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Destination Weddings Marry the Ceremony and Honeymoon

Perhaps you've dreamed of getting married on a white sandy beach or in an English rose garden. If you can't find the picturesque setting you desire, a destination wedding may be the perfect option for you. Ten percent of all weddings (150,000 a year) are destination weddings, according to the Today Show, which threw an all-expense-paid destination wedding in 2004 for a lucky couple. In fact, destination weddings, sometimes called "weddingmoons" are becoming increasingly popular -- especially with celebrities. Golfer Tiger Woods is on that long list as he recently tied the knot on the Caribbean island of Barbados. It's not hard to figure out their appeal: They offer many amenities that traditional weddings can't ... an amazing backdrop for your celebration and a locale that is full of fun.

There are many advantages to a destination wedding. First, it is innovative and intimate. Today's couples have friends and family members stretched across the country. Many are unable to make a long trip only to stay at a wedding for a few hours. However, when offered the opportunity to spend several days in an exotic locale, these distant relatives and friends may look favorably upon attending and spending more time with the happy couple.
You may be surprised to discover that destination weddings can be less expensive than traditional affairs. Since they are generally informal, you'll save on the cost of expensive dresses and tuxedos and limousine service. Many couples offer to forgo gifts in exchange for a guest's attendance at the wedding. This saves on guests' wedding-related expenses. In addition, many resorts offer exclusive all-inclusive packages that take care of flowers, photography, food and accommodations. Add it all up and you could save considerably and still have a wonderful wedding.
Another major advantage to the "weddingmoon" is that the relaxation and fun begins the minute you arrive at your destination. And while the planning of such an event may be a bit hectic, once you arrive, you'll have the freedom to relax the day before your ceremony instead of running hundreds of errands and stressing on the big day. It is definitely worth it to avoid the frenzy of last-minute details and coordination of vendors so common with traditional weddings.

Just as with a traditional wedding, planning is the key to making a destination wedding a success. Here are some tips to follow, courtesy of
* Location: Research your desired location. Depending on your budget, it can be as exotic as a private island or more economical, like an all-inclusive resort. Factors to consider include ease of understanding local laws, transportation convenience, available activities and amenities for you and your guests, including parks, sports, recreation, spa services, dining, and accommodation options. Unless you can jet-set to many places to see firsthand what they offer, consider hiring a wedding planner who can take care of these important details.
* Date: If you schedule your wedding when your destination has the best weather and the most festivities (tourist season), expect larger crowds and higher prices. Traveling off-season involves the chance of bad weather or travel problems. Try to plan your event just before or just after a tourist season.
* Legal issues: In the United States, most marriage bureaus require certain documentation to grant a marriage license. However, abroad, there may be further requirements or restrictions. For example, in Greece, national law prohibits certain interfaith marriages from taking place; brides and grooms may have to demonstrate proof of religious affiliation in order to legally wed. If you are having a foreign wedding, contact that country's consulate to find out what to expect.
* Give advance notice: Due to travel requirements and the need to reserve time off from work and home responsibilities, give guests ample notice of the big day. Send out save-the-date cards or invitations well in advance of your wedding so well-wishers have enough time to make the necessary arrangements. Also, be up-front about costs, namely what you can and cannot cover. Spell out in detail what will be required of the guests and how they can go about booking their trip.