According to a report conducted by Theknot.com, nearly half of all same-sex weddings are destination ceremonies. And, the Williams Institute, an LGBT think tank, this week published research indicating that in the year since same-sex marriage got the green light from the U.S. Supreme Court, 132,000 LGBT weddings have taken place, generating over $1.58 billion in national revenue. So, clearly, destination weddings are big business.
However, as if there were not enough details to juggle when planning a wedding locally, trying to coordinate one set at a location far from home poses an extra set of challenges (and expense!) To help answer some of our questions, we enlisted Robert E. Blackmon, a lifestyle expert and author of the book The Gay Groom's Guide to Planning Your Wedding Without Losing Your Mind:
OutTraveler: What is the best piece of advice you can give a couple considering a destination wedding versus one based locally?
Robert E. Blackmon: "My rule of thumb as it relates to a destination wedding (DW) always revolves around 'The Three How(s)': How many people do you want to invite? How much will it cost? How long do you plan to stay?
By asking yourself these three basic questions you will be able to decide if a DW is truly affordable, attainable, and even worth your while. It’s one thing to dream destination wedding but it’s certainly another to make it a reality."
OT: What kinds of places make for a great destination wedding?
RB: "The best DWs happen in tropical or all-inclusive settings. Planning a wedding away from your natural setting can be stressful enough without the extra what-if scenarios that may occur. A simple wedding on the beach of a hotel works and keeps your overall costs down. An all-inclusive package resort allows you (and your guests) to pay up front without feeling like you're bleeding money the entire time. These kinds of places include meals and activities in the price so everyone can just enjoy the festivities."
OT: How about the worst?
RB: "The worst kind of DWs are the ones where the locations are spread far apart. For instance, you have your heart set on a fairytale wedding in a castle. The only problem is that the castle offers no catering, lodging, proper plumbing, etc. and it’s in a small village so you have to travel (by public transportation) for everything. Unless you are independently wealthy, these fairytale weddings are ill-advised."
OT: I'm a control freak and I want a destination wedding. How can I be sure that elements like my cake and the catering will be to my standards when I'm relying on resources too far away for me to sample?
RB: "Thanks to the power of the internet and social media, things like this aren’t as bad as they once were. Google, TripAdvisor, and personal references are the way to go. Fact-check and do your research as you would if you were getting married locally. If control is in your DNA, then be disciplined with your wedding homework. Read reviews, ask friends on Facebook, or see if cake samples can be sent. You won’t know if you don’t ask. When all else fails, I suggest you find the best bakery in town and a highly respected caterer and arrange a tasting upon your arrival so you’re not completely surprised on the day of the ceremony. Perhaps there will be time to make any tasty adjustments."
OT: Name one or two things a couple can do to make the whole process easier on the guests?
RB: "Because this is a wedding, your guests are going to automatically think they need to bring a gift. Why bother? Taking time out of their lives and going on a holiday should be gift enough. Schlepping a gift abroad shouldn’t be a worry for them. To make your guests feel special throw a celebration in their honor. Because this is a limited guest list they will feel privileged that they were singled out by you to bear witness. Their presence is their present."
OT: Any unexpected or off-the-beaten path locations that LGBT couples should absolutely consider when picking a destination?
RB: "Santorini, Greece is a wonderfully picturesque and quiet island that caters to a DW. There is no such thing as a bad view on the island. The fresh food is delicious and there are a variety of price points for every budget.
Cinque Terre, Italy is a string of centuries-old seaside villages on the Italian Riviera coastline. Romance is all around. Each town’s vineyards cling to steep terraces and the restaurants serve amazing food, especially in the Liguria region with its famous pesto sauce."
For more sage advice from Robert, visit his website gaygroomrobert.com.