How to Have the Best All Inclusive Wedding Ever

All Inclusive Wedding
Karisma Resorts

He’s popped the question, you’ve said yes — Congratulations!

Now begins the time in your life that is equal parts elation and vexation known as ‘wedding planning’.

After researching options you’ve decided that a Check PricesDestination 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 destination wedding – and things you can (and should) 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 1) choose the right resort, 2) pick the perfect date and time, and 3) yes, have the destination wedding of your dreams.

The Guest List

All Inclusive Wedding Guests
It might seem an odd place to start, but crafting your guest list should be the FIRST task on your list…..because the most important decision to make is whether or not you want kids at your wedding. 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 fall/winter/spring wedding when they are).

The GOOD news is – you can have it both ways!

If you’re not enthusiastic about having younger kids at your wedding, but recognize that some of your nearest and dearest may want (or need) to bring them, you have two great options!

  • Consider a resort complex that has separate adults-only rooms, pools, and amenities within a larger family resortsuch as Check PricesFinest Playa Mujeres or Check PricesHard Rock Riviera Maya — that allows adults without children enjoy a more peaceful environment while not excluding your guests with kids;
  • Alternatively you could choose one where an adults-only resort is located directly adjacent to a family resort, with exchange privileges such as Check PricesSecrets Playa Mujeres (adults only) and right-next-door Dreams Playa Mujeres (for families). OR the Check PricesEl Dorado Seaside Suites (adults-only) situated next door to Check PricesGenerations Riviera Maya (family-friendly). That way the kiddos can spend the wedding day having a (supervised) blast at the kids club while their parents attend your ceremony and reception.

AND of course, the number of people most likely to attend can also impact your decision as you’ll need to ensure your chosen resort can accommodate ALL of your guests and has venues large enough for your ceremony and reception.

The Resort

All Inclusive Wedding at the Palafitos at El Dorado Maroma
Karisma Resorts: Palafitos

Once 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/reception venues, on-site staff, and wedding packages available (most offer a basic free wedding ceremony package, with upgrades and/or optional add-ons).

Some all-inclusive resorts have numerous wedding venues (including a gazebo on the beach and/or on a rooftop with an ocean view) for you to choose from and host a number of weddings weekly, while other resorts have fewer venues or limit the number of weddings so that each bride gets more attention (although you won’t find more weddings taking place concurrently than the resort has coordinators, so this should not be a big worry).

Other Important Considerations

  • The ‘bed situation’ – some resorts are designed for ‘couples’ who share a bed (such as Check PricesCouples 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’ – typically prices are ‘per person’ so some resorts have different prices for singles (because a single means less revenue per room), while other resorts don’t…this could be an issue for anyone attending alone, unless they’re willing to share a room.

Communicate with each resort’s wedding coordinator to find out these details for every resort on your ‘short list’:

  • How large is the wedding staff?
  • How many weddings do they host daily/weekly?
  • How many (and what type) of wedding venues do they offer?
  • How early is it advisable to book in order to secure your preferred venue and date/time?
  • How many different levels of wedding packages and options do they have?
  • Do they offer rooms with two double beds and can they guarantee those rooms for your guests?
  • 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, but since Destination Weddings are more popular than ever before, most all-inclusive resorts have really stepped up their game on this.

See how one of our favorite resort brands – Majestic Resorts – does weddings:

The Venue

All Inclusive Wedding Venues
Karisma Resorts

Always dreamed of a (right on the) 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 Check Pricesfoot 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 & Time

All Inclusive Wedding - choosing the Date

The Season: Winter 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.

The Hour: 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 the sunset 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 a wee bit earlier in the day, and following the ceremony just do a few photos on the beach at sunset.

Sandals Honeymoons
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 Coordinator

All Inclusive Wedding Coordinator
Karisma Resorts

Know this: Aside from scheduling your ceremony and ensuring you understand your paperwork obligations and deadlines, you won’t get attention from the wedding staff until around 30-45 days before your wedding, so please don’t expect it. 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 officiate the ceremony — be sure the wedding coordinator knows about it, and get the proper work-permits as required by Mexican law. There may also be fees associated if you bring in your own providers….this is standard in the destination wedding industry so don’t get huffy about it, remember that your provider is taking a job away from someone at the destination and while it may save *you* money, it costs someone else their income. Try asking your local Church how they’d feel if you bring in your cousin – who just happens to have gotten ordained online – to conduct your ceremony.

The Bachelor/Bachelorette Party

All Inclusive Wedding Bachelorette Party

You have two options: A) have it at home before the trip, or B) plan the outing for while you’re at your destination.

Don’t forget to bring Check Pricestiaras and Check Pricessashes – what’s a Bachelorette party without everyone knowing who is the Bride and who is the MOH?

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….but it’s certainly an option!

And DO be sure to hold your bachelor/bachelorette events at least two nights before your wedding day…. giving everyone plenty of time to recover and rehydrate before the big day, so you don’t wind up puking on cousin Arnold mid-ceremony.

Don’t forget the guys

All Inclusive Golf Vacation
Palace Resorts

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 shower and put on those suits.

AND Don’t Forget the Dress!

You’ve found the PERFECT dress — your princess-dreams-come-true, a beach-wedding-appropriate confection of a gown — but it takes up an entire suitcase all by itself…what to do?

You really only have two options for getting your wedding dress to your destination – ship it ahead or take it with you. Both have Pros and Cons, BE SURE to download our guide (link below) on Packing Your Wedding Dress before you decide how best to handle yours…..and DO have a Plan B.

Download our FREE PDF: » Packing Your Wedding Dress (82kb)

A very good friend of mine packed TWO dresses – one was her dream dress that she bought, the second was a ‘rental’ she arranged to have for 10 days. She shipped her first choice (dream dress) ahead to the resort, and took the rental dress on the flight in bag that she checked. Luckily she had both when she arrived, but it was smart – and inexpensive – to have a backup dress as her Plan B.

The day of the ceremony

All Inclusive Beach Wedding venue
Karisma Resorts

A little mental health advice….

Just allow yourself to relax and have fun. Remember that rain on your wedding day is considered fortunate, and that your guest are unlikely to even be aware of – let alone remember – the small behind-the-scenes glitches that inevitably happen (ask any bride). All they will remember is what a beautiful ceremony it was and how stunning you looked! And lastly, whatever ‘glitches’ do occur can make for great (and often funny!) stories…someday.

Finally, don’t forget the travel insurance!

All Inclusive Wedding cancelled due to broken leg!

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, or hurricanes that derail everything….there are many, many reasons for weddings and wedding trips getting cancelled — it’s called ‘life’.

The best investment in your destination wedding that you can make is to buy “Cancel For Any Reason” (aka CFAR) Check Pricestrip insurance (talk to a qualified travel professional about it) so that if something DOES happen, you can get a refund on your trip and anything you’ve paid up front for your wedding package. BE SURE to talk to your guests about it too – they may not want to take that vacation if you’re not getting married….if you wind up rescheduling, they’ll appreciate being able to reschedule too.

Bonus Tip!

Bonus Tip: Get an inexpensive fake wedding ring set (I’ve seen some lovely Check Pricesfake wedding rings for $20 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 says, “If you love it, leave it at home“.

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About Trisha Miller - Editor-in-Chief 58 Articles
Trisha is also the Editor-in-Chief at Travel Writers Exchange, a community for travel writers & bloggers. She's also a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, and a former member of the IFWTWA, serving on their Board of Directors from 2009 through 2015. When not traveling the world visiting the many all-inclusive resorts she loves, Trisha spends her time writing, mainly about travel and technology, sometimes both at the same time.
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