Destination Wedding Planning 101

Destination weddings have become extremely popular in recent years, current surveys find that nearly 1/4 of all engaged couples choose to travel to a destination outside of their home area to get married. Almost 1/3 of destination wedding couples head to the Caribbean or Mexico to tie the knot, wanting a beautiful tropical backdrop as their location of choice whilst others choose to have a wedding in Italy which is one of the most romantic places in Europe.

While a destination wedding sounds intriguing, exactly how do you go about planning one? We’ve talked to local destination wedding expert Tracy Dennis, owner of Four Seasons Travel LLC in Mechanicsville, to get the “inside scoop” on how to start planning your big day.

Why do couples choose a destination wedding?
Couples choose to do a destination wedding for often very different reasons, but the most common one is to save money. It also gives couples an opportunity to spend more than just a few hours celebrating with family and friends.

What are the most popular places that couples are choosing to be married?Definitely for us, the most popular destinations are Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Bahamas and Mexico. A big reason for that is the ease of getting to those destinations combined with the wide range of resort options for couples to choose from.

What are the benefits?
When totaling the costs of a traditional wedding, you’re often well into the $20,000 range if not higher (not including the honeymoon). A destination wedding is often just a fraction of that cost. Most resorts have a number of complete packages which include virtually everything you need to celebrate your big day. You also have the ability to customize most packages if you so desire, it can be as simple or elaborate as you wish. And my favorite “benefit” of destination weddings… your honeymoon starts the moment you say “I Do!”

What are the “legalities” of getting married in Mexico or the Caribbean?
Each destination has their own specific requirements to be legally married in that country, such as the “residency requirement”. Most will require couples to “reside” (basically, be on the ground) in that country for a certain number of hours/days prior to the ceremony. There’s also paperwork that needs to be submitted and processed in advance, and something we help our couples take care of.

How do couples navigate through all the choices of resorts and destinations, as well as the legalities involved?
That’s really easy, work with a destination wedding specialist from the beginning. Choose one who has a great track record of not only working with large groups (I’ve had weddings that were just the bride and groom, all the way up to a group of 200, and everything in between!) but one who also travels regularly to the destinations you’re considering. They’ll help you narrow down the best location and resort for your event, as well as keep everyone on track during the planning process. I handle not only the couple’s travel arrangements, but those of all their guests as well which makes the entire planning process go smoothly and ensures all rooms are part of the wedding group. I charge absolutely no additional fee for my services.

If you’re thinking about a destination wedding, feel free to give me a call!

TRACY DENNIS
Tracy Dennis is Southern Maryland's romance travel expert, and has helped hundreds of clients create an unforgettable vacation experience. She is president and owner of Four Seasons Travel LLC located in Mechanicsville, MD, and a honeymoon and destination wedding specialist. Her agency has won many top travel industry awards, including Sandals "Best of the Best" agency six years in a row, Funjet 500 Silver Agency, Sandals Platinum agent and Sandals Chairman's Royal Club agent. She's also a Jamaica specialist, St. Lucia Preferred Agent, Cancun specialist and regularly visits the most popular vacation destinations to stay up to date on what’s new. Tracy enjoys sharing her passion for Caribbean and Mexico travel with her clients and helping them create lifelong memories. Tracy Dennis resides in Mechanicsville with her husband, two young adult children and a Min Pin named Harley. She loves traveling to the Caribbean, gardening, cooking and spending time with her family. Stop by to visit her at Four Seasons Travel LLC (29015 Three Notch Rd., #3 Mechanicsville, MD 20659) and visit her online at www.loveintheislands.com and www.fourseasonstraveltime.net.