What’s the one thing that could make your wedding even more special? That’s right, holding it in the destination of your dreams! While the added planning and logistics mean that destination weddings won’t necessarily be for everyone, the end result can be spectacular in a way that more conventional locations just can’t match. Read on for our take on the destination wedding checklist!
More than 12 Months Away- First Steps
-Pick a destination! This might seem obvious, but it’s important to pick a location without any travel or health advisories, political conflict, and one where none of your guests will feel uncomfortable because of religion or sexuality. Additionally, now is when to make sure that you and your spouse-to-be meet all the marriage requirements for that location, that there aren’t any visa issues, and your passports will be up to date when it’s time to travel.
-Hire a wedding planner and/or travel agent. If it’s within your budget, having one point person that’s experienced in the logistics of travel and weddings will make all the difference.
-Do a site visit. If your budget allows for it, there’s no replacing a visit to the venue before you book. It’s helpful to visit in the same season as your wedding will take place in so you have the best possible idea of what you and your guests will experience.
9-12 Months Away- Getting Ready
-Make a guest list and select your wedding party. Guest lists for destination weddings are typically smaller than conventional ones. When you’re making a list, it’s also important to consider that you’re asking your guests to take on much more travel expenses than a traditional wedding—you’ll need to be prepared for people to not be able to make it.
-Book accommodations. Again, it’s helpful to book or at least recommend lodgings of different prices to satisfy a variety of guest budgets. In a foreign country, it can be especially helpful to have everyone in one location to simplify transportation logistics. Remember to negotiate all expenses up front!
-Book vendors. A site visit is a great time to meet vendors in person. Also consider saving money and upping the authenticity factor by using local specialties—your mountain wedding doesn’t need to be filled with tropical plants.
-Send out fridge-worthy save-the-dates.
6-9 Months Away
-Finalize your menu and cake. Again, consider going with local flavors and dishes to make your wedding that much more memorable!
-Book a block of hotel rooms for your guests.
-Book the rehearsal locations, and other various vendors like florists and DJs. Your Planner can help with local artists; otherwise, expect to reimburse their travel expenses.
-Send out invitations—remember, you’re asking your friends and family to travel a long way to celebrate you, so you want to give them plenty of notice!
3-6 Months Away
-If applicable, make sure you have necessary vaccines for your location, and remind your guests! It’s also a good time to triple check those passports.
-Plan out additional events for your guests! One trend we’re seeing for destination weddings is extra activities for your guests as a thank-you for making the trip (it can also give you some time to relax!) Think a guided ski trip, beach day, or an organized tour of the area.
-Arrange welcome bags for your guests- it’s a great way to show your appreciation and get creative.
-Arrange final payments and tips for vendors. Tipping culture varies greatly by country, so make sure you know what to do.
-Confirm all flight details. Always pack the non-negotiables (dress, tux, rings) as carry-ons, and never as checked bags!
-Sweep up all the loose ends, like making sure you have outlet adapters and foreign currency. Often your bank can give you a better rate than exchanges at your destination.
-Arrive a few days before your guests, so you can greet them and do walk-throughs of everything. Depending on jurisdiction, you might need a couple extra days to arrange your marriage license.
-Sit back, relax (yeah, right), and have fun! Celebrate your love for each other, and thank all your guests for making the trip!