Destination wedding planning comes with an additional layer of detail, logistical planning and organization (especially if it’s in another country). Regardless of where you host your destination wedding, there are certain planning rules to follow that typically remain constant. Don’t go down the aisle in another locale without following these 10 destination wedding planning tips! Trust us, we’ve been planning weddings around the world for a long time and we love to work away from home. Just plan ahead to ensure success and your day will be pure magic!
- Pack early. They say pack for your honeymoon well before your wedding day so you aren’t rushed to fit it all in. The same is true for a destination wedding. The quickest way to forget something important is to rush when packing to leave. As goods and items arrive that you plan on taking, set them aside, even in a suitcase, early on. This will get you in the mindset of what to take and what you can fit. Then give yourself a deadline to finish packing days before you depart.
- Work on the marriage license well in advance. Many destinations have lengthy requirements to make your marriage legal in their locale. If this is important to you, determine the requirements before you book your flights so that you know you will be there for a long enough period of time or on a day that you have to visit a government office. If this becomes problematic for you, consider making it legal at home before you go.
- Invite your guests ahead of time. If you want your loved ones to be able to attend, send out a save the date as soon as you book the location (up to a year in advance). The more notice you give your guests, the more likely they are to be able to travel.
- Keep a running list of what to take, from the beginning. Create a notes file in your phone or other safe place and as you place orders or come up with ideas, add them to the list of what you intend to take with you. As you start to pack, you’ve got your thoughts and priorities organized to set you up for success (and not to leave anything behind).
- Work with a destination wedding planner, an experienced one in where you want to wed. Wedding planning at home is different than wedding planning from afar, especially if there’s a language barrier, time change or cultural differences. Working with an experienced wedding planner that understands the unique nuances in a market will help you avoid surprises on the wedding day.
- Take a trip before you book. Websites can be deceiving! Before you book a venue or hire a local florist, visit them first, tour the spaces, meet with the potential team member and get a firsthand account of what your wedding will really be like.
- Carry your attire on. Anything critical to the wedding day (like your dress) should be carried on the flight with you. Never leave anything to chance, especially with an airline.
- Consider cost of getting your goods to the destination at the time you make your purchase. You might plan to bring beautiful linens from home or ship your wedding favors there. The high cost of shipping or heavy bag fees can make these purchases cost prohibitive. If the items are large or heavy, consider sourcing them locally. If you have to clear customs, keep in mind those additional costs (and the time in transit) and make sure these purchases back home are able to get to your destination in plenty of time without too much additional cost.
- Don’t forget to factor in travel expenses for you and your wedding professionals (if anyone is from another area). When budgeting for your wedding, keep in mind not only your flight and hotel costs but also those of your wedding professionals (if you’re bringing anyone with you). In addition, expect to pay for ground transportation, meals and incidentals and other daily budget items you typically wouldn’t see at home.
- Expect the unexpected…and roll with it. People work differently in different parts of the world. Some destinations have less of a sense of urgency in than in a major US city. Some policies are very different than what you would expect at home. Different destinations, different strokes. Understand that ahead of time, prepare for some of the unexpected and go with the flow as best you can to have an unforgettable day, even if it’s not executed the way you would imagine back home.
Keep these 10 destination wedding planning tips in mind and you’ll find smooth sailing down the aisle!