director and owner of Dee Kay Events in Manalapan, New Jersey. “For example, if you’re of Irish descent and you choose to have a Celtic knot as part of your ceremony, it will add meaning to the day for both you and your guests.” It’s really a way of sharing who you are as a couple. Heritage extends further than just where you are from – it can include your familial background, religious traditions, or even small ‘traditions’ you have as a couple. The best is finding ways to merge your identities and cultures. Top Wedding Planner Kahani Events does a stunning job at helping you to add that sense of heritage and I can’t recommend her enough for a multicultural wedding!

A wedding true to who you are

While there are a few practicalities to consider, it’s best to reflect on your dream wedding. A few ways to help make this dream are:

Truly take your time to plan this very special occasion. You’ll never be disappointed – whether or not you choose to host a traditional wedding at home, or a destination wedding abroad.

To book your own Destination Wedding Photography today, or to learn more about Alexandra Robyn and her photography services, click here.

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