How to have a fun, all inclusive destination wedding –
We love sharing the Central Coast and Pismo Beach with couples! We’ve had wedding couples travel all the way from Scotland and Turkey and as close to home as Fresno and Bakersfield.
So, what does the word destination really mean? Cambridge Dictionary says destination can be an adjective meaning worth making a special journey for. A destination wedding, is a wedding that is worth making a special journey for. For us, that journey can be a few hours by car or quite a few hours by plane, train and/or automobile.
All inclusive destination weddings are perfect for couples because they:
Are Less Stressful
All inclusive means pretty much everything you need is included. If CCW plans your wedding, you have one person who coordinates your whole ceremony! Think was less emails, way less to keep track of and way more time to plan the fun part!
It’s not always easy to plan a wedding from far away. So, having one person, who knows all about weddings, helps you to have a stress free destination wedding. How to have a fun all inclusive destination wedding starts with having a stress free experience.
Costs Less Than a Traditional Wedding
If CCW plans your wedding you have a wedding planner, officiant to marry you, photographer, and florist all available to you for one affordable price!
When shopping around for weddings, you might see one price or a starting at price, but many times there are hidden costs. All inclusive destination weddings list out all that’s included. With CCW, there’s no fine print! What’s listed on our website is what you get. If you want extras you can add them.
Destination weddings tend to cost less because you can keep the guest list smaller. Not all your friends and family want to travel out to California. If you have a weekday destination wedding, that also keeps a wedding small because it’s not always easy to get away from work.
(This couple traveled from Florida for their fun all inclusive destination wedding in Pismo Beach. To see their beach elopement video click here )
If you are worried about important people not being able to make it to your destination wedding consider these tips:
Celebrate your destination wedding before you leave and let guests celebrate you! Think of it like a bon voyage party wishing you good luck luck on your journey or best wishes for your travels.
For your party have a fun theme to it. Maybe host the event at Dave and Busters or park. Keep it casual and fun! You can dance, a toast, and even have a cake. Guests will want to know about where you are getting married so make sure to have a few pictures of the location.
I know I’ve used the word fun a lot, but weddings should feel fun. They are about the love you and your fiancé share and the wedding ceremony is the time to be serious. The days before the ceremony, the reception and the honeymoon should all be fun!
Make it more about family and friends
A destination wedding is all about the people you really want to celebrate with. It’s not about having to invite someone because you feel obligated. It’s about having someone at your wedding who truly means something to the both of you.
Are more intimate
Because your destination wedding is smaller, it means it’s more intimate. To me, an intimate wedding is less than 50 guests. I had an intimate wedding so I know first hand about this! Even with 50 guests, it was hard to spend time with all of them, do all the reception duties, and spend time with my new husband. I think we sat together for a few minutes during the toasts, dinner and then danced together. There’s a lot to do and you don’t want to feel like you didn’t get to hang out with your guests.
Spend time with important people before or after the ceremony. If you get married on the Central Coast, you could plan a wine tasting the day after the wedding or hike to the lighthouse in Avila Beach and then breakfast the day before the ceremony.
Other fun ideas to keep things intimate and make it a fun all inclusive destination wedding might be: a tour to Hearst Castle, a boat cruise in Morro Bay, cruising the streets in San Luis for Thursday night Farmer’s Market, or pizza night at Klondike’s in Arroyo Grande.
If there are important guests who you want at your destination wedding but you know it’s going to be difficult for them to afford consider paying for a portion of their trip or getting a vacation rental for family and friends to share.
(This couple traveled from Missouri to have their fun all inclusive destination wedding in Pismo Beach)
Here are some things to think about when planning a fun all inclusive destination wedding:
Choose a location
You can have your destination wedding pretty much anywhere that your heart desires! I’m bias to California since I live in this beautiful state.
Pismo Beach has sandy beaches, cliffs and rocks, and trees with the ocean in the background. There’s a variety of options to choose from when having a wedding. We also have a winery location for vineyard views.
No matter where you get married, certain locations have restrictions for weddings so it’s always important to find those out before you plan your trip. For example, if you want a fun all inclusive destination wedding in Yosemite, you should find out the rules about having a wedding there. Most places require a permit fee to have a wedding or a site fee for the use of the location.
For locations, you can plan a fun destination wedding in a town that you always love to visit or try visiting a new town and make memories there.
When planning to location, think about logistics of how to get there. Many of our couples who have destination weddings will fly into LA, spend a few days exploring there, drive up the coast to Pismo, relax on the Central Coast, and then explore other cities like Carmel, Big Sur, San Francisco, and Yosemite before they head on home.
Don’t wait to book travel
When looking at wedding dates, also look at travel prices. Holiday weekends could be more expensive to travel and many times Fridays are the most expensive dates to travel. Once you find out your wedding date is available, check flights, hotels and rent a cars.
Travel is normally less expensive if you book it in advance. In Pismo, hotels are less if you book during a non-summer month. Think about using other ways to get around like your feet – it may be less in the long run if you stay near downtown vs having to drive to dinner. A vacation rental with a kitchen is also a great option to save money! Why spend $13 on breakfast for the day when you can spend $13 at the store and get breakfast for the week. You could also share the cost of a rental with friends and family and then splurge on a hotel the day before and night of the wedding.
Also, let friends and family know ahead of time so the can book travel and take off the time.
Hire someone who has experience planning destination weddings
We know how to do destination weddings! That means we understand the bride who has never been to Pismo or the bride who doesn’t have the time to come plan her wedding. We have a ton of tips and tricks to help plan a destination wedding.
I remember a bride from South Dakota emailing me saying she really needed someone to help plan because she had never been to the area, wouldn’t have time to visit, and wanted a ceremony, reception, and place to stay (all packed into one). She said if I could do that for her she’d book that minute! I made a few phone calls and was able to set her up with a stress free destination wedding.
Research the destination and plan for fun
Your probably wanting a destination wedding because you want to explore cool places. Do your research and find out where you want to visit and what you want to see.
If you are traveling to the central coast, a few favorites from our couples include: chilling at the beach, Thursday night Farmer’s Market in San Luis Obispo, atv rentals at the dunes, kayaking in Morro Bay, touring Hearst Castle, going wine tasting, checking out the local places to eat and just enjoying the small town vibe.
Roll your wedding and honeymoon into one
I think the best way to have a fun all inclusive destination wedding is to celebrate your wedding AND honeymoon all in one trip. Travel to a destination, get married, and then honeymoon! To me, that’s the best way to get married. You are already in vacation mode, so why not just extend it a few days.
So, pack your bags, travel to California, get married an explore our awesome state!
(This couple traveled from South Dakota to have their fun all inclusive destination wedding)
One of our brides writes about here experience with how to have a fun all inclusive destination wedding.
After we became engaged, my fiancé and I had a few hours to ourselves and let things sink in before we had to attend a family event, which is when we announced our engagement. We discussed our overall vision of our wedding day before letting others know our news. It did not take long for us to decide on a destination elopement in California.
Although we live on the east coast, we both have connections to California, and we knew, almost from the start, that California would be our choice. We didn’t consider saying we were having a destination wedding. We just simply said, “We’re getting married in California.” Then I started adding, “It’s going to be a small wedding,” emphasizing “small.”
Each time the topic of weddings came up, I began to feel more and more overwhelmed. As you may imagine, there was no shortage of opinions on what we should do for our wedding. The very idea of an extensive guest list nearly sent me into a panic. I couldn’t and wouldn’t spend time on making the list of guests, worrying about offending people, leaving people off the list by accident, or thinking who could or couldn’t afford the wedding.
It did not take long for us to decide that a small wedding was indeed the way to go for us. Our list of how we wanted our wedding to be looked like this: no big crowds, not on the east coast because of the humid summer weather, and it had to be on the beach. These were the initial ideas for our wedding, and we started the search for destination elopements in California.
Here is my list of things that needed to fall into place as we moved ahead with planning our destination elopement in California:
1. Our wedding day is our wedding day! It is not about anyone else.
2. Before I was ready for marriage, my idea of elopement was running off to Las Vegas for a whirlwind weekend and not telling anyone we were getting married. As a romantic, running away sounded like a good idea. But, as someone who wanted something meaningful this did not really appeal to me once I thought it through. Elopement does not necessarily mean, Elvis is going to marry me. In fact, it can be the completely opposite. I could plan special details and I could make the ceremony more my own.
I emphasize that I had to redefine what a destination elopement meant to me. I had grown up with the idea that elopements happened because everyone, or at the very least, one party’s family or parents, were against the union. My fiancé and I are definitely not in that category.
3. We talked a lot about the size of the wedding for a few months. We are both involved in several activities together and independently of each other. For us, the hard decisions involved the feelings of other people. If we invited “Karen” from social group X, then we have to invite “Keith” from that same group – whom none of us like, but we would have to invite him if we wanted Karen there. Stop the madness right here. “Close family only.”
But, how firm was that list? We both decided that we would each include one of our closest friends that mattered on a number of levels for us: experiences with that friend, reliability, and a sentimental/spiritual connection. They had to meet those criteria at the minimum. We each have that one friend and their spouses coming. Our count so far: 25 – and that number has not changed since we decided.
4. It’s totally ok to be on a budget! Of course, every ad you see is going to have the picture-perfect bride with super white teeth, a flowing gown with sparkles and tutus, and the reception will be held in a setting that makes it looks like lifestyles of the rich and famous. According to The Knot, the average wedding costs nearly $30,000. They list Manhattan as the most expensive place to get married at a cool $87,000 – average. Sound reasonable? No, not to me either. Being cost effective is okay, and a small wedding is a great way to do that!
It’s ok to say no to some of the extra details. It’s ok to say yes to wanting a marriage more beautiful than your wedding!
I did not want to feel bad into spending more money on my wedding. Of course, I want our day to be unique, but I do not need to be at a 5-Star hotel and rent a limo to make it special. Sometimes, figuring out what I do not want helps me figure out what I do want.
The most critical piece for us has been to keep communicating with each other. Yes, we want a special day that is meaningful to us. We frequently communicate to keep the other in loving check. Panic is sure to arise throughout the process.
One day, I may think it is perfectly reasonable to spend a month’s salary on flowers. My fiancé may think a string quartet is reasonable. Sure, these are all reasonable requests, but are they necessary to express our love and values? We have set up a shared document with costs, ideas, and vendor contacts that we can both update. Some items were crossed off the list immediately if we did not feel those people, places, or things reflected or shared our values. Our process of weeding things out was simple: if it does not feel authentic, it is off the list. In the words of Shakespeare, “To thine own self be true.”