First, you found the perfect partner.


Then you picked the perfect place to tie the knot — and it’s somewhere far, far away.


So, what’s next?


It’s a question more and more couples are asking these days, according to destination wedding specialist Laurie Keith. She says destination weddings — where couples travel to a foreign spot for their ceremony — account for about 16 per cent of all weddings, with that number expected to rise to 25 per cent in the coming years.


Her company, Romantic Planet Vacations, handles between 200 and 300 destination weddings a year, with all-inclusive resorts in locales such as Mexico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic being the most popular choices.

But while there’s a romantic appeal to getting married in a special place, there are also plenty of practical considerations.

Not to worry, says Keith.

“There are actually many benefits of having a destination wedding, one being saving money on it,” she says.

According to Keith, the average wedding in Canada costs $26,000, while a destination wedding usually runs the couple only about $6,000. The savings generally come from guests paying their own way, though there are options available for the cost-conscious.

Keith says group discounts are available at most resorts, and she’s also seen situations where the couple pays for part of their guests’ expenses.

Besides, she says, considering that most Canadians will take one trip a year, “they can just combine that with the trip to visit their family or friend at their wedding.”

Once the guest list is sorted out, Keith has some key tips for the wandering couple: Plan as far ahead as you can, and consult someone who specializes in destination weddings.

“Most brides and grooms get overwhelmed with all the options out there,” she says. “We can sit down and go through the process of asking what their interests are, what their budgets are (and) what destinations they favour.”

The wedding planner will also handle issues such as airfare, accommodations and travel documents, says Keith. But what about the most important parts of the ceremony, the rings?

How do they get there?

Not in your checked luggage, advises Keith. Couples should keep those handy at all times. She also says most airlines offer closet space to store wedding dresses during transport, though that space can get cramped if the plane has other like-minded couples onboard.

Aside from laying down deposits early to avoid disappointment, Keith also has one other important bit of advice: “don’t let your guests boss you around.

“They tend to want a say in where they’re going and what they’re doing. But it really is ultimately your wedding, so at the end of the day, it’s up to you.”