Whether you’ve picked your ideal wedding location or not, here are 10 tips on how to plan your destination wedding miles away from home. Take a few deep breaths! A destination wedding means you’re in for a much more intimate ceremony and honeymoon. But, before you jet off to marry your love, you have some important details to consider as you start planning a destination wedding. If you want to save countless hours and money on planning your wedding, consider hiring me to take care of all the big and little details.
Whether you’re considering on a tropical celebration in the Bahamas, an island fête in Bali, or a romantic getaway in Tuscany, Italy, I’ll help you start deciding on your perfect venue to coordinating every last detail on the big day. Here, are my top tips for how to plan a destination wedding — regardless of where in the world you get hitched.
1. Choose a meaningful location.
Your destination must have all of the resources you need – that tiny beach town where you spent your childhood summers won’t work if it only has one hotel that can’t accommodate all your guests. If you are starting off with a blank slate and have no idea where you choose your location, I will help you with this process.
2. Notify your guests at least 8 months (or years) in advance.
This is one of the most important destination wedding tips. It’s important to give your loved ones have plenty of time to calculate if they can afford the cost of traveling to your ceremony and reception.
3. Embrace the setting to save big.
Slash your décor budget by incorporating local flowers — think olive branches and grape leaves in Tuscany or exotic flowers and plants in the tropics — and serve local specialties at the reception, like conch fritters in the Bahamas or carnitas in Cabo, to cut catering costs. If you hire me as your planner, I will help you offset these costs and choose the best vendors for your budget.
4. Consider your guests.
Try to put everyone in one reasonably affordable hotel. If the price is an issue, find a less expensive spot 10 minutes away — 15 tops. Don’t set your date until you’re sure there’s room availability for everyone. As your travel agent, I can take care of all the flight, transportation and accommodations for your guests.
5. Hire a travel agent.
Work with a travel agent who specializes in destination weddings. This way, instead of spending hours on phone calls trying to overcome a language barrier or making executive decisions about flowers and ceremony site from miles away, you have an expert on hand to take care of it all for you. A travel agent will save your hours of time and money. And did you know that most of their fees come as a commission from the resort? In the age of DIY, your wedding and honeymoon are not something you want to gamble on.
6. Visit in advance.
Ideally, you’d see your venue once before booking and again three to four months before the wedding to finalize details. If a second trip’s not possible, arrive at least five days early to make those decisions and do a hair and makeup trial. Otherwise if this isn’t in your budget, your travel agent will make sure that your venue is perfetly ideal for your wedding.
7. Pick your vendors in person or over Skype.
In advance of your first site visit, set up meetings with the better-known florists and rental companies in your destination. But also ask for referrals from your venue on the ground; you might uncover local talent you didn’t know about. If you don’t want to take the time to research, vet and interview vendors, consider hiring me to take care of this for you.
8. Budget for vendors.
If you decide to bring specialists from home, expect to cover their travel and lodging costs; a clean, safe hotel within 30 minutes of your venue is a must. Negotiate these expenses up front so things don’t get out of control. As your travel agent, I will hire the best local vendors that I know and trust if you don’t want to bring in local vendors.
9. Stuff that suitcase.
I’ve yet to find a destination outside the continental U.S. that has the same quality and selection of rental linens. Shipping overseas is risky and expensive, so I always pack as much as possible into checked luggage.
10. Tailor your wedding dress to the destination.
Breathable fabrics work best in hot, humid locations. Lightweight lace in Mexico is stunning, as is an embellished ball gown at a villa in France.