For those of you wondering how to plan a destination wedding, it’s not as difficult as it may seem. There’s a little more to it than planning a local wedding, but with a little preparation and attention to detail, it’ll be no sweat. To make sure that you’re covered from passports to wedding blessing words and everything in between, we have 10 helpful tips to keep things in order.
Tips for Planning a Destination Wedding
The first step in a stress-free event is to cover all your bases by creating a destination wedding checklist.
Start Planning Early
Your destination wedding advice starts 6-12 months prior to the big event. Vendor and venue research takes a little longer and you’ll want to give your guests plenty of notice to start making their arrangements. They’ll need to book holidays with work, find babysitters, and start saving. Make sure that they have ample time to do so. It will also give them enough time to put thought into wedding gifts like a trendy subscription box or items from your registry. Early delivery of gifts means you won’t have excessive back and forth packing.
Be Realistic With The Guest List
Destination travel is expensive and can be difficult for some of your friends and family members to coordinate. To keep things realistic and pleasant – this may be the most difficult part – trim the list down to the most essential people. Most couples stick to just immediate family, the bridal party, and additional guests that they’re sure won’t have a problem taking time off of work.
Find a Great Wedding Planner
Since your destination is very likely to be a place you’re not intimately familiar with, a local wedding planner is going to be essential. Do your research to make sure that they come with a good reputation and are experienced enough to have relationships with vendors and venues, find bargains, avoid hidden costs and stress, and to teach you the local destination wedding etiquette.
Most importantly, they’ll speak the local language which is something that you can’t live without.
Arriving a few days early affords you the opportunity to run through the itinerary with your wedding planner, meet with vendors in person, confirm arrangements with your accommodations, and walk through the venue(s) to make sure everything is to your specifications. Since you’ve been planning remotely up until now, a few things may have gotten lost in translation which you’ll have the chance to correct.
Go Out Of Your Way To Be Considerate
As early as possible, book a block of hotel rooms and reserve transportation. You can’t really officially set a date without a venue and accommodations, so doing it early is key. This also usually ends up in savings and occasionally grants you free upgrades. Booking a shuttle is much more economical and is a great way to make sure that no guest gets left behind.
The best things about destination weddings are the local offerings. Leaning into the culture by hiring a local entertainment, building your menu around in-season local fare and using local blooms for your floral designs is not only a great way to create an authentic experience, but it’s also a great way to save a few dollars.
Saving money is always high on our list of priorities, but never at the expense of quality. There may be a few vendors such as a wedding photographer or a close-to-the-family officiant that you’ll want to bring from home. Negotiate all of your fees in advance so that there’s no surprise. But be warned. You are expected to pay for their travel and accommodation on top of their normal charges.
Be Choosy About What You Bring
It’s always a tricky balance deciding what to buy once you arrive and what to bring with you. Do some online research and consult with your wedding planner about the cost and quality of items like linens, favors, attire rentals, and everything else that you would consider optional. Suite rentals are higher quality and easier to manage the return process locally for example, while wedding favors could be less expensive and a little more unique when purchased abroad.
Most destination wedding tips fail to warn you about compromise. You can’t control absolutely everything from abroad. It’s your dream wedding so set your expectations high, but also be prepared to compromise. Make a list of secondary vendors and alternative accommodations and transport. If something should fall through for any reason, having a contingency avoids a complete disaster.
Pay The Right Way
Some hotels are full service making it easier to pay vendors. Even if vendors aren’t paid through the hotel, it makes things less complicated to use credit cards whenever possible. This acts as proof of payment and also eliminates the chance of fraud since most credit cards are insured against these kinds of things. As a bonus, you’ll be adding more air mile points.
If you manage to get through the guest list portion of our destination wedding advice without any hurt feelings pre-bruised egos the rest will be a snap. Start early, do more research than you think is necessary, follow the checklist, and don’t get your heart broken if things don’t go exactly as planned. It’s as easy as that.