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Saying ‘I Do’ Abroad? You’ll Need These Tips for Planning a Seamless Destination Wedding

Tips for Destination Wedding Planning
Written by Going Places

This blog post was updated on September 6, 2022.

You’re tying the knot with your dream partner in your dream destination. Perfect, right? Not so fast! The reality is, a whole lot of hard work goes behind planning a destination wedding. To reap the rewards of jet setting across the globe for your big day (the stunning photos alone will be worth the trouble), here are 10 important tips for planning a seamless destination wedding!

See the Venue in Person

Tips for Destination Wedding Planning Venue

Choosing a venue based on images you see online isn’t the best option. Before you say, ‘I do’, try to find cheap flights to your wedding destination and book the location for the ceremony, reception, and hotels for guests. You may want to hire a local wedding planner to coordinate the wedding events. Choose florists, caterers, photographers, and a venue for the rehearsal dinner. Three to four months before the wedding, visit again to go over the final details. You may want to schedule tastings with your caterer and see bouquet samples. Choose a salon for a makeup and hair session. Organize the activities you want for your wedding guests. If another trip isn’t possible, have an onsite coordinator or your wedding planner handle the last-minute details.

Customized Wedding Invitations Are a MUST

Tips for Destination Wedding Planning for Invitations
If you’re hosting an intimate gathering at your town’s reception hall, store-bought invites will work just fine. But if you’re asking guests to fly to Tahiti to bear witness to your nuptials, customized invitations will allow you to lay out the structure of the trip. Websites like Minted make it easy to share the important details of your big day with family and friends. You can order directions cards, reception cards, RSVP cards, and thank you cards in one bundle –a must when navigating a foreign land. And, since Minted crowd-sources art from independent designers, you’ll have the best and most beautiful destination wedding selection tailored to your needs.

Update Your Luggage

Tips for Destination Wedding Luggage

Remember your old suitcase… you know, the one you duct-taped together? The last thing you need is for your dilapidated old suitcase to fall apart at bag check. Invest in a set of waterproof luggage and garment bags for your wedding dress. Suitcase dividers and shoe storage bags will keep your stash neat –meaning less stress for you.

Keep a Planner

Tips for Destination Wedding Planners

You’ll also want an actual wedding planner (those range between 10 and 15 percent of your wedding’s total budget), but we’re talking about the classic paper kind. Map out costs like airfare, hotel bookings, transportation, and even coffee runs for the bridal party. Factor in emergency funds for fashion mishaps (broken heels, anyone?) and pharmacy trips. The last thing you want to do is fend for yourself on a private island… in a wedding dress, no less.

You may also enjoy: What to Pack for a Beach Wedding

Do Your Research

Booking a stay at a luxurious Florida resort won’t sound so great if it’s during hurricane season. A bit of research goes a long way in avoiding wedding mishaps. Topics to consider when surfing the web:
  • Local marriage requirements
  • Laws and customs
  • Currency
  • Weather (A poufy tulle dress and 90-degree heat aren’t exactly a great pairing)
  • Reception hall and local restaurant ratings
  • Transportation methods


Arrive Early or Even Add an Extra Day

Tips for Destination Wedding When There Early

Wedding coordinators suggest arriving for your destination wedding several days before the ceremony and adding an extra day. You want everything to go according to your plan, but last-minute changes may be necessary. You’ll need sufficient time to iron out all the details, so everything is perfect for your wedding day. Schedule a salon appointment for hair and makeup before you arrive so you’ll be stunning for your wedding photos. If any guests arrive a few days before the wedding, a get-acquainted lunch or dinner allows the families and your friends to get to know each other. Your wedding planner can assist with arranging tours or activities for early arrivals.

Research Vendors Carefully

Tips for Destination Wedding Planning Vendors

If you’re able to make the trip, an excellent suggestion is to meet your vendors personally. Discussing details in person is preferable to exchanging emails as online images can sometimes be misleading. Visiting the venues makes it easier to make the perfect decision.

Set up meetings with rental companies before your first visit to the wedding destination. Venue coordinators may know local florists and vendors that aren’t well-publicized but offer exceptional service. Also, you know those Pinterest vision boards you spent hours curating? Here’s a chance for you to share them with wedding planners, florists, cake decorators, and designers. Visuals make life easier for everyone. If wedding specialists are traveling to the destination, prepare to pay for their lodging and travel expenses. You should also choose a hotel close to the venue and negotiate prices ahead of time.

Be Accommodating

Taking the time to research some of these tips for destination wedding planning will have an impact on your guests. You’ve been dreaming of your destination wedding for years, but your best friend hasn’t. In general, destination weddings can weigh heavy on guests’ pockets, so make every effort to cut costs. Take some extra time to hunt for group deals. Quite a few guests simply won’t be able to afford airfare and room costs, so plan on hosting a small gathering when you get back. This way, everyone gets to feel included and you get double the fun –and gifts!

Let Your Guests Know Ahead of Time

Tips for Destination Wedding Planning Ahead of Time

Before you ask anyone to be in your bridal party, tell them it’s a destination wedding. Not everyone has the same financial circumstances, and some friends may decline. Your family and friends will need sufficient time to plan their trip and get the best deals on accommodations and flights. If the wedding is taking place in another country, everyone will need up-to-date passports, which can take time. Most importantly, a “save-the-date” should be sent eight to 12 months before the wedding. It’s preferable to mail invitations no later than three to four months before your wedding. Your guests will need ample time to plan if the wedding is in another country.

Create a Wedding Website

Tips for Destination Wedding Websites

Creating a wedding website is the most effective method of streamlining communication between you and your guests and can help reduce the stress of planning your big day. Life is much easier for everyone if your website has information about the destination, how to get there, and accommodations. It’s helpful for guests to know what to pack and what to wear for the wedding. Your website may provide details about events before and after the wedding. You can list activities or attractions to visit, helpful travel tips, and a travel agent with contact information. A wedding website is an excellent alternative to sending out a save-the-date. Ideally, you should create your site six to eight months before the wedding.

Do you know of any other tips for planning a seamless destination wedding that we missed? Tell us about them in the comments below!

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Going Places

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