Congratulations! He’s popped the question, you’ve said yes, and now begins the time in your life that is equal parts happiness and vexation known as ‘wedding planning’.
After researching options you’ve decided that a Destination Wedding is what you want….sweet!
But there are still important decisions to make – not the least of which is to find the perfect all-inclusive resort to host your wedding – and things you can do to ensure that all goes smoothly, your guests have a wonderful time, and you’re relaxed and dazzling when the ceremony starts.
Consider these issues early enough in your planning and you’ll be able to choose the right resort, pick the perfect date and time, and have the wedding of your dreams.
The Guest ListCrafting your guest list should be the first task on your list…..and the most important decision to make is whether or not you want kids at your wedding. You may be a young, first-time bride and all your friends are childless, or maybe you’re a bit older with friends who have young children (or have kids yourself), or you might be an older bride with friends whose kids are now adults.
Deciding who you’ll invite and whether or not they’ll bring kids is critical to choosing the resort (family resort versus an adults-only resort) and setting the date (a summer wedding when kids are not in school, or a winter wedding when they are).
If you’re not enthusiastic about kids but recognize that some of your nearest and dearest may want to bring them, consider a resort complex that has adults-only rooms, pools, and amenities within a larger family resort — such as Finest Playa Mujeres or Hard Rock Riviera Maya — or alternatively one where an adults-only resort is located adjacent to a family resort, with exchange privileges such as Secrets Playa Mujeres (for adults) and Dreams Playa Mujeres (for families).
The ResortOnce you’ve narrowed your choice of resorts to a few (based on your guest list), it’s time to compare some of the specifics, such as wedding venues, on-site staff, and wedding packages available (most offer a free package, upgrades and/or optional add-ons).
The Truth About “Free” Resort Weddings
Other important considerations are…
- …The ‘bed situation’ – some resorts are designed for ‘couples’ (such as Couples Resorts) and have only king-size beds….if you have single guests or members of your wedding party it could be an issue…while two females usually don’t mind sharing a bed, guys generally don’t like to.
- …The ‘single supplement’….some resorts offer lower pricing for singles, others don’t…..this could be an issue for anyone attending alone.
Talk to your travel agent to find out these details for each resort on your list:
- How large is the wedding staff?
- How many weddings to they host daily/weekly?
- How many (and what type) of wedding venues do they offer?
- How many different levels of packages and options do they have?
- Do they offer rooms with two doubles and can they guarantee those rooms?
- Is there a ‘singles’ rate offered?
By doing this research you’ll get a good feel for which resorts really do a great job with weddings and which ones don’t.
The VenueAlways dreamed of a beach wedding? The beach is the most popular venue, BUT means no stiletto-style high heels for you or any of your (female) guests – wedges, flip-flops, or bare feet only! (…or maybe some lovely foot jewelry?) That also means you need to be sure your wedding dress isn’t too long to wear with flip-flops or flat sandals, and be sure to let your guests know ahead of time so they can be properly shod (guys too – they may not want to wear their best dress shoes in the sand).
A beach ceremony can mean less privacy, as passers-by may wind up attending, although most are polite enough to stay out of photos.
Another consideration: a seaside Gazebo (on terra firma or a dock as in the photo above, not sand) or a ‘Sky’ wedding (rooftop) venue. At some resorts these venues can also host the reception as some are large enough to accommodate up to 100 guests, and offer stunning ocean and sunset views……you can always take a quick break after the ceremony to get some beach photos before you hit the party!
The Date & TimeWinter is a popular time for destination weddings in the Caribbean, as it’s past the hurricane season and the weather is generally milder and less humid than in the summer months (which can be very hot and muggy), however the prices can vary quite a lot from summer to winter, and many resorts have reduced kids rates (or even a ‘kids stay free’ deal) during the summer months — which can make a huge difference to your guests who may be bringing their kids (be sure to check the ‘shoulder’ months for great rates).
Late afternoon — in particular at sunset — is the MOST popular time to get married, primarily because the photos are stunning.
When planning the time, remember that Sunset in the Caribbean is earlier in the winter (around 6:00pm) than in the summer (around 7:30pm). If this time slot is really important to you, you’ll need to plan waaaay ahead! If you can’t get that time at your desired resort, have your wedding earlier in the day, and just do a few photos later on the beach at sunset.
Another benefit of a late-day wedding is that you can have a leisurely breakfast and then spend the late-morning or early-afternoon at the Spa with your bridesmaids getting relaxed, primped, and ready for the ceremony.
Working with the Wedding CoordinatorKnow this: You won’t get attention from the wedding staff until around 30 days before your wedding, so please don’t expect it. They’ll confirm your date/time/venue, but remember that in the months leading up to your wedding, they’re busy with the hundreds of brides getting married before you. It’s okay to email them questions, but be considerate and patient, and they’ll appreciate it. When it’s your turn, they’ll take good care of you.
When it IS your turn, be prepared! Decide ahead of time on the particulars from the options they’ve presented to you – venue décor, seating arrangements, dining options, etc. The LAST thing they want to hear is “I don’t know, what do you think?“. If you’ve made some arrangements outside of their options — for example if you’ve asked a friend to shoot video or to conduct the ceremony — be sure the wedding coordinator knows about it, and get the proper work-permits as required by Mexican law.
The Bachelor/Bachelorette PartyYou have two options: A) have it at home before the trip, or B) plan the outing for while you’re at your destination.
If you opt to go with Plan B, you may want to choose a resort that’s located in a popular and more touristy spot, like Cancun, Cabo San Lucas, or Negril, where you’ll find numerous nightclubs nearby, and often the concierge can arrange a limousine and club entrance. While most all-inclusive resorts will have at least one nightclub on the property, it’s unlikely to be suitable to the kind of raucously inappropriate entertainment that you’ll be seeking.
Don’t forget the guys!Some guys appreciate some Spa time with their bros, uh ‘groomsmen’….others might prefer a round of golf. They likely need a lot less ‘getting ready’ time, but it’s still important for them to have something to do that’s both fun and relaxing before the ceremony. Just make sure that whatever it is, they get back to the resort a few hours early so they have time to put on those suits.
The day of the ceremonyJust allow yourself to relax and have fun. Remember that rain on your wedding day is considered fortunate, and that ‘glitches’ can make for great stories…someday.
Lastly, don’t forget the travel insurance!No one wants to think that their wedding might NOT go off without a hitch, but trust me, hitches happen. I could tell you stories for days about grooms who broke their leg the day before they’re supposed to fly, or couples who break up a week before the wedding day….there are many, many reasons for weddings and wedding trips getting cancelled — it’s called ‘life’.
Is Travel Insurance a Scam?
Bonus Tip: From my good friend Sarah B. – Get an inexpensive fake wedding ring set (I’ve seen some lovely fake rings at Walmart for $10 or less) and wear that while traveling instead of your real engagement and/or wedding ring…..while theft at an all-inclusive is extremely rare there have been many reports of women losing their rings while swimming in the pool or ocean as the cold water makes your fingers shrink. As my friend Alma says, “If you love it, leave it at home”.
Planning or had an all-inclusive wedding? Share your tips or experience!