Expert Tips for Planning a Wedding Away

Dreaming of some place wonderful to wed? Alison Hotchkiss, event planner and author of Destination Wedding Planner, offers words to the wise.

Bridal Guide: What type of couple generally gets the most out of a wedding away?

Alison Hotchkiss: You should be OK with giving up a bit of control and have a sense of adventure. If you love the idea of spending a weekend with friends and family, you’d probably enjoy a wedding away. If you envision a smaller group instead of a huge gathering, that’s also a factor. If you and your fiancé have a conflict over whether to hold the wedding in your family’s hometown or in his—choosing neutral territory, ie. an island or a mountaintop somewhere completely different—can solve the problem. Or the two of you may want to marry in an exotic location and hold a reception back home afterward.

BG: If a couple chooses to marry at a resort that offers a wedding package, should they still plan to visit beforehand?

AH: Yes. Many couples don’t, but I think that’s a mistake. Even if an on-site wedding coordinator is going to handle the details, you should scout out the property. Maybe you won’t like the food or find out there’s construction going on. You should also know that costs range widely, according to region, the particular resort, the size of your event and how much you choose to customize it.

BG: What are some things, besides trying the food, that the couple should do when they visit a site?

AH: They should meet with the on-site coordinator and find out which vendors the resort uses and meet with them as well. They should arrange to hear the band to make sure it suits their taste. If there’s no onsite coordinator, they should hire someone locally. Ask the hotel for recommedations. Be efficient and get everything done on one visit.

BG: Describe a typical wedding away weekend.

AH: Let’s say you’re getting married in Mexico, and you’re having a four-day event. Welcome your guests at a cocktail party at the beach bar, with traditional food like fish tacos and margaritas. The next day, have the rehearsal dinner at the hotel, serving more refined Mexican-style food. For the big-day dinner, do it up—depending on budget—and have a four-course meal, with custom lighting, linens and dance floor.

BG: We’re psyched for a wedding away! Give us a few ideas.

AH: You could get married in a castle in Scotland. The setting is rustic but elegant. You enter to the sound of bagpipes and the men are wearing kilts. Or, get married on a beach in Mexico. Hire a salsa band and keep the margaritas flowing. Or, consider Las Vegas. It’s centrally located and all-inclusive packages are easy to come by—all you have to do is show up!

Want to know more about Allison? Visit her website,, for wedding photos, location ideas, and tips and tricks from her blog.