Tips for Planning a Destination Wedding

Destination weddings have become very popular, especially here along Florida's Paradise Coast, and it's easy to see why. An exciting destination adds even more magic to your big day and lets you share the adventure with family and friends. It also gives you the convenience of enjoying your wedding and honeymoon in one place. In today's mobile society, many people live far away from relatives and friends anyway, so their guests would still have to travel to attend their wedding. Many couples enjoy having a smaller, more intimate affair for their destination wedding, and then having a bigger reception at home after the wedding and honeymoon.

For all of these reasons, destination weddings are on the rise. If you're thinking about or planning a destination wedding in the Naples, Marco Island and Everglades area, here are a few tips to ensure yours is a success:

Destination weddings require organization, so it's a good idea to hire a professional wedding planner. Wedding planners are a huge asset for destination weddings because they know the area and all the wedding locations and service providers, and they can help you make the best choices based on their prior experience.

A wedding gown on display at Kelly Chase Couture in Naples, Florida

Haven't said yes to the dress? Naples and Marco Island boast a wide range of bridal shops and services, like Kelly Chase Couture.

When you start planning, map out the things you need to accomplish each month so you don't get overwhelmed. When the time finally arrives, get here a few days early so you have time to finalize the last details. Most importantly, have one whole day before your wedding to do nothing but relax. This is sure to help reduce your stress level for the big day. Here on Florida's Paradise Coast, you can enjoy lazing on the beautiful white-sand beaches or treat yourself to a massage at one of the many luxury spas in the area.

One of the reasons Florida's Paradise Coast is so popular as a destination wedding location is because it gives you that feeling of being in an exotic, tropical location, but it's very easy to get to. It's also much more affordable and accessible than traveling outside of the United States.

One of the biggest choices you'll make on your destination wedding is where to stage the ceremony. One of the most popular spots here, of course, is the beach at sunset, but there are a wide variety of venue options.

Kelly Werder, wedding planner and adviser to Paige Simpson, owner of No Worries Weddings & Events in Naples, says the best months for weddings are April/May and October/November. "Those months have some of the best weather of the year, and hotel rates are reasonable," says Paige. "And the biggest bargains to be found for wedding venues and hotels are during the summer months, but since Florida usually experiences afternoon rains in the summer, be sure to plan wisely for your ceremony location and time of day."

Another planning tip from Paige: "Always be sure to ask if there are any festivals or special events that may be happening during your wedding weekend. It can add a special touch to your wedding."

Sue Totterdale, National Board Chairman of the National Association of Wedding Professionals and professional wedding planner located on Florida's Paradise Coast (Florida Weddings Online), also has some words of wisdom for brides-to-be. "Keep your numbers small," says Sue. "One of the big advantages of having a destination wedding is that you pay a lot less for your wedding just because of the numbers. Instead of having a wedding in your hometown with 300 guests, you can have 50 guests at a destination wedding."

Sue recommends 50 to 70 guests for a nice destination wedding number. "It's more intimate – your closest friends and family. It also releases you from feeling obligated to invite certain people." Sue also recommends keeping it casual. "That's what destination weddings are all about – relaxing and having a good time without all the pressure."

For the all-important dress, Sue has some more good advice: "Make sure your dress travels well and don't take a chance on shipping. Keep that dress with you." She explains that most bridal shops can help you choose dresses that are made out of more wrinkle-friendly material and will travel better. You can also arrange to have your dress pressed once you're to your destination. But Sue warns, "Don't go to a dry cleaner. Go to a bridal shop and schedule it beforehand."

To enhance your guests' experience, be sure to plan some optional activities that your friends and family can participate in before or after your actual wedding day. There are some excellent golf courses in the area. Survey your guests and call ahead to reserve tee times. There are many excellent charter captains in the area for both inshore backcountry and offshore deep sea fishing trips. Florida's Paradise Coast has fabulous shopping, so perhaps you could arrange limos for a shopping and lunch excursion. A great way to bond with the entire wedding party and guest group is to schedule a lunch or sunset cruise on one of the many sightseeing boat tours.

If you decide to celebrate your big day here on the Paradise Coast, make sure you check out our list of wedding resources. Good luck and happy planning.