Planning a destination wedding in Salem, MA

Planning a destination wedding is a super appealing option for many couples. Paired up with historic Salem, MA and you have the stage set for a gorgeous day in a wonderful city. Today on the blog I wanted to go over some tips, tricks and things you should consider when planning a destination wedding in Salem, MA.

Please note the image used in this blog post is by Cait Fletcher Photography and is used with permission.

Consider the cost

The first thing we need to jump right into which is item number one for most people is the cost. You’re basically signing up to pay for a wedding AND a vacation when doing a destination wedding. Be sure to factor into the budget things like airfare, car rentals, hotel, food and other miscellaneous expenses that come with travel.

A perk when it comes to cost and destination events is a lot of places offer bundles. If you want to get married at a hotel, ask about packages where everything is rolled into one. Find a hotel where they will offer you a block of rooms, ceremony and reception space all in one. This will make things easier for you and your guests as well.

Be sure to do the numbers out and look at them for yourself – sometimes destination weddings are actually not cheaper than local weddings at all.

salem ma wedding, salem ma hotels

The guest list

It is pretty commonly expected that you’re going to have more “no” RSVP cards returned for a destination wedding versus “yes”. This is simply because of cost, work schedules, families and more. You should plan for and be ready for everyone you invited to show up, however that will likely not be the case. This is a pro and a con all at once. It can be a pro because of cost. It’s an easy way to weed down the guest list to be blunt about it. It’s a con because sometimes key family members or friends might have to pass and miss out on your big day.

Give guests time to plan

Send save the dates at least 10-12 months ahead of time to allow for guests to plan. Some people may need to request time off from work, save money, make arrangements for kids, secure airfare and more. Send the actual invitation 4-5 months ahead of time.

Research local marriage license information beforehand

Head over to the city of Salem’s website and do your research about obtaining a marriage license. It takes a few days and requires both parties to be present, with photo ID. Know what you need to do and plan ahead of time so you can have your paperwork in order. This also applies to your vendors and venues – have your paperwork lined up and ready to go.

Consider the weather

Weather in New England definitely does whatever it wants, when it wants. Keep this in mind and have back up plans in place. We have seen snow on Halloween, warm weather in the winter and spring seasons where it poured for days and parts of Salem partially flooded. Be aware of weather patterns and have back ups ready.

Experience vs. details

This is just my two cents here, but I feel like a destination wedding is more about the whole experience versus fine details. When you’re planning from afar you might not be able to get super customized in everything you do and get specific with all of your vendors. You might be picking from a handful of options and signing it off to someone else to handle. This can be either a good or a bad thing depending on your personality. Destination weddings require less attention to super fine detail and are more “go with the flow”. They are more about the experience. Local weddings are easier to get detailed with, easier to focus on custom items everywhere.

Tourist season

Who doesn’t want to get married in Salem in the fall, right? The city is stunning all year long but in the fall it is just magical. However, planning for a fall wedding in Salem does pose many challenges. The following are a few things you’re going to need to consider and help your guests plan for.

  • Making the trip from Boston Logan Airport or surrounding areas into Salem
  • Navigating intense fall crowds
  • Parking, if your guests are driving into Salem themselves
  • Booking hotel arrangements extra, extra, extra early because fall availability is often wiped out in the beginning of the year
  • Understanding the general layout of Salem so guests can make it from one important location to another as needed through the day

Your wedding will be unique

Salem is a unique city, unlike any other. If you’re planning a destination wedding in Salem, lean into that. Enjoy quirky costumed buskers in your photos. Hop a broom during your ceremony. Get married by our beloved Borah of Salem’s Black Hat Society. Take gorgeous pictures in the historic areas of Salem. Visit local landmarks and use those as backdrops to your images. There are so many options available to you which will make your wedding as unique as the city is.

Salem is also great for second marriages, vow renewals and more. You can absolutely mold your plans around whatever type of event you’re planning to make it individual and special for you.

Related: Things to do in Salem | Ten places to take wedding pictures in Salem, MA

In a destination wedding, pictures are key

Planning an event in another city means you’re going to be surrounded by newness. Take some time beforehand and research areas you might want to take your pictures. Don’t skimp on your photographer and lean into Salem’s unique layout, history, attractions, landmarks and more.

Related: Cait Fletcher Photography

You can transition right into your honeymoon

If you love Salem, you can transition right from your wedding into your honeymoon. Stay a week or two past the wedding date and enjoy the city together. There is tons to do, see, eat and more. This is also a good way for you to save on travel costs associated with doing the honeymoon elsewhere!

If you want to explore other areas along the north shore on your honeymoon, I’d suggest Boston as well as Rockport.

Related: Things to do in Salem | 10 reasons to honeymoon in Salem, MA ; Things to do in Salem | Explore the North Shore: Rockport, MA

salem ma wedding, things to do in salem ma

Visit beforehand if you can

If you’re able to visit Salem beforehand, I strongly suggest it. This will allow you to get an idea of the layout of the city, meet potential vendors in person, see the venue ahead of time and more. I know this is not always an option but if you can, you definitely should.

I hope this blog post helped!! Are you planning a destination wedding in Salem? Comment below and let me know what your plans are. Enjoy!! <3

Are you a North Shore based or New England based wedding professional?

If you are a North Shore based or New England based wedding professional interested in sponsoring a blog post, click here. I’d be happy to chat about working together.

things to do in salem, salem ma wedding

Pin for later

salem ma wedding, planning a destination wedding in salem ma