Guide To Planning A Stress Free Destination Wedding


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Lindsay Kammerzelt Photography


Whether you dream of marrying the love of your life at a rustic vineyard in the south of France, a private island in the Caribbean, or an all-inclusive resort in Mexico, it sounds like a destination wedding may be in your future. Putting together an event like this may seem overwhelming, but researching and understanding what is needed throughout the planning process will reveal just how attainable your dream wedding is. 

We put together some tips and considerations to remember throughout the destination wedding planning process.

Initial Considerations

Once you’ve decided on a destination wedding it’s important to start planning right away. Before you begin planning out each detail, there are some things every couple should consider. 

Local Season

Depending on your destination wedding location, there may be certain times of the year that aren’t ideal for hosting your celebration. For example, countries in the southern hemisphere have their winter months ranging from June through September, while the Caribbean Islands have a rain/hurricane season that can put a damper on any event. 

Notify Guests Early

Notifying your guests early about a future expense shows extreme consideration. Your guests likely need to save money and plan for the upcoming travel, so the more notice they have, the less stress will be placed on them. Overcommunication is always better. Use your wedding website, save the dates, and invitations to continually communicate with your guests. 

8 Destination Wedding Planning Tips

1. Visit the Location in Person

Before booking anything, be sure to visit your top wedding venues in person! You can look at all of the photos online and feel it’s the perfect spot for your big day, but being able to visit the site in person will solidify your decision. Sometimes the pictures and real life do not match up and you want the perfect spot to marry the love of your life. Visiting the spot will also give you a chance to interview local vendors.

2. Pick Your Vendors in Person/Budget for Vendors

You’ll likely want to use local wedding vendors from the area, so while you are in town to visit the venue, set up meetings with better-known vendors. You can also ask your venue for referrals to local caterers, videographers, officiants, etc. They may know of some very talented but not as well-known options. Using local vendors will help keep your wedding budget lower. 

If you are set on bringing vendors from home, like a photographer, discuss a plan for how this will work. Depending on the terms you have with your photographer, you may have to cover their expenses since they will be traveling with you to your destination. You may have to cover their plane tickets and/or hotel costs. Just make sure they are comfortable and that the hotel you have booked for them is safe and within 30 minutes from the venue.

3. Embrace the Settings To Save Money

Incorporate local flowers, cuisines and decorations to save money. To keep your destination wedding true to its island feel or rustic vibe, use local florists with fresh flowers for that season, and have a menu set up that reflects your taste as well as the local culture’s cuisines. This will save you on shipping costs, which can add up, especially if you are shipping internationally. Guests will fall in love with your dream wedding when they feel a connection to the local area.

4. Carry On Your Bridal Gown

ALWAYS carry your dress with you as a carry-on, even if this means you have to fold it. You can steam the gown once you get to your destination. Whether you decide on a beach wedding dress, a lace design, or a ball gown, you do not want to take the chances of your dress being lost. If you call your airline ahead of time or let the gate agent know when you are checking in, they will sometimes let you pack your dress in one of the luggage spaces at the front of the plane. Also, be sure to pack your wedding accessories in your carry-on! You want to keep all wedding related clothing and accessories with you so you don’t have to scramble if your dress, shoes, or accessories are lost.

5. Think About Your Guests

When planning your event, consider your guests each step of the way. Find room blocks near the venue for all of your guests before you set the date. The hotel rooms should only be 10-15 minutes away from the venue, maximum. Another idea is to make special welcome bags for the guests once they arrive at the hotel which can be filled with snacks, a map of local activities and an itinerary. Hosting a welcome party the first night everyone arrives is another idea that many couples like to plan. It’s also a good idea to book activities appropriate for all ages for the days before or after the wedding day. Having multiple events planned throughout the wedding weekend will allow your guests to pick and choose which one(s) they want to take part in.

6. Send Wedding Invitations Early

Give your guests at least 4 months notice with the Save-the-Date invitation. This will give them plenty of time to request vacation time from work and make travel plans. If you have the wedding date set even earlier, it’s never a bad thing to let the guests know about the plans as early as possible. This will also allow more time to collect RSVPs so you can give your venue a firm guest list number sooner.

7. Know the Law (Marriage Requirements)

During the planning process, look into the marriage requirements for that specific country and/or city. Check to see if residency is required to be legally married there. If you are planning the wedding around a local holiday, double check to see when the city offices will be open to get all your paperwork in on time. Check to see if you need a special permit to have a wedding ceremony on the beach. You do not want to spend so much time planning this magical ceremony to then have local authorities say it cannot happen. When in doubt, double check.

8. Speak the Language (or know Someone Who Does)

As romantic and special as destination weddings can be, if there’s a language barrier and you cannot communicate what you want to the venue personnel, things can get rocky. Hire a wedding planner who can speak both languages, if needed, to help things go more smoothly. You can even ask if the venue has any staff that can speak both languages. There are always people willing to help you, you just have to ask.

Next Steps

With the knowledge of these top tips, you’re ready to start the wedding planning process for the most magical destination wedding. Still need to find the perfect dress for your special day? Visit an authorized Moonlight retailer to speak to an associate today! 

'Guide To Planning A Stress Free Destination Wedding' Image #1
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