Pamela Price knew she found the man of her dreams when she met American Airlines pilot David Fisher in Naples. She also knew they’d get hitched in the dreamiest place she’d ever visited — Santorini.
Her dream came true September when they said “I do” in an intimate ceremony under a white arch overlooking the turquoise Aegean Sea. Santorini is part of the Greek Cyclades islands.
The couple’s two best friends served as witnesses.
A simple wedding is what 59-year-old Price wanted. She had pulled out all the stops for her first wedding years ago and didn’t want any frills.
Which is why the couple chose a destination wedding, having both been down the aisle once before.
Figuring out the destination was easy.
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“I love Santorini and I wanted to do something out-of-the-box,” Price said. She loves the destination so much, several scenic photos and paintings of the island decorate her Naples home.
She first fell in love with the island nine years ago during a family vacation. After she met Fisher, 57, on an online dating app in 2012, she wanted to share her special place with him.
“I knew I always wanted to go back,” she said. And as a independent travel adviser for Preferred Travel of Naples Inc., she knew how to find the best deals. Much of her job is to find special benefits for her client’s cruise trip or hotel stay, like complimentary breakfast or free WiFi.
In April, the couple cruised the Mediterranean Sea on Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas, where Fisher got down on one knee and popped the question.
The lovebirds took the same cruise ship to the Mediterranean in September to tie the knot in Santorini.
It was challenging to plan a wedding an ocean away, but Price said it was worth it, and now wants to help other brides do the same.
What is a destination wedding?
Destination weddings are trending in the bridal world.
It can be a perfect option for couples looking to travel and host an intimate gathering of loved ones for their special day. A destination wedding can be international or domestic.
“I think (destination weddings) are popular mostly because of the millennial generation,” Price said. “People getting married nowadays are older, more educated and have more money to spend.”
The average cost of a Naples wedding is about $25,000, Price said. A destination wedding, on the other hand, is about $27,000. That price depends on a variety of factors, like the number of attendees and the cost of the venue. Sometimes, a destination wedding can be cheaper.
Price shares her dos and don’ts for couples planning an international affair.
She suggests couples try to get married at their hometown city hall beforehand. If they go this route, their destination ceremony will function solely as a symbolic wedding.
Couples can also choose to marry legally at their destination. Price and her husband did just that.
“But it was challenging,” Price said. It was a months-long process involving a lot of paperwork on the state, national and international level.
She doesn’t regret their decision, however. The couple’s union is recognized in Greece and the U.S. Even their marriage license is in Greek.
Also, she said, take advantage of travel packages. Price and her husband chose a wedding cruise package with Royal Caribbean. Cruise couples can opt to tie the knot at the port, out on sea or at one of the trip’s destinations.
They hopped off the ship when it docked in Santorini and had the whole day to enjoy the island, get married and take hundreds of photos. They then got back on the ship to enjoy the rest of their cruise.
If you’re legally marrying in another country, don’t tie the knot without knowing the marriage laws.
“The legalities change from state to country,” said Karen Pickrum, director of marketing with Preferred Travel. “What was legal last year might not be this year. It changes constantly.”
Also try not to book your venue without visiting first. Make a trip to make sure if everything looks good.
Also, seek help from experts. Whether that’s a travel adviser and/or wedding planner, having assistance will help ease the stress of the planning process.
What about your guests?
Price said her family and friends were understanding when it came to her tying the knot overseas. To make them feel like part of the celebration, the couple is hosting a reception at a Naples hotel later this month.
Plan on a budget
A destination wedding isn’t always more expensive than a domestic ceremony. To make sure you stay on track, set a budget.
- Rank the elements of your wedding in order of importance. If your budget gets tight, look at the bottom of the list for places to make cuts.
- Give the florist a color palette to work with, as opposed to a specific flower. That way they can find a cheaper bloom, if there is one.
- Don’t say yes to the first quote a vendor gives you. Do your own research and get several quotes.
Courtney Jespersen contributed to this story. She’s a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website.
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