Thousands of couples tie the knot every year in Los Cabos, which is fast becoming one of the world’s most desirable destination wedding locations. Cabo offers beautiful weather, gorgeous beaches, grand resorts, breath-taking sunsets, world-class cuisine, and is much easier to get to from the US and Canada than many other destinations. While the obvious advantages of a Cabo wedding have many couples interested, the idea of planning a wedding in another country can be a little overwhelming. Not to worry, help is on the way! We asked a dozen newlywed couples to share their advice for planning a Los Cabos wedding and this is what they had to say:
Set a Budget
It’s easy to get carried away with check-writing and end up spending far more on your wedding than you intended. Starting your new marriage in financial turmoil is not the most ideal gift you can give yourself. Instead, set a budget first and work backward from there. Each time you confirm a new vendor or service, add it into your budget so you can track your spending and stay on track. It’s also recommended to account for unexpected expenses, which have a way of turning up at weddings. One of the many wonderful things about getting married in Cabo is that no matter how simple the wedding, it will always be beautiful. Don’t break the bank – set your budget and stick with it!
Planning a wedding is hard enough, but planning a wedding across international borders is even harder. You’re going to need someone who knows the ropes, who can make calls on your behalf, negotiate rates, suggest creative ideas, and help you avoid unnecessary hurdles. In almost every case, your wedding planner will save you far more than he or she will charge for planning services. Your planner’s top priority is to keep you under your budget and that should be the first thing you discuss together. You’re probably going to spend six months to a year exchanging phone calls and emails with your planner, so it’s a good idea to choose someone you like and with whom you feel comfortable. Your planner will help you with every step of the process, so make finding a planner the first thing you do.
Planning a wedding takes time. The earlier you start planning, the more options you’ll have. In a destination as sought-after as Cabo, locations and vendors get booked early. You’re going to want to choose vendors based on who you like, and not who’s left over. You also have to think about your guests. Etiquette says you should give guests at least 6 months notice for a destination wedding, and you’ll need at least that much time for planning. Your engagement can be a lot of fun – or a lot of stress. Giving yourself ample time to plan will help you steer clear of the latter.
Most things in Cabo don’t operate at the same fast-paced tempo as in the US or Canada. It’s not uncommon for email responses to take days instead of hours. Save yourself the frustration, and just prepare yourself to be patient. Staring at the ticking hands of the clock will only add anxiety to your planning experience. Also, don’t mistake the laid-back pace of vendors for incompetence. The experienced wedding professionals in Los Cabos provide wedding services to thousands of happy couples a year collectively, and they will not disappoint you.
Just like everywhere, wedding services are negotiable. Sometimes vendors will offer a discount if they’ve already had a cancellation on your date. Some vendors will offer a discount if you have your wedding on a non-Saturday or if your wedding is during the low season. Your vendors and service providers may not always be willing or able to lower their prices, but it doesn’t hurt to ask!
Policies, procedures, systems, laws, and just about everything else is going to be different in Cabo than where you’re from. Don’t assume that things will be what you expect. Ask as many questions as you can so there aren’t any surprises later. Be sure to ask about anything that isn’t clear, especially when it comes to contracts for your hotel, venue, and vendors. Your wedding is going to be one of the most important days of your life, so don’t take any chances with guessing.
Take Care of Your Guests
Your loved ones are going to a lot of effort to celebrate this important day with you. Show them how much you appreciate them by planning a fun event like a welcome party or a rehearsal dinner in the days surrounding the wedding. A dinner cruise or sunset cruise is a great way to show your guests the famed Arch of Cabo while sailing around the bay. If budget is a concern, avoid expensive outings. You can host something as simple as a beach or pool day.
You’re also going to want to make things as easy as possible for your guests, but you won’t have time to be a personal concierge. Setting up a wedding website is a great way to offer guests a one-stop resource for making arrangements. You can include links for booking hotels, airport shuttles, activities, and more. You can answer important questions and offer suggestions for fun things to do in Cabo. Many couples provide their guests with welcome bags when they arrive at the host hotel. Fill them with snacks, water, a map of the area, a local magazine like DESTINO, sun block, or anything else they might make use of during their trip.
Know the Laws
It’s important to understand the requirements for getting married in a foreign country. Here in Cabo, to have a legal wedding ceremony it must be performed by a Spanish-speaking judge with an English translator, and the vows – which are provided by the state – cannot be changed. You’re also required to provide your passport, driver’s license, lab test results (which you will have done here in Cabo the week of the wedding). Most destination couples prefer to get legally married at the courthouse in the US or Canada before coming to Cabo for the wedding. This way you can skip all the legal requirements of a Mexican wedding, and exercise some creative liberties like having a loved one officiate your wedding.
Most months of the year Cabo is warm, and sometimes humid. It’s important to keep that in mind when shopping for a dress. If you’re having a summer wedding, you should probably skip the big puffy ball gown and choose something a little lighter. Cabo can be a beachy and somewhat casual atmosphere; many grooms leave the suit jackets at home and get married in linen pants and a simple button-down. Your groomsmen will thank you for not making them sweat through your big day in a full suit or a tuxedo. Keep the sandy ceremony site in mind when shoe-shopping, too. Stilettos have no business on the beach. Flip flops or bare feet are certainly acceptable, but if tall shoes are a must, go with wedges.
The Cabo climate will also affect your hair. If it’s a particularly windy or humid day, an up-do will hold up much longer than wearing your hair down. Long tendrils are beautiful, but after a couple of hours in the heat and humidity, they tend to turn into a stringy, tangled mess. On a really breezy day, you might even want to forego the veil, which can blow into your face throughout the ceremony.
Take Care of Yourself
Hydrate! Not only is Cabo probably warmer and more humid than your home city, but the margaritas are likely to be flowing during the days leading up to your wedding. Combined with some potential late nights out, these factors can take a toll on you that no amount of cover-up can hide. Unless you want to look and feel like a zombie at your wedding, take care of yourself. Drink plenty of water, enjoy a salad or two, and get full nights of sleep leading up to your big day.
This article was featured in the April 2014 edition of Destino Magazine:
Bonnie Chase, Bliss Events Los Cabos