By Jared Benoff | Published on June 7, 2024

Planning a destination wedding offers couples an opportunity to combine a beautiful ceremony with an unforgettable vacation.

While Mexico is the most popular choice, there are many stunning destinations outside of Mexico that can provide equally breathtaking settings.

Of course, you could likely host a destination wedding in seemingly endless destinations around the world.

But in talking to many of the couples we work with at Vacationeeze, we have found that couples looking for an alternative to Mexico are often looking at other tropical destinations.

Choosing Your Perfect Destination

When choosing your location for your destination wedding, consider several key factors.

Budget

Determine your budget. Costs can vary significantly by location. For example, a wedding in Hawaii will likely be more expensive than a Caribbean island.

Accessibility

Consider the ease of travel for your guests. Destinations like Saint Vincent might require longer flights and multiple transfers, whereas Jamaica may be easier.

We’ve found that it largely depends where most of your guests are traveling from and a quick scan on Google Flights can show you nonstop or 1-stop flight options.

Also consider the drive to the resort once you land in the destination. After a 4+ hour flight, it’s often less than ideal to have a 2+ hour drive to the resort.

Climate

Think about the climate. Most Caribbean and tropical destinations will have similar weather trends. We generally recommend avoiding hurricane season, especially for more remote islands where there may be fewer flights per day.

Legal Requirements

Review legal requirements for marriages in the chosen destination. Different countries have varying rules and paperwork which can affect your ceremony plans.

Generally we recommend a symbolic ceremony as that’s the simplest option and requires the least paperwork.

Use these criteria to narrow down your choices and find the perfect spot for your special day.

Evaluating Venue Types

destination wedding venue

When choosing a destination wedding venue, it’s essential to consider the various types available.

Each venue type offers distinct features that can cater to different wedding styles and preferences.

Beach Venues

Beach venues are popular for their scenic views and relaxed atmosphere. Couples often choose beaches for their picturesque settings and the opportunity to host a ceremony with the sound of waves in the background.

We’ve actually seen beach weddings (particularly ceremonies) are less popular now than they were a few years ago as couple are opting for more terrace-type venues.

Terraces

While beach venues have become slightly less popular over time, resorts have become smarter and designed stunning, private terraces for your wedding celebration.

Some terraces overlook the beach or ocean, and others are near a pool or tucked away within the resort.

Gardens

Similar to terraces, garden venues have become more popular over time at resorts. Often the biggest difference between a terrace wedding venue and a garden wedding venue is that the garden venue will have grass whereas the terrace likely has a hard surface.

It’s worth considering which may be optimal based on the style of wedding you’re aiming for.

Chapels

If you’re planning a Catholic destination wedding, many resorts offer a chapel for your ceremony.

Sometimes the chapels are non-denominational, and other times, they are designed for Catholic ceremonies.

Ballrooms

Ballrooms are typically more popular for wedding in the hot summer months where you may plan your ceremony and cocktail hour outside but decide to host the reception indoors to avoid the heat.

Most ballrooms can accommodate weddings of all sizes, so this is also a great option for destination weddings over 100 guests and South Asian destination weddings.

When evaluating these options, consider the guest list, budget, desired atmosphere, and specific requirements. Each venue type has its own set of advantages that can enhance the wedding experience based on personal preferences.

Dominican Republic

secrets cap cana dominican republic beach destination wedding venue

Punta Cana sits at the easternmost point where the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean, offering an idyllic backdrop for destination weddings. With its clear turquoise waters and pristine white sand beaches, it stands as a prime wedding location.

Top resorts in Punta Cana:

  • Secrets Cap Cana: This adults-only resort is close to the airport and offers a true VIP experience with exclusive lounges and upgraded offerings. Key amenities include 10 restaurants, oceanview rooms with terraces, and a world-class spa. Wedding highlights include beach, garden, and poolside venues, plus customizable packages.
  • Hard Rock Punta Cana: Known for its lively atmosphere, this resort features a large casino, 12 swimming pools, and an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus golf course. Wedding packages here often include beach, garden, and gazebo options, making it suitable for 2-300 guests.
  • Dreams Macao: This family-friendly resort includes amenities like a water park and bowling alley. It offers various wedding venues, including a gazebo and beach locations, suitable for up to 500 ceremony guests and 700 for cocktail parties.

Popular wedding packages:

  • Wedding in Paradise: Sometimes free for up to 10 guests.
  • Elope in Luxury: $1,100 for the couple.
  • Dreams Ultimate: $3,899 for 30 guests.
  • Beyond Memorable: From $10,999 to $14,799, accommodating up to 100 guests.

Some packages offer complimentary ceremonies if you book a certain number of rooms or nights. This can offer significant savings while still providing a beautiful and memorable event.

Venues and costs:

For those looking for variety, Punta Cana’s venues range from beach and gardens to poolside and ballroom settings.

The cost for destination weddings here generally ranges from $5,000 to $15,000 depending on the number of guests and additional services.

By offering diverse options and breathtaking settings, Punta Cana ensures a memorable and beautiful wedding day.

Jamaica

secrets jamaica destination wedding venue resort

Jamaica is a popular destination for weddings, offering stunning beaches, luxurious resorts, and reasonable costs. Couples can choose between various locations such as Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, and Negril, each providing beautiful settings and unique experiences.

Top resorts in Jamaica:

  • Sandals Montego Bay: Sandals Montego Bay provides luxury all-inclusive options tailored for adult weddings. Sandals Montego Bay has 12 restaurants and 6 bars and is only a short drive from the airport. We’re also obsessed wit the over-the-water Serenity Chapel
  • Moon Palace Jamaica: This is one of our favorite family-friendly all-inclusive resorts with stunning venues and multiple room categories to choose from. You can read our review of the resort here.
  • Beaches Negril: Beaches Negril is located on 7-mile beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. With only 197 rooms, Beaches Negril is the perfect intimate-feeling family-friendly resort.

Belize

Belize stands out as a unique destination wedding location with its breathtaking Caribbean coastline and lush rainforests.

Couples looking for an intimate and exotic setting will find the country’s natural beauty unparalleled.

From Mayan ruins to spectacular coral reefs, Belize offers a diverse backdrop for any wedding ceremony.

Key Highlights of Belize Weddings:

  • Breathtaking Caribbean coastal views
  • Versatile venues including beaches, rainforests, and Mayan ruins
  • Customizable wedding packages to suit various budgets
  • Opportunities for a combined wedding and honeymoon experience

The blend of natural beauty and rich cultural experiences makes Belize a distinctive choice for destination weddings.

Barbados

sandals barbados destination wedding

Barbados offers a romantic and picturesque setting for destination weddings.

Known for its crystal-clear waters and white sandy beaches, the island is a tropical paradise that brings an exotic flair to wedding ceremonies. Couples can enjoy a blend of stunning natural beauty and rich cultural experiences.

In addition to its scenic beauty, Barbados presents a variety of affordable wedding packages. Couples can find options that include ceremony and reception needs, decor, catering, and more, often spending less than $10,000 for a three-day stay.

Sandals Barbados stands out for its all-inclusive packages for wedding festivities.

This resort offers various wedding venues, including beachfront locations, tropical gardens, and elegant ballrooms. Sandals provides comprehensive services, including an on-site wedding coordinator to ensure every detail is perfect.

The island is not all about luxury; it also offers authentic Caribbean experiences. Visitors can explore local cuisine, music, and traditions, making their stay memorable and unique.

Many hotels and resorts provide tailored wedding packages, allowing couples to personalize their big day according to their preferences. These packages often include essentials like bouquets, wedding arches, and wedding cakes.

Barbados is a compelling choice for destination weddings, combining affordable luxury with an unforgettable setting.

Turks and Caicos

beaches turks and caicos resort - destination wedding venue

Turks and Caicos is a tropical destination known for its stunning natural beauty and world-class resorts.

The islands offer a variety of beautiful venues, luxury accommodations, and exquisite beaches perfect for destination weddings.

There are multiple stunning resorts in Turks and Caicos, but we keep coming back to Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort.

The beach, the restaurants, the activities for all ages, and the countless improvements over the years make Beaches a top resort for your destination wedding.

Saint Lucia

Saint Lucia stands out as a beautiful choice for couples seeking an exotic destination wedding. Known for its golden beaches and luxurious resorts, the island offers diverse wedding experiences.

The average cost of a destination wedding in Saint Lucia varies as there are some high-end boutique resorts where your wedding can easily exceed $20,000.

Popular Venues:

  • Anse Chastanet: Offers breathtaking views and elegant wedding packages.
  • Jade Mountain: Known for its stunning architectural design and exclusive services.

Wedding Package Options:

  • Luxury Packages: Offered by several resorts, cost between $1,500 and $5,000 for a 3 to 5-day stay.
  • All-Inclusive Packages: For a comprehensive experience, couples might spend around $15,000, covering all expenses.

Legal requirements include navigating local vendors and potentially securing legal documents, which can be efficiently managed by most resort wedding teams. The island’s all-inclusive resorts contribute to St. Lucia’s reputation as one of the top Caribbean wedding destinations.

Antigua

Antigua offers a stunning backdrop for destination weddings with its bright blue skies and white sandy beaches. This captivating Caribbean island is renowned for its natural beauty and naval history. English Harbour, an iconic spot, highlights Antigua’s rich past.

The average cost of a destination wedding in Antigua is approximately $7,200. This can vary based on the guest list, venue choice, and additional services. Many resorts offer customizable wedding packages which include essentials.

Traveling to Antigua is relatively straightforward, with the VC Bird International Airport serving as the main gateway. Its accommodations cater to diverse preferences, ensuring there’s something for every couple.

For LGBTQ couples, Antigua is friendly and welcoming. This inclusive attitude makes it an excellent choice for all love stories. Considering these factors can help couples plan their dream wedding in this picturesque location.

Saint Vincent

sandals saint vincent catholic chapel overwater

Saint Vincent offers a unique blend of natural beauty and extraordinary venues perfect for a destination wedding. The island’s serene landscapes and tranquil waters provide an ideal backdrop for an unforgettable wedding experience.

Sandals Saint Vincent is a brand new choice for couples seeking an all-inclusive, luxury wedding experience.

This resort is renowned for its stunning beaches, offering couples the opportunity to exchange vows with a backdrop of turquoise waters and pristine sand.

The resort features multiple wedding packages that include everything from floral arrangements to gourmet reception dinners.

Guests can enjoy various activities, including scuba diving and sailing, ensuring an entertaining and fulfilling experience for everyone. Sandals resorts have a reputation for excellence, making them a reliable option for those desiring a seamless, high-quality wedding.

Curacao

Curacao offers a stunning Caribbean backdrop for destination weddings. The island boasts a mix of vibrant culture, historical landmarks, and luxurious resorts.

Dreams Curacao is an excellent wedding venue. Located on the sandy shores of Piscadera Bay, this resort features multiple venues and is family-friendly. At Dreams Curacao you can take advantage of the Beyond Memorable wedding package, which is one of the most popular wedding packages for couples we work with.

For those seeking all-inclusive packages, the Sandals Resort Curacao offers exceptional services. These packages typically include everything from the ceremony to photography. More details can be found in the Sandals destination wedding guide.

Popular activities for wedding guests include exploring the lively capital, Willemstad. The city is divided by the charming St. Anna Bay, with districts like Punda offering narrow streets filled with shops and museums.

Curacao is a versatile destination suitable for intimate gatherings or grand celebrations. Whether you’re dreaming of a beachfront wedding or a more elegant indoor ceremony, the island provides numerous options to fit various preferences and budgets.

Logistics and Planning

For a successful destination wedding, it’s important to consider travel arrangements, legal requirements, guest accommodations, and wedding vendors. Addressing these aspects will ensure a smooth and memorable experience for everyone involved.

Travel Arrangements

Properly coordinating travel is crucial. Couples should first select a location accessible by major airlines to simplify travel for guests. It is vital to book flights and accommodations well in advance to secure the best rates and availability.

Consider arranging group travel packages through an experienced travel team like ours to provide guests with organized options.

Additionally, inform guests about passport and visa requirements early on to avoid last-minute issues. Providing a travel itinerary with contact information for any necessary transportation services can further streamline the process.

Legal Requirements

Legal requirements vary by country, and it is important to understand and fulfill them for the wedding to be legally recognized. Start by determining if the chosen destination requires any residency period before the ceremony.

Some countries may require documents such as birth certificates, single-status affidavits, and passports translated into the local language. Ensure these documents are prepared and authenticated ahead of time. Couples may also need to engage local legal assistance to navigate local laws and ensure all paperwork is correctly processed.

Wedding Vendors

Choosing reliable wedding vendors in a foreign location can be challenging.

Most resorts will offer in-house vendors to take of your needs from DJ to florals and everything in between.

If you want to hire local vendors, start by researching local companies known for high-quality services. Online reviews and recommendations from other couples are valuable resources.

Contact potential vendors well in advance to discuss availability, pricing, and specific details of your wedding day.

It may be beneficial to hire a local wedding planner who understands the local market and can recommend trusted vendors for photography, catering, floral arrangements, and more.

Clear contracts and detailed communication with all vendors are essential for avoiding misunderstandings and ensuring all expectations are met.

Frequently Asked Questions

For couples looking beyond Mexico for their destination wedding, here are answers to some common questions. Affordable options, value-packed countries, and popular venues are explored.

What are some affordable destination wedding locations?

Jamaica and the Dominican Republic are often cited as cost-effective alternatives to Mexico due to their competitive pricing and beautiful settings. These destinations offer excellent venues that cater to diverse wedding styles and budgets.

Which countries offer the best value for a destination wedding?

The Caribbean islands, such as the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos, provide great value. They combine stunning locations with comprehensive wedding packages.

Where can I find all-inclusive wedding packages under $10,000?

Many all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean and Central America offer wedding packages under $10,000. These packages typically include accommodations, meals, drinks, and the wedding ceremony.

What are the top 10 most popular destination wedding locations?

  • Mexico
  • Jamaica
  • Dominican Republic
  • Bahamas
  • Turks and Caicos
  • Curacao
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Saint Vincent
  • Saint Lucia

These locations are renowned for their picturesque venues and suitability for destination weddings.

What are the best destinations for an all-inclusive destination wedding?

Mexico, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and many other Caribbean Islands stand out for their wide range of all-inclusive resorts.

These resorts often include comprehensive wedding packages, which make planning seamless and stress-free.

What are the alternatives to Mexico for a cost-effective destination wedding?

Jamaica, Turks and Caicos, and the Dominican Republic are excellent alternatives to Mexico for couples seeking affordability.

Offering similar tropical beauty, these destinations offer a range of venue choices and wedding packages that cater to various budgets.

Need help planning your destination wedding?

Our experienced wedding planners at Destination Weddings by Vacationeeze are with you every step of the way.

With decades of experience planning hundreds of weddings, our team understands what couples are looking for and how to navigate working with the resorts. 

Our dedicated team will work with all your friends and family so you can focus on planning your dream wedding.

Ready to start planning your big day?

Call us at 215-454-2070 or get in touch with us here

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About The Author

Jared Benoff

Jared is a certified destination wedding travel advisor and has been recognized as a top agent by Palace Resorts, Karisma Resorts, Lomas Hospitality, and Hyatt Inclusive Collection.

He caught the travel bug early in his life as his parents (the founders of Vacationeeze!) instilled a passion for travel and adventure in him and his siblings.

           

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