I'm just going to say it- Destination Weddings are my favorite! They are more intimate, more unique, and much more memorable!
With my background as both a Travel Agent AND a Wedding Planner, I would like to share with you some of my best Destination Wedding planning resources to make your experiences even more memorable and stress-free.
|Benefits of destination weddings
|These events are more intimate, as fewer guests attend, creating a more personal atmosphere.
|Destination wedding can be less stressful to plan, as many hotels and resorts offer wedding packages that include everything you will need!
|You can choose a destination that is unique or special to you, or simply some place beautiful that you've always wanted to go!
|Cost is usually smaller than a traditional wedding. Some of the basics (photographer, DJ, etc) may even be included in your package. But the money you save on having an extensive guestlist can now be put towards travel!
|Embrace culture! Your wedding activities can include local tours, local cuisine, and beautiful natural scenery for all of your pictures!
|Already on your honeymoon! Once the festivities are over, the newlyweds can stay a while longer to relax and really enjoy everything your destination has to offer.
My Top Picks for Destination Weddings:
Fregate Private Island
Couples choosing to tie-the-knot at this award-winning, ultra-exclusive luxury island resort can look forward to a romantic treat that will live long in the memory. Fregate Island is the ultimate paradise setting for couples seeking an unforgettable wedding experience!
This is a one of a kind destination where guests can experience the ultimate offer to Seychelles luxury with an exclusive 5 – star experience and a team genuinely committed to conservation. Our precious Seychelles Island is covered in lush forest, fringed by coral reefs and a sanctuary to some of the world’s rarest plants, reptiles, insects and birds.
Explore other Private Island options.
Ashford Castle, Ireland
Make Ashford Castle truly your own when you book the entire estate so it’s exclusively yours. The castle’s 83 bedrooms, suites and Lakeside Hideaway Cottage will accommodate up to 160 guests, allowing you and your wedding party to enjoy the full castle experience without interruption.
Enjoy exclusive use of all restaurants and bars including The George V Dining Room for an unforgettable wedding breakfast, the underground Wine Cellars for a magical pre-wedding event or the impressive Oak Hall for a show-stopping reception in the heart of the castle.
An exclusive use wedding also offers a range of unforgettable estate activities for you and your guests to enjoy including falconry, equestrian, golf, river cruising, fishing and spa treatments.
Tristan da Cunha
This unique experience can be yours while on a cruise headed to Antarctica!
With barely 250 permanent inhabitants, Tristan da Cunha is far from the beaten path. The island teems with wildlife such as Northern rockhopper penguins, the endangered Tristan Albatross and sea lions while the surrounding upwellings attract vast numbers of Whales and Dolphins.
This island offers a wedding experience that's unlike anywhere else. Let them imagine exchanging vows on a secluded beach or in a quaint church surrounded by nature's beauty. Their wedding photos will be breathtaking, framed by the stunning volcanic skyline.
Destination Wedding Timeline
Decide on your Wedding Style
Number of guests you would like to invite.
How formal or causal you want your day to be.
Type of destination wedding (Beach, Forest, Castle, etc.)
Determine Your Budget
Once you’ve considered the size and style of your wedding, it’s time to set a budget. Take into account what you have currently, what you are able to put aside in the coming months, and any contributions from relatives. Remember to be realistic, and stay firm once your budget is decided- it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and make unnecessary purchases. It might also be beneficial to create a detailed list of all the things you think you will need, and how much you are willing to spend on them. Remember to account for things such as stamps, envelopes, and thank you card, airline tickets and transfers, tips & gratuities.
Set A Date
Think about the time of year you’d like to get married and consider how long it will take you to plan. Then, set a date! (If you are looking at a specific venue, have a couple dates to work with in case they are already booked for your first choice.)
Pick Your Ultimate Destination
Make a shortlist of your top picks for wedding locations and begin to research the requirements for a legal marriage in each. Looking for suggestions or some assistance? Go on to the next step.
Hire your Wedding/Travel Planner
Wedding are a lot of work on their own, and it can be even more stressful planning one from afar. You can save yourself a lot of anxiety by hiring a professional to do all the work for you! So, do you hire a wedding planner, or a travel planner? Fortunately, I have experience in both!
*Pro Tip: If you are staying domestic, a Wedding Planner should be fine. If you are traveling internationally for your big day, go with a Travel Planner.
Start Vetting Vnues & Vendors
Venues, Photographers, DJs, Videographers, Florists, Caterers, Decorators, and more! Luckily, when planning a destination wedding, most venues are happy to provide a list of their top recommendations, or may even have in-house accommodations. If not, talk to your Wedding/Travel Planner.
Lock In Your Location
If it is within your time and budget, plan a visit to the site of your choice before you book it so there aren’t any surprises. This will also give you a chance to get familiar with the area and what to expect when traveling. Once you are certain you have found the right location, lock it down!
Create a folder or binder with all of the important details. This should include your budget checklist, all of your vendor information, important dates, and ideas you’d like to share with your planner.
Create Your Guestlist
This is the tricky part for destination weddings because it’s hard to know who will be willing and able to travel, but it’s a must-do. Create a list of everyone you would like to invite, making note of those you think will attend and those who likely will not. Let those closest to you know exactly what you are planning as early as possible to give them the best chance at being able to make it. Once you have your list, start collecting contact info. Will you be mailing save the dates and invitations or will you be emailing them?
Choose Your Bridal Party
First you will decide how big your bridal party is going to be, and then you need to select your entourage. It is best to get this done early to give your selected party enough time to gather their expenses and make travel arrangements.
Say ‘yes’ to the Dress
One of the most exciting experiences in planning your wedding is finding the right dress! Be sure to stay within your budget and consider your destination when picking your gown. Remember that most gowns are special ordered and can take MONTHS to come in, and then you will need ample time for alterations. You will also want start looking at your Tux (or Groom’s attire) and what your bridal party will be wearing.
Choose an Officiant
If your preferred officiant is not able to travel with you for this occasion, don’t worry! Most destinations venues will be able to give you a list of options for officiants based on your religion or preferences.
Lock down a photographer
The photographer will be one of the most important choices you make, because they capture the memories that will last forever. If you have someone you trust and is able to travel with you, then you are already set, however, most destination venues have preferred vendors that they work with, and it’s worth looking into. The benefit to working with a photographer from a preferred list is that they likely know the venue well and have shot there before, meaning they will already know the best angles, lighting, and locations for all your photos.
If this is something you would like to do, set up a good date and time to have an engagement shoot with your photographer (if they are local to you.) If you will not be seeing your photographer until your wedding, you can still hire someone else to capture some shots of you and your fiancé.
Reserve Rooms for Guests
When hosting a destination wedding, it’s proper etiquette to reserve rooms for your guests so the burden is not on them, however, this is not mandatory. Review your budget and see what you are able to afford. At the very least, have a block of rooms put on hold for guests to pick up if they decide to attend.
Create your Wedding Website or App
The best way to share wedding details with guests nowadays is virtually. There are hundreds of apps you can download and share, or create a website and share the link.
Send Out Save-the-Dates
Most save-the-dates go out 6 months before the wedding, but destination weddings should consider giving their guests a little extra time to make arrangements. If you have created a website (or app) be sure to include that information on your card so that everyone can be on the same page.
Get Your Passports
If you already have a passport, check to be sure it is current and valid. If you need to order a new one, do it now to ensure it gets to you on time. Passports can take up to 12 weeks to arrive, but if any information is wrong and needs to be changed, it can take much longer. Talk to your Travel Planner to learn more about the Passport process.
Finalize your Floral Arrangements
Book your florist and discuss all of the arrangements you will need for your big day. Consider your wedding bouquet, bridesmaids’ bouquets, boutonnieres, centerpieces, and other arrangements.
Food, Drinks, and Desserts!
Many times your venue will be able to cater your wedding on site. But, if you need to select another vendor, now is the time to do it. Discuss your dinner options (sit-down or buffet style) and select your favorite courses. If you are able to do a tasting, now is the time to schedule it. And don’t forget the desserts!
Book your DJ
Your DJ is another one of the most important people you will hire, because they pretty much run the show. They make all of the announcements, set the mood, and keep the party going all night. Look around and find someone you really connect with to ensure you get everything you want out of your wedding.
Now that you have your wedding attire, you can start jazzing it up. Will you be wearing a veil? How about a dress change? What jewelry and undergarments will best compliment your gown? And, be sure to consider your destinations when picking your shoes.
When picking bridesmaid dresses, consider your destination, as well as your party’s budgets (unless you are purchasing the dresses for them.) Will you have all them wear all the same color, or different colors? Would you like them to have matching styles, or wear whatever they are most comfortable in? Short or long?
The fun thing about planning a destination wedding is that your registry may consist of things to do while you are abroad, such as a couples massage or an excursion you’d like to take while you’re there. Have fun with it!
Depending on your destination, you may be required to get certain vaccinations or blood tests. Work with your Travel Planner to see what is needed and how far in advance. This is information you will also want to share with your guests so that they are not denied travel.
Order Wedding Invitations
Select and order your wedding invitations, RSVP cards, and any other stationary that may be needed (such as meal preferences.)
Book Your Travel
Work closely with your Travel Planner to get this right, because so many things can go wrong. Decide how far in advance you need to arrive to your destination, as well as when your guests should arrive. Now is the time to plan your airport transfers, rent a car, and book your wedding day transportation.
Make your wedding your own by selecting centerpieces, a guestbook, a cake topper, and any other décor you want to have. If you are able to have these items shipped directly to your venue, consider that as an option to save you luggage space.
Some couples who have destination weddings don’t plan a separate honeymoon because they are already exactly where they want to be. Others plan a separate honeymoon, often later in the year. Talk to your Travel Planner to ensure you get the honeymoon you want.
Since your guests will be coming in from out of town, it’s a nice idea to have options for them when they arrive. This can be as simple as a dinner, or cocktail hour, or as exciting as a group activity or excursion. Either way, let your guests know in advance so they can pack accordingly.
Get the Groom’s and Groomsmen’s Attire It’s not time to select your groom’s and groomsmen’s attire. Will this be more casual with khakis and a button down? Or will you be going full tux? Regardless, send all of your guys in to get measured for their attire. Don’t forget shoes, tie, socks, cufflinks, and pocket squares!
Be sure to let your rental place know your travel dates so they can accommodate for you.
Check on the Dresses
If your dress hasn’t arrived yet, call your bridal store and check on the status. If it has, start scheduling your fittings.
It is also a good idea to check on your bridesmaid dresses as well.
Plan the Playlist
Create a list of the songs you absolutely must have played, as well as those you do NOT want played. Select your grand entrance songs, your first dance, mother/father dances, and any other special requests you have. Talk with your DJ to discuss the order of events throughout the night, and go over your playlists (and do not play lists) in detail.
If you haven’t already, it’s time to select your wedding bands. Don’t be afraid to shop around and compare so that you get exactly what you want. Most bands will need to be ordered to ensure your unique fit.
One way to show gratitude to your guests is to gift them with a memorable keepsake. Pick something that is special to you and easy to travel with. Another great idea for destination weddings are welcome bags for your guests. This could be something a care pack filled with goodies such as snacks, something more practical such as sunscreen and sunglasses, or as simple as a bottle of wine.
It’s finally time to send those invitations! Your guests should already have a good idea of whether or not they are able to make it, so get ready for those RSVPs to start rolling it. Keep track of your numbers so you can have an accurate count.
Get Final Vendor Confirmations
Use that wedding binder to double-check every detail with every vendor. Make sure they have an accurate schedule, guest count, and contact information. And get it all in writing!
Finalize your Stylists
Get in contact with whichever vendor you selected to start planning styles for you and all of your bridesmaids. Keep the normal weather for your destination in mind while doing this.
Bridal Party Gifts
Most brides and grooms give gifts to their bridal party to show their love and appreciation. This is often their jewelry or something meaningful to them. Some couples also pick out gifts to give each other.
Gown Fittings Your wedding dress should have arrived by now and it is time to ensure it fits. Take your undergarments with you when you visit your seamstress. This process may take several visits, so be patient while they fit your dress specifically to you. While usually less intricate, your bridesmaids should also begin their fittings.
Final Gown Fitting
This will be the last fitting before you wear your dress on your big day, so make sure everything fits perfect! Bring you undergarments with you, as well as your shoes. Be sure to learn how to bustle your gown if it has a train.
Start Packing Your Bags
It’s likely you’ll be traveling with more than one bag on this trip, so it’s a good idea to pack early. Be sure you have all your accessories, gifts, welcome bags, and decorations that weren’t delivered to the venue.
If you're not ready to start packing quite yet, start a list of everything you will need to take so that you can check it off as you pack, and nothing gets left behind.
Order Your Programs
While not necessary, this is a detail that guests love. A program allows guests to follow along during the ceremony, learn the names of your wedding party, and know what to expect next.
Wedding Vows & Readings
Whether you are selecting passages or readings, or writing your own vows, now is the time to ensure they are exactly what you want them to be and get them to your officiant.
Confirm Travel Reservations
Have your Travel Planner call your hotel or resort and double-check on reservations for both you and your guests.
Seating Chart By now you should have a final count on your number of guests attending the wedding. If you are having a seating chart you will need to create place cards and signage so that your guests will know where to go when they arrive.
Confirm Travel and Accommodations One More Time
It may sound like overkill, but, seriously, check your reservations one last time. Make sure your flights are booked (and haven't changes), hotel rooms are reserved, and every guest has their travel and lodging locked down.
Re-Confirm Every Vendor
Get ahold of every one of your vendors one last time and discuss exactly what it is you want for your big day so that everyone is on the same page. Be sure your paperwork matches theirs.
Apply for a Marriage License
It’s important to do some research before you leave so you bring the proper documents to receive a foreign license. If you’re getting married at a resort, they will sometimes prepare the documents for you as a courtesy.
List of Shots
Create a list of shots you would like your photographer to get of you and your family and friends. This will help them plan their timing and ensure you get every shot you want.
If you haven't been packing as you go, now is the time to start! Use your checklist of everything you need to bring with you and check it off as you pack it to ensure you leave with everything you need.
Save this until the last minute so that your nails look absolutely perfect for your big day. Make this an even nicer activity by inviting all your bridesmaids to come with you.
Call your banks and credit card companies to let them know you will be traveling so that none of your transactions are declined while you're away.
Check In With Bridal Party
Check in with your family and all of your bridal party to ensure everything is on track for them as well. If they are not traveling with you, familiarize yourself with their travel plans so you know when to expect them.
Remind them of any pre-wedding activities you might have planned and what is expected of them when they arrive so that they are not met with any surprises.
Check In With Your Venues
Once you’ve arrived you will need to take a look at your ceremony and reception sites to ensure that they are what you wanted. If something does not look right, talk with your staff immediately to see what can be done.
If you have welcome gifts for your guests, give them to your hotel manager to have them waiting in their rooms when they arrive.
If you have other events planned (cocktail hour, dinners, bachelor/bachelorette parties, day excursions, etc.) check in to ensure all activities are confirmed.
Make sure your florist knows when and where to deliver the arrangements, bouquets, and boutonnieres.
Get Your Beauty Trials
If you have the chance to get a hair and makeup trial before your wedding day, do not pass on the opportunity. This is a chance to finalize the look you want, and to ensure it will withstand the elements of your destination.
Finalize Your Menu
If you didn’t have a chance to do food tastings in advance, arrange a quick tasting or menu review with your vendor.
Because the conditions are often less predictable for a destination wedding, your rehearsal is extra important. This will allow everyone to get comfortable with their settings and make any unforeseen last-minute adjustments.
If you have any questions at all, talk to your planner, your venue manager, or your vendors.
Press the Dress Have your dress steamed or pressed the night before the wedding. Your hotel should have one on hand, but it is good to check with them before traveling to be sure.
Make Sure You Have Your Rings
After your photographer gets a detailed shot of your wedding bands, make sure they get to the right person.
Give Your Fiancé their Gift
If you and your fiancé are doing a gift exchange, set up a time to exchange them. This could mean sending them with a family member (and the photographer to capture the moment), or if your doing a ‘first look’ you can gift each other them.
It is custom to tip all of your vendors for their hard work. This includes your photographer, DJ, stylists, travel planner, florist, officiant (donation), and anyone else who helped make your big day. The standard is 15-20%.
Breathe. Relax. Celebrate!
You’ve done everything you could, and now it is time to enjoy your day! Be present, and don’t let the little things bother you. This is the first day of the rest of your lives!
Are you ready to start creating your perfect adventure?
Of course you are!
Click the button to schedule your first consultation with me and we will start planning right away!