by Robbin Montero

            A vineyard in summer, a beach at sunset, a glen in the midst of towering trees or an exciting cosmopolitan city—all are great destination choices for a wedding. Many couples choose locations with romantic associations, such as where they grew up or became engaged. Others choose wedding destinations for the fun or scenic backdrop they offer. Favored wedding destinations in the U.S. include the Sonoma-Napa Wine Country, and Hawaii. Las Vegas tops the list as the most chosen destination wedding site. From elopements to grandiose affairs of 200 guests, destination weddings have tripled in popularity in the last three years.

Local help

            If you don’t have family in the area or a trusted someone who can perform the necessary research for you, hiring a wedding planner and coordinator is a must for your destination wedding. A local coordinator will assist you in finding the perfect reception site, source and secure vendors, make telephone calls, tend to local errands and save you unnecessary trips to the destination. Utilize the Internet for research or call the Chamber of Commerce or Convention and Visitors Bureau to locate a coordinator. Most offer very helpful “wedding packets” that list services you will need.


            If you haven’t hired a wedding coordinator, plan on making four to six trips to the destination; one to two trips to locate the site, an additional trip or two for hiring vendors, one trip a few months in advance of the wedding to finalize the details, and the final journey to attend your rehearsal, ceremony and reception. Make the most of your time by calling ahead and scheduling appointments for your planning trips. Many locations fill quickly, so planning at least 12 to 18 months ahead is highly recommended. 


Weekend weddings

            Have you always dreamed of Maui at sunset? Most couples planning a destination wedding prefer an intimate feel to their special day and wish to have very close family and friends in attendance; thus the creation of an entire weekend wedding concept. Friday evening starts out with the wedding rehearsal and dinner. All guests that have traveled a great distance should be invited to the rehearsal dinner and perhaps a drop-in barbeque the day of the wedding (or the day following). Golf, wine tours, spa treatments or sightseeing events are commonly scheduled for guests the day after the ceremony.


            Pre-wedding letters are a must for a destination wedding. Your guests will appreciate being alerted to the schedule of weekend activities, information about the area, overnight accommodations, and particular points of interest.


Other considerations

            Laws differ from state to state. Avoid last-minute surprises by checking the marriage license laws in the state where you will marry. Most states require a waiting period and blood tests, along with the necessary paperwork. California laws have become less stringent in the last few years. In addition to the scenic vineyards, the elimination of waiting periods and blood tests have probably contributed to the popularity of Northern California Wine Country.


            Las Vegas is most popular for elopements and round-the-clock fun! Each Hawaiian island has unique features, making Hawaii a top choice for intimate, romantic tropical weddings.  Finally, couples who love food and wine are drawn to the California Wine Country.


            Coordinating a destination wedding requires additional planning and funds due to the added cost of airfare for several trips to the site, hotel accommodations and long-distance phone calls. However, destination weddings are preferred by couples who want a one-of-a-kind wedding memories. Destination weddings make guests feel extra special and give the wedding couple a memory-filled place to visit for joyous anniversary celebrations.


“Stress Free, Leave the Details to Me,” is the tried and true philosophy of Robbin Montero, California Wine Country wedding planning expert and owner of A Dream Wedding.  Robbin is the premier wedding planner in the Northern California Wine Country, transforming any vision into the perfectly designed wedding creation. Robbin and her weddings have been featured in The Knot, Brides, Elite Magazine, Your Wedding Day and Vine Napa/Sonoma magazines, and Travel & Leisure magazine calls Robbin, “The expert wedding planner in the California Wine Country.”

Robbin Montero is a wedding coordinator and special events planner in Northern California.

©2006 Robbin Montero 707-579-5886

This article cannot be reprinted without Robbin Montero’s expressed written permission.