Monday, March 15, 2010

Destination Wedding? Keep It ‘Simple’ – Part One

Who says planning a destination wedding can’t be simple?

Jeff Copeland, owner and marketing director for Simple Weddings by Simple Treasures Photography in St. Petersburg, Florida, recently shared with me the ins and outs of planning the destination wedding of your dreams – the easy way!

What should couples just starting the planning process take into consideration when trying to determine whether a destination wedding is right for them?

Obviously, budget is one of the top considerations for most people. On the one hand, a destination wedding can be less expensive, because they generally tend to have fewer guests, and you can often eliminate one of the top expenses associated with weddings – the venue rental.

Popular destination wedding venues, such as beaches and parks, are usually "almost" free. Sometimes, a permit is required, but this generally costs less than $100. And of course, even if you opt for a more traditional venue, you still save money by having a smaller guest list, which requires less space, food and drink. On the other hand, you do have to factor in the travel expenses – but see the next question!

What are some of the top benefits of having a destination wedding?

In my mind, one of the top benefits is being on vacation the days before and after your wedding. We all know that after a few days of vacation, the problems and stress of your day-to-day life at home just seem to fade away. What better way to ease into your wedding? I also like the idea of combining your wedding and your honeymoon. With destination weddings, they kind of overlap, which I think allows for a much lower stress level, and a much higher fun level!

What are some key challenges that might arise when trying to plan a destination wedding, and what are your tips to help a couple get past those issues?

Obviously, it can be hard to pick things like a venue, an officiant, and a photographer from hundreds of miles away. You have to find someone who can be your eyes and ears, and who you can trust. But again, that can be hard to do over the phone or via email. We have found that the best way around this is with the old adage "a picture is worth a thousand words."

We have designed our website and blog to cater to out-of-state couples planning a destination wedding, and both sites are chockfull of pictures. We have pictures of our most popular wedding beaches and venues, pictures and bios of our staff, pictures of actual weddings we've done, and tons of useful planning information online. We want our clients to feel like they can somewhat get to know us through our website and blog. And I have to say, it works. Often, our clients seem like old friends, even though we may be meeting them for the first time. We work hard to always maintain that personal touch!

Are you planning a destination wedding, or is it something you’ve considered? Why do you or don’t you think it would work for you?

(Photo Credits: Claire Copeland of Simple Treasures Photography)

Jeff Copeland is the owner and marketing director for Simple Weddings by Simple Treasures Photography in St. Petersburg, Florida, and the author of the Florida Beach Wedding Guide. His company offers Florida Beach Wedding Packages on Florida's Gulf Coast from Tampa Bay to Naples. Simple Weddings was recently named "Best of 2009" in two categories – photography and wedding planning – by based solely on feedback from happy customers! Be sure to check out his website and his Florida beach wedding blog, or drop him a line at jeff (at)


  1. I wish I wish I wish I would have done a DW!!! I have family in Key West and am still kicking myself for letting my FMIL convince me it was a
    "bad idea." We would have had a smaller guest list and a BEAUTIFUL wedding!

  2. For me, planning a DW was SO easy compared to anything that could have been done at home. I barely had to do a thing. After picking our location, we were set up with a fantastic coordinator that took care of all the details for us. Basically when we arrived on site, we went through our tastings and picking just where we wanted to be married at the resort, photography packages, etc. and we were all set! It was tough in a way that certain key people could not be there, but we went into it thinking that we would really rather elope anyway, so it worked out for us.

    Honestly we were landing on the island we discussed how we couldn't believe that more people we knew didn't go away to get married. Maybe I'm a little biased, but our wedding was GORGEOUS. :)

  3. I really love the idea of a DW, but it wouldn't have worked with our family situation. I see photos of gorgeous destination weddings with sunsets on fire and crystal clear waters, and they are just so pretty! Great tips :)

  4. We toyed with the idea - but I think I am too much of a control freak to do it. But it would be awesome to go on a holiday and have all your peeps there with you. Once in a lifetime stuff.

  5. my wedding is two hours away, so while destination couples would probably laugh at that, sometimes it feels that way, because i'm trying for as many local vendors as possible. keeping it simple is good advice.