Have you always dreamed of exchanging vows in a tropical paradise? What about on a mountainside oasis, surrounded by your closest family and friends?
If so, a destination wedding is ideal!
Combining the best elements of a vacation with the biggest celebration of your life, this is the perfect way to begin your new journey together. The only issue?
Planning a wedding at home can be challenging enough. Throw in the logistics of doing it all from hundreds or even thousands of miles away, and it doesn’t take much for the stress to snowball.
Feeling a little anxious about how you’ll juggle it all? That’s why we’re here.
Today, we’re sharing our go-to guide to help you plan the destination wedding of your dreams. We’ve taken care of the legwork for you, so all you have to do is make a checklist and start marking it off!
1. Choose Your Spot
If there’s an opportunity to really let your imagination run wild, an extravagant wedding is it. When dreaming of your big day, go with your heart. If you love sipping drinks with tiny umbrellas on a white sandy shore, a coastal wedding it is! If you’re more of a city slicker, why not set your sights on an urban getaway?
Begin this experience by thinking of your ultimate, tip-top dream locale. Is it Paris? Venice? Bora Bora?
Now, perform what experts in the industry call “The Grandma Test.”
Is the spot easy to get to and affordable enough that your grandmother or another beloved family member could make the trip? If so, you can start nailing down the details. If you want these special guests in attendance but you find that it’s simply too cost-prohibitive or far away, try to scale it back a little.
Perhaps this means choosing a beach that’s a little closer to your hometown, or a city that’s only a few states away versus halfway across the country. Take your time with this step and find a location that allows for everything your heart desires, including the people you hold closest to it.
2. Set Your Date
Once you’ve found your perfect locale, it’s time to set the date!
If you’re planning to get married without guests in attendance, this next part is up to you and your fiancé. Try to find a date that works with both of your schedules and doesn’t conflict with personal or professional obligations. In most cases, you’ll book your wedding as part of a greater honeymoon package, so be sure to schedule plenty of time off work!
Another factor to consider? The weather!
Even the most gorgeous locations can turn gray with storm clouds during certain parts of the year. You also don’t want to schedule your special day right in the middle of a hurricane or a record-setting snowstorm. You can reference historical weather data with this tool to learn what the weather was like on any given day, anywhere around the world!
Finally, don’t forget to keep your guests in before you make reservations and cement your timeline. Do you plan on inviting close friends and family? If so, it’s important that they weigh in on the dates that work best for them.
While you might not be able to accommodate everyone’s requests, try to find a date that works for the majority.
3. Research Local Marriage Laws
You’re in love! You can get married anywhere, right?
Not so fast.
Did you know there are some locations, including in the United States, where you cannot get married in a state if you are not a local resident? It would be a shame to plan all of the details only to find out that your destination wedding won’t be valid and you’ll have to have a civil ceremony either before you leave or when you return back home.
Not sure where to check? Ask the management team at your prospective venue. Chances are, they’ve dealt with many brides who are in your exact same shoes, and they’ll be able to advise you on local regulations.
4. Create and Mail Invites
This isn’t the time to wait until the last minute. If you’re inviting guests to a destination wedding, it’s critical to send invites as soon as possible, with three months’ notice as a bare minimum.
In fact, it’s best to send out Save the Date cards up to a year or more in advance, especially if you’re planning an all inclusive wedding that they’ll need to save up for in advance!
5. Plan a Visit, Find a Planner
There are many ways to cut costs and plan your wedding yourself. However, if you don’t live near the destination, this step becomes infinitely more difficult. That’s why it pays to partner with a wedding planner you trust.
Try to visit the location at least once, and seek out your planner while you’re there. This should be someone local to the area you want to marry in, who has access to all of the best vendors including florists, caterers, musicians, stylists and more.
Again, check with your venue. They might have someone on staff who’s dedicated to this exact service, especially for brides who book destination wedding packages.
Before signing on the dotted line, ask to see some examples of past weddings that the planner has orchestrated. Also, check online reviews and feedback from other couples who have used this professional in the past.
6. Vet the Venue and Vendors
Try to knock out all of the wedding details you can while you’re on-site. This means getting a good look at the venue, including any backup options in case of inclement weather. While in town, also visit the suggested vendors to see in person if they meet your expectations.
You could trust your local wedding planner entirely, but you don’t want to show up a day before your wedding and find that the venue is much smaller than you anticipated, or that the caterer doesn’t accommodate vegan-friendly requests. Of course, you can always bring vendors that you already know and love along with you!
The only catch? You’ll be responsible for footing their plane tickets and hotel bill. Still, if you’re willing to cover those travel expenses, you can have your familiar favorites on hand when you need them the most!
7. Find Ways to Save
Finally, don’t forget to set a budget when planning your destination wedding. Research shows that the average destination wedding cost is around $32,000. It can vary by location, time of year, party size, vendor selection, and other factors. Whether or not you choose to cover all of the costs for your guests to attend can also make a major difference.
In addition, remember to factor in any pre-wedding trips you’ll need to make!
A few ways to save include:
- Book as early as possible
- Inquire about promotions
- Narrow your guest list
- Choose a local destination
- Pre-book resort excursions and similar “extras”
- Choose an off-day (e.g. weekday)
- Skip favors and gifts
- Book an all-inclusive package
Book Your Dream Destination Wedding With Us
Hosting a destination wedding can be one of the most memorable and magical events you’ll ever experience! When you want to celebrate and kick-off your new union in style, there’s nothing like whisking everyone away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life into a passionate paradise.
Feeling a little overwhelmed as you try to navigate all of these steps? That’s where we come in.
We offer all-inclusive resort packages in some of the most luxurious locations around the world. Contact us today and let us help turn your dream wedding into a dazzling reality. We’ll handle all of the behind-the-scenes details so the only thing you have to worry about is preparing for a moment you’ll never forget.