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Tropical destination wedding -
Think you can't afford it?
Wrong. Just spend your money
in the right places.

Your tropical destination wedding dreams probably go something like this:

You arrive a couple of days early to settle in and relax. You have some orange juice and fruit on your balcony followed by a bike ride to a calm bay for a little snorkeling. Then, in leisurely fashion, cruise on back to the hotel for a light lunch and some serious spa treatments so you feel and look incredible for your big day. Top it all off with a sunset walk full of anticipation about your perfectly chosen tropical destination wedding. Turn in for the night and when you wake up...think about nothing except marrying the person you love more than anything in paradise.


Before you go to any island, do some quick, free research that may completely change your mind about where you want to go.

Perhaps the most comprehensive collection of recent reviews on the web of accommodations all over the world, is not to be missed. We use it before every trip to a new place - try it once and you'll be the same way. It's free and it's absolutely invaluable for avoiding bad hotels. Especially if you're going to the Caribbean, give the reviews a quick look.

There are three ways to plan a tropical destination wedding that are better than tackling the task on your own:

Get a caribbean villa rental and use a wedding coordinator.

If you want to use one of these options, most of the big stuff (location, paperwork, coordination, etc.) will be taken care of for you. Then you're free to take care of some more fun things like:

  • finding ways to save by using beach theme wedding favors as wedding decorations.

  • finding about how to create the perfect beach theme wedding.

  • looking at beach wedding ceremony items and If you're taking a different option, consider some of the thoughts below, and don't forget to take a look at our Hawaiian wedding and Caribbean wedding pages for some extra tips.

    There are things to consider about a tropical destination wedding that don't immediately come to mind. Any difficulties that you come across can be overcome with a change in technique, perception, or both.

    Let's look at a few difficulties you might encounter and some ways to overcome them:


    The cost of travel and hotel can be a little more expensive than if you were to stay home.

    To overcome this:

    • Plan early use a discount travel provider.

    • Have fewer guests (no problem - fewer people will be able to make the trip anyway).

    • Have less food (try a large appetizer/dessert table instead of a big catered meal).

    • Change your wedding perception - tropical destination weddings usually are smaller (this saves tons of money on wedding invitations, food, wedding favors, wedding napkins, flowers, and so on).

    • If you have the ceremony/reception outside or on the beach, you're likely to save on the cost of a rented room.

    • Stay there for your honeymoon - away from your guests of course. If you were planning a honeymoon anyway, then there's no extra expense.


    You are in unfamiliar territory, so there are a few details to consider.

    How will you get the stuff you want to take to your tropical destination wedding location?


    • The food issues will be handled by your hotel/caterer.

    • Flowers should be bought at your destination for many reasons from hardiness to customs/agricultural restrictions. Just coordinate with your hotel.

    • The rest of the items can be shipped to your hotel by you or even directly from the store from which you purchased them.

    • Go light on these items. If you've picked a nice setting, your location will do most of the decoration work for you. For tips on picking a good location, see Hawaiian weddings and Caribbean weddings.

    How will everyone get around?


    • If you're in Hawaii or the Keys, rental cars are readily available, making it easy to have the ceremony and reception in different places.

    • If you use an all inclusive wedding package in the Caribbean, your guests can usually stay at the resort you are using at discounted rates.

    • If you are using a caribbean villa rental from island, they have a wedding package where your guests can be bussed in to your rented villa for the wedding.

    Note: Going super cheap simply won't work - especially in the Caribbean islands. If money in general is super tight, you can have a better wedding at home. If you have some money to spend, but need to stay on a budget, use the tips discussed above to reallocate your funds.

    Generally speaking, for a Hawaiian wedding, you'll have more options for quality hotels and locations, but Hawaii is a little harder to get to for people on the East coast.

    The Caribbean islands are a little closer for East coast guests but you must be more careful about where you choose to have your tropical destination wedding. Also, see our Caribbean wedding page for more tips and recommendations on this subject.

    For a quick look at Caribbean wedding possibilities and costs, check Sandals Resorts. It will give you a good idea of what a destination wedding provider should be able to offer in terms of what's included, ease of planning, and baseline pricing for comparison with other resorts.

    Note for those planning a tropical destination wedding: there is one thing you may not have thought of. Depending on where you have your beach wedding, you may or may not have anywhere from a few to throngs of possibly inebriated onlookers gawking at your entire affair from start to finish.

    From onlookers jumping the boundary chains to take pictures of themselves with your wedding decorations to wedding crashers, this is something to consider that, handled well, may help you plan a ceremony more to your liking.

    For our growing list of pages on this subject, have fun dreaming about the beach at our beach wedding ideas page.

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    Tropical Destination Wedding Ceremony Items

    Beach Wedding Theme Ideas