Group Trips That Are NOT Destination Weddings.

Usually I write about Destination Weddings or Couple Travel but today  I am going to branch into something I have been trying to organize lately: a FAMILY vacation (although the steps I describe apply to any large group) . It is completely different than planning a destination wedding because with weddings the bride and groom make the decisions and guests decide if they want to go on the trip or not.

J and I are organizing a big family trip and inviting extended family to partake in the vacation with us. We are not 100% sure how many people will be interested but I thought the more information I can collect for people the more that they will be able to see if it is something they can commit too. So the following is some information on what you want to know about your group before approaching a travel agent. I personally DO recommend a travel agent for every trip you take (it’s not more expensive – trust me) but especially for a trip where there are many different people contributing money to the trip. You don’t want to be responsible for collecting money from family or friends do you?

So here are the following steps to organizing a big trip

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Centrepieces That Can Fit In Your Suitcase

I will never stop saying that I truly believe less is more when it comes to destination wedding decor. You are spending a lot of money to get married somewhere beautiful right? You really shouldn’t need to also worry about a ton of decor. And of course this is another instance where the smaller guest list saves you (you are decorating 5 tables instead of 30 right?) – at least that’s the idea.

Basically what I am trying to say is, I’m not even really sure you need to have centrepieces at your destination wedding. To be honest, I have seen some stunning centrepieces at weddings but I don’t really think they are necessary at any wedding (sorry wedding industry!)

Okay I know,  we love centrepieces. So for a destination wedding you have two options: go with something your venue provides or bring something that will fit in your suitcase. Some resorts will let you ship items for your wedding to the resort before you arrive but you still can’t get away with anything too bulky.

If you are going to use centrepieces provided by your venue know that there is probably an extra charge. Some resorts provide something small like candles and you can choose to add something. For the resort we are getting married at, centrepieces start at $60USD and go up from there. Just to give you an idea!

Here is some centrepiece ideas if you decide to bring your own decor (or at least, some of your own decor). For planning purposes, I should warn you that at the venue I choose, depending how elaborate the centrepieces I bring I may have to pay a set up fee.

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Why Cuba might be the next hot spot for Canadians looking for a Destination Wedding

I attended a destination wedding seminar the other day and there was information on Destination Weddings in Cuba and they blew my mind.

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Source: here

For comparison sake, here is a simplified idea of what you need to get married in Mexico legally :

  • Valid Passport (you need this to go to Mexico anyway)
  • Long form of your birth certificate
  • Letter of No Marriage Registration (processed in Chetumal, Quintana Roo)
  • Original blood test & Medical certificate (this causes you to need to be in Mexico at least three business days before the wedding)
  • Four witnesses
  • Usually a fee (between 1000USD and 1500USD on average for your wedding resort to organize everything for you)

Basically, there is enough here that most couples choose to get married at home before or after.

But in Cuba, here is what you need to get married legally:

  • Passport
  • Birth Certificate
  • That’s it!

I knew the requirements varied from island to island but I had no idea that it could be so easy. To me, it would have been really nice to choose to have a legal wedding as opposed to the symbolic ceremony that we chose.

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What a 15 month planning timeline means for your guests

I got engaged December 2014 (I can’t believe it was so long ago as I am typing this). For the first year of our engagement we were pretty busy because we purchased a house, waited for it to be built and moved in. We were originally leaning towards a traditional home wedding (read more about what factors finally swayed us here) and moving into a new house definitely affected our budget! I was really unhappy with the options that I had for having a wedding at home so we officially decided in November 2015 that we would get married away.

We knew we would probably choose a date in Spring 2017 so I felt absolutely no pressure in November, I mean I have a good 18 months at this point right? And most pinterest timelines say give your guests 12 months notice so at the point I had LOTS of time (or at least that’s how I felt).

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Destination Wedding Chairs: Less is More

Bring on the lucite ghost chairs! Honestly, I am the least biased person when it comes to this. I did a lot of research on home decor trends before my fiance and I moved into our house and one of the trends I was not about to get on board with was lucite furniture. That’s why I was so surprised when it became my absolute top pick for destination weddings. When you are getting married in some of the most beautiful places in the world abroad, I really think the rule of “less is more” applies. Chiavari chairs are stunning but lucite chairs take attention away from the chairs and put focus on the amazing location you chose.

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Why We Chose A Destination Wedding (in Mexico)

Ohhhh so many reasons.  Honestly I knew I wanted to have a destination wedding even before I attended my first destination wedding in 2012. My fiance on the other hand needed a bit more convincing. I think sometimes that men get drawn into what the wedding industry tells you that you must have to have a proper wedding even more than women! Of course this makes sense because (some!) men only see main wedding marketing and don’t spend hours on pinterest searching “budget wedding” or “wedding under 5K”.

Of course herein lies the dilemma because your “average” wedding has an above average price of over $30,000. We knew we didn’t want to spend anywhere close to that but if we had a home wedding our guest list was non-negotiable. We both have big families and with just our “must have” family members we were at almost 100 people. To save you time, when you google how to cut wedding costs it really comes down to two things that make the most difference: guest list and catering. Our guest list couldn’t really be made smaller to replicate the affordable pinterest weddings that usually have a guest list between 50-75. My fiance was originally against having a destination wedding but he also didn’t love the idea of having a wedding without serving food or drinks either. And obviously the idea of saving money for the next five years to spend on one day wasn’t appealing. So I searched and searched the internet and found that if I chose the cheapest of everything I could find that we would want for our wedding we would be looking at a conservative $15,000. I REALLY did not want to spend $15,000 on the cheapest wedding I could muster up! So enters the opportunity to show my fiance the perks of getting married abroad.

Perks of choosing a Destination Wedding over the Traditional Wedding you originally wanted:

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