Destination...Adventure Weddingmoon

You can admit it... You were completely mesmerized by the words Destination Adventure Weddingmoon.  Adventure Weddingmoons are not just for Millennial’s (although, I think we can largely thank their Instagram loving generation for the upward trend in adventure-filled destination weddings & elopements). More and more couples are wanting to unplug, be a little untraditional and celebrate not only their love, but their love of adventure and travel.  Couples are getting really creative and combining an amazing wedding and honeymoon all at once. 

As the owner and photographer of Bella Moda Photography I've been traveling more and more for destination weddings (especially to the Hawaiian Islands where I have a second location on Kauai). If you have decided to jump on a plane to say your “I Do’s” in an exotic island locale; I have some tips to help you plan the perfect destination wedding or elopement while saving yourself money and some undue stress along the way.  Here are my top tips and thoughts to help you plan the perfect destination adventure wedding or elopement.


The time of year you travel to any destination can have a big impact on your wallet not to mention your experience.  When traveling to any tropical island (I will use The Hawaiian Islands as an example) which island you choose and how far in advance you book your reservations all effect costs.  If you can avoid traveling during holidays and avoid the high season when prices are higher you can save a ton!  Hawaii low season is from mid January to May (which happens to be whale watching season so BONUS!) and from September to November.  You can save up to 20% on Hawaii airfare by traveling during the low season.  The most expensive times to travel to the islands is June through August and most of December and the first week of January (New Years).  Another way to save is by leaving on a Wednesday when airfares are typically cheaper.  Time of year also plays a part in the type of weather you may encounter so research typical weather patterns for the time of year you are planning for your wedding. And remember…your planning a tropical wedding so don’t let a little sprinkle of rain scare you, as it can make for some epic photos if you have a seasoned photographer who is prepared. 


Expect to arrive 2-3 days prior to your wedding date so you can go to the courthouse and get your marriage license as you will both need to present identification and pay the licensing fee.  When you are dealing with tropical/destination weddings the “unknown factor” is something you need to plan for (i.e. flight delays, tropical storms etc.) so make sure and invest into some travel insurance.


You’ve arrived to that perfect, beautiful beach locale…but there may be special rules you’ll have to be aware of when having a beach wedding.  Island officials top priority is to protect the beaches and fragile eco systems so make sure and check in with the city & state offices in regards to all stipulations that apply when having a beach wedding and plan accordingly. Check with local offices to see if you need a special permit to have a wedding on the beach as that can mean a special permit fee will need to be taken care of before the ceremony can take place. 


Gone are the days of having to help pay to get everyone to your destination wedding.  If you want to keep it simple and just have your immediate family with you or just the two of you there are options for sharing your wedding with everyone else who will not be there in person.  With the cyber world anything is possible and there are companies that will actually do a live webcast of your wedding that your family & friends can log into and they can watch your wedding right as it's happening and the prices are very reasonable. 


It's important to book early when planning a destination wedding.  Destination weddings require thinking at least a year in advance (unless you are eloping which takes less planning time) depending on the size of wedding you are planning.  First book all your vendors and once you've confirmed all reservations for your date then start on invitations.  Give your guests 8-12 months notice.  A destination wedding is something your guests will need to budget and plan for and you'll want to give them ample time to make arrangements.  If you are having a resort wedding ask the resort about a discounted nightly rate for your guests and include the information with your invitations to make it easier for your guests to get accommodations.


Vendors have a wealth of knowledge; all you have to do is ask!  When picking a vendor for a destination wedding it's important to communicate with them and, do it as often as possible so nothing falls through the cracks.  With the resources available these days think about doing a video chat with vendors so you can get a good feel for them and what they can offer you.


There are MAJOR advantages to taking your local photographer with you for your destination wedding.  Let me say that again...  MAJOR ADVANTAGES!  It's much easier to get in touch with your photographer afterwards especially when you live in the same state.  A very common statement that you will find on almost any photographers contract for services is that should there be any disputes about the photography services after the wedding that they are to be resolved in a small claims court local to your photographer.  So if you travel to Hawaii (or anywhere else for that matter) you'd have to travel back there should you not be able to resolve issues (should you have any).  Also, give your photographer 6-12 months notice if possible so they can find a cheap flight as it will impact your overall photography price when you factor in travel & accommodation fees. 


Having your local bridal shop ship your dress to your destination could spell disaster if it gets lost in transit.  And packing your gown in a suitcase is the worst idea; unless you love that wrinkled look.  My advice is to call the airline you are flying with and let them know you've got a very special “carry-on” item and it needs to be protected.  Most airlines will give your dress a first class ticket upfront right behind the cockpit area for safe travel.



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