Last Updated: Jul 31, 2017
Planning the destination wedding of your dreams may seem intimidating at first. Whether you’ve had the idea in your head since a little girl or you’re newly engaged and considering a far away wedding for the first time, it’s important to know that a destination wedding requires different work than a wedding at home. The process may not be what you’ve imagined on television but with a few tips and guidelines from Shutterfly, you can create the moment you’ve always wanted.
Looking for a specific answer to your question? Skip straight to the section you want below:
- How to Choose a Destination Wedding Location?
- Who Do I Invite to My Destination Wedding?
- When to Send Destination Wedding Invitations?
- How to Choose a Wedding Planner?
- What to Look for in a Destination Wedding Package?
- Should I Bring Non-Local Vendors?
- Destination Wedding Checklist
How to Choose a Destination Wedding Location?
When it comes to choosing your destination wedding location, there are a few things to consider. Before committing to location, consider these items when deciding on your dream destination wedding:
- Think about when you want to get married. The time frame you want to get married goes hand in hand with the climate of your destination during that time. You may want to choose your wedding date based on the best time to get married at your prospective destination.
- Consider the season. You’ll want to consider and research the season your wedding will occur so you can take into account busy tourist seasons and travel rates.
- Consider the weather. If you’re traveling somewhere tropical, you’ll want to make sure you’re okay with the climate and willing to accept any unforeseen weather changes.
- Consider your budget. Although the cost of destination weddings can vary from low to high, you’ll still want to consider that you’ll be paying for airfare and travel versus having a wedding at home. Do some research on the cost of flights before choosing your wedding location so you can be prepared for the travel bill and keep your wedding budget in check.
- Consider your theme. Most importantly, your location choice should also be based on what you want. If you’re looking to host a beach wedding, you’ll want to search for destinations that are known for their beautiful beaches and views of the ocean. If you’re looking for a more exotic location, consider finding a tropical destination that meets your needs. If you’re looking to plan a vintage wedding with a bit of charm, consider researching historical locations abroad that are available to rent.
How Much Do Destination Weddings Cost?
The cost of a destination wedding depends on when and where the wedding will occur. Weddings during heavy tourist seasons may cost a bit more since airfare will be more expensive. A wedding at a highly popular destination can also cost more since wedding packages are likely to be more in-demand. However, the myth that destination weddings cost more than weddings at home isn’t always true. Depending on the country and area, your vendors may cost less and your overall wedding may be less expensive which makes up for the money spent on airfare and lodging.
Who Do I Invite to My Destination Wedding?
Since destination weddings are typically smaller in guest list due to travel costs, you’ll want to invite your close friends and family. If you’d like to extend an invitation to friends or co-workers you’re not very close with, you can still do so. However, if you want to save a bit of money on wedding invitations, you can stick to inviting those who you have relationships with and are likely to attend. Find more general tips on wedding etiquette using our guide on who to invite to a wedding.
When to Send Destination Wedding Invitations?
Send destination wedding invitations 6-8 months before the wedding. Since you’ve sent out save the dates 10-12 months before your wedding date, you can send invites at the 6-month mark. Don’t wait any later than 6 months though to send out invitations since your guest list may have gotten longer since you sent out save the dates.
How to Choose a Wedding Planner?
When choosing a destination wedding planner, always look for references and read any reviews or recommendations. Trusting a wedding planner far away may feel risky, but if you research and make sure their wedding history is credible, you’ll be able to build trust faster. Your prospective wedding planner should have a professional website with galleries of past weddings and you should be able to find reviews of their work online. Their communication during the vetting process should be consistent, as this is an indication of how responsive they’ll be during the bulk of your planning.
Lastly, your wedding planner should have established relationships with local vendors so wedding plans can run as smoothly as possible. If you can meet with your potential wedding planner in person, you’ll be able to seal the deal with more confidence.
What to Look for in a Destination Wedding Package?
Before choosing a wedding destination package, make sure you’re getting the best package for your budget. Most wedding packages can be customized so you can figure out what fits your needs best. For instance, you may want to pay more for a wedding package that includes a hosted cocktail hour, appetizers, and wine served with your dinner. Since you’ll be traveling, you can consider a wedding package that includes a wedding cake so you won’t have to worry about ordering a cake separately in advance, along with florals and centerpieces if you’re not using a wedding planner in conjunction with your package. Planning a destination wedding may seem difficult at first glance but if you opt for a wedding package that’s extremely inclusive, you’ll find that many of the details are taken care of already.
Should I Bring Non-Local Vendors?
When it comes to make-up and photography, you should bring your own vendors so you can guarantee wedding to-do’s turn out well. You don’t want to take a risk on the quality of your make-up or hair, along with the items on your wedding photography checklist. Give your vendors ample time to clear their schedule for your wedding and be sure to set aside budget to cover their travel and lodging.
Destination Wedding Checklist
12-16 Months Out:
Visit prospective wedding destination.
Choose a final wedding destination.
Choose a wedding package and/or wedding planner.
10-12 Months Out:
Send out save the dates.
Confirm bridesmaids and groomsmen.
Confirm non-local vendors.
6-8 Months Out:
Secure all of your vendors with your wedding planner.
Secure a discounted rate for a hotel block for guests and include hotel information on your invitations.
Send out wedding invitations.
Launch your wedding website.
Double-confirm the legal requirements for getting married in the country of your destination.
4-6 Months Out:
Finalize plans with all vendors.
Reserve transportation from hotel to wedding ceremony if needed.
Post a schedule of events on your wedding website and collect RSVPs for any group excursions or activities.
1-2 Months Out:
Send any last minute details to guests.
Plan out welcome bags for guests.
Ship out any items necessary in advance.
For more inspiration for your big day, visit our easy guide on how to plan a destination wedding to finalize your big day details.