I never imagined of having a destination wedding, but looking back I would say I made the right choice. As I got older I started to realize that I no longer wanted a huge wedding, but would rather have a small wedding somewhere exotic and travel wherever I wanted to go for a honeymoon. While I value all my family and friends, I found importance in being able to spend time with my soon to be husband anywhere in the world afterwards.
Picking Paradisus Palma Real in Punta Cana was an easy choice for us. Our friends got married there a year and a half before we tied the knot and we absolutely fell in love with the place. The food was delicious, the service was incredible, the scenery was out of a movie and the rooms were impeccable. It was an added plus that I got to experience the venue first hand as well as getting my hair and makeup done, which made this an even easier choice for us.
I’ve reflected on my experience and have put together some tips I find helpful when planning a destination wedding.
Do your research.
Once you’ve selected a place for your wedding, the hardest part is choosing a venue and it’s easy to get overwhelmed with options. While I knew where I wanted to get married, I still did a lot of research to make sure that was the right fit for me. I did a lot of google searches looking for reviews, blog posts, etc. I also searched on instagram non stop to see other people’s pictures at that location so I could visualize everything. Another important thing to research is the season and weather. We picked January for two specific reasons- it was dry season in Punta Cana and “off season” for weddings, which means we got offered a discount on our wedding package.
Factor in extra expenses and ask for what’s specifically included in a package.
One of the nice things of planning a destination wedding at a resort is that most of the time they have a variety of packages depending on your number of guests and wedding style. It’s easy to pick and choose what you’re looking for and then customize and add on to the package. The price of the package we selected was very appealing, even though we ended up paying double or more after all our add-ons. While it seems like the package could include everything, there are other things you don’t think about that aren’t included. I recommend asking a lot of questions before signing a contract. For example, who knew basic lighting would be extra?! Having an evening wedding you would think lighting was included but it wasn’t. Another thing that was surprising was that the hotel had a fee if you wanted to bring outside vendors. Luckily we were okay with using their recommended vendors so we saved some money there.
Visit location if possible.
If this is in your budget, I strongly recommend doing so. Plan a short trip to the destination to make sure you are more comfortable and at ease about your wedding. You’ll know exactly what to expect if you get to travel to the location and it makes it easier to envision your perfect day.
Research marriage requirements.
I never really thought about the legality of making your marriage official and what it takes for it to be valid. It’s pretty easy in the states to research how to get a marriage license and then have it made official when you get married, but getting married outside of the US is completely different! Obviously, it varies per country so it might be easier in some places than others. For the Dominican Republic, it required for you to get a lot of documents translated into Spanish and to be in the DR three days prior to the ceremony. You also had to bring the marriage license from the states and have it signed there. For us it seemed like too much trouble, so we decided to “get married” in the courthouse in Georgia before traveling to Punta Cana and having our ceremony be symbolic. Definitely look into the requirements before selecting a time and place!
Don’t feel bad on splurging on yourself and your significant other.
It’s easy to get caught up in all the wedding planning and to be concerned about your guests and whether or not they are having a good time and not worrying about you and your partner. One thing my husband and I made sure of was that we splurged a little on ourselves because hey- we only get married once! We made sure we got the best room in the resort as well as adding on the butler service, which I totally recommend if it’s an option. We also had our own private beach area and pool as well as other benefits. While the resort was all inclusive, there were options to visit other restaurants for an additional charge. The day after our wedding we had reservations at a Michelin star restaurant on the resort to enjoy a five course dinner. It was little details like this that made our time more memorable and we were able to step away from everything and enjoy time with each other.
I hope you find some of these tips helpful if you’re considering a destination wedding. We are so happy with our decision and wouldn’t have it any other way.