First steps in planning a destination wedding

Discussing where in the world to head for your wedding is a pretty awesome conversation for you two to have—Hawaii,  Mexico, California, the Caribbean, Europe, the South Pacific…when you first get engaged, the sky really is the limit. But don’t forget to ask yourselves:

1. If you’re thinking of a place you two have been on vacation, is it the type of destination where the majority of your guests would be comfortable? (For example, it needs to be child-friendly if you hope to include lots of kids.)

2. Are you considering a spot where one of your families spends their summers? If so, would you both be happy gathering the troops in one clan’s territory? (It’s better to be honest upfront than resentful a year from now.)

2. What are the easiest travel routes for your must-invite list? If you’ve got a bunch of immediate family in Seattle, for example, getting them to the Caribbean will probably involve at least a couple of flights. However, traveling to the Rockies, Hawaii, northern California, or Mexico’s Pacific coast could be a piece of cake.

3. Do the places you’re considering lack anything you consider crucial to your wedding–i.e. four-star cuisine, talented photographers, or a decent hair stylist? Would you be willing to foot the bill to fly in your own vendors?

4. Is it essential that the ceremony be legal? If so, look into marriage laws and rule out destinations with long residency requirements (Portugal) or strict religious guidelines (Bali).

5. Can you afford it? Even though wedding guests typically pay for their own travel arrangements and hotel rooms, you’ll be expected to pick up the tab not only for the reception but for pre-parties as well. They usually include a welcome evening, a group activity or two, and the wedding-day lunch.

6. Are you okay with people saying, “sorry, can’t make it”? Unless they have unlimited budgets and endless vacation time, your dream wedding is not going to fit everyone’s agenda.

Got it? Now, get out that atlas.