06/27/2013 01:24 pm ET Updated Aug 27, 2013

Destination I Dos (and Don'ts)

In many countries weddings can last four to five days, but in the U.S. most weddings are just an eight hour event. Weddings are averaging $26,900 and in the New York City market, they are more than double that amount; it is no wonder that destinations are back and stronger than ever. Brides and grooms would rather spend their money on three days of parties rather than a one-day celebration. Couples are well-informed and want to get the most for their hard-earned dollars.

If you are considering a destination wedding, first and foremost, you must retain an event planner who is well-versed in the world of destination weddings. The planner will navigate the legal requirements and most planners will act as the travel agents for your guests. Here are my rules for planning a wedding from a far:

    • Learn about the location that you are going to bring your guests.
    • Know the flight options and pricing from the various cities that your guests will be departing from.
    • Don't forget to offer a few options for hotels, the main hotel may not be the most affordable for some guests.
    • Plan at least one visit with your planner to assess the options and make selections.
    • Know the weather pattern of the region and always, always have a rain plan in place.
    • Provide welcome bags for the guests containing items from the location and an itinerary.
    • If you can, provide transfer to and from the airport for guests; first impressions are everything.
    • Set up a wedding website that will outline all the details of the wedding.
    • Mail out save the dates, well in advance, so guests have ample time to book their flights.
    • Prepare a welcome booklet, and mail out two weeks prior to the wedding. This booklet will provide all the details of the events taking place and a local guide for your guests (consider it your own travel brochure).
    • Prepare a budget, but allow for currency exchange rates (that will fluctuate).
    • Be prepared for some items being lost in translation. Remember island time is island time.
    • Use local vendors, when possible.
    • If bringing in outside vendors, please be sure they apply for work permits.
    • Incorporate local flavor and customs into the wedding planning.
    • Select flowers that are native to the region.
    • Know the limitations of the location.

Destination weddings allow the couple to celebrate with their family and friends, while incorporating a mini vacation for those who traveled from outside the country. Destination weddings are a great way for the families to get to know one and another in a more relaxed environment.

My number one rule: is to RELAX and enjoy the process. Trust your event planner; this is why you have hired him or her.

Next: I'm covering top locations to host a destination wedding