Planning a destination wedding can be daunting, but you’ve GOT THIS! I believe in you!
You absolutely will not regret having your wedding in an incredible location when it’s all said and done. You’ll be left with an unforgettable experience… and amazing photos to match that! (;
Here are my best tips for planning a destination wedding.
First and foremost, hire a destination wedding planner. Finding local vendors, knowing what parts of the area to stay in, figuring out marriage laws and coordinating travel logistics can all be a lot to manage from states away, or countries away! Additionally, depending on if your wedding will be international, destination wedding planning can be even more difficult if there are language barriers and currency differences.
Hire a local wedding planner or a destination wedding planner to help you navigate these tasks. (Some of my favorite destination wedding & elopement planners are The Greatest Adventure Weddings, The Stars Inside, and Brenda Babcock)
If your wedding will be at a hotel/resort, ask if they have an on-site coordinator that you can work with. Many resorts have wedding packages that include on-site planners who can guide you..
Whatever you do, don’t do it on your own!
It’s recommended to send your save the dates 8-12 months prior, and invitations 4-5 months prior to the wedding date. Since guests have to make travel arrangements, request vacation time at work, find sitters for the pets and/or kids, the more time you give them to plan the more likely they are to attend. You can expect anywhere from 30-70% of the guests you invite to attend with destination weddings.
If you are thinking more along the lines of a destination elopement with few to no guests at all, there is less of a timeframe for sending out invites and save the dates. (If that’s the case, check out my Elopement Planning Guide here!)
Another thing to consider is the marriage laws in your chosen location. Marriage laws vary drastically across states and countries. For that reason, be sure to do your research and/or find a local officiant who can show you the ropes. You want to make sure that you do actually tie the knot at your wedding. That’s the whole point after all!!
When it comes to decor and details- less is more. Don’t stress too much about decor, instead lean into the natural botanicals and geography of the destination. The scenery will be unique, memorable, and photogenic enough on its own! So keep your decor simple, and let the destination speak for itself. For more ideas and decor options, feel free to explore my Pinterest page.
It’s important to visit your destination at least once before the wedding day. If you don’t visit your destination until they wedding day, it might result in unwanted surprises and unmet expectations. If you are unable to visit the destination prior to the wedding day, that’s okay! Just make sure that you have a local wedding planner or on-site venue coordinator that you trust to pick vendors for you.
Finally, take into consideration how much your guests will be investing into this event. They are likely sacrificing a lot of money and time away from home in order to come support your marriage, so give them an incredible experience while they are there! On your wedding website or in your invites, give guests a guide to the area so they have ideas on where to stay, where to eat, what things to see and do.
Another great way to do this is to plan more events than just the ceremony and reception. For example, host a welcome event the evening before the wedding for all the guests. Or, coordinate a group hike or excursion a day or two prior to the wedding for guests who arrive early. Another option is to plan a farewell brunch for the day after the wedding. Whatever it is, be sure to make the most out of this trip for everyone involved.
Last but not least, make sure that you hire a good photographer who will capture every detail of your day.
You can hire a destination wedding photographer to travel to your destination wedding location with you. Or, you can hire a photographer who is based in the place you will be getting married. Whichever you decide, pick someone whose wedding photography style you love, who has experience with destination weddings, and who you can trust to create those lifelong memories for you. For more tips on how to pick the perfect wedding photographer for you, check out my resource here.
If you want to chat more about your destination wedding, feel free to reach out! I’d love to help you bounce around ideas and determine the best fit for you!