Happy Anniversary to my one and only!! Okay this isn’t really our anniversary, it’s actually Valentine’s Day but I promise I did start writing this on our anniversary. But you know..life got in the way…
So here we go! I have wanted to start this blog five years ago when I got married. Actually six year ago when I first got engaged. We began planning our wedding and I fell in love with anything having to do with weddings. I was on Pinterest constantly and actually neglected my real job (being a CPA) for planning my wedding. We had a beautiful destination wedding and even though there were some things that did not go according to plan, it was really the best week of my life!!
I figured once the wedding was over and I settled back into regular life, things would go back to normal. However, I just could not seem to delete my wedding planning Pinterest boards and late at night before going to sleep, I would jump on Pinterest still looking at wedding inspiration. Just going through withdrawal I thought, but then I realized that there was something calling me to all this wedding stuff. I loved looking at it and enjoyed reading about other’s weddings.
So earlier this year, I finally decided that talking and looking at weddings was something that I wanted to keep doing, even though I have been married for five years. So I decided to start this blog. Not just to discuss weddings, but specifically destination weddings and any other topic that pops into my head! Ok but let’s focus on weddings for now. I want to keep this first blog short so I am just going to end it here. Stay tuned for future blogs where I will recap and share pictures of our destination wedding and hopefully inspire some of you out there thinking about having a destination wedding. Feel free to leave comments or any questions below. I am happy to help with anything that I can!!
Now that you have decided on a destination wedding and have picked the location and the date, next on your to do list is to start planning for your save the dates. For destination weddings, you want to send out the save the dates at least six months before the wedding. That will give your guests enough time to plan for vacation time from work, save up for travel expenses and start making the necessary arrangements. So make sure you give yourself enough time to plan the photo shoot, pick the perfect photo to create the save the dates and delivery time. You should probably start about three months prior to your send by date.
Ok, so now that you have all that figured out, it is time to start dreaming about that perfect picture you will be taking with your fiancé, gazing into each other’s eyes while walking along the beach. The fun you will be having laughing and acting silly as you take your engagement photos. This was one of the best moments for us. The fun of having a destination wedding is that you can incorporate the destination theme into all areas of the wedding planning. Here are some ideas to make your save the date announcement as unique as your wedding:
First, let me share what we did for our save the dates. Since we never told anyone we were engaged, we used our save the dates to announce to our family that we were engaged! We got engaged in Costa Rica and knew we were getting married there so we decided to make that our theme. We bought backpacks for everyone and had them embroidered with their unique nicknames and the date of our wedding. Inside we included a boarding pass and some information on Costa Rica. We found somebody on Craigslist to design our boarding passes so they were pretty affordable. If you were thinking of also having a boarding pass, check out the links below for some great and affordable options.
Zazzle.com has a wide variety of boarding passes you can choose from and customize. They are pretty affordable and often have additional discounts so definitely check them out especially if you are having a big wedding. The boarding pass below is about $1.63 per boarding pass.
This other example from Zazzle is $2.29 per boarding pass.
Etsy.com is another site that has personalized boarding passes at affordable prices. The option below is in a PDF format that will be emailed to you so you can print at home or with a local printer. The cost for the design is $15.
This other option from Etsy, is a boarding pass you can customize to have a magnetic backing. The price varies per quantity and if you choose the magnetic option. For one-sided printing and no magnetic backing, the price for 50 boarding passes is $150. Of course there are many more options to choose from so spend some time perusing the site and I am sure you will find one that is perfect for you!
Savethedateoriginals.com has more options for magnet backing if that is something that you are interested in. This option below is available for $92 for 50 magnets including shipping. The price varies from there depending on the quantity ordered.
If you want something a little more creative than a boarding pass and have limited guests, you can use small suitcases and fill them with information on your destination and details of your wedding. We did this for our actual invitations. Since we had a small wedding we only needed 9 suitcases.
We found our suitcases at Michaels. I couldn’t find them online so you may have luck at your local Michaels. Here are some similar ones I found online:
This on is from Target.com and is a little pricier at $69.99
If you are a DIY bride, here is a link on how to create your own cardboard boxes from diyprojects.com This would be a great option because instead of using regular paper, you could incorporate a map of the region that will be hosting your wedding for a very unique suitcase!
SAVE THE DATE T-SHIRTS
If you want to send a save the date on something that your guests can wear even after the wedding, why not create a save the date t-shirts. The one below is from bridalpartytees.com. You can customize color and details of the wedding. They offer several designs. The design below is $32.47 each.
This design is from Etsy.com and goes for $16.77 each
I found some other options on spreadshirt.com. I was unable to download a picture so just linking them here. Their prices range from $19 to $30 each. Go check them out.
MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE
How about sending out a message in a bottle for your save the dates?
I found these miniature bottles from Etsy.com. The ones in the picture are about $2.34. There are many to choose from and most of them customizable so if you don’t find exactly what you are looking for, try contacting one of the sellers and see if they can customize to exactly what you need.
For those DIY brides, below is a link where you can buy supplies from sandartsupplies.com to create your own message in a bottle save the dates. The items are separate so you can get a lb of sand for $2.39 and the empty bottles are about $1.69 per bottle depending on quantity. If you also want to include the seashells they will run you about 700 miniature shells for $5.95. They also have the boxes you can ship these in for $.79 each.
If you want to have a green friendly save the date and something that will really last, how about a plant from the region of where your destination wedding will be held. Here is an example of a bride that used a succulent for her save the dates. Her blog can be found at ohsobeautifulpaper.com This is one of my favorite ideas and if I have a vow renewal in the future, I will definitely send out a flower or plant for my invitations.
If you are having a large wedding, a plant may be too expensive and too cumbersome. Another great option would be to send seeds from a plant or flower of your region. It is still an environmentally friendly option but much easier to ship and much more affordable. Here is a lovely example that costs $.37 per packet from americanmeadows.com
SAVE THE DATE ORNAMENT
If you are having a winter destination wedding or are sending your save the dates around the holidays, how about sending a save the date ornament? What a beautiful way to commemorate your wedding. The example below is from personalizationmall.com. It costs $11.99 each. They have a wide variety so you should be able to find an ornament that fits your style.
This other example is from etsy.com They start at about $10 each and go up depending on the customization.
If you want a DIY option, below is a great tutorial from thekimsixfix.com You can engrave details about your wedding and can customize the design you want.
Here is another DIY example comes from clairmakesbelle.com It’s simple yet beautiful and very customizable.
How about a beach towel embroidered with your wedding information. They will prove useful for when your guests are enjoying the beach before or after your wedding. Below is a picture of what we did for our guests as part of their welcome goody bag.
The same embroider who did the backpacks for our save the dates provided and embroidered these towels for us. Embroidery is a little pricier than screen print but since we had such a small wedding we didn’t mind spending a little extra on the few towels we needed. A more affordable option would be to screen print your towels. The one below from beachtowels.com are about $15.96 each for 50 towels. They offer free shipping and no set up fees.
I found another option at bagsoflove.com where you can upload a picture onto the towel. It is such a cute idea so check out their website. Prices start at about $32 per towel.
WINE THEMED SAVE THE DATES
If you are traveling to a winery for your wedding, why not send a save the date bottle of wine so your guests can toast to your upcoming wedding?
At WindsorVineyards.com you can customize the labels on their bottles using one of their templates or you can upload your own design. You then select the wine you want the label on. They have wines from $12.00 per bottle up to about $50 per bottle depending on the wine you choose.
Another site that sells wine and custom labels is personalwine.com You can choose to purchase the wine from them or you can just purchase labels and select your favorite wine elsewhere. Labels start at about $22 for a set of 12 labels.
Another choice for wines and/or labels can be found on customwinesource.com Prices vary depending on the label but they start at around $1.33 per label if you order 50 labels. Price goes down the more you order.
If you don’t have the budget for a bottle of wine but still want to stay with the wine theme, try sending engraved wine glasses with your wedding date. The cute ones below are from discountmugs.com They are $3.66 each if you order 50. Prices go down the more you order.
If you have a larger budget, and would like to splurge on your save the dates, you might consider creating a view-master with pictures from your engagement session and/or pictures from the location of your wedding. You can get as creative as you want since you can have about 7 pictures in your view-master. Check out the one below from Image3d.com The picture below is from offbeatbride.com It has a great write up of the company and some ideas on destination view-masters. And they are offering a 10% discount to their readers. Cost can run about $20 for each view-master depending on customization and quantities.
WINTER WEDDING DESTINATION
If your destination wedding will involve snow, why not send a snow globe picture frame for your save the dates? This one below from qualitylogoproducts.com is fully customizable and will cost about $9.22 each. There is an 18 qty minimum for this order.
For a traditional globe, I found these on amazon.com that are fully customizable. You can add a picture and a details of your upcoming wedding. They are $13.99 each.
Last but not least (because I could go on and on) a very creative way to announce your upcoming wedding is to have your guests complete a puzzle.
This one if from invitationsbydawn.com. They start at about $3.96 each for 48 puzzles and the price varies depending on quantity ordered. There are several templates so you can choose the one that works best with your picture.
This template from printerstudio.com allows you to pick three pictures. This helps when you can’t decide on just one picture for your save the dates. This particular template costs $4.99 each for 50 puzzles. The price varies depending on quantity.
So there you have eleven ideas for you to start thinking about your save the dates. This is the first thing that your guests will see and will set the tone for your upcoming wedding. Be creative and have fun!! I would love to hear other ideas of what you did for your save the dates or what you are thinking about doing.
Now that you have started planning your destination wedding and have narrowed down some of the possible locations, I am going to share with you some of my favorite wedding websites. I am sure you will find valuable information on these sites that will save you time and money.
As I mentioned before, I am a bit of a control freak so I worked directly with the The Four Seasons in Costa Rica once we decided on this resort to host our wedding. It felt like a second job sometimes researching, looking at inspirational pictures to get ideas and then communicating back and forth with the resort coordinator to get exactly the details I was looking for. But honestly, I loved every minute of it! However, if spending hours and hours of researching and going through pictures on Pinterest is not your cup of tea then I am sure you will find valuable resources in the following websites. So let’s dig in.
I am listing this first as this is my all time favorite site! I was on this site almost daily and when I wasn’t on their site, I was browsing their Pinterest. It has a plethora of real weddings from all over the world that will inspire you. It has articles about anything you may need to plan your wedding. From venues to beaches to finding the perfect dress. I even found articles on tips for getting in shape for your wedding. I can still spend hours on their website. It’s just so beautiful. If you want to get into the wedding planning mood, then I would visit this website first. And once you are married, you can submit your website so you can be featured on their site!
This site is a one stop shop and a go to for many brides. It is an all in one planning site and even though it is not specific to destination weddings, they do have an extensive section dedicated to destination weddings. If you have already decided on the location of your wedding, you can type the location in the search bar and it will bring up real weddings and vendors for this destination. They also offer planning tools which includes an app that will help with timelines, checklists, budgets and all other handy to do lists of the things you need to get done before the wedding. You can also create your wedding website through them. They also have a message forum where real brides can discuss wedding ideas. They have a large community of commenters so don’t be afraid to ask a question if you are not finding what you are looking for and some of the readers may be able to help out.
This is another popular one stop site. It offers free planning tools along with a complimentary website for your wedding. They have a large marketplace where couples can search for vendors in the destination they have chosen. You can check out the reviews from couples that have worked with a certain vendor. It has a section dedicated to destination weddings so you can browse their articles and get ideas and inspiration. It has a great forum for brides to discuss any issues with other brides. Great all in one site.
This site, as the name implies, is dedicated to destination weddings. It offers planning services to ease the burden of doing everything yourself. On the first page it asks you what destination you would like to have your wedding and your wedding date. Based on this, you will be paired with a wedding coordinator that will be your liaison between you and the location of your wedding. They have really good reviews so if you want to hire a planner this would be a good website to check out. They offer discounts and exclusive offers from their partners. It is organized by country so you can browse vendors and discounts specific to your location. It also features real weddings so you can see pictures or different destinations to help you envision your wedding.
This is another website that offers planning services. What’s different about this website is that they also assist with travel and offer payment plans for you and your guests. They also offer wedding websites via Modernly. Modernly not only hosts your website, but acts as an online wedding manager and helps you keep track of your guest’s travel plans. It also has a Q& A series on Youtube where they answer their most frequently asked questions. If you have a specific question about the planning process, check out their Youtube channel and you may find your answer. They also feature real weddings from couples that have used their services. So that will give you a good insight into the type of weddings they plan.
If your destination wedding is in Mexico, the Caribbean or South America, then check out this site. It partnered up with resorts from these destinations to offer exclusive promotions. They offer planning services and have special promotions from their partners.
This is another site that offers planning services for destination weddings in Mexico and the Caribbean. I really like the simplicity of this website as it doesn’t have any advertising banners. It also has a very handy cost calculator that you can use to give you an idea of how much your wedding may cost. You input the location, number of guests, date and it gives you an estimated amount. It also gives you information and the high and low seasons of your destination.
They feature real weddings and interview the brides so they can offer additional perspective on the location you are looking into. They also offer a free Destination Wedding Etiquette Guide and a free downloadable wedding checklist.
What I like about this website is that it is an all female staff and they give back a portion of their profits to Girls Inc. It has articles on how you can be charitable when planning your wedding, this was important to us as we participated in a program where we donated our flowers and backpacks and school supplies to local students in Costa Rica. We made it a guest activity and some of our guests were so grateful that we included this in our wedding.
I hope you found this list helpful and hopefully these sites gave you some inspiration and ideas for your upcoming wedding. Let me know if you have found some more destination wedding sites that I may have missed.
Well, obviously the next step is to decide where? There are a few key elements that will determine the perfect location for your perfect day.
Budget – This is a big one although not the most important. There are ways to have the wedding of your dreams on a budget if you are resourceful. I will dedicate an entire blog on this subject at a later date. However, one of the first things to consider at your initial stages of planning are things like flight costs; not only for your but also for your guests. Also, is the location of your wedding considered expensive when it comes to eating out and/or going out? Since your guests are already spending money to attend your wedding, you want to have somewhat of an idea of how much your guests will be spending while there. The more information you can provide your guests the better they can make preparations to attend your wedding.
Distance – This will be a major factor if you plan on having a large number of guests. Depending on the distance, some guests may need to take additional time off of work for travel so keep that in mind when you are thinking about who you absolutely want there and whether they are able to have the time off to travel to your destination.
Weather – There are better times to travel to certain locations so if you have a specific date in mind, consider what the weather will be like during that time of year. Especially if you have your heart set on an outdoor wedding.
For us, there was no question where and when we wanted to get married. So why did we decide on Costa Rica? Mathew, actually proposed to me while on a trip to Costa Rica! The way he proposed was by asking me if I would be willing to travel back to Costa Rica in exactly one year from that day to marry him on that beach. Of course I said yes so, there was no question about where and what day we were going to have our wedding. In fact, we actually started planning our save the dates and wedding activities on our flight back home!
In your case, the decision on location may not be as straight forward as it was for us. So you should do as much research as you can before you decide on where to have your perfect wedding. The way I would start would be to email a few places and they should be able to give you a price range of what you can expect.
One important question to ask is if there are better deals for certain months. I know in Costa Rica for example, we got married in September which lucky for us is considered their rainy season. So the rates we got for the rooms for our guests and for the wedding reception were a lot lower than if we would have gotten married during their busy season.
Once you have some feedback from the different locations you have contacted, the next thing would be to start researching flights to those locations. You may want to call a few airlines. They may give you a special discount for you and your guests.
Guest Activities – When you start thinking about your destination wedding, you may also start thinking about what activities you plan to have with your guests. We were so grateful for the people that took time off of work and spent money to attend our wedding that we wanted to have special activities for them. The resort we chose was able to organize and execute most of these activities so that may also factor in where you decide to have your wedding.
Even though there is a lot to consider, planning a destination can be so much fun. So start exploring, researching and having fun! Oh and please feel free to ask me any questions you have. I will be happy to help with anything that I can.
There are so
many great reasons to choose a destination wedding for your big day! You get to travel to an exotic place. You can make it a mini vacation. You get to be the center of attention for
more than one day! So many other great
reasons, but there is also a lot of things to consider before you and your fiancé
decide if a destination wedding is right for you.
The reason Mathew and I decided we wanted to have a destination wedding was we wanted to go back to the place where he proposed. Costa Rica! We wanted to relive the most wonderful experience we had there and invite our loved ones to share in our happiness.
Here are the
first three things to consider if a destination wedding if right for you:
How much will it cost? This is by far the first thing you need to consider. If you have an idea of how much your budget will be for your wedding, you can then start to think about the where and when. Depending on your location, prices will generally be higher if you choose a vacation spot. So, if you budget is set, you may have to forego on some items in order to have the experience. I know we had to give up some things we really wanted because we couldn’t fit them into our budget. But, in the end we decided the experience and destination were more important than having fireworks. You will also have the added travel costs to the wedding but, in addition, because you won’t be there on a day to day basis, you may need to do one or two quick visits to your destination to see and feel or taste things in person. We ended up doing two visits and took advantage of one of our visits to schedule our engagement pictures!
Who do we really want to be there? While everyone loves a vacation and would love to celebrate a wedding, not everyone can afford to be there. Consider your guest list carefully and think about who might be missing from your big day because they can’t take the time off or just can’t afford it. For us, we wanted a small intimate wedding and we only invited our immediate family and very close friends. Several of our immediate family members were not able to attend so that did put a little cloud over our celebration as we would have loved for everyone we invited to be there. Also, consider that whoever does attend your wedding, you will have to make them feel appreciated and welcomed so you may incur additional costs for welcome gifts/baskets and outings for your guests.
How much of a control freak am I? This was a big one for me as I have been known to not be very good and letting go. Which is why we did two site visits prior to our wedding! The resort we got married in had a wedding planner on staff (which most resorts do). They were great at communicating with me and doing all of the hard work since I was 2,000 miles away. Even with that, it was very hard not being there deciding and controlling things. I probably would email them daily! So, if you want to be involved in the day to day planning of your wedding and meet with the vendors and do all of the tastings, then consider you may miss out on some of these experiences.
I think once
you have considered and have a clear answer on these three questions, you have
a good basis for your decision. When we
decided on a destination wedding, we decided to make it a mini vacation for
everyone so we planned a week of fun activities. I will share some of the events we did in