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  • Manon Douard

Destination Wedding : definition, pros and cons

Hello there,

Last year, I had the opportunity to photograph a wedding in Italy - if you're a regular reader of this blog, which you're probably not but I keep dreaming, you'll know that eating is one of my greatest passions. My Italian origins may not show on my diaphanous skin (crayfish in summer) and blue eyes, but they are firmly anchored in my stomach. In short, we ate wonderfully well, the light was sublime and the wedding was breath-taking. I decided to tell you all about it in this article and it's also an opportunity to write about Destination Wedding, a concept that is becoming increasingly popular in the wedding world!

Definition of a Destination Wedding

vue de la ville d'Ostuni lors d'un Destination Wedding en Italie

A Destination Wedding is a wedding that takes place far from the place of residence of the couple getting married. You might say, well, it all depends on what you mean by 'far away', but in Europe the term often refers to weddings that take place in a country other than the one in which the bride and groom live. In the case of the wedding I covered last year, the couple lives in Brussels but said yes to each other in Italy.

I think in the United States an event can be considered a 'destination wedding' even though the couple lives and gets married in the US, but it only makes sense considering the entire country of France can fit into the single state of Texas!

A Destination Wedding basically means moving the whole celebration abroad (or at least far away from the place where the couple resides).

What is the point? What are the advantages and disadvantages of such an event?

Pros and Cons of planning a Destination Wedding

the Pros of a Destination Wedding

A wedding lasting several days

La mariée avec ses demoiselles d'honneur lors des préparatifs de son mariage en Italie

In France, we're used to celebrating the wedding on Saturday, with a possible reunion on Friday evening or Sunday lunchtime, but the wedding is usually over by early afternoon on Sunday, as many of the guests have to get back on the road and start work on Monday. In the end, that's barely 24 hours on average spent together.

A Destination Wedding can allow you to design a longer event, since the guests will all be traveling far from home and will have no choice but to plan several days on site. It's an opportunity to design a multi-day event and allow guests to spend more time together, which will obviously give your wedding a special tone.

A small wedding party

Une table de mariage est dressée devant une masseria lors d'un Destination Wedding en Italie

A Destination Wedding creates a special, more immersive atmosphere, as it often brings together a smaller committee of guests than a traditional wedding (although there's no rule preventing you from inviting 200 people to a wedding abroad).

A Destination Wedding is an opportunity to break away from the straitjacket of the traditional wedding to which you invite 250 people, including childhood friends, distant family, friends of parents, etc. Far be it from me to criticize this format, which is still favored by many brides and grooms at least in France, but the fact is that in recent years, small-compartment weddings have become increasingly popular (and Covid is no stranger to this trend).

Fewer guests allow the bride and groom to enjoy each other's company more, and create a more pleasant experience for those close to them, who can get to know each other much more easily than at an event attended by over 200 people.

When you're getting married close to home, it's not always easy to escape the pressure of family and/or friends and dare to design an event that's a little out of the ordinary. Organizing a wedding abroad can give the couple some leeway, allowing them to create a truly tailor-made wedding.

A different wedding experience for the couple and guests

Les mariés rejoignent leurs invités le jour de leur mariage en Italie

This point follows naturally from the previous two: if the guests are fewer in number and stay together longer, the bonds created between them and with the bride and groom becomes more intimate.

The bride and groom can devote more time to each person, and the guests get to know each other and bond more easily.

It's a fact that when a limited number of people are brought together for three days (or more) in a foreign country, the atmosphere created is very special: the joy of experiencing a moment that takes us out of our everyday lives, and the curiosity of experiencing an event that is like no other, because everything is special and unique to the host country - the food, the lighting, the accommodation, the décor, the flowers, the weather...

The atmosphere of your photo report

All the above points contribute to creating a different look for your images if you choose to go for a Destination Wedding. A smaller group of guests, together for a longer period of time, enjoying a break from their everyday lives, will inevitably give your wedding reportage a special tone.

Photo de détail d'un mur blanc sur lequel est écrit "The Piazetta Cafe"

Getting married abroad also means that you may be freer to choose your wedding venue than you would be if you stayed close to home, since your guests will be obliged to travel and take several days off work to attend your wedding anyway. You therefore have the option of choosing a venue that is symbolic for you, or that attracts you by its aesthetics, lighting, atmosphere, etc.

Destination Weddings can be an opportunity to get married in a place that makes you dream, and whose atmosphere will permeate your images. The Italian wedding pictured in this article reflects the particularities of the place where it took place: it was a wedding in Puglia, in an all-white masseria, and the photos are bathed in this golden light, the white, ochre and pastel blue hues of the walls, the flagstones on the floor, the bricks, the flowers, the sky...

Détail de la plaque de rue de la Torretta Alchimia à Ostuni en Italie

The atmosphere of a wedding report is shaped by the place where it takes place, and when that place is bathed in a particular mood and light, it reflects on the images. This is all the more true if you choose to work with a photographer who has a natural affinity for detail shots.

I have progressively included a lot more of detail shots in my reports, because I find that they contribute enormously to conveying the atmosphere of a wedding day. Nothing tells a story better than the small details of a coffee mug forgotten on a piece of furniture during the getting-ready moments, the polished knocker of an old front door or the faded fabric of a sofa in the hallway.

If these kinds of details are important to you, organizing a Destination Wedding can become a huge playground for distilling the golden light of a late Italian day, the cerulean blue of a Greek seaside or the bronze-tinted green of the vineyards of southern France into your wedding photos!

It doesn't have to be more expensive

When you think of a Destination Wedding, you immediately imagine a sunset ceremony on the terrace of a waterfront villa on Lake Como (well, at least I do. If you're more of a Caribean beach person, I'm not judging you though for me, anything's a good idea to go to Italy - Mediterranean cuisine is clearly my religion).

Of course, it all depends on the destination chosen, the time of year, the number of guests... but contrary to what you might think, getting married abroad doesn't necessarily mean a budget explosion.

A small-scale wedding with local suppliers doesn't necessarily cost more than a wedding held in the bride and groom's country of residence with two or three times the number of guests. Purchasing power also varies from one country to another, so the price of the same service can vary by as much as double depending on the country chosen.

In short, it all depends on the desired organization and the scope of the project, but weddings abroad don't have to be expensive (for the bride and groom at least).

The cons of a Destination Wedding

Making sure your union is legal

photo en noir et blanc d'un couple de mariés sur le point de s'embrasser

It sure would be a shame to travel abroad, plan an outdoor ceremony under blossoming trees, only to discover that the union in question has no legal recognition in the country where you live. So the first thing to consider is: can I get married in such-and-such a country, and will my union be legal in the eyes of the authorities in my own country? What documents do I need to bring with me and fill in locally, depending on the country I've chosen? Who should perform the wedding ceremony in the country where the bride and groom plan to wed? These are all complex questions that you don't have to deal with when you're getting married "back home", where you're generally much more familiar with the wedding process and have more people capable of helping you.

More complex research and organization

If you don't work with a Wedding Planner, you'll have to do your own research to choose your wedding venue, select your suppliers, think about the means of transport your guests will be using, potentially help them if they're coming to a country for the first time or don't speak the language of the country in question...

As for suppliers, if you don't have a Wedding Planner to rely on, it can be difficult to make your choice, especially if you're planning to work with local suppliers to lighten your budget with their travel expenses: language barrier, lack of knowledge of the wedding market in the country hosting your nuptials... There are plenty of reasons to feel a little overwhelmed by the scale of the task!

Additional constraints for guests

Perhaps the biggest drawback of a wedding abroad is that not all your guests will be able to make it to your wedding, as it involves more constraints, especially logistically and financially.

Des mariés marchent au coucher du soleil devant une masseria le jour de leur mariage en Italie

As far as organization is concerned, to attend a wedding abroad, you need to take days off work, organize your trip over several days, and rent a car if necessary. In short, you need to organize your trip to the wedding as if you were planning a vacation. It's not easy when you're juggling work commitments, children, your own vacations, other personal projects and so on. For the older members of the wedding party, grandparents for example, this adventure can be a little (a lot) anxiety-provoking, and dedicated support may be in order!

On the financial side, the expenses involved in a wedding abroad can have a repulsive effect: you have to pay for train or plane tickets, plan for local accommodation, food if you're planning to stay several days, and so on. Compared to a conventional wedding, this is obviously a lot of extra expense.

The combination of these financial and organizational constraints may lead some guests to decline your invitation. So it's best to plan ahead and talk it over with them if you're considering this option! The advantage of a Destination Wedding is that it generally comes with a reduced guest list. So you can have a clearer idea of who you'd like to invite, and discuss the feasibility of your project with them beforehand!

Overview of a Destination Wedding in Italy

Because nothing gives you a better idea of what's going to happen than pictures, I'm leaving you with a few photos of the wedding I was lucky enough to cover near Ostuni, in Puglia. A chance for you to see if you'd be tempted by the adventure of a Destination Wedding! You can view the full gallery here.

That's all for today! If you'd like to see other galleries of weddings I've worked on, you can check out my portfolio. If you'd like to find out more about me through some crazy anecdotes that have nothing to do with photography, it's over here! Don't hesitate to contact me if you have a wedding project you'd like to share with me.

Thank you for reading and stay tuned for the next article (that hopefully will come up here before 2025)


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