Updated: Jun 25, 2020
When to Start Planning?
I recommend starting the process of planning a destination wedding 12 or more months before the actual wedding date especially if you are inviting others. One of our Destination Wedding Specialists will guide you with selecting your location, wedding packages and group travel contracts with preferred hotels in your destination of choice. Once you choose your wedding date and time (have two back-up dates) and we can secure it with your deposit.
12-18 MONTHS PRIOR
Setting your Budget?
Typically planning a Destination Wedding costs less than a traditional wedding, but these days it depends, as some couples want their ceremony with the trimmings of an exotic and luxurious celebration. Your budget is your plan or allocated amount. Actual cost may vary from your budget, but it provides a guide and from this writer's perspective allows you to make the best decisions during the planning process.
Choose a Location
Our Destination Wedding Specialists have years of experience traveling to various destinations and resorts that may fit your vision for your big day. We like when the bridal couple are both involved in the process as it saves time, avoids misunderstanding, mis-communicatons, and ensures you are both happy with the final choice.
Guest List and Wedding Party
You should decide how many people you plan to invite. Compile a list with correct names, e-mails, mailing addresses and phone numbers. Send out your save-the-dates as soon as possible bearing in mind that guests will need ample time to request vacation time and save for the trip. They will need more time than a wedding for a local wedding. Our Destination Wedding Specialist will work directly with you and your guests by accepting reservations requests, creating invoices, processing payments, managing changes, making special requests, issuing final travel itineraries and if needed address issues pre and post departure.
10 MONTHS PRIOR
When you have you initial consultation with the wedding coordinator on property or destination you will need to know what you want for photo packages, floral arrangements, bouquets, button holes and cake etc. Be mindful that some resorts charge outside vendor fees $200 - $500 plus per person per day (varies by resort) if not using their services. You will need to pay close attention to wedding package inclusions as some items not listed will require additional fees for special requests. Most basic packages include a plain white set up with standard chairs and does not include reception costs.
Choose an Officiant
Often the resort will assist by providing an officiant or a member of staff depending on whether you have selected a symbolic ceremony or legal ceremony.
8 MONTHS PRIOR
Buy the Gown and /or Suit
Traditional bridal boutiques sometimes take months to get a gown that fits your measurements and may need to do alterations and multiple fittings.
You can finalize your wedding registry at this time.
6 MONTHS PRIOR
Choose attire for wedding party
It is key to ensure arrival and alterations ahead of departure.
Discuss Group Activities
If you did not discuss group activities with your Destination Wedding Specialist or onsite planner now is a good time to do so. Determine what activities you plan to include before and after your ceremony. If you want to have your guests do individual activities your Destination Wedding Specialist can recommend links for excursions and attractions and provide group pricing if needed.
Check your Passports (Visas if applicable)
Most destinations require an unexpired passport valid for at least six months after the return date. Non-US citizens may be required to provide additional documentations such as visas etc. Our system will send out email notifications to guests who have booked with us and included their passport details in their profiles.
Take Dance Lessons
You may want to surprise your guests with your dance moves so you might want to take some classes.
3 MONTHS PRIOR
Include your Destination Weddings Specialist contact for guests to book their air and hotel if they had not done so from their save-the-date communication.
Plan Rehearsal Dinner and/or Welcome Drinks
Your wedding coordinator should have your day-of times for hair, make-up etc.
1 MONTH PRIOR
Select Signature Drink
Design a sign if you are having one
Write vows and Finalize Ceremony Plans
Your Destination Wedding Specialist will review and send out final travel documents to all guests. Review your itinerary and notify them if you have any changes or corrections.
Purchase Welcome Bags
Consider including local treats to welcome guests to destination
Finalize Music Play List with DJ or Band
Decide on the first Dance