A cliff-top wedding, a mountain elopement, saying your vows barefoot on a remote, white-sand beach – okay, we get it. Destination weddings are the goal, in almost every way. Bar marrying Ryan Gosling in a real life castle, what could be more romantic than tying the knot in such a dream location?
More and more, destination weddings are becoming the way to go for couples looking for something a little out of the ordinary. And why not? It is your wedding day after all. Yet while planning your wedding far, far away can be a next-level fairytale experience, it can also present its own set of challenges. Far, far away typically means further for your guests to travel, and not seeing the place beforehand makes it a little difficult to scope out the layout, make sure the decorations are just right, and sort out all the other niggly bits and pieces that come with wedding planning. So while destination weddings provide a stunning place to start your blissfully wedded life, it’s good to be aware of all things destination weddings so there’s no unexpected surprises along the way.
That’s why we’ve put together a quick ‘Destination Wedding Guide’, giving you a brief checklist for destination wedding planning that covers the basics. So, if you’re wanting to know everything from how destination weddings work in the first place, to how much does a destination wedding cost, to when to send destination wedding invitations, you’ve come to the right place.
First up, what exactly is a destination wedding?
Back up the truck, and let’s go from the top. While the term ‘destination wedding’ often brings to mind exotic beaches in a secluded corner of the Amalfi Coast or on the sparkling shores of Lake Como, the simple truth is that destination weddings include anywhere outside the couple’s current location. Whether that’s in the same country or not, a destination wedding is simply a wedding that takes place somewhere away from home – a destination to travel to, a trip away.
For our destination weddings in New Zealand, for example, you might head towards the idyllic mountains of Queenstown, a secluded beach in Northland, or the rolling vineyards of Hawke’s Bay. Drool, drool, and drool. There are countless good destination wedding locations in our beautiful land, so it’s no surprise that even our Kiwi locals travel to some pretty extraordinary spots within the country for their big day. Though, we’re a little biased towards Queenstown, Wānaka, and Central Otago, of course. Nothing beats a tipi wedding venue in the heart of the Southern Alps.
How do I go about choosing the right destination for my wedding?
When it comes to choosing the location, the best places for destination weddings are often those that mean something to you. Whether it was your summer home on the other side of the country, the place your partner proposed while you were travelling, or the mountains in the distance you saw growing up – wherever that special place for you is, it might just be the right one. Aw.
That being said, just because you feel a connection to a certain place, it doesn’t always mean it’s the perfect place to get married, and vice versa. There’s a pretty good chance that the perfect place for you might not have any deep childhood significance or mean anything to you at all, beyond a stunning place to appreciate the beauty of your surroundings. It’s your call baby, but wherever you decide, make sure it’s a little bit of you.
A few key things to consider, however, when choosing your unique destination wedding location, often tie back to logistics. How easy is it to access? Will it mean additional costs for transport? Is it big enough to host the amount of people you’ll want there, and are there facilities nearby that you can work with? I know, we hate logic getting in the way too, but unfortunately it’s got to be considered. It’s not always as easy as finding a cliff-top and claiming your spot.
That being said? If you’ve got your heart set on a tipi wedding high on that remote cliff-top, then you’ll make it work. And we’ll help. We’re suckers for a big dream.
Does a destination wedding cost more than a local wedding?
Short answer? No. Or more accurately, it doesn’t have to. While destination weddings do come with their own costs, this can also be at the expense of other costs associated with more traditional wedding venues. Really, the cost of a destination wedding simply comes down to what you prioritise.
Typically, additional costs around destination weddings centre around transport and accommodation, which isn’t surprising. After all, the further away your wedding is, the more it costs both you and your guests to get there. Then there’s the accommodation costs, as well as any costs associated with transporting gear, decorations, or any other wedding bits and pieces you want to DIY. On the other hand, if you pick a destination wedding venue and let them take care of all the nitty-gritty’s, there’ll be costs for that too. There might also be hire costs – such as furniture, seating, or your tipi tent hire. So, much like any other wedding, it’s really a matter of weighing up costs vs convenience.
One perk (sort of?) is that a destination wedding typically, though not always, means fewer people. If you’re planning a destination wedding across the other side of the world, it’s only natural that this might be too expensive or niggly for some of your guests. This has the added perks of ensuring that the people attending your wedding are those closest to you. Ie, that third cousin you’ve never met may not be willing to fork up the big bucks to travel to Queenstown, but your nearest and dearest sure will. The other side of that coin, of course, is that you might miss out on people who really would love to be there, but simply can’t afford it. It’s all a balance.
Regardless of their reasons, if having a destination wedding does mean a smaller guest list, that also leads to reduced costs on other expenses. So, what extra you may find coming out of your wallet for travel and accommodation, those few less people might just make up for.
How do I consider my guests while planning my destination wedding?
Don’t be that couple. Be the nice couple. Here’s some tips.
- Give your guests plenty of time to plan ahead.
A destination wedding can mean a big trip for your guests, so it’s nice to give people as much notice as possible so they can plan ahead. This might mean sending out ‘save the date’ cards a few months in advance, so your loved ones can make sure to keep a few days on each side of your wedding date free for travel, if needed.
- Consider helping your guests find transport options
Firstly, this doesn’t mean handing out the dosh so they can rent a car, and this doesn’t mean booking their travel arrangements for them. You’re not a celebrity, and no one has that much time and money. But this might mean researching a few travel options in the area (ie, a bus from one location or a rent-a-car company) and maybe popping a few options on your wedding invites or websites. You could even set up a Facebook page for your guests, so they could liaise with one another and share travel costs where possible.
- Consider helping guests find accommodation in your destination
Ditto the above. This does not mean providing free accommodation if you’re not in a position to do that – it’s pretty commonly accepted that it’s up to your guests to find and pay for their own accommodation and travel. However, depending on your location, some destination wedding venues offer group bundles that might include discounted accommodation options for your guests, which could be worth looking into. Your wedding planner may be able to help with this, or if your venue doesn’t offer discounted guest accommodation, it could be worth jotting down a few cheaper hotels in the area for your guests to save them a little bit of time.
What are the top tips for planning a destination wedding?
Oh, we love destination wedding tips. There’s so many different ways you could go: planning elaborate destination wedding themes, sussing a range of fun activities in your dream location, or simply eloping with your partner and a handful of your closest friends and families. No matter what your inspired wedding looks like, our number one tip is simply make sure it’s you. It’s got to be a bit of you.
Find a destination wedding place that feels right to you, find a theme that feels right to you, and don’t feel pressured into including anything you don’t want. Be a little selfish – it’s your wedding day. Be a Bridezilla if you want to.
Our number two tip? Fly to Queenstown or Wānaka, grab your favourite people, and curate your dream wedding around real Scandinavian tipis with NZ’s most beautiful backdrop, right in the heart of the Southern Alps. And while we couldn’t recommend building your entire dream destination wedding around tipi Tents in NZ more, we may be a little biased. Shameless plug.
Queenstown Lake ace wedding vendors we recommend
Over the years, we’ve provided quality tipi wedding hire to a wide range of couples from all over – locals, tourists, and destination wedding-ers alike. And we love it. But of course, putting together an entire wedding (especially if you’re planning from afar) can take a little help, and we sure do have the whole village. So if you’re looking to plan your wedding in Central Otago, aka the most beautiful place on earth, here’s a few total aces we recommend.
Alexandra Kate Creative
CORPORATE EVENT PLANNERS
ADDITIONAL HIRE ITEMS
Gather & Gold – full range, ask for our Extra Hire Items brochure
The Container Bar
The Star Bar