How to Choose a Destination Wedding Location

So the question has changed from ‘how to choose a destination for vacation’ to ‘how to choose a destination wedding location’.

If you’ve read my posts on How to Choose a Caribbean Destination and How to Choose an All-Inclusive Resort, and I hope you do because this post is merely an extension of those posts, you might want to now consider a couple of other things – big things – before making your decision, because now your reasons for going down south have changed from ‘I want to escape this god-awful winter for a few days’ to ‘I want to marry the love of my life in a tropical paradise.’ That changes everything!

Choosing the Destination Wedding Location: Major Considerations


I talked about language in the How to Choose a Caribbean Destination post. The point was to ensure you considered your comfort level with communicating with dozens of staff members on and off resort in a language you can’t understand. But now that a destination wedding is on the table, language should play a major role in your decision-making process.

Legal Documentation

When you advise your resort that you plan to get married, they need to see certain legal documents before they’ll proceed. These legal documents could include birth certificates, a Single Status Affidavit, and/or past marriage and divorce certificates if you’ve been married before.

Doesn’t seem like a big deal, right? Right! As long as the official language of that country you’re planning to get married in is English. If it’s not? You need to have those official documents translated.

On top of that, the Dominican Republic embassy, for instance, requires you translate the documents and send them off to be legalized by the Legislative Section of the Dominican Consulate. This takes time…and money!

Then, after your wedding, you’ll be presented with your marriage certificate, confirming that you are now a legal union. If you were married in Cuba or the Dominican, for instance, the certificate will be written in Spanish. You’ll need to have it translated back to your home country’s official language. Again, time and money.

So if you’re considering a wedding in a country whose official language differs from yours, take this into consideration. This was a huge reason why we chose to get married in Jamaica! And this is a reason why many couples opt for a courthouse wedding in their home town to legalize the union right before heading down south, and then have a symbolic ceremony on the beach. They still go through with the destination wedding but it’s mostly for pictures and for the experience of getting married (although not legally married) on the beach. It saves so much time and money…and people who wouldn’t otherwise make it down south for the wedding could witness the vows.

Sidebar: In an earlier post, I discussed the advantages and disadvantages of using a travel agent to help you book and plan your travel. If you’re planning a destination wedding, I would strongly recommend reaching out to a travel agent. Most agents you’ll find will be versed in the subject. Having said that, most resorts have wedding planners on hand who can and should help you along the way as well. Their availability might not be as open as a dedicated travel agent, however. Something to consider!

Choosing the Resort

When you’re trying to pick that one perfect resort for your big day, you should always take into account such things as ratings, type of resort (adult-only, couples-only), dining options and amenities, quality of the beach, size and layout, etc.(refer to my post, How to Choose an All-Inclusive Resort for a complete list of things to consider when trying to find that perfect resort for your vacation), but now that we’ve added a destination wedding in the mix, there is one added considerations – a major one.


The first thing you should look at when considering a particular resort is the cost, if any, of a wedding package. Some resorts will include a free basic wedding package (and of course they’ll give you the option to upgrade the package for a premium), while other resorts may charge $1,500 for that same basic package. If you choose the latter, factor this into your budget when choosing your resort. This fee is different from the fee the country of your choice charges to legalize the union (it was $300 for us).

Also find out what the cost of other wedding services you’ll be using during the wedding, such as photography or videography. That price will also vary by resort.

And speaking about money….now that you’re getting married and bringing along your family and friends, it’s no longer just about YOUR budget.

You must factor in what you know about your guests’ budgets. If, for instance, many of your friends are students and living on a fixed income, but, say, you’ve got a full-time job as an accountant and can afford to go lavish (lucky duck!), think about how you’ll feel when your student friends say they can’t go to the wedding because the resort is too expensive for them. If you’re okay with hearing that news, then go lavish. If not, then scale things back and go with a more budget-friendly resort.

I think that’s it for now. If I’m missing anything, please let me know in the comments below :)

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One Love.
Jody, The Tropical Tourist


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