Aruba Destination Wedding
Planning Tips

Destination wedding planning is less complicated and stressful than planning a traditional wedding. Once you have decided on an Aruba destination wedding, you can expect the perfect wedding of your dreams.

Most Aruba resorts are prepared to carry out every detail of your momentous occasion, from an intimate, low-key beach wedding ceremony for two, or an extravagant celebration with friends and family. Most resorts will provide all the necessary elements. A basic package usually includes:

  • Non-denominational officiant
  • Ceremony site
  • Wedding certificate keepsake
  • Bridal bouquet
  • Groom’s boutonniere
  • Professional photographer 
  • One tier wedding cake
  • One bottle of champagne
  • Services of the resort’s onsite wedding coordinator

Some all-inclusive resorts even offer complimentary wedding packages with a minimum stay. These usually include everything you need for a fantastic intimate ceremony. Of course, upgrades are always available for those couples who want to indulge!

If you have done your research on the local talent, and have a particular vendor in mind for any of the services that are included, most resorts will do their very best to accommodate your requests.

Imagine relaxing by the pool with a little umbrella shaded margarita, while your own personal wedding coordinator efficiently prepares the entire ceremony. But, don’t pure the rum just yet. Every wedding, even destination weddings, require some advance planning and expert advice to make it absolutely magical.

You can find some great tips to help with your destination wedding details at Weddings Abroad, including a wonderful checklist designed especially for destination weddings.

OK, you have picked Aruba as your destination. Now let’s do some destination wedding planning.

Budget

First, as with any wedding planning, you must discuss money and finances. Will parents be contributing or just the two of you? How much? This will determine the budget you have to work with.

Don't forget to take advantage of the One Cool Honeymoon program discounts!

Also determine how much you and your Fiancé can afford on your honeymoon airfare and hotel accommodations. Most couples who are marrying in Aruba stay in Aruba for their honeymoon, so include several nights after the ceremony in your budget planning.

Planning the Guest List

Next, speak to your most important guests to determine what they will realistically be able to pay to travel to your wedding. We suggest that you make your friends and family aware of the cost of attending your chosen resort for a minimum of three nights. If you plan to supplement your guests' travel costs, be sure to factor that into your budget.

How many guests should you expect to attend your Aruba destination wedding? We found it easiest to just ask our friends and family... “If we chose to have an Aruba destination wedding, would you attend?” There were a few no's, but for the most part, the general concession was “Aruba! Heck yeah!”

Everyone who said yes simply asked that we allow enough time before hand so they could save up for the trip and also so they could plan vacation time at work. That gave us a pretty good idea of a headcount.

Which brings up another point...

Save the Date Cards Are a MUST

You should let your guests know well in advance. (You do not need to have all the details worked out, just let them know that there will be some travel and time off work involved.) Destination wedding planning requires a little more pre-planning if you are asking more than a handful of guests.

Sending out Save the Date cards help your guests prepare and plan for your big day.

We sent out our “Save the Date” cards about 11 months before the wedding date. being a graphic designer, I designed all the stationery for our wedding. I also designed some customizable Save the Date cards with an Aruba Divi Divi Tree theme that are available for sale.

SIDE NOTE: If you are concerned that guests will not attend a destination wedding because of travel costs, consider this... on average about 40% of the guests attending a traditional wedding would have to fly in to attend the ceremony, including car rentals, hotel accommodations, and some meals. Attending your destination wedding won't cost much more than that! And they get a fun-filled Caribbean vacation to boot! Of course, not everyone you invite will attend. The experts say to plan on about 35% of your guests declining the invitation based on the cost.

As far as the number of guests go, most destination wedding packages offered by the resorts are designed as “intimate” packages, meaning that they are meant for the bride and groom and up to four guests. But, larger groups can always be accommodated, usually on a per person cost. So, this will also need to be considered as you prepare a budget.

Check for Group Rates

Remember that airfare and hotel are a large part of the price, so ask your travel agent to check airline package prices from your and your guests' departure cities. Talk to your travel agent about group rates at the hotel too. Sometimes the group rates for travel professionals can be a better deal than the one offered directly from the hotel for your event.

Read the wedding event contract carefully. A great discount on a guaranteed number of rooms may result in an additional fee to you later, if you do not have enough guests to fill the required number of rooms.

Choosing the Date

It is important to communicate to the VIP guests, i.e. parents, siblings, maid of honor, best man, etc. about your plans for a destination wedding from the start. It is also a good idea to get feedback from them regarding the date and other essential factors. In choosing our wedding date, I had to consider that my Maid of Honor, a teacher, had only summers off for vacation; and also, my sister-in-law had just started college classes that would be difficult to miss during the school year.

Another factor in choosing our date was weather. Most of our guests would be coming from Chicago or Boston. Both cities are known for snow and ice and other winter weather that closes airports and delays flights. So, as nice as it would be to get out of the cold and go somewhere tropical in January or February, it would be bad for the bride and groom to be stranded at O’Hare due to a blizzard the day before their wedding.

Choose a Ceremony Location & Banquet Facility

If you choose to have your ceremony anywhere other than the Oranjestad Town Hall, you must be legally married in your hometown before the ceremony. See Aruba's Marriage Requirements here.

Choose a memorable location for your special day, but keep everyone’s budgets in mind. You don’t want to decide on the ultimate all inclusive resort, only to discover that your dream resort is too expensive for your friends and family to join you.

Do you have any guests under 18? What about single friends? If you are not committed to an Aruba destination wedding yet, and are considering other popular Caribbean islands keep in mind the rules of “Adults Only” or “Couples Only” resorts. You may need to ask for special permission for your little flower girl, or single bride’s maid to attend! At this time, Aruba only has one “Adults Only” resort- The Renaissance Marina Hotel (one of two buildings owned by the Renaissance Aruba Resort.)

Legal Documentation

We chose to be legally married in the U.S. at our county court house and have our wedding ceremony in Aruba. This was the easiest alternative for us, as American citizens. To have our beach ceremony, we only needed to provide our wedding coordinator with our U.S. marriage certificate.

Until recently, only Aruba or Dutch citizens could marry in Aruba. However, Aruba Parliament passed a law allowing foreign couples wishing to have a legal marriage ceremony in Aruba to do so. A civil ceremony in Aruba takes a little more planning to meet the rules and requirements such as minimum residency, fees, citizenship documentation, etc. A civil ceremony must take place in the Oranjestad Court house.

Here are the updated requirements and documents needed ….

When to Book Your Aruba Destination Wedding

Airfare is not posted until 330 day in advance. So, we researched and did some pre-planning before we booked any flights or hotels. About 15 months in advance, we narrowed down our list of resorts, and made sure that our date was available. We asked the hotels to send us information and brochures on their wedding packages. We went over “package” details and budget with our parents, since they would be contributing financially to our wedding.

We recommend that you book 10 months before departure, or sooner--six to 10 months out is ideal. We decided on beach wedding at The Aruba Marriott Resort for our beach wedding ceremony and dinner reception. The contract was signed and a deposit was made about 10 months in advance. We estimated the maximum and minimum number of guests. We could not guarantee the number of rooms that people would occupy since we gave our guests several accommodation options. (Some resorts offer upgrades to the bride and groom if they can guarantee their guests will stay at that resort.)

Click here for Marriott's wedding packages. (pdf)

We were assigned a certified wedding event planner for our event. She contacted us six months prior to our date. My mom was eager start planning as soon as the contract was signed, and found it difficult to wait. But, our wedding coordinator was very efficient and knew what she was doing. Having a certified wedding planner is especially important when planning a destination wedding since many of the local venders may be unknown to you. We had several personal details that we requested, and our wedding planner handled all of the event details and worked closely with us to make everything perfect.

We had our ceremony on the beach at sunset, and the reception – dinner and dancing for 15 people – on the pool deck after dark. So, be sure to mention any specific details, which you would like to see at your wedding, during the initial conversations with your coordinator.

And last but certainly not least…

Enjoy

Arrive in Aruba, relax, and enjoy your Aruba wedding because 99.9% of all the destination wedding planning was done way ahead of time, you can relax and enjoy your big day stress free.

Oh, yeah... When your return, remember to tell us all your Aruba wedding details! Aruba-Sunsets will even give you your very own page to tell your story and post pictures to share with your guests, and those who could not make the trip. 


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