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Destination wedding set up on the beach on an island

Everything You Need to Know About Having Your Wedding Abroad

Destination weddings are becoming more popular among Canadian couples. These weddings typically offer a warm, tropical refuge from the cold weather in Canada, making almost any date the perfect weather for a wedding.

window view of airplane flying at dusk

Along with gorgeous weather and relaxed vacation vibes, destination weddings arguably make the wedding planning experience simpler. Many resorts offer wedding packages to help you plan with ease.

If you’re planning a destination wedding or if you’re on the fence about where you and your partner want to get married, think about your options with a destination wedding.

Rather than channelling all your time and energy on planning details, you can stay relaxed and focus on finding the best bridal gowns in Ottawa to suit your wedding’s location and weather.

Hint: short wedding dresses or bohemian-style gowns are the best for hot beaches!

Here’s a look at the pros and cons of having a destination wedding, along with other important details you should consider.

The Beauty of a Wedding Abroad

There are many perks to booking a destination wedding, including:

Fill Your Passport!

Canadian passport and earphones on a table

A destination wedding allows you to add travel experience to your wedding. Many people choose to have their wedding abroad to add more unique adventures to the start of their journey as a betrothed couple. They’d rather spend the money on gaining new travel experience than throwing a traditional wedding at home. Some of the best destination weddings are in places that are meaningful to couples. So if there’s a place you were planning to visit together (like for your honeymoon), you can combine the two trips into one.

Simple, Laid Back, Relaxed

A small wedding that starts off as a vacation is the recipe for the ultimate relaxing wedding experience. If you’re able to locate a resort or hotel with an on-site wedding coordinator, they will make your wedding planning that much easier.

Wedding coordinators will help with planning, catering, booking an officiant, getting your marriage licence, and organizing other pertinent details. And best of all, if the resort is taking care of all the wedding planning for you, you will be more relaxed than most brides on the days leading up to your wedding.

Fresh and lavish tropical breakfast made up of local fruits and beverages

Economically Advantageous

Destination weddings can be a lot more affordable than traditional at-home weddings. The cost of food and alcohol alone is typically lower no to mention you likely won’t have 150+ people attending the ceremony and reception. You also save by combining your wedding and honeymoon as one.

Disadvantages to Consider

While destination weddings can be less stressful, there are some concerns you’ll have to consider, such as:

You Won’t Be in Complete Control

If you opt for a wedding package with an on-site wedding coordinator, you will have less choice and control over the details of your wedding. You might be able to choose select features, but opting for these whole package deals means you leave the work in the hands of others.


Since different countries have different marriage laws, you may come across red tape if planning a destination wedding by yourself. If there is no on-site wedding planner at your desired location, hire one at home who specializes in destination weddings. They will help you navigate these processes to ensure you are able to get married on your wedding day.

close up photo of a chair lined up in the audience of a beach destination weddingBoth the laws at home and at the destination must be met in order to be legally married. And you’ll need to bring forms of identification and possibly other documents with you on your trip. So do your research, especially if you don’t have a wedding coordinator.

Not Everyone You Invite Can Make It

Some friends and loved ones may not be able to attend your wedding due to the cost, difficulties travelling, or being unable to book the time off. Before booking, talk to those who you really want to have with you on your special day.

You may have to compromise on dates or other factors but having an open conversation is the best way to be transparent about expectations so everyone can plan accordingly. Alternatively, plan to have a dinner or party once you get home to celebrate with those who couldn’t make it.

wooden sign pointing to various excursions and activities overlooking the ocean

Not Much Alone Time

If you’re happy travelling and spending a week with friends and family, then this point won’t be a drawback. But if you prefer to say goodbye to everyone immediately after the reception, then destination weddings may not be for you.

Destination weddings are often a week-long or days-long affair, not a single day like traditional weddings. While the actual wedding ceremony and reception are only on one day, destination weddings are like going on vacation with all your wedding guests, so you should expect to see them and spend time with them often throughout your stay.

On top of the wedding day, there is usually a welcome event and a closing event for guests. And depending on the length of the vacation, there is typically at least one group excursion.

To get some alone time to enjoy the honeymoon, newlyweds often stay at their destination for a few days after their guests leave.

Picking the Destination

There are several important things to consider when picking a destination for your wedding. First, where do you want to get married? Do you have a specific location or resort in mind? If so, does the resort offer wedding packages and deals? And are you able to visit the destination before booking your wedding?

Bride and groom kissing

Ideally, you will find a resort that has everything you want, including excellent wedding packages. These packages often come with discounts for guest rooms. They may also include an on-site wedding planner that will take care of everything for you.

If you have a location in mind that has minimal or no wedding packages, consider working with a wedding coordinator at home who has experience with destination weddings. They will take care of the wedding planning for you, including travel bookings and other details.

Another option is to book a resort or hotel and have your wedding ceremony offsite, like at a scenic waterfall or on a boat.

You must also consider the time of year when booking a destination wedding. Many destinations are affected by the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June to November. For this reason, the most popular time for destination weddings is from November to May—with May being the peak time.

Due to the increasing popularity of destination weddings, you should book your wedding at least one year in advance to ensure you book your ideal location.

bride in her dress and flower crown sitting on rocks

Keep the Guest List Small

The small guest lists of destination weddings allow the bride and groom to spend quality time with their guests. Destination weddings are far more intimate than traditional weddings with guest lists being an average of 28 guests.

So invite your favourite people only—the people you don’t mind going on vacation with. And invite them early on so they can have time to save up for the trip, apply for passports and visas, and book time off from work.

You’ll be happy you kept the guest list small when you can enjoy everyone’s company to the fullest.

Picking the Right Dress

bride and groom kissing on a rock in the oceanIf you plan to get married on the beach with the warmth of the sun beating down on you, you will want to choose a lightweight wedding dress with breathable fabrics. Chiffon and lace are suitable fabric choices for hot destination wedding dresses. And short wedding dresses are perfect for hot weather and sandy beaches. Also keep this in mind when choosing your bridesmaids’ dresses.

Your hairstyle should also be well-suited to the location. If the ceremony is on a windy beach, you’ll want your hair tied back so it’s not blowing in your face while you say your vows.

It’s no wonder more couples are choosing destination weddings. If this type of wedding sounds like a dream to you, start looking for places soon so you’ll have the ideal location booked for you and your fiancé.