Bride and groom walking near a field of sunflowers.

Destination Weddings: What You Should Know

27 Questions You Need Answered Before Booking Your Venue

You’re so close. Your dream of walking down an aisle lined with butterflies and palm trees and towards your smiling other half are finally coming true. Not only have you both agreed on a destination wedding, you’ve even settled on the location, which puts you miles ahead of most other couples.

Now it’s time to narrow down the venues, turning your big list of possible hotels and resorts into a much smaller one. Budget and décor are always the first questions, but there’s so much more you need to know before plunking down a deposit. What happens if the wind is whipping up the sand, the officiant is double booked or your ceremony is uncomfortably close to the clothing-optional beach?

This destination wedding venue checklist will help alleviate both the worries you have and the one’s you didn’t even think about yet.

Resort Packages

Wedding packages are to all-inclusive resorts what buffets are to Las Vegas casinos – you know before you get there that all your needs will be met, sometimes spectacularly, sometimes not. Those packages can be filled with customization options and unexpected fees, so be sure to ask these questions to ensure no last minute surprises:

  • How many other weddings will be booked that day?
  • Do you have an onsite wedding coordinator?
  • What decorations does the resort provide? Centerpieces? Flowers?
  • Do you provide an officiant?
  • How many guests can the ceremony/reception area accommodate?
  • Are you required to book a certain number of rooms?
  • Do you have photos of past weddings and receptions you can send me?
  • How long would we have access to the wedding/reception areas?
  • Is there a discount for booking your wedding and a block of rooms?
  • Do you have a sound system, provide a DJ or live music?
  • Is cleaning included in the quoted package?
  • Are you flexible on what’s included in the package?
Bride and groom seen from behind
Resort Packages: Ask the important questions like how long you have access to the wedding and reception areas.

Outdoor Venue

Did you know a permit may be required if your dreamy beach location is in a public area? Or that the catering company might need a tent to protect your three-tiered red velvet cake? When considering an outdoor location, Mother Nature will always be a guest, so include these questions to cover all your bases:

  • Are permits included in the fees?
  • Have you set up a wedding at this precise location before?
  • What options are available if the weather turns bad?
  • Do we need a tent?
  • Can caterers and musicians easily access the area to set up?
  • Will the area be open to the public or roped off during the ceremony?
  • Are there time restrictions?
  • Are there any additional fees for set up, clean up or other location-specific charges?
  • Are there any restrooms nearby?
Lanterns lining sitting next to chairs and lining the aisle at a wedding.
Outdoor Venue: Make sure your bases are covered and you have everything in place, including a permit for your fabulous destination wedding.

Off-Site Venue

You’ve found the perfect location overlooking the sparkling blue waters of Italy, but it’s not on the hotel or resort property. Here a few other questions you’ll still need to ask the resort:

  • Can the hotel assist with guest transportation to the site?
  • Will the coordinator be on site the day of?
  • Are there any known restrictions in that area?
  • What does your special spot look like at different times of year?
  • Is it easily accessible?
  • Are there any local events happening on your selected date that would impact vendor availability?

Don’t fret—this list isn’t nearly as scary as it might look, and most resorts will happily answer your questions. Travel agents will know the answers to a lot of these questions, and they’ll have some additional ones to help you narrow down your choice.

A travel agent will also have many great tips based on past destination weddings and other groups they have helped. They’ve heard all of the stories, good and bad, which they’ll gladly pass along to you to make your wedding day picture-perfect. 

Bride, groom and guests at a beach wedding.
Offsite Venue: In addition to resort personnel, travel agents can help arrange transportation to and from the wedding venue as well as other logistics. 

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