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by Jessica Pairrett

        Pause for a moment, close your eyes and let your mind wander. Imagine the two of you standing together on a beach, dressed in your wedding day's finest. An intimate gathering of loved ones is before you, awaiting the official "I now pronounce you husband and wife."
        A destination wedding on the beach, or at any other extraordinary spot in the world, can be yours. Not only does a destination wedding offer a spectacular experience but also it's a chance to leave your ceremony and start your honeymoon straight away. The memories you and those closest to you create will be cherished forever.
        Sure, this sounds wonderful, but a destination wedding is so expensive, right? Surprisingly not so, says Lisa Hoppe of Lisa Hoppe Travel Consulting. Choosing a destination over a traditional wedding can save quite a bit of money. "The average wedding today costs over $20,000, whereas a bride and groom could spend less than 25-50% on a destination wedding and have an incredible ceremony and honeymoon vacation." A travel consultant, like Lisa and her team, can create a just-for-you, upgraded package for under $5,000. Depending on your plans, some resorts might even provide a ceremony and reception for free.
        As for location, you may prefer a popular locale like Jamaica, St. Lucia, Mexico or the Dominican Republic at an all-inclusive resort. Hawaii is beautiful and ideal to avoid passport hassle. Or for something a bit different, Lisa suggests New Zealand, the Maldives, Tahiti or Fiji.
        Depending on preference, the experience may include hiking in a rainforest, exploring local hot spots, scuba diving or relaxing on a beach. In particular, Fiji offers an exceptionally unique ceremony. The bride, on a decorated raft, floats to a beach location. Wearing garlands of fragrant flowers around their necks, the couple exchanges vows as the sun sets. "It's absolutely magical!" Lisa says.
        Once the location is picked, you're almost set! Your travel consultant can assist with any extra details you need help with, such as any necessary government paperwork that needs filling out. The team can also refer the couple to tour operators for activities and wedding planners for help with amenities, regulations or customs in the destination of choice. With a variety of experts assisting with your wedding plans, you're all but guaranteed to have a beautifully fabulous wedding of a lifetime.



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