Some brides dream of an intimate wedding in a magical, far-off destination. If that’s you, congratulations! The world is your oyster. Because so many details go into a wedding, however, planning one miles away from home can get tricky—and as someone who has been in (or to) a handful of destination weddings herself, I can vouch for the fact that they can be tricky for your guests, too.
Knowing this, follow our tried-and-true tips below to make sure you’ve covered all your bases. Remember: Planning a wedding is supposed to be fun! Use these tips as your guide, and get to planning the destination wedding of your dreams.
Pick an appropriate destination.
When it comes to a destination wedding, the most important decision you’ll make is, of course, the destination itself. But it’s not just about the view—there are multiple things to consider! First, make sure you pick a destination that has all of the resources your dream wedding needs. Think of the bigger picture: a major airport, the perfect wedding venue, and plenty of hotels and restaurants where your guests can stay and entertain themselves are all critical to the event.
Timing is everything.
Trying to nail down a date? Keep the time of year in mind. If you’re planning a Caribbean wedding, steer clear of hurricane season! If you’re planning an outdoor wedding in Chicago, try not to do it in the heart of February. From someone who just attended a gorgeous outdoor wedding in Savannah, in 37-degree weather, trust me: your guests (and your new husband) will thank you later.
Remember: Your guests need to plan, too.
Travel requires planning! Whether the destination wedding is domestic or abroad, it’s helpful to send your guests save-the-date cards and information packets at least six months in advance. Then, at least one week prior to the departure date, send an itinerary so guests know the date, time, and location of each scheduled event. All of the above will make it easier for them to plan, book flights or rent a car if they need to, and shop for whatever your week or weekend away requires.
Consider your guests’ budgets.
While some couples might have the means to cover all of their guests’ expenses, it’s certainly not expected. (Although, I did once go to a wedding in Memphis, TN where everything was covered… that was pretty cool.) That said, when planning a destination wedding, keep your guests’ budgets in mind! Try to put everyone in a reasonably-priced hotel, and don’t schedule your wedding in the height of travel season or on a holiday weekend, when flight and hotel prices are most expensive. I’ve been to three destination weddings on holiday weekends—and if the escalated flight, hotel and car rental costs hadn’t been so high—I probably would have spent more on the wedding gift. Another point to consider is that, since guests are taking off work to celebrate your nuptials anyway, they may make your wedding weekend part of an extended personal vacation. All that said, keep these core points in mind: don’t set your date until you’re sure there’s room availability for everyone, make sure your destination is easily accessible, and if you actually want guests to be there, pick a place that won’t totally break their bank.
If you’re not overly familiar with the destination you’ve chosen, hire local help to nail down details along the way. Most resorts and hotels will have an onsite wedding coordinator to guide you, or you can venture out on your own and hire an outside wedding planner with good reviews. Whoever this person is should be able to recommend good local photographers, florists, caterers and other vendors. Another benefit of a local wedding planner is having someone who can combat any language barrier issues, should that be a relevant concern.
Whatever it is… let it go.
If you’re the type of bride that wants to be incredibly hands on with every detail of her big day, a destination wedding probably isn’t for you. Since you don’t actually live there, you’ll have to depend largely on photos of flowers, decorations, color schemes and more; and as any host knows, they aren’t always as accurate as they may seem. Destination weddings are absolutely stunning! But to make it come to life, you’ll have to trust the people you hire to do most of the work.
Pick an appropriate wedding dress.
Similar to picking a destination, keep weather in mind. Getting married in the Caribbean? Choose a sleeveless dress with breathable fabric. Getting married somewhere cold? Long sleeves work best. Whatever you do, don’t confuse the two. Wearing a heavy taffeta gown in 90-degree weather, on a beach, where you will already be sweating, is not comfortable or attractive.
RegistryFinder is here to here to help as you plan your destination wedding! Not sure who pays for what? Can’t decide on what traditions to include? Check out those posts and more on our “Give It Blog!” And be sure to refer your wedding guests to RegistryFinder.com where they can locate all of your gift registries in one place!
Written by Jennifer Agress, a travel and food writer who has been in (or to) eight destination weddings.