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How to pull off a destination wedding

Destination weddings are a great way for couples to commemorate their big days in an idyllic locale. According to the Association of Bridal Consultants, 5 to 7 percent of all weddings are destination weddings, indicating that couples no longer feel obligated to tie the knot in their hometowns.

Though a destination wedding can create cherished memories for couples and their guests, couples must be realistic before they commit to walking down the aisle on a Caribbean beach or in a Scottish castle. For instance, couples who still hope their friends and family members can share in their special days must know that a destination wedding might drastically reduce the number of guests who can make it to the wedding. So when planning a destination wedding, couples would be wise to take a few things to heart.

* Make it an affordable affair. Couples often fret about financing their weddings, and the same concerns might come up for those invited to a destination wedding. Don't choose a destination that will require guests to spend a substantial amount of money for a single weekend. Doing so is unfair to your guests, and it might keep many of them from attending the wedding.

* Get the word out early. A destination wedding is typically held in an idyllic locale, and such destinations are usually expensive to visit. Couples should keep this mind and get the word out as early as possible, sending out their save-the-date cards earlier than they would if they were having a more traditional wedding. The earlier you get the word out, the less expensive and more flexible flights might be, saving you and your guests money.

* Seek discounts. Couples who choose traditional weddings are eligible for hotel discounts, wherein the hotel will reserve a block of rooms for the couple and their guests. This is also true for destination weddings. Thanks to the growing popularity of destination weddings, many resorts now have wedding packages that discount rooms for all involved with the wedding. Vendors are often open to negotiation as well.

* Hire a wedding planner. Couples who choose a more traditional wedding can usually get by without the help of a wedding planner. However, couples going the destination wedding route will almost certainly need a wedding planner, especially for those getting married in a foreign country where another language is spoken.

Iin idyllic locales, there may be wedding planners who specialize in destination weddings. Many resorts even have wedding planners on staff or on call. Wedding planners can be expensive, but they're a necessary expense when planning a destination wedding.

* Stay calm. One of the best things about a destination wedding is that they are typically devoid of the stress that comes with planning a more traditional wedding. That's especially true of island weddings, where vendors often move at a slower pace than mainland vendors. What's more, options with respect to decor and cuisine might be more limited for island weddings, so couples won't have to agonize over each and every decision. That said, couples need to adapt to this more laid back approach and make the most of it rather than stressing out over communication mishaps or other bumps in the road.

* Don't make your wedding day your first day there. While a Parisian wedding might sound like the stuff of fairytales, couples who have never before been to Paris should visit at least once prior to their big day, if not once before choosing the destination. This will give you a feel for the locale and a reason to enjoy a pre-wedding getaway.