10 Things to Consider When Planning a Destination Wedding

planning a destination wedding

Admit it, there’s something exotic and inherently fun about a destination wedding. Your location options are endless. You can go to a beach, mountain top, Las Vegas, or wherever else you feel like saying your vows. The only hitch here is that you have to realize the logistical difficulties of a destination wedding. There is a lot of planning and preparation to do if you want to pull off a destination wedding.

10 Things To Consider When Organizing A Destination Wedding

Choose The Destination

Choosing the destination is very important, obviously, since this is the cornerstone of your planning. If you want to have a destination wedding then you need to find the perfect place to have it.

Usually, couples already have a good idea of where they want the ceremony to take place. Maybe they know they want the ceremony on a beach, but don’t know which beach in particular.

At this point, it’s a good idea to consider a few options and then pick out the perfect place for your wedding.

Know The Weather Patterns And Seasons

You don’t want to plan your beach wedding in Thailand and set it for August – it’s the monsoon season! Since you’re probably unfamiliar with the actual location, you have to do your research and make sure you know when the perfect time is for your wedding.

Be sure to avoid the rainy season in your chosen destination, as well as peak season, because you will most likely feel overwhelmed by too many tourists.

Plan Your Guest List

This is something you need to do the moment you decide on a venue. Since you’re planning a destination wedding, you may want to keep the guest list short. After all, not everyone will want to travel and spend money just to make it to your wedding. Keep the wedding cozy and invite only your nearest and dearest friends and family members.

Inform The Bridal Party

Don't wait till the last minute to inform your bridal party that it’s a destination wedding.

They will have to make arrangements, save up money, and more, to be able to travel for your big day. And if they can’t make it, at least you’ll know early on and will be able to make adjustments accordingly.

Choose The Right Vendors

Since you won’t be there all the time to discuss things with vendors, it’s a good idea to find the ones you can trust at an early stage of your party planning. Find the right vendors, agree on the price, and make sure they’re ready to work with you on your big day.

As well, remember to get everything in writing so that both you and the vendors are clear as to what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and the price you are paying for things.

Find A Local Wedding Planner

Again, since you’ll be away most of the time during the planning stage, it’s good to have someone “on the ground”, so to speak. Instead of negotiating with individual vendors, find a reliable, local wedding planner who can help you with the whole process. It’s much easier when you have someone you can trust to handle most of the details of your wedding planning.

Start Counting

The thing about destination weddings is that they can get expensive really fast, and that’s not even counting the money your guests will be spending just to be there with you.

It’s a good idea to have a budget for the event and to discuss this with your wedding planner so you don’t end up going overboard. You don’t have to spend too much but you will have to spend a little extra. Just make sure you can afford it.

Research Local Marriage Laws

Since the ceremony is a legal and binding one, you might want to do a bit of research on local marriage laws. Will you need to apply for a marriage licence when you get there? How far in advance do you need to apply for one and how much will it cost? Will the marriage licence from your chosen destination be valid in your home country?

In some cases, the couple will get married in their hometown first (a simple civil wedding, perhaps) to make everything legal at home before doing the ceremony at their destination wedding. It doesn’t hurt to know about local practices and customs, either.

Consider Your Guests’ Expenses

While a destination wedding may sound very exciting to you, it could be an imposition on your guests.

This is why you should limit your guest list to those who really want to be part of the ceremony. After all, it’s a major effort on their part.

You don’t have to foot the bill, but you may want to at least help them book their flights, hotel rooms, etc. See if you can get a discounted group rate at one or two hotels for your guests and then let them know that they can book their hotel room there.

Also, provide your guests with suggestions of things they can see and do before and after your wedding to ensure they enjoy their entire trip.

Plus, if the cost to attend your wedding is expensive, tell your guests you don’t expect gifts since their presence at your wedding is enough.

Have Fun!

It may seem like a lot of work, but a destination wedding is first and foremost all about fun. Leave all your worries behind and enjoy your big day. 


    • DC @ Young Adult Money

      DC @ Young Adult Money 05/27/2013 11:32 a.m. #

      My sister-in-law had a destination wedding in Maui, Hawaii a couple years ago. She sent out the invites two years before the wedding actually happened which was great for us as guests since we had time to save for the expenses of the trip. Letting your guests know well in advance is definitely something I would recommend to anyone planning a destination wedding.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 05/27/2013 3:42 p.m. #

        Two years ahead of time? That is a long notice, but how nice of them to be able to do that so that everyone could save up and make their own plans well in advance. I bet it was a beautiful wedding.

    • krantcents

      krantcents 05/28/2013 9:20 a.m. #

      Destination weddings sounds great, but it is more expensive for everyone! Add a a thousand or two and it will affect the present too. I hate to be a downer, but I see it as a burden on the guests too.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 05/28/2013 11:39 a.m. #

        It is definitely more expensive than a local wedding but many times people are invited from all over the world to attend a wedding in someone's home town as well. Whether or not people will be able to afford to attend is a decision the couple should make prior to choosing a location.

    • Corina Ramos

      Corina Ramos 05/28/2013 9:25 a.m. #

      I've heard planning a wedding is stressful but I can imagine how stressful it is to plan a destination wedding.

      You've shared some really great tips for anyone planning to do this. If I had the chance to have my dream wedding it would be Hawaii on the beach. Thankfully I live 45 minutes away from Galveston, I can plan my dream wedding on a budget :)

      Have a great week Sicorra! Talk soon my friend!

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 05/28/2013 11:41 a.m. #

        On the beach in Hawaii would be beautiful Corina. Actually living there would be nice too :-) You are fortunate if you have a beach close by that would work well. If I did and that is what I wanted, I would certainly take advantage of it.

    • CarolB

      CarolB 05/28/2013 11:19 a.m. #

      Great summary! Though we had the more classic wedding, I was helping my niece plan for a destination wedding three years ago. Wish I had that list then! We "hopped" between five different options and ideas, and if we'd had this helpful list, I think we would have finalized the destination in much less time. The guest expenses turned out to be a big factor in the final choice - and we didn't think of that immediately. Would have crossed off at least two destination choices right away if we had.

      Now, if I were to have a "do-over" I think I'd go for a simple, small wedding in some place far away - maybe New Zealand or South Africa. Or maybe Tahiti. So many great options!

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 05/28/2013 11:44 a.m. #

        It is easy to get caught up in all of the details, that is for sure. Where did your niece end up having her wedding?

        A simple wedding in Tahiti sounds beautiful Carol. I would be there in a heart beat.

        • CarolB

          CarolB 05/29/2013 5:07 a.m. #

          This is kind of funny - she bounced from a Caribbean island to a North Carolina beach, to the Virgin islands. Ended up being in Las Vegas at the Elvis Chapel, with them dressed in costume. Many reasons, one in which was the logistics of an island wedding, then the costs of it for both them and those of us traveling to the wedding.

          I have to say, though - it was pretty darned awesome! I can now say I've seen Elvis - and he married my niece! lol

    • KC @ genxfinance

      KC @ genxfinance 05/29/2013 9:13 p.m. #

      Yeah, this one can really get stressful since you can't be at the venue to facilitate everything. If you really want to have one, I suggest you get a planner to make it easier on your side. This can really be an intimate moment but you also need to consider that it can be expensive.

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