A Destination Wedding is the type of wedding that screams excitement. We have to be real with ourselves, however. It’s tough trying to plan dinner with your family and friends let alone a trip out of state. A destination wedding takes proper planning and time if you want to get it right.  Never fear because we all need a cool vacation and what better way to spend it than with the people you love during a wedding? Having a destination wedding offers so many opportunities to visit a new country or state. It allows you the chance to explore new food, activities, sites, and new culture.

So how exactly do you get from planning your destination wedding at home to being on the sandy beaches of a tropical island? Here are some tips to ensure your destination wedding is a success.

How To Plan Your Destination Wedding Outdoor beach wedding ceremony

Set Your Budget

Setting your budget may sound familiar to planning a local wedding, but it is critical when you are looking to host your wedding abroad. The amount of money you desire to spend really does let you know what type of wedding you will have and where. Budget setting also keeps you from refinancing your home mortgage and making wrong decisions with credit cards. Your budget should consider the following items:

  1. Flights – including a site visit before your wedding
  2. Hotel – is it all inclusive and do they give you discounts on your wedding reception?
  3. Travel Documents
  4. What is the exchange rate in the country you will host your wedding?
  5. Ground Transportation
  6. Rates of local vendors vs hometown vendors

How To Plan Your Destination Wedding Flowers at a destination wedding

Select A Location

Selecting a location for your destination wedding can be just as challenging as the couple planning a stateside wedding. Most resorts and hotels do not have a large reception capacity. You want to look for a location that not only allows you to enjoy activities, but also gives you the needed space to host a ceremony and reception. Your wedding list may be a lot smaller than if you hosted your wedding at home; be prepared for cutting the list.

Your location should give a feeling that your guests are not at home. There is no sense in planning a destination wedding at a venue that looks like one 2 miles from your home. Although you may find a venue that is breathtaking, be sure to research it to ensure it meets your needs. Things to consider are

  1. Guests count
  2. Food options
  3. Room options
  4. Vendor requirements
  5. What are the capabilities of the venue’s in-house staff?

Consider Your Guests

Although you are planning you wedding, when planning a destination wedding the needs of your guests should be close to yours. You may have guests who have never been out of the country or to the country of your destination. It should not be up to them to figure things out on their own. As the host, you should provide as much detail as you can to reassure them during this process. Here are some critical things your guests should have:

  1. A welcome packet or website that outlines all the key details of your wedding
  2. Links to your travel agent to aid them in booking flights and hotel room
  3. Ground transportation info from airport to hotel
  4. Advanced notice to allow guests to budget for trip and take off work. A 4-6 month notice.
  5. A list of activities outside of your wedding. Even consider a welcome party

How To Plan Your Destination Wedding Reception on a beach

Consider Added Costs

There are some resorts and venues that will charge you a fee to bring in outside vendors. Most stateside venues require you to use their own catering company and have room for you to bring in other vendors of your own. However, locations outside of the U.S. may be more difficult than that. Locations may require you to pay a considerable amount to bring in your own Florist, Photographer, and other vendors.

If you have a wedding vendor that you absolutely love, determine how much equipment they plan to bring in. There are limits to how much equipment you can transport in and out of a country on a plane and that comes with a fee.

If you have more guests than what is included in a hotel’s wedding package, you may be charged additional money for things like chairs and linen.

How To Plan Your Destination Wedding Flowers wrapped around pipe and drape

Destination Wedding Conclusion

A destination wedding does have its challenges, but what wedding doesn’t? The best way to navigate the planning process is by having open communication and knowing as much about your location as possible. Venue staff are extremely helpful in giving you details about what they offer and what you need to have done prior to your special day. Have a plan and ensure all your guests are aware of your plan. Lastly, remember this is a time to have fun, so have it.

For more information on a destination wedding or to have us plan your next adventure, please contact us.