Destination Wedding Planning Tips: How to Plan the Perfect Wedding Away

Are you considering a destination wedding? If so, congratulations! Destination weddings are a great way to celebrate your love with family and friends in an exotic location. However, they can also be a lot of work to plan. That’s why we’ve put together this list of tips to help you plan the perfect destination wedding. Keep reading for advice on everything from choosing the right location to packing for your big day!

Choosing the Right Location

The first step in planning a destination wedding is choosing the right location. There are so many amazing destinations to choose from, but you’ll want to pick one that fits your style and budget. Some popular destination wedding locations include tropical islands, picture-perfect parks, action-packed cities or just places you’ve always wanted to visit. Your destination will play a huge role in the overall vibe of your wedding. If you’re dreaming of an intimate beach ceremony, look for destinations with secluded beaches and limited hotels/resorts. If you’re after a more budget-friendly wedding in a popular destination, be prepared for large resorts and lots of tourists. Don’t be afraid to be unique – this is your chance to go off the beaten path and pick a spot that’s not the typical “wedding” venue. One of the best things about destination weddings is that you can choose pretty much any destination in the world! Whether you’re dreaming of an island paradise or a charming European village, there’s a destination wedding location out there for you. Do your research and find a spot that offers everything you want.

Picking your Vendors

Planning an event in a different location involves picking vendors that you might not meet in-person. Some you’ll hire locally because items like food, flowers, perishables, bulky equipment, don’t travel easily and may require local permits. For those vendors you aren’t meeting in-person, ask your venue for recommendations on local businesses they’ve worked with before and schedule meetings over zoom or Skype. For other services, you may hire a vendor from your area that specializes in travel to destination weddings. You’ll want to make sure they have a great deal of destination wedding experience and that they are comfortable working in your wedding venue. Ask them for references from past destination weddings and be prepared to pay a little more for their services, as traveling adds extra cost and time to their job.

Time it Right

Like any other wedding, the time of year matters. Check the weather for that area of the world. What’s the average temperature? Is it hurricane season? Blizzard season? Is it possible weather events could curtail your wedding plans? If so, plan extra time to get to your wedding location, as well as time to get home. And expect to pay more if you plan your wedding during peak tourist season.

Choosing your Guests

Destination weddings are often intimate affairs, with an average of around 50 guests. You don’t want to invite people who will feel burdened by traveling and spending money on a destination wedding. If you’re unsure whether or not someone would be up for the adventure, ask them! The great thing about destination weddings is that you’ll spend more than just 5 hours on wedding day with your guests. Make sure you pick people you’re excited to vacation with – as many destination wedding couples also plan group activities and explore the destination with their invited guests.

Thinking through the Details

Get wedding and/or travel insurance! This is especially important if you’re getting married in a destination that is known for natural disasters or political unrest. Expect the unexpected and leave some wiggle room in your budget for extra fees like airport transfers, baggage fees and tips. Check local marriage requirements. You might need to complete extra paperwork, show birth certificates or have blood tests done. Some couples make it “official” with a secret courthouse wedding in their hometown prior to the actual destination wedding. This way, they avoid local restrictions and basically have a vow renewal in front of their family and friends. Shhh… no one has to know!

Packing for your Wedding Day

Once you’ve picked your destination, it’s time to start packing! You’ll need to pack for both the ceremony and the reception, so make sure to include everything you’ll need. For the ceremony, you’ll want to bring a dress or suit, shoes, accessories and any other items specific to your tastes and style. Check baggage requirements so there are no surprises at the airport. And when possible, use your carry-on allowance for irreplaceable items like your wedding day attire. Wedding dresses and suits can be packed in garment bags that hang in the cabin or lay across suitcases in the overhead compartment. Pay for early boarding or upgraded seats to cut down on your travel stress and so you don’t have to gate-check your bags.

Start planning early! The more time you have, the better. Not only do you need to give your guests enough notice to save up, get passports and book travel, but destination weddings can be a bit more complex than traditional weddings – especially if you’re trying to plan everything from afar. Leave yourself plenty of time, stick to your budget, delegate tasks to trusted friends, and try to enjoy the process. Remember your priorities – this is your wedding – at the end of the day if you’ve married your person, it’s a success!

Kristin Griffin

Destination wedding photographer.  

Kristin was a destination bride (Las Vegas), and also planned her 10-year vow renewal ceremony abroad (Curacao).  She’s photographed weddings all over the USA and in select countries worldwide.  Destination photography or video packages include Kristin’s arrival two days before your wedding, coverage for your group activities and events, a “rock the dress session” after the wedding, and all travel expenses included.  Please contact Kristin for rates.

Ready to rock your wedding photos?