15 Top Tips for a Destination Wedding

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Imagine the bride walking down the last steps of an old stone street in the cliffside village of Positano Italy, as the sun bounces off her like a joyous dance, as she slowly approaches the ceremony while slow divine music plays in the background. The colored houses that surround half of everything, while the other half is all blue waters. Blue crystal waters surround the reception and perfection is all around. Now let’s wake up for a moment and take a closer look at Destination Wedding and the tips to make sure everything goes perfectly.

The idea of getting married in a unique way that is different from most weddings is every bride and grooms dream. There are a lot of destination weddings that run into a lot of problems that the couple don’t anticipate because no one told them that certain things could go wrong. Things go wrong at most weddings, especially at one that is not near a place that you are used to or a place where you are familiar with all the whereabouts of everything you might end up needing.

While you may have made plans and have fallen in love with the idea of getting married on the beach, on top of a mountain, or at an Italian villa, planning a destination wedding brings along some unexpected headaches. Here are the 15 worst things about planning a destination wedding, plus some tips on how to solve them.

1. Hire a local Planner

You have to take into consideration hiring a planner for your Destination wedding. Consider all the work you that goes into a wedding, now add the distance! You just do not have the necessary time and knowledge about the venue, the vendors, and the surrounding area. You need someone that knows the lay of the land.
The planner should know the location or be a destination wedding planner. They will help you sort through the options of vendors, flowers, best photographer in town, the best area for activities and venues.
Being a local or an insider, they will be able to keep appointments with vendors, assist you with your timeline, come up with creative ideas and be in charge of the set-up and details the week of the wedding. 
You may also leave the planner in charge of all family drama that might come up.

2. Check for Holidays

Make sure that the weekend of your wedding the destination does not have a busy weekend with local holidays or certain traditions. All the chaos from the other tourists might intervene with the venue, transportation, and the relaxation.

3. Ask if the Venue offers a Planner

There are destination venues that will sell their planning service as part of the package. Make sure to ask. This option comes with some parts that might not be what you initially wanted, considering that you do not know this person and are trusting the venue with their choice of a wedding planner. Since you aren’t the first wedding to take place there (probably) you should be more trusting that they know what they are doing. at the end of the day, it is their business and they want it to prosper and have a great event.
If you opt for the more convenient all-in-one wedding package at your resort, you may not be able to get that gorgeous bouquet or super unique wedding cake you want. If you have your heart set on a certain look for your wedding, it might be best to hire a wedding planner who has experience at your destination venue and who can find the best vendors to bring your vision to life.

4. Send “Save the Dates”

You should send out the invitations as early as possible. Send them 90 days beforehand with RSVP 60 days prior to the event. This gives your guest 3 months to save up for your wedding.
Usually guests at destination weddings end up staying a little longer making it a small vacation.

5. Prepare for a couple of “No” RSVP

You will receive more official declines in your event than you thought but there is nothing wrong with this as long as you take it into consideration beforehand. Make sure to notify everyone from the planner to the hotel to the venue so that they can change things accordingly so that all goes smooth and there is not a big gap of people at your ceremony because you forgot to call your planner.
Try to remember that it has nothing to do with how much they love you and is mostly about their personal budgets and paid time off.

6. Ship things ahead of time

You can have your wedding welcome bags for your guest shipped ahead of time and even assembled so that you need not worry about these little details when you reach the destination of your perfect wedding.
If you are thinking that they might not arrive in time or you are concerned that they might get caught up in customs we suggest asking your bridal party and family members to each pack a few welcome bags in their checked luggage (or to pack the supplies so you can assemble them on-site).

7. Be Hospitable

No matter where the wedding is taking place, no matter how glamorous the destination might be, remember that your guests put their lives on hold, took time off a work and are spending money to be there for you and your significant other. These guests are traveling a long instance, so make sure you take steps to ensure they feel right at home. Make sure to include welcome baskets, activities while they are in town a map of the surrounding area of things to see, itineraries and you can even include games for them to play during their stay.
Fill boxes with all the basics, and add a little favor or two with something regional to the location so your guests can have as souvenirs (magnets or a small painting, nothing expensive just thoughtful).

8. Make a travel book

If the destination is new to most of your guests you can create a list with all the important information and place it on their hotel floor. Make sure that the travel book has all the information on the destination that one might need to know. Include phone numbers, exchange rates, transportation, tour guides, and favorite local phrases. A small touch like this will go a long way with your guests. Plus they can get to know each other while looking at the travel book.

9. Keep everyone close

Discuss with the hotel the sleeping arrangements for your guests. Try to keep everyone close together. Depending on the number of rooms you need, you can rent the whole floor or if less is needed try to get a hotel wing for your guests. This way it will be convenient for them, for you and even for the hotel as well.

10. Surprise Destination

If you are planning long distance, you may have to book your venue without seeing it first, which can be stressful. We suggest going beyond the photos on the venue’s website; search for it by name on Google, Instagram, and so on to find photos of other weddings at your venue. Seeing more photos of the venue in use will give you a better sense of the lighting, layout and any quirks about the space.

11. Legal matters

This is where that lawyer friend or relative comes in handy. Marriage laws differ from country to country, so do your homework! Find out who is an acceptable officiant. Friends ordained on the Internet don’t always count. If there is a residency or blood test requirement and what the marriage license process is. You may find that you need to have a small courthouse ceremony at home first and make your destination wedding mostly symbolic. Otherwise, you are just throwing a party somewhere far away. Make sure to come back married!

12. Packing

Some people pack like professionals while other are more forgetful. Packing for your own wedding might be an experience that should not be hurried. Make a checklist! Packing for any trip is bad enough; packing your wedding dress, shoes, and accessories are definitely new to most couples. Start as early as possible and making extremely detailed packing lists. To avoid the “I thought you were bringing the wedding rings” moment, list everything you and your partner need to bring, who is responsible for packing it, and what suitcase or bag it will be packed in.

13. Making personal appointments

Booking hair and makeup from a distance with salons you have never been to will be a hard choice. In all truth, if you do not have a recommendation you are going at risk but this is where the internet comes in handy. Chances are you have looked into the cost of flying your trusted hair stylist to your destination wedding. Since that likely won’t be possible, consult your stylist at home first and read reviews from any costumers. Then schedule hair and makeup trials for the day after you arrive at your destination.

14. Make sure everyone is on the way

There are people who wait until the last minute to book flights. There could be sudden storms wreaking havoc on travel plans. Getting everyone to the destination can be super stressful. Our advice is that you request that everyone book a certain date in time (say, four weeks before the wedding). Create a spreadsheet with everyone’s flights and cell phone numbers, and cross your fingers that travel conditions are good.

15. People will complain about the distance

Never let anyone tell you anything about your wedding. You have done your job by inviting them, from here on it is the guest’s decision. It’s an invitation, not a summons! If people don’t want to make the trip, they shouldn’t make the trip. As long as you aren’t making them feel guilty for not attending, they shouldn’t make you feel guilty for planning a destination wedding.

There you have it, 15 tips for a destination wedding! It might sound like a lot of work but try to enjoy every moment.
Traveling is something most people love and crave. In a way having a destination wedding is like offering your guests a trip to a particular spot. Your wedding destination will be perfect if you take care of some of the details, leaving for more time to relax and focus on your guests, loved ones, and the wedding. It might seem like a lot of work but if you coordinate with your planner or person in charge, all will go to plan and will be perfect.

Extra tip: Do not stress over whatever might go wrong once you are there. You have done your best!


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Sasha Durant is a professional writer with a specialist focus on weddings / photography / the broader leisure industry. She works at Newton Hall in Northumberland North East UK, a luxury hotel and wedding venue specialising in unique outdoor weddings.

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