My husband and I LOVE all-inclusive hotels, and in the 7 years of our relationship prior to covid, we had been to 3 of them, all located on the Mexican coast.
When I found out that my husband’s cousin was not only having a destination wedding, but getting married at an all-inclusive resort in Cancun, I was ecstatic. Relaxing days by the pool. Excellent food. Parties every night. What’s not to love?!
Evidently, a lot. Now this will probably vary on the person you ask, because a destination wedding experience is subjective. However, as a witness to the complaints and struggles of the approximately 150 people in attendance, I got a good sense of what had people frustrated and disappointed.
Keep in mind that I’ve been on the other side of this coin—once upon a time, I too was a bride. And my advice to couples planning their wedding is always, ALWAYS plan the wedding that you’ll be happy to remember 10, 20, 30 years from now.
I didn’t write this to talk you out of your dream destination wedding, but to keep you aware of how it affects your guests. Particularly if the comfort and well-being of your guests is a priority for you.
When you’re planning your wedding, you’re probably only concerned with your expenses and not those of your guests. Hotel weddings in Mexico are more cost effective than the US. But while your overall wedding costs go down, your guests’ costs go up.
Plane tickets to Cancun these days are expensive. For my husband, my 3 year-old, and myself, it was $3,000 for the flights alone. Add another $2,500 for a Thursday to Monday hotel stay, $700 for clothes and alterations, and we wound up paying over six THOUSAND dollars for us to go to a wedding.
That is an insane amount of money to pay for a wedding that’s not yours! If you’re thinking about a destination wedding, consider how much your guests will have to pay just to attend (on top of their customary cash gift).
Weddings on the beach make for gorgeous photos, but they are TORTUROUS to sit through. The sun. The heat! Aunties were fighting with other aunties. Kids were tomato-faced and irritable. And my attempts to ditch the ceremony for a cabana at the pool were foiled every time (my MIL is a ninja).
It was ten times worse for the couple getting married. They were under an acrylic mandap, in the direct sunlight, wearing heavy wedding clothes.
The hotel provided cold water and wet towels, but that provided little to no comfort for those of us sitting out there. It was so hot, that most of the guests left 30 minutes in.
If your heart is set on a destination wedding, think about having your ceremony inside. Everyone will stay cool, the wedding will *still* be beautiful, and you can take your beachside photos after the ceremony ends.
This is a point of consideration that exists for all weddings, not just destination ones. How accessible is your venue for those of your guests who are differently-abled, or wheelchair dependent?
The Cancun hotel we went to was an accessibility disaster. The grounds were spread out, and getting to each event required a lot of walking, and a ton of stairs.
For the folks with injuries and wheelchairs, getting around the venue was time-consuming and painful. A couple of them weren’t even able to go to the ceremony itself, because there was no way for a wheelchair to get down to the beach.
If your heart is set on a destination wedding, empathize with your guests and what their experience will be like.
Consider that they might not have thousands of dollars to spend on one wedding weekend. Or that their health issues, coupled with an inaccessible venue, make it impossible for them to witness and celebrate your wedding—the only reason they’re there to begin with.
Destination weddings are beautiful. If you factor your guests’ comfort into the equation, it can be a beautiful experience for everyone.
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