The Do’s and Don’ts of Destination Wedding Planning
20 Dec 2022
There are so many benefits to having a destination wedding miles away from home — from enjoying an all-in-one wedding and vacation to spending quality time away with your loved ones outside of your ceremony, there’s so much to love. However, before jetting across the globe to tie the knot, you’ll be in for some serious planning and preparation. Ready to get started? Here’s our ultimate list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to planning a seamless, stress-free destination wedding.
Do Dedicate Ample Time & Energy to Choosing Your Destination
Whether you’ve got your eye on a chic boutique hotel in the Caribbean or a large tropical resort in South-East Asia, you’ll want to do ample research and discover which destination will suit your unique needs best. There’s a lot to consider, from local laws and safety to available accommodations and transportation options. Before you settle on a place, ensure there are no active travel warnings, political issues, or health concerns in the area.
Be sure to look at locations that have special meaning to you to make your wedding itself feel even more special! Finally, if you can afford to visit your wedding destination at least once before the big day, do it. A pre-wedding visit will help you get an idea of any potential issues in advance so you can work around them with ease.
Don’t Forget to Have Fun
As a bride or groom, your energy will set the tone for the big day. If you’re having fun, your guests will too! This is your wedding day, and you want to enjoy it to the fullest. Even during the planning phase leading up to your big day, be sure to take photos and stop to enjoy these small moments that you’ll look back on just as fondly as your wedding day itself.
We recommend maintaining healthy habits before you travel to your destination to ensure that you feel your best and are full of energy on the big day. You’ll want to hydrate, eat nourishing and healthy foods, and rest up to feel physically and emotionally prepared to completely enjoy your beautiful destination wedding and honeymoon to follow.
Do Stick to Your Budget
As with an at-home wedding, your expenses will depend on the number of guests and your vendor preferences, but there are great options for every budget! When choosing your venue and accommodations, you’ll have the opportunity to splurge on things that really matter (like top-shelf fruity cocktails or ultra-comfortable bedding) and save on less important details.
Be sure to include ample wiggle room for unexpected expenses like tips, airport transfers, baggage fees, or off-site dinners and drinks. Let your credit card company know of your travel plans before you depart to avoid foreign fees or the dreaded decline, and always carry some cash in the local currency for small cash-only expenses.
Don’t Forget the Legalities
So you’ve secured your beautiful engagement ring and wedding bands for the big day, but making your marriage legal in a foreign country can require a few more steps than hiring an officiant. Different countries will have varying requirements for marriages, and you may have some paperwork, letters of intent, and proof of residency to fill out along with copies of your birth or medical certificates.
Be sure to read up on your chosen destination’s requirements far in advance to ensure you’re completing the proper steps with time to spare. If the process seems daunting, you can always have a civil ceremony in your home state before you depart and acquire a domestic marriage certificate.
Do Hire a Wedding Planner
Yes, going without a wedding planner can save money, but only if you’re willing to spend serious time and energy planning and executing your own destination wedding. You’ll save hours of time and stress and can arrive at your destination with total peace of mind.
Be sure to choose a wedding planner who is well-versed in planning destination weddings specifically or who is a local at your chosen destination. From selecting the venue and photographer to the caterer and florist, your planner will be familiar with the destination-specific process and any paperwork that may be necessary before the big day. They will most likely even have tried and tested venues and know relationships with reliable suppliers.
Don’t Leave Guests Unprepared
Sending out save-the-date cards six to ten months in advance of your destination wedding is recommended to give your guests a heads-up to ensure they have ample time to prepare, budget, and respond. Send out your final invitations at least three months before the big day.
When it comes to the big day itself, it’s crucial to keep your guests up-to-date on your ceremony and reception schedule, their transportation options, and information about their accommodations. For ease of communication with guests, many couples choose to create a wedding website for the wedding — we’ll get into that next!
Do Create a Wedding Website
Many consider a wedding website to be an absolute must-have when it comes to destination weddings with many guests. A unique, custom website is a well-organized approach to communicating with your guests, showing your appreciation for the time and energy they’ve put into your wedding, and providing them with a fun sneak peek at your upcoming nuptials.
On your website, note some of your wedding’s fun details to get your guests excited and looking forward to the big day, from romantic music at your reception to photos of the beachside ceremony location. This is also a great opportunity to provide detailed info about accommodation details, things to do in the area, and any local laws your guests should note. Finally, be clear about gift preferences. Ask for digital gifts or gifts off of your registry to be sent to your home address — a brand-new kitchen appliance won’t fit in your carry-on when it’s time to head home (or be easy to get there in the first place!)
Enjoy Your Big Day Far Away
If you’re a soon-to-be bride or groom looking forward to your upcoming nuptials at a faraway location, we hope this list of destination wedding planning do’s, and don’ts helps you feel more prepared to enjoy every moment of this once-in-a-lifetime event. Bon voyage!