Your Destination Wedding

Lindsay Gatzke is a destination wedding and honeymoon specialist with first hand experience. Her own wedding took place in Puerto Vallarta in a beautiful ceremony attended by 35 family and friends. Since this very memorable event, which Lindsay describes as "the best decision we could have made", she has been helping other couples make their best decision for the big day. Here Lindsay offers advice to those planning to marry in an extraordinary location far from home.

Advantages

"A wedding ceremony in a beautiful, tropical setting is a captivating idea. More and more couples are opting for this luxurious alternative to a traditional ceremony close to home. It is reported that the growth rate is 8% a year and there has been no slow down despite the current economy."

"There are many advantages to getting married away from home.

  • Wedding packages at resort hotels are more affordable than a wedding in Canada where you purchase the individual elements separately. The hall rental alone in Canada can be a major expense and more than the cost of a destination wedding package.
  • You can have the luxury and extravagance you want in places like Mexico at a much lower cost.
  • Destination weddings are usually smaller events, again translating into savings.
  • Your one week honeymoon is included in the wedding cost when you get married at the destination.
  • You'll be married in a glamorous ceremony at a spectacular location.
  • Destination weddings are much less stressful as everyone is on vacation and relaxed. The resort takes care of all the details allowing you freedom to enjoy the special day with less worry than an event you organize yourself."

Location

"Couples want the wedding to be easy and affordable for their wedding party to attend, so they usually consider the places charter airlines service from their gateway."

"Mexico is one of the most popular locales. The Mayan Riviera and Cancun with their turquoise waters and white sand beaches are top of the list. Resorts have a wedding gazebo facing the ocean or you can opt for a barefoot ceremony right on the beach."

"Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas are also popular spots while in the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Jamaica are attracting many couples."

When, Where and Who's Invited?

"The most popular time is the winter months as couples want to escape the cold. November and early spring time (April and May) are also popular as these months have better pricing."

"While some couples opt for an intimate ceremony for just the two of them, the majority of couples take family and friends along. I currently have wedding groups ranging in size from 10 to 45 people in the planning stages."

"About a year ahead, couples send a "Save this Date" card to let their guests know a wedding is in the works."

"Travel is the first thing to be arranged. Once they have selected the resort and date, wedding invitations are sent. I recommend this be no later than six months ahead in order for all the travel arrangements to be made for the guests with no disappointments."

Planning the Event

"Meanwhile I have contacted the wedding coordinator at the resort for all the information on the wedding package and available upgrades. I pass this along to the client and let them deal directly with the coordinator from there."

"You are guaranteed a beautiful ceremony, cake, flowers and photography so I advise clients not to worry about the event. It always goes well in the end and everyone has a great time. Know that the resort will do a an excellent job and you will be in a beautiful location."

"About two months ahead, the details can be sorted out through the coordinator. The menu is decided just one week ahead."

"Some clients have very specific things they want in the way of a cake and flowers which can be arranged at an additional cost. Others are happy with the wedding package as it comes and are much more laid back about the event."

"Then you go to the resort a few days ahead and meet with the coordinator to finalize the arrangements."

"Keep in mind that in Mexico and the Caribbean things move much slower than here. I advise clients to be patient. You may not have an immediate answer to your questions but you will receive a reply and the wedding will be beautiful."

"Resorts have responded to the increased interest in destination weddings recently by adding more coordinators to deal with the wedding details so response time to queries has improved."

Legalities

"Depending on the destination, the legal aspects of the wedding will be handled differently.

  • Spanish speaking countries like Mexico and Cuba need your legal documents translated into Spanish.
  • Mexico also requires couples have a blood test.
  • Some countries have a residency requirement so you need to go four days ahead of the ceremony.
  • Legal documents including a long form birth certificate for the bride and groom are sent ahead of time."

"To avoid the legal hassles many couples have their legal ceremony in Canada then go to the destination for the celebration ceremony. This way you don't even need to send your birth certificate ahead of time as the legal aspects are already taken care of. It is technically a spiritual or renewal of vows ceremony."

Our Best Decision

"Getting married in Puerto Vallarta was certainly the best decision we could have made for our wedding. We had the legal ceremony a few days ahead in Canada then enjoyed a very special, carefree day with 35 family and friends ranging in age from my 18 year old cousin to my 78 year old Grandfather. It was the most memorable day and we all still talk about it often. I definitely recommend a destination wedding for your big day."


By Susan Milne