While it may seem straightforward to just pick a date for your destination wedding and go with it, there's quite a bit to consider when choosing the best date to hold your wedding overseas. You're juggling a lot of schedules - not just your own, but also your guests', in addition to the "schedules" of the local country. There are five main things that we suggest you keep in mind when planning the date for your destination wedding.
1. Weather - As a reminder, the weather around the world can change drastically depending on location.
Are you getting married somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere? Keep in mind that the seasons are reversed - our summer is their winter, and vice versa.
Getting married in the tropics? Most tropical areas have a rainy season and a dry season. It can rain every day during the rainy season, which could put a damper on your outdoor wedding plans. Of course, you can work around this by getting married inside, but you just want to make sure you and your guests are prepared.
Try to find out as much about the weather in the country as possible, as this can easily sway your decision for picking a wedding date. For example, my husband and I got married in Belize and chose February for our wedding week for a number of weather-related reasons: it was dry season, it was much cooler than in the summer, and as a result, there were less bugs to have to worry about.
2. Holidays - Holidays can also play a role in choosing a wedding date abroad and it is important to pay attention to holidays in your own country, as well as holidays in the host country.
a.) Holidays in your own country - During any holiday season such as Christmas or Easter, more people are going to have time off work, but that also means that flights to popular international destinations are going to be more expensive. So, you may have more people available to come, but less people wanting to spend the extra travel money. Host countries also tend to know when the U.S. (or wherever you're coming from) holidays are and adjust their prices accordingly.
b.) Local holidays in the host country - It's also important to know if there are any big holidays happening in the local country where you want to have your wedding. If it's a big enough holiday, it's possible that it could disrupt your gathering in some way - whether creating crazy amounts of traffic, limiting the amount of flights available, or decreasing availability of locations to get married (like the beaches or temples, etc.). As an example, if you wanted to get married on the beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil during the end of February, your plans will be dashed by Carnaval, when millions of visitors are in Rio for the festivities.
3. High Tourist Season - Similar to the above, tourist season in most countries tends to mirror the U.S. holidays: May through August (summer) and December through February (winter holiday season). Hotel prices can double or even triple during these times, and availability can dwindle, so it is best to be aware of that as you make your decision. If it works for you to plan your wedding outside of the tourist season, you are more likely to get cheaper hotel prices and bigger group discounts, since hotels want to fill their rooms and are more willing to work with you on price to get your wedding group to stay with them.
4. Health Risks - There can be local health risks in the host country that you need to be aware of, and it is possible those risks are higher during certain times of the year and in certain locations. For example, Zika may be present in Belize, but it's much less likely during the winter season since there are less bugs. Or Malaria is prevalent in parts of Peru, but not in the Cusco region due to its high altitude. Your guests will most definitely ask about these health concerns, so it is important to understand risks and plan accordingly.
(For an up to date look at all of the health risks in every country around the world, and recommended or required vaccines (if any), check out the CDC Travel webpage.
5. Know what works for your friends and family - You probably want many of your family and friends to be at your wedding. So, it is helpful to keep them in mind throughout the planning process. Before you decide on a date, call some of the key players in your family and see what works for them. It's helpful to create a list of absolute "must" people who you really want to be at your wedding, and run some dates past them before making a final decision. However, as a reminder, you most likely will not be able to find a perfect time for everyone; this is just the nature of planning a wedding. But don't worry, it will all work out in the end. The people who are supposed to be there will be there.
That being said, remember, it is your wedding. Some people will be super excited, some people may grumble that they have to travel overseas and dust off the old passport. You never know, and you can't please everyone. Sometimes you just have to make a decision and hope that people will manage to re-arrange and make it work for them.
What I can say is that having a Destination Wedding is by far one of the best, most exciting, most rewarding experiences you can have to start your life together. It is worth every minute of effort and every penny you put into to making it happen. And remember, it's not nearly as expensive or complicated to put together as you may think. So, pick a date and start planning, you will be glad you did!