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How to Plan A Perfect Destination Wedding | Destination Wedding Planner

If you have a destination wedding on your mind, you may be wondering where to start on this monumental planning journey. Both traditional weddings and more intimate elopements come with a few more moving pieces when they require travel and planning from a distance. Whether wedding bells are ringing in a far-flung location or somewhere closer to home, we have a few tips to get you started with planning the perfect destination wedding.

The Pinckards

Lock in the Big Pieces

For some couples, the journey to deciding on a destination wedding may be a long and winding road with an entire world's worth of potential destinations to choose from. If you're in that category, we've shared some recommendations about how to select a location with our Five Tips For Selecting A Destination Wedding Location. For other couples, a destination wedding may come directly from a shared love of a special location. Regardless of how you get there, the first step to planning a destination wedding is locking in a location. Once you've determined the location, the date and venue should come in quick succession. These elements will be key to ensuring you can get all of the next items we suggest checked off your to-do list as quickly as possible.

Chris J Evans Photography

Select Your Vendors

When it comes to choosing your vendors for a destination wedding, experience is key. Destination weddings come with a wide variety of unique considerations and can have unique hiccups to match. Selecting a planner and other vendors that have experience with destination weddings will help set you up for success. In addition to experienced vendors, we also recommend going local, or at least working with individuals who have been at your venue before. When it comes to international weddings, especially those with language barriers, it is crucial to have a few vendors who are native speakers and are local to the area. Building out a team with this knowledge and experience will help the planning process and your big day run more smoothly.

Sweet Caroline Photography

Plan Ahead and Communicate Early

With your venue and date selected, you can start dialing in your guest list and getting save-the-dates in the mail. Typically, for a destination wedding, you can expect fewer guests to RSVP yes, but in a post-pandemic world where people are still itching to travel, you may see a few more guests in attendance. With a local wedding, you would traditionally send save-the-dates sent about 6 months in advance, but for a destination wedding, it's customary to send them 8-12 months in advance. It's helpful to get the date and location information sent to guests as early as possible. From there, they can begin making travel plans, requesting vacation time, and budgeting for the trip. Using your save-the-dates can be a great way to gauge roughly how many of your guests are considering traveling to your wedding, versus those who may quickly indicate their inability to join you. This will help you more quickly identify final numbers as well.

Danielle Harris Photography

Make it Official

This tip is for couples planning an international destination wedding or elopement. The fact of the matter is, simply having a ceremony in a foreign country, no matter who officiates it, does not always equal a legally binding marriage in the United States. However, there are two ways to approach this one. Many couples will choose to have a civil ceremony in the States before heading abroad, while others will wait until they've returned from the wedding festivities to make it all official by government standards. While some countries will, according to Green Wedding Shoes, "allow for you to get married there, but it’s in a different language, remember that you’ll have to get documents officially translated when filing in the United States." To avoid any snafus, be sure to get all of this information clarified before committing to a destination wedding or specific location.

Danielle Harris Photography

Treat Your Guests

The way you go about welcoming guests is one of the best ways to ensure everyone has a great experience at your destination wedding. We broke down our favorite ways to Elevate your Guests' Destination Wedding Experience, many of which can be done without breaking the bank. Small things like curated itineraries to make your guests feel at ease in your chosen destination, signature treats from the locale, and having easily forgotten necessities (hello, outlet converters and toothpaste!) on hand, can guarantee those who have traveled far and wide for your big day will have the best experience.

Danielle Harris Photography

Tack On The Honeymoon

Destination weddings may come with additional travel expenses, but one way to make every dollar count is by making it a multi-purpose affair. Make the most of your destination wedding travel by using it as a perfect kickoff to your dream honeymoon (or even a mini-moon!). While you're in your favorite place you'll have the perfect opportunity to either explore the spot further, scope out previously uncharted surrounding areas, or hop on over to somewhere nearby you've always dreamed of.

Planning the perfect destination wedding may at first seem daunting, but it's made manageable with the right team in place and a bit of extra thought. Plus, you get to tack on a dream location to an already spectacular day. Whether you're tying the knot in Tuscany with a big group of your nearest and dearest or sneaking away to Tahoe for an intimate elopement, a destination wedding can be a truly magical way to say I Do.

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