How to Choose the Right Destination Wedding Resort?

Destination wedding planning can be overwhelming. So many resorts, so many options and only a fraction of the information you need is available online. So, how to choose the right destination wedding resort? What to look for? Where to begin?

Answering the following questions will help you narrow down your options and lead you in the most suitable direction for you. So grab a cup of tea and your favorite notebook. It’s time to put all those puzzle pieces together, let’s get started!

cenote wedding venue at the Sandos Caracol
Cenote wedding location at the Sandos Caracol Eco Resort in Playa del Carmen

Which destination suits you and your group?

When choosing the location for your destination wedding, here are a few things you need to consider:

Depending on your home base (and your guests) the cost of flights may vary greatly depending on what destination you choose. Also, do you prefer a direct flight? No more than so many hours? This is one factor to consider when exploring what destination to choose.

For example, you may want to experience the wild, untamed Costa Rica, but it may be more expensive than flying to Cancun.

Wedding ceremony set up in front of a beach, surrounded by big trees
An intimate ceremony at exotic Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica

Visa requirements
Do you have a lot of guests coming from more foreign destinations that may require a visa? Special permits? Make sure to send invites way in advance, so guests have enough time to make the paperwork. Just something to consider to keep things simple.

Are your family and friends going to freak out at every news article being shared that Mexico (or another country) is not safe? Will the less experienced travelers feel safe in a country that may not speak their language? Are there, in fact, any serious travel warnings to consider?

Health Precautions
There are other factors that come into play for health precautions. Are there any recommended vaccines for the destination of your choice? Do you have any very young or elderly guests that may need special care? How is the Covid situation? Will your insurance company work there? Hopefully, you won’t need it, but you never know!

Ocean front stone gazebo at hard rock puerto vallarta
A beautiful ocean-view wedding gazebo at the Hard Rock in Nuevo Vallarta

What type of wedding ceremony do you want?

If you have a specific type of ceremony in mind or have certain traditions you would like to include, this may limit your choice of venues. For example, Catholic ceremonies in Mexico can only be performed in sanctified locations, so there is no way to have a Catholic ceremony on the beach.

Do you require a kosher meal? Would you like the ceremony performed by a Rabbi? Are you planning a South Asian wedding? A Buddhist wedding ceremony? Will you need a Mayan shaman?

open catholic church with a cross at the end and large open windows
The open and colorful Catholic chapel at the Grand Palladium Riviera Maya complex

When it comes to same-sex weddings some hotels and destinations accommodate and welcome same-sex weddings and will tweak the wedding package accordingly. However, some destinations are not as open as they should be (Jamaica, for example, is not a very LGBT-friendly destination for same-sex weddings).

What type of venue do you envision?

When you picture your wedding, are you wearing heels? Can you see the ocean, or are you surrounded by lush gardens? Do you envision a 100% private venue like a rooftop? Are you comfortable with other non-wedding guests around witnessing the events?

beach wedding gazebo at the fives beach resort
Stunning bride and groom at The Fives Beach Hotel. Photo by 50MM Art Studio

What about the cocktail and reception? Do you want a private event or a semi-private one? If you are in a tropical location, will you be OK with the heat, or must you have air conditioning? What if it rains?

Ballroom set up for a wedding with white chairs and pink flowers
Beautiful ballroom ideal for weddings at Finest Playa Mujeres

All of these factors can come into play, and your venue choice can largely determine what hotels you can consider for hosting your destination wedding.

What is your destination wedding budget?

It is really easy to bust a budget for any wedding. Your emotions take over, it is one of the most important events in your life, and everything you see on Pinterest looks amazing, right?! It is natural you will want the very best of the best.

Stairs to the chappel at hotel xcaret Mexico, an impressive destination wedding resort
Iconic stairs towards the chapel at Hotel Xcaret Mexico

Related: Top 5 destination wedding costs to consider when planning your big day.

Try to set a budget for the wedding itself and then the extras. This is a decision you need to do as a couple, so try to spend some time together and get very real and honest with each other. You will want your priorities set on the same path.

Learn that most initial-level wedding packages will provide the minimum you require for a ceremony and reception. Normally they won’t include the services of a DJ, photography, videography, extra decor, or flowers.

impressive wedding ceremony gazebo set up at a rooftop terrace, with a mirror aisle and white chairs location grand velas los cabos
Grand Velas Los Cabos offers impressive locations for any type of event

Would you and your partner like something special for your wedding day? Are you the crafty type that will bring decor from home to save money? Do you want to offer a private catamaran tour to the group as a thank you? Are you gonna give goody bags to your guests? Those extra items and experiences can skyrocket your budget.

Over the water wedding setting on a pool with a half moon flower arrangement
The impressive over-the-water setting at Sensira Resort Riviera Maya

When calculating the budget for your destination wedding, there are other important costs to consider besides the travel costs:

Outside Vendor Fees
Are you in love with a wedding photographer, hairstylist, or makeup artist in particular that you absolutely want for your wedding? Or do you prefer to have the extra support of a personalized outside wedding coordinator? Some hotels charge as much as $1,000 USD per outside vendor, so this is definitely something that you need to consider when choosing your resort.

wedding couple holding each other on a staircase
A professional photographer can make a huge difference on your wedding day! Photo by Take it Photo

Wedding Photography and Wedding Videography
This is a very personal choice and not everyone is happy with the hotel’s suggestions. One way to get around the outside vendor fee is to have your photographer as part of your wedding guests. Most hotels will allow this as long as they are there as part of your group.

If you are still hesitant about destination weddings costing less than getting married in the US, check out this useful wedding budget calculator. You may surprise yourself with the results!

Explore even more destination wedding ideas by reading this blog.

How much money you want your guests to spend?

You also need to figure out what you ideally want your guests to spend. You may be able to afford 5-star and luxury, but if the majority of your guests are not in the same position, you may not have too many guests attend.

The cost for your guests will really depend on the destination you choose, the hotel, and the cost of the flights. The least expensive all-inclusive resorts start at about $120 per person per night.

Hotel room balcony with ocean view and a large bathtub
The sleek and modern Unico Hotel can be outside some of your wedding guests’ budget

The good thing is that coming to the right travel agent will get you discounts, perks, upgrades, and even free rooms! Now more than ever, the use of a travel agent is a basic necessity. Check out what a travel agent can do for you and, and how to secure the best group rates for your wedding.

Conclusion on how to choose the right destination wedding resort

Putting together all these factors can be overwhelming. You have some decisions ahead about what you have in mind for your big day! With a little thought and at least an idea of the answers to the above questions, this will guide you on how to choose the right destination wedding resort!

Did you know that Hola Weddings gets you special deals, transportation services, tours and excursions at discounted rates, FREE maracas for your party, cashback, and many other perks for your group? Contact our wedding experts and see what benefits apply to you.

Need any destination wedding help? Get in touch!


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