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Everything You Need to Know to Plan a Destination Wedding

Updated November 26, 2022
by Katie Kortebein

Do you and your fiancé love traveling together? Is there an international location that's important to you, maybe where you got engaged? A destination wedding could be perfect for you!

While we love a hometown or backyard wedding, there are so many positives when it comes to destination weddings—a built-in honeymoon, an adventure with all your favorite people, unique memories that will last a lifetime…but there are also a lot of things to think about. We spoke to Angela Restivo, the Sales Manager (Western U.S.), at Aruba Tourism Authority for their top tips on planning a destination wedding. They truly cover everything you'll ever need to know!

What is the number one thing couples tend to forget when planning a destination wedding?

There are so many benefits to planning a destination wedding, but, according to Aruba Tourism, the number one thing that couples tend to forget when planning is the flexibility of having your wedding and honeymoon in one location. Combining both allows you to enjoy your wedding destination and cuts down on additional travel and booking costs.

Bonus: In Aruba, you will have access to top-notch wedding planners and vendors already on the island who can make your special day just as you envision it.

What are the top benefits of having a destination wedding?

With a destination wedding, the possibilities are truly endless for couples looking to make their special day one to remember. Not only can you bundle your wedding ceremony and honeymoon into one exciting, romantic trip but you also get to experience unique tourist attractions and experiences, maximizing your time on the island while celebrating your love.

When planning a destination wedding, soonlyweds can also be more discerning with their guest list than they might be when having a domestic wedding. For instance, not that close with Aunt Margaret? No worries, for a wedding that involves a little more travel, you can get away with inviting only those truly special to you. This allows for additional time to celebrate and relax with loved ones and create lifelong memories within a smaller, more cost-effective group (which also means possible group discounts!), as opposed to the few hours during a traditional wedding.

On the savings front, with a smaller guest list, you're able to spend money on more experiences while at the destination instead of being bogged down with booking expenses.

Another tip? Consider saving up your credit card benefits to help out with flight costs or accommodation expenses, bringing the overall wedding cost to just the ceremony. Between bundling your honeymoon and ceremony, a smaller guest list, utilizing credit card benefits and all-inclusive meal options, a destination wedding can be well within the budget for most couples.

What are some of the most important questions to ask your destination wedding venue?

Just like with real estate, location, location, location is everything. While there are traditional venues in Aruba like The Alto Vista Chapel, many destinations have natural and unique wedding spaces that you can only utilize while in that specific location. While some venues charge a booking fee, many properties can be cost-effective options while capturing the essence of Aruba on your special day.

Other properties on the island that serve as venues have options to wed on the beach, while others overlook the ocean from a function room or outdoor area. The experienced wedding professionals are with you every step of the way to ensure that you are able to have a perfect day.

Timing is also important for wedding planning as well. For instance, Aruba’s peak season is January through March, though the island has become busy year-round post-pandemic. Couples hoping for a more cost-effective and private experience can book their wedding or elopement during the months of April to August. This will allow for peace of mind while trying to book accommodations for the whole wedding party, but also to know that some attractions and locations might not be as crowded as opposed to other months during peak season.

What are the biggest benefits of having your destination wedding and honeymoon in the same location?

The best part about hosting a wedding in Aruba is that it’s not just one special day to celebrate your love. Stay for your honeymoon and extend your happiness as well as your budget! There's a reason their motto is "One Happy Island."

Aruba is filled with gorgeous resorts equipped to host all your wedding events, as well as honeymoon. Select properties are involved in the One Happy Honeymoon Program, which offers exclusive packages and deals at participating retailers. Some properties even provide an incentive to book both, such as a free additional night or a bottle of champagne waiting for you in your room.

You'll also love the benefits of a well-planned photoshoot, which can cover the wedding as well as part of the honeymoon. In Aruba, you can take unique wedding photos around the island—in front of the murals in San Nicolas, while hiking Arikok National Park, at the California Lighthouse, while relaxing on the picturesque Aruban shores and more!

What are some of the things couples should ask to ensure they can legally wed during a destination wedding ceremony?

It depends on whether or not your wedding will be religiously affiliated or civil, as there are requirements for each. Your wedding planner will be the one best equipped with this knowledge and can help you decipher which venue is best and what steps you and your partner will need to take to make your marriage in Aruba official.

Note: In Aruba, all civil weddings must be registered at Historic City Hall in Oranjestad.

What are the top things couples should make sure their guests know when planning a destination wedding?

When planning a wedding that involves a heavy amount of travel, it’s always a good idea to provide a detailed itinerary for your guests so they can have the opportunity to plan their own stay at the destination. Guests could have a mini vacation on their own while there to celebrate your love. That's one of the major benefits of a destination wedding, after all! In Aruba, there are various itinerary options available for adventure lovers, families, wellness aficionados, and more.

Climate and weather conditions are also very important for all guests to know as it will help them plan accordingly when packing and scheduling their days. This could also include any limitations to tourist attractions and experiences at the destination during the time period when you plan to host your wedding. Other key details for guests would be to let them know which airlines fly into the airport at the destination and how they can rent a car or get a driver upon arrival.

Anything couples should know or think about when planning a beach destination wedding vs. a more urban destination wedding?

All venues have their unique advantages and when it comes to beach or urban weddings, however, there are definitely some things to keep at top of mind.

First, it's important to note that at destinations like Aruba, many times ceremonies are not official on public beaches or locations unless in a designated area. Additionally, as the beach is a public space, beachgoers may have access to your ceremony, which could affect photos. However, there is nothing more beautiful than getting hitched by the ocean, so be sure to consider all the options if your dream wedding includes feeling the sea breeze while saying your vows, such as a ceremony on the cliffs overlooking the ocean or at an oceanfront property, organized and decorated just to your liking.

Finally, our biggest tip? Make sure you don't forget that one element that can truly make or break a destination wedding and honeymoon…your passport!

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