(BPT) - A flurry of congratulatory phone calls, social media announcements and sparkling ring pictures all mean one thing: engagement season has arrived. With approximately 39 percent of marriage proposals taking place between Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day, engaged couples are taking note of one of the fastest-growing nuptial trends - destination weddings.
These days, one in four weddings is a destination wedding, giving couples - and their guests - a reason to blend the joy of a marriage celebration with a fun and memorable vacation. Planning a destination wedding suitable for all your attendees is easier than you think, thanks to some key insights from Myrtle Beach-based expert wedding planner, Cheryl Cox.
1. Plan ahead
Cox says nine to 12 months is the optimum planning time, especially for a destination wedding. Many couples start planning a destination wedding as soon as they get engaged. While the summer months are typically most popular for couples, when choosing a date, Cox recommends considering a Friday or weekday wedding, or planning the big day during the less-crowded but still desirable shoulder seasons (spring and fall).
2. Select a destination that caters to all guests
Consider a location with something for everyone. Myrtle Beach, S.C., is the perfect example. The destination offers pristine greens for golf enthusiasts, museums and historic plantations for cultural buffs, delicious Coastal Carolina cuisine for the foodies, fun in the sun with a day at the beach or one of the many water parks, and for brides looking for some quality time with the girls, numerous spas for a day of pampering. Plus, there are plenty of lodging options for your guests including oceanfront resorts, beach home rentals and quaint bed and breakfasts.
3. Research ceremony locations
Beautiful and unique ceremony locations are one of the perks of having a destination wedding. 'Research wedding venues, travel and accommodation options, and rates, then rank the venues you like best,' suggests Cox. As a Myrtle Beach wedding planner, she notes that the area's 60 miles of stunning coastline make the perfect romantic backdrop. Whether you're looking for a beachside wedding outside a charming beach home or at the Myrtle Beach State Park, or a historic location like Litchfield Plantation or Pine Lakes Country Club, there are countless ceremony locations to choose from. You can even tie the knot 200 feet above the ground on the Myrtle Beach Skywheel. Visit www.visitmyrtlebeach.com for more information.
5. Help guests plan activities
Travel is the foundation for long-lasting memories. In fact, a recent Harris Interactive survey found 62 percent of adults said their earliest memories were of family vacations taken when they were between ages 5 and 10. Help your guests - particularly families with young ones - get the most out of their trip by suggesting activities or even making reservations for dinners, tee times, theme parks, museums, etc., before arrival.
6. Hire a wedding planner
Planning a destination wedding doesn't need to be stressful - hire a wedding planner. 'Wedding planners know the local wedding professionals and venues including the city regulations for beach weddings,' says Cox. The perfect beach wedding can be accomplished with the help of a wedding planner as they know the ins and outs of planning a beautiful beach wedding so couples and their guests can enjoy the true beauty of a beachside wedding.
7. Consider a pre-wedding visit
'If possible, attend a local wedding show to meet wedding professionals one-on-one or plan a 'wedding planning trip' to visit venues and meet with wedding vendors,' Cox suggests. 'Remember to take notes so you can recall all the details when you're back home.'
8. Get wedding insurance
Give yourself peace of mind by purchasing the appropriate wedding insurance. And, Cox notes, 'Research to find the best coverage for your wedding - I highly recommend it.'
9. Be mindful of budget
Start your marriage off on the right financial foot by keeping your wedding on-budget. Many couples planning destination weddings find them to be similar or even more affordable than traditional weddings back home. Myrtle Beach offers a variety of wedding venue options at various price points, so you can have your dream beach wedding and still stay on a budget.
This is perhaps the most important step of all. Don't forget to enjoy the experience of planning this memorable day and enjoying the company of your guests. Take pictures, sample cakes, pick out flowers and remember these moments and the beautiful destination you selected.