WHAT IS A DESTINATION WEDDING?
Having a video production company in St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands all of my weddings were destination weddings. Then I moved back to the mainland and started capturing more traditional weddings. I have noticed the positives and challenges of each. A destination wedding is defined by a wedding not being in the place you lived or have lived. It can be international or within the United States. I have seen many different types of destination weddings, some are elopement style destination weddings where it is just the bride, some are just a handful of guests and some have over 100 guest. Most of the weddings I captured in the islands were short ceremonies with the vendor crew being with the wedding party for an hour. Occasionally we filmed the full reception where we captured all the traditional events including cake cutting, first dances, introducing wedding party and bouquet and garter toss. However for the one hour wedding package the couple would have their ceremony, cake cutting, champagne with guest giving toasts and time for an intimate photo shoot all within that short hour. This was done by using a very experienced wedding coordinator.
POSITIVES OF A DESTINATION WEDDING
EXPLORE A NEW PLACE
If you love to travel Destination weddings will sound exciting to you. There are so many ideal locations to pick from beaches to castles, mountains to deserts. If I were choosing where to have my destination wedding I would not only choose a place I would want to honeymoon at but a place that is keen to my personality. Las Vegas sounds exciting but gambling and seeing shows is not my thing. However Mexico beaches or Hawaii eco-friendly mentality is more my style.
Destination weddings are simpler and more budget friendly. If you do not want many guests or no guests at all then a destination wedding will appeal to you. You will be asking a lot for your guests to give up time and money to travel with you to attend your wedding. For some couples this is a way to have a more intimate wedding. Some brides choose to invest their money into a professional videographer and photographer and then have a celebration party back home to invite their friends and family.
See the wedding highlight that we created for our Hawaii Bride and Groom to share with their friends and family who could not make the journey.
When you have a destination wedding even if you do have guests with you the wedding will be more intimate. You will all be away from home and focused on the reason you are there to celebrate you and yours coming together in marriage. All the distractions from home will melt away, memories will be made that will be cherished forever. The people that decided to come on your destination wedding adventure will always remember your marriage with warmth in their hearts. If you choose to go with just the two of you then the challenges you face of traveling for your destination wedding will strengthen your bond. The stresses of having a big wedding back home will let you focus on each other, all the love will be poured into each other.
WHAT YOU HAVE TO GIVE UP TO HAVE A SUCCESSFUL DESTINATION WEDDING
LETTING GO OF CONTROL
You will be planning a wedding from far away using the internet and phone conversations instead of in person conversations, cake tasting, venue scoping, etc. Find a good wedding coordinator that has 5 star reviews and trust them to do their job. Keep in mind the more exotic the location the harder it will be to find a wedding planner. However it can be done. You could start with your venue and then from their they either have their own planner or can suggest who they recommend. Once you find them trust them and remember the reason you choose the destination. Everything will work out just fine. There are many facebook groups where you can post what you are looking for and ask for recommendations.
With the amount of luggage that you are allowed to carry you will have to make wise choices on what is the most important. If you have guests then the wedding favors may take too much room. An idea is to buy local at your destination, think about what the place is known for like our wedding couple did in Hawaii. The decorations will need to be sourced locally. Depending on your location you may choose to have the natural beauty of the place. If you choose to have a wedding coordinator they will help you with all of these decisions.
OUR FIRST DESTINATION WEDDING WHERE WE TRAVELED
Shijin and Sebastians wedding was the first time for Together As One JB to travel to a destination and film and video their wedding. The destination was the Big Island of Hawaii. Neither one of us had visited Hawaii so we decided to book an extra few days to explore the island. We stayed in an Airbnb in the volcano area called Pahoa, where every morning our view was of the volcanic rock. We will have a whole post about the airbnb soon. Shijin and Sebastians wedding was 2 hours north of where we were staying which may sound like a long ways but on the Big Island there is a lot of beautiful driving.
CHINESE WEDDING DOOR GAME
Shijin is originally from China and wanted to incorporate some of her family traditions in their wedding day. We were able to witness and learn about the Chinese wedding door game which is where the bride's friends ask the groom difficult questions. If the groom answers incorrectly then he will be submitted to performing embarrassing performances or subject to eating disgusting creations. Sebastian had to do both. Once he completes these door games he then was invited inside where the bride was patiently waiting. Before he could take his bride off to be married he had to find her hidden shoe. A lot of fun was had by all.
HALE KUKUI ORCHARD
Sebastian and Shijin choose a beautiful location for their wedding festivities. The venue overlooked Waipio Valley. Waipio Valley is a valley between two huge cliffs. Their wedding was on one cliff where the views were incredible. Hale Kukui is an orchard that also rents out their cabins and hosts many weddings. Shijin hired a wedding coordinator who coordinated everything and even helped us moving from one event to the next. They had a local officiant who incorporated the Hawaiian wedding traditions into the ceremony. They hired a local ukulele musician who played the best cover songs that fit every scene from the Chinese Tea Ceremony with the parents to the reception. Everything flowed so smoothly from one event to the next. It was a truly magical celebration.
WAIPIO VALLEY BLACK SAND BEACH
Sebastian took us on a jeep ride down the second steepest road in the United States to the black sand beach in Waipio Valley to photograph the them on the beach. The road was a bit frightening especially if you looked over the edge but Sebastian's driving was very safe. We were able to get some photographs before it started pouring down rain as it seems to do a lot on the Big Island. It was a nice quiet time for the couple to have a few minutes to themselves before heading back to their reception.
SHIJIN AND SEBASTIAN'S RECEPTION
The rest of the evening we were dodging rainstorms, however this did not stop the party. Everyone had such a wonderful time, dancing, participating in the bouquet and garter toss and eating delicious food.
BRINGING YOUR PHOTOGRAPHERS VERSUS HIRING LOCALLY
UNLIMITIED TIME WITH BRIDE AND GROOM
There is some debate whether hiring a local photographer/videographer from the area or bringing them with you. There are many advantages to each. If you bring a photographer and videographer with you then you will have them for unlimited time. We were with our couple from breakfast until late at night. We even offered to do another photography/video shoot the day after, however they had family obligations. If you hire locally you may be limited in the hours.
FRESH EYES VS. KNOWING THE AREA
For us we were inspired being in a new place. We booked a few extra days to check out the venue and the surrounding areas to have ideas for the shoot. If you hire locally they will know the spots that had the best light at certain points of the day. My experience from working in the Virgin Islands is that these are the same spots I would take all my clients. Therefore the photographs may not be the most original.
BRINGING YOUR PHOTOGRAPHERS MAY BE MORE EXPENSIVE
But it will be worth it. Not only will you have unlimited hours but the photographers are going to work extra hard to create their best work. Traveling for a wedding is a lot of time invested for a photographer as well as being incredibly exciting. They will be so inspired with being in a new place and will extra hard with capturing the best photographs and filming your memories in the most creative ways.