When it comes to planning a destination wedding, figuring out all the logistics from thousands of miles away can be just a tad more challenging (oookay a lot more challenging!) than planning a local Kansas City wedding. Finding a venue, vendors, and researching marriage license requirements in a country where you don’t know the lay of the land or might not speak the same language comes with its own set of challenges, but don’t worry! I’ve got a few destination weddings under my belt and am a travel expert (hellooo full-time RV living!), so I’ve got the best tips and tricks to share with you!
Here are my top 10 tips for how to plan a perfect destination wedding and ensure you and your guests have a stress-free celebration and memorable getaway.
1. Know Where You’re Headed.
Choose a location that is meaningful for the two of you. Beach? Mountains? Desert? Don’t forget to research the facts about where you’re headed before you book! Planning a beach wedding in Florida in the fall? Be prepared for hurricane season – mid-August to October – keeping in mind safety for all of your guests. Headed overseas? Check for any recent travel warnings or issues on where you’re headed.
2. Consider Your Guest List.
For a destination wedding, guest lists under 50ish people are best. There are so many moving pieces happening for a destination wedding: travel, accommodations, rental cars, activities, and more. The larger the guest list, the more involved a lot of those details become. This is where a wedding planner comes in handy! Give all your guest’s contact information over to your planner so she can communicate details, activities, and timelines to each of your guests.
3. Visit In Advance.
Take a few days to a week and visit your destination location. Ideally, you’ll want to visit before booking any vendors. Have your planner schedule walk-throughs, tastings, and trials with each of your potential vendors.
4. Oh! Hire A Planner.
With as often as we referenced this, it probably should have been the first point. But truly, prioritize hiring a planner as the first thing you do when considering a destination wedding. Pull from their knowledge, experience, and referrals as you begin the planning process. Did you know the Lovely gals travel?! Our network and referral base span across the country, so feel confident that we will always recommend quality vendors and professionals for your big day.
5. Start Early.
We will always recommend allocating for more time than less when planning your wedding. Even more so if it’s away from home! Alleviate the stress of decision making and finalizing details by allowing yourself plenty of time to pull your event together. Plus, you’ll want to give your guests plenty of notice so they can schedule their time off and travel. A good rule of thumb for destination weddings is sending those invites 6-9 months in advance.
6. Be Flexible!
The name of the game for destination weddings is flexibility. Don’t get so attached to the details of your day that you don’t allow room for spontaneous activities and photos. Not everything will go according to plan, so save yourself all that stress by being open to change.
While convenient, all-inclusive options are not always the right choice. The option of an all-in-one vendor team seems appealing but often leaves you with less creative freedom for the vision of your wedding. The benefit of an all-in-one vendor team is that you book with one company, show up and get married! The down-side is that often these weddings all look and flow the same. Make sure that if you’re selecting an all-inclusive vendor team that their style and flow match with what you want for your day.
Intimate elopements are appealing because they are often viewed as a less expensive option. But be careful! Many of these public spaces – beaches, mountains, parks – come with a permit and licensing fees. Protect your big day by doing all of your research beforehand! Nothing like being interrupted during your beach ceremony asking for your permit. Be mindful of the items you’re bringing in to these spaces, too, since many of these spaces are protected parks and areas.
9. Protect The Dress!
If the style of your gown allows, carry your wedding gown on the plane with you. Don’t check it! Or, look into having your dress professionally shipped to your elopement location.
10. Take Your Time!
This is such a special and meaningful experience. Take plenty of time off to enjoy it! Plan at least a day or two between traveling and the actual day of your event. Don’t try and cram everything into a few short days. That will only add unnecessary stress and won’t allow you to just take your time to enjoy these moments together
Looking For A Destination Wedding Planner?
If you’ve always dreamed about having a destination wedding but not sure where to start or how to plan it, then you might benefit from hiring a destination wedding planner or day-of-coordinator! We can help you decide on a location, establish your budget, make the flight arrangments and accommodations for you and your guests, find vendors and so much more!
Let’s chat about your vision and make sure your wedding getaway goes off without a hitch!
Destination Wedding Vendors
Planning: Whatever Is Lovely Events
Photography: Sara Dean Photography
Florals: Fiore Florals
Bridal Gown: Stephanie’s Bridal Boutique
Rentals, Catering, and DJ: Grayton’s Beach Catering
Reception Venue: Bella Vita, Beach Reunion Rentals
Airbnb: Modern Condo w/ Ocean Views (Get $55 off your first trip when you sign-up using our referral link!)
Dessert: Okaloosa Donuts