Since we’re in sunny Hawaii for a destination wedding (sorry east coasters), today we want to talk about the big 3 for a tropical destination wedding, Hawaii, the Caribbean and Mexico. While there are many tropical locations in the world (Thailand, Bali, Fiji, Costa Rica and so on…), these 3 are definitely the most popular and the most requested by engaged couples. But, what people never really talk about is why you would choose one over the other. I talk to couples all the time who are unsure of where they want to get married. Some just don’t have a place in mind and others are trying to find the right place for their needs, their guests and the wedding they want to have. If you know you want a tropical destination wedding, how do you figure out which place is right for you? Well, I’ve got you covered! Today we’re going to dive into the differences between the big 3 and which is right for your tropical destination wedding.
One of the biggest factors to consider when choosing between Hawaii, the Caribbean and Mexico is location or distance. While I don’t believe you should choose a destination solely because of your guests, I do think you need to take them into account. For example, if your grandmother can only be on a plane for 5 hours max, then you need to make sure you pick a place that fits within that window of time.
Hawaii – Located in the Pacific ocean, Hawaii tends to work well for couples or couples with guests located on the west coast, in Asia, or Australia.
Caribbean – Located on the Atlantic side, the Caribbean islands tend to work well for couples or couples with guests located on the eastern half of the United States or western Europe.
Mexico – Mexico spans both oceans, so which side is right for you just depends on where you and your guests are coming from.
Picking the right destination for your tropical destination wedding is about finding the right fit and the destination’s culture is a huge part of that. Everything from the food to the music, the scenery, the activities and the feeling is all a part of the culture. While Hawaii, the Caribbean and Mexico do have some tropical similarities, the vibe is different on each and the experience you’ll be creating will also differ.
Hawaii – Hawaii’s culture stems from both the native Hawaiian people and the melting pot of people that were brought to Hawaii to work on the sugar plantations (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Portuguese). So local Hawaiian culture is a mixture of all of these people and their traditions.
Caribbean – The culture in the Caribbean is also a mix, but the mix differs from island to island. As different countries colonized different islands, every island’s mix is a combo of the western country’s influence (think British, French, Dutch, Spanish, American, etc…), the African culture brought over by the slave trade and the indigenous Indian tribes.
Mexico – Mexico in contrast, has a more singular, but deeply rich culture with ancient Aztec and Mayan influences along with, of course, the Spanish. And as the country is large, the culture does vary a bit in different areas.
TIME OF THE YEAR
Since Hawaii, the Caribbean and Mexico are all in different locales, the best time of the year to head to these areas will vary. You’ll want to consider the weather and also the peak travel season when figuring out your travel and wedding plans.
Hawaii – The weather in Hawaii is pretty steady and great all year, but winter months can be a bit wetter. The peak travel months are the summer and winter holiday time frames.
Caribbean – Peak hurricane season is August to November, so if you are headed towards an island that is in the hurricane belt, you may want to avoid these months. December to February are the peak travel months along with July and August.
Mexico – Although pretty great year around, generally, the months of June to October are the hottest and wettest months with September being peak hurricane season. Peak travel months are July and August, mid-December to early January and a week on either side of Easter.
When planning your wedding (or a vacation), you’ll need to consider your budget. Not every place is considered equal when it comes to your bank account, so picking a place that works with your budget is important.
Hawaii – Hawaii is not necessarily the most expensive of the Big 3, but it is not the most economical either. Since you’ll be paying in US dollars, if you live in the US it the same as where you are and if you are coming from another country, it really just depends on if that exchange works in your favor or not.
Caribbean – This one can run the gamut as a wedding in the Dominican Republic will be less expensive than Barbados. Since every island is different and has a different currency, it just depends on what that island’s currency is and what that means in relation to your currency.
Mexico – When it comes to being cost effective, Mexico is the winner. With a great exchange rate, your dollar, euro or pound will go much farther here.
EASE OF TRAVEL
One of the factors that may come into play with your decision is the ease of travel. If you have older guests, less mobile guests, lots of kids or guests that aren’t travellers, picking a destination that is easy to get to may be important.
Hawaii – If you are a US citizen then no passports are required. There are many direct flights from the major US cities and Asian countries.
Caribbean – Passports will be necessary for most places for most couples. If you happen to be going to an island that carries the same passport as your country (like the US Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico for US citizens), then you won’t need one. There are some direct flights from the east coast, but many require a stop or two depending on the island.
Mexico – Passports are necessary for everyone no matter where you are coming from. And similarly to the Caribbean, there are some direct flights just depending on where you are coming from and where you are going, but some will require another stop.
If going to an all-inclusive resort is your thing, you’ll want to make sure you head to a location that has resort options that are all-inclusive.
Hawaii – Hawaii has very few all inclusive resorts, so this is not a great place for you if that is what you are looking for.
Caribbean – The Caribbean island have tons of all-inclusive resorts on pretty much every island, so you’re guaranteed to find something you like.
Mexico – Mexico also has a bunch of all-inclusive options all clustered mainly in the beach resort towns.
So, with all of those factors at play, which tropical destination wedding location is the winner? It depends on the wedding you are looking to have and the situation you are in. In my book they are all winners and you can’t go wrong! But, since I can’t leave you with just that, I’ll say that I think Mexico is great for the culture and history and it’s the best bang for your buck. Hawaii is great for some R&R and adventure and has pretty perfect weather. And the Caribbean is great if you like being on or around water or you just want it to be easy.
I hope this helps you to pick your perfect tropical destination wedding location! And if you need more guidance, contact us today and we’ll help you find the perfect location.