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updated 5/1/2008 11:30:49 AM ET 2008-05-01T15:30:49

Dreaming of a getaway wedding but unsure of where to start? Well, you’re in luck. Carley Roney, editor-in-chief of TheKnot.com, was invited to appear on “Today” to share some tips on how to plan a destination wedding. Here's her advice:

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What was once an unusual idea is now an overwhelming trend. In the past decade, the wedding industry has seen a 150-percent to 200-percent growth in destination weddings. In fact, nearly 10 percent of all weddings are now destination weddings.

Why choose a wedding location that's far from home? Couples want their wedding to be memorable, and an idyllic setting — a vineyard in Tuscany, a cruise ship, a Caribbean resort — creates a unique, exciting experience. And many couples have family and friends scattered around the country. Since guests have to travel anyway, a fabulous locale allows a wedding to double as a vacation or a family reunion.

Costs

  • A destination wedding often involves hosting more parties and providing activities for your guests.
  • Traveling to plan the details of your event can become costly.
  • If you want all of your guests to come, you may have to foot some of the travel bill.
  • Conversely, the cost may prohibit some guests from attending, which automatically pares down your guest list.
  • Some resorts and  hotels offer destination-wedding packages, with flat fees, wedding packages or a free honeymoon as a bonus.

Location

  • When choosing your location, decide whether you envision romance in an Italian villa or a sunset on the beach.
  • Many hotels offer virtual tours of their facilities, so do your initial research online.
  • Consider the accommodations. Are there fun activities and relaxing spa services for you and your guests? Is there enough room at the location, or nearby, for your guests?
  • If package deals are offered, find out what's included and what choices you have regarding the key elements: officiant, catering, flowers, music, cake, photography, videography, salon services.  
  • As with any wedding, consider your budget and your guests’ budget. If they cannot afford to come otherwise, decide whether you can pay for some or all of their trip.

Planning

  • When choosing a date, check seasonal weather trends and plan accordingly. Also, it's best to avoid high season, special events and conventions.
  • Send your guests a save-the-date notice as soon as you can. Keep guests in the loop with a wedding Web page where you can list details and updates.
  • Many destinations offer an on-site wedding planner. Ask about easy access to wedding services: local photographers, videographers, caterers and florists.
  • If an on-site planner is not available, hire your own wedding planner — critical for a stress-free event. Destination weddings often mean added complications, such as dealing with a foreign language and communicating with vendors only by phone.
  • Ask about marriage license requirements — there may be a waiting period or a residency requirement. Many resorts and cruise ships can help you with the paperwork and arrange a meeting with the marriage bureau.

Carley Roney is editor-in-chief of TheKnot.com and a frequent contributor to the special series "Today Throws a Destination Wedding." For more of her advice, you can visit MSN Women's Wedding Guide: http://women.msn.com/weddingguide.armx

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