The time has finally come when you get to say “I do”. Even though this is a monumental moment, there are things that can lead to unexpected headaches. To avoid any setbacks, check out some of our favorites destination wedding planning tips below.
The Perfect Place
First things first, the ideal location is what you desire. There are so many items to consider with a destination wedding such as mood, budget, travel, and time needed to bring it all together. When you make that final decision, ensure that it narrates your likings; after all, it’s a special day for both of you.
The Perfect Time
Tourist season can sometimes cause problems with destination weddings. Flights are overbooked, hotels are overpriced and crowds can sometimes be an issue. In the end, you pick the date that best suits you. If planning a destination wedding during the high season, make sure to book hotels well in advance. Send out your invites 6-8 months earlier. This allows your guests time to make travel arrangements before prices increase.
If money and/or time was not an issue, multiple visits to your venue helps with planning, scheduling, meeting other vendors, etc. However, taking multiple visits to your destination venue may not be in the budget. During your visit, make sure you have an understanding of what you want for your day and come prepared with questions and concerns. Make sure you have a venue contact who can communicate - your second hand (wo)man, so to say. They are your eyes and ears when you cannot be there. When visiting, make sure to schedule all your meetings - photographers, florists, hotel (if needed), caterers. Making it a one stop shop while there may create a busy schedule, but it will aid in the planning process.
Every country may have a different set of rules for marriages so it is always smart to read up on the information during the planning process. Some destinations, you can retrieve a license same day, within 24 hours, a week, or even longer. Every country has its own set of rules and it is imperative to be aware of these rules.
Destination weddings can definitely be a more affordable option, with some venues offering everything for one price. However, with others, you have to keep the budget in mind. Upgrades, enhancements, even travel arrangements can add up. It is important to keep this all in mind when planning.
Though some brides and grooms like to take the reigns for their wedding planning, a designated contact can be a huge help when you can't be on site. This contact, after discussing with you, will make decisions on your behalf. It is impossible for you to be there at all times. Finding a reliable person, a Jennifer Lopez-esque wedding planner, will be a significant help. Their task list can range from meeting with the venue to go over last-minute details, making sure everything is set to picking out napkin colors, making gift bags s to arranging transportation for all incoming guests. Ask your venue and other vendors for suggestions. They may have strong relationships with planners that they enjoy working with. This local planner should be well-versed with the area and vendors, as well as have a good relationship with you. With a strong relationship, you can be rest assured that he or she is the right (wo)man for the job.
Destination wedding or not, you can never control time. Having a constant eye on the clock will only cause unwarranted stress. If you are heading to the tropics, hotels will do their best to keep everything on schedule. They are pros on making sure everything happens when it is scheduled to happen. Make sure your vendors are aware of the timeline - incompetence here can cause issues. Schedule regular check-ins with vendors. Even making unexpected ones will aid in your planning - allowing you to decide whether the vendor is capable of weaving its magic or not.
The Selected Few
Selecting your vendors can be complicated, especially if you don't much about the area. However, technology has really made things easier with vendor profiles and reviews available online. Forming a good relationship with these vendors should be included on your to-do list. During your visit, make sure to plan a face-to-face meeting. You will have to rely on them while miles away. Make sure they are aware how much you appreciate their work - it pays off in the end.
The VIP Guest List
Of course you want your family and friends by your side on your big day. However, a destination wedding can be a big commitment. Though requiring additional work, make it easier for all and gather flight information, hotel pricing and any other necessary details and share with your guests in advance. In this case, the earlier the better so they can start the planning as well.
Whether you want sunny skies, a warm night or some snowflakes for your big day, Mother Nature has her own schedule. Weather conditions will not always be pleasant. Some tips - hurricane season in the Caribbean can last anywhere from July through October. In Hawaii, the rainy season can take place from November to March. Interested in Europe, Italy is known for its heat in July and August. Remember, you can't control the weather - but it is nice to be aware of it.
It’s your day and you should look your best. One tip, keep your destination and weather in mind when making your selection, not only for yourself, but your wedding party and guests as well. Heading to the beach, light fabrics and shoes optional are always a popular theme. Taking a ski lift up to the mountains? A scarf will make the perfect accessory with the dress. You can even provide mittens to your guests. The last thing you want is for your wedding party and guests to suffer in unforgiving weather conditions due to dress code.
You should always have a plan B in case anything comes up last minute. In case of unexpected weather, your venue should have indoor facilities, Traffic causing havoc on your schedule, roll with the punches. Working with a venue that will keep this all in mind and have a back-up plan will make your life easier.
Whether you head to the beach or the mountains, keep some of these tips and tricks in mind when planning your destination wedding. Cheers to your love story and starting it out happily ever after.
Alice comes from a long line of writers and was raised to be a life-long learner. She has a passion for language and story crafting, a skill she practices on Houseplantation. Since 2012 she’s been working in her hometown of Texas to increase digital literacy and get more women in tech. Alice works as a community organizer for the WordPress open source project. Follow her @alicesmith009.