(BPT) - Soft sand warms the soles of your feet and the smell of sweet flowers fill the air. The salty mist of the ocean kisses your cheeks while the laughter of friends and family brings joy to the heart. This isn't just an amazing vacation for your loved ones, it's your wedding day.
Images like this are inspiring more brides than ever before to forego traditional weddings made popular by their parents' generation in exchange for dreamy, relaxing destination celebrations. It's the ultimate way to customize a wedding, and often it's more affordable than going the traditional route.
"Once intimate affairs, destination weddings are no longer just for small groups," said Cheryl Cox of Grand Strand Bridal Association. "The most intriguing and prominent wedding trend of 2016 is couples expanding the guest list for their destination weddings to include people beyond immediate family."
The reason this trend is growing so rapidly is that it provides guests more than just the opportunity to see a loved one tie the knot. It really gives them a mini-vacation that they'll never forget. It's a vacation with a purpose, and plenty of time for fun and activities are built into the experience.
However, brides and grooms who want to embrace this growing trend have a few unique considerations. To ensure everyone has a great time, follow the five golden rules of planning a destination wedding for big groups:
Rule 1: Select an accessible location.
You'll get more RSVPs if you select a destination that is easy and affordable for everyone to access. Consider air travel and drive times from guests' locations. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is a great example that is a four to eight hour drive from many Midwest cities, plus has an international airport, with plenty of non-stop flights from major cities. Furthermore, a domestic locale like this means guests don't have to worry about passports and complicated travel logistics out of the country. Learn more at http://www.visitmyrtlebeach.com/.
Rule 2: Look for myriad of lodging options.
Getting a block of hotel rooms is a common practice, but go a step further to provide guests with a variety of lodging options so they can pick what best suits their tastes and budget. Traditional hotel rooms, B&B style accommodations at historic plantations and even vacation home rental options let guests choose what makes them most comfortable. Be sure to mention accommodation info on your wedding website and/or invitation.
Rule 3: Opt for a city with variety.
Some people adore spending days on the beach or hours golfing while others crave visits to landmarks and amusement parks. Consider what a location has to offer beyond the ceremony. You're giving guests a reason to splurge on a mini-vacation, so a place like Myrtle Beach with more than 100 golf courses, plentiful shopping, 60 miles of pristine coastline and lots of attractions for kids means there's something for everyone.
Rule 4: Be involved but don't micromanage.
Provide guests with important information about the location, such as popular attractions, transportation specifics and amenity details. It is custom for the couple to pay for one or more events in addition to the wedding celebration, so let guests know what you've planned. However, keep it to no more than one activity per day to allow time to explore as they please.
Rule 5: Make gifts optional.
Guests spend more money to attend a destination wedding than a hometown affair. Be a gracious host and make gifts optional. By allowing their presence to be your wedding gift you're showing good etiquette and understanding. This thoughtful gesture opens more funds to enjoy their vacation to the fullest, which is what you wanted when selecting a group destination wedding in the first place.