by: Christie A. Brogan {11.10.17}

Wilmington NC Destination Wedding

What comes to mind when you think of a “destination wedding”? Most people think sandy beaches and palm trees…or some exotic foreign country serving the dual purpose of wedding locale and honeymoon. What if you’re looking for a destination that doesn’t require a passport? Of the roughly 2.5 million weddings that occur in the US per year, 21% are destination weddings. (That is a lot of destination weddings!) In the continental United States, the most popular destination wedding locations are Florida, California, and Nevada. The hands-down industry leader is Las Vegas averaging 100,000+ weddings per year.  Are you surprised?  We’re not. Outside of the kitsch Elvis-inspired Wedding Chapel experience, Vegas is readily equipped and ideally suited for a destination wedding. Why?

Three factors:

1. Travel Accessibility, Accommodations, & Cost – How easy is it to get there? How costly is it to get there? Are there suitable accommodations for all of your guests? (This is where Las Vegas really shines with packages and deals)
2. The Wedding Itself – How much will the actual event set you back? And, how much will you have to do vs. how much will be taken care of for you?
3. Overall Guest Experience – What is there to do while you and your guests are there? (There will be lots of wedding related festivities, but what about down time? Are you asking your guests to join you in a small town corn field with little else to experience besides the wedding?)

These three factors should help guide you when considering a destination wedding and selecting the location.

The truth is…a destination wedding can be held anywhere.  We can (re)define “destination wedding” as a wedding set in a location where most (if not all) of your guests are traveling to attend the wedding festivities. You may be surprised to know that, since opening our doors at 128 South in 2010, 60-70% of our clients are hosting a destination wedding. And, although I may be a little biased, I understand ‘why’. Wilmington, NC answers our questions with ease. 1. The location is readily accessible, there are ample accommodations, and the travel costs are reasonable. 2. Compared to other popular locations for weddings, the average bride in Wilmington can plan to spend less than in the more expensive markets without reducing the headcount or compromising on quality and style. 3. With Wrightsville Beach a few miles down the road and picturesque Downtown on the banks of the Cape Fear River…there is plenty for you and your guests to see, do, and enjoy.

Theo Milo Photography

Of course, there are also Pros and Cons to hosting a destination wedding:
1. You Experience a New Place (Instead of the same old, same old…you will make a very special memory in a new place. What a great way to kick off your new chapter)
2. It’s Easier to Host a More Intimate Wedding (Invite everyone you know…or don’t. The destination wedding can easily be limited to a select few without getting too far into family politics or too many hurt feelings.)
3. It Requires Less Time to Plan (Most destination locations are equipped to plan your wedding in a shorter timeline than the typical 12 month cycle.
4. It May Save You Money (If you can find an amazing inclusive deal with relatively low travel and accommodation costs, you may have hit the destination wedding jackpot. And, if your “hometown” is NYC or DC, choosing a location like Coastal NC or Florida will provide a cost savings even if everyone you invite attends.)

128 South - Matt McGraw Photography

Matt McGraw Photography

1. Planning can be Challenging (Your wedding vendors won’t be down the street or around the corner. Most of your planning will be done via phone, video call, and email. Trust me when I say…it can be done. And, it can be done really well.)
2. Less People will Attend (The guest list attrition rate – meaning the % of people who won’t attend – increases to 50% from 25% for a destination wedding. So, if you invite 100 people, you can expect 50 will attend a destination.)
3. It is More Costly for Your Guests (Some destination locations are reasonable like Vegas, but others will require your guests tap into their vacation fund – No pressure.)
4. It May Not Save You Money (In the end, even if there are great travel packages and a smaller guest list – BTW…less guests typically equates to less money – it may still cost as much as the wedding in your hometown when you account for travel and accommodations, etc.)

In the end, you and your “honey” have to decide the what makes the most sense for you, your guests, and your budget.


Guess what? I am hosting a destination wedding…in Atlanta, GA. My new “hometown” is far removed from Wilmington, NC, from our wedding venues – 128 South and Bakery 105, and from my network of wedding pros. In fact, it’s removed from most of what “I always thought I wanted” for my wedding. No one is more surprised or more excited than me. If you’re interested in following along my journey, check out my blog. 


Christie Brogan {Founder of SocietyWed – IG Collective. Co-Founder & Partner – 128 South and Bakery 105 in Wilmington, NC. Entrepreneur, Small Business Mentor, Event Planner, Wedding Geek, Writer, Business Innovator, Idea Maker, Boot Camp Betty, Yoga Nut, Animal Lover, Avid Reader}