10 Common Destination Wedding Mistakes

A bride and groom on a boat at their destination wedding as they bride's holding her long veil in the breeze.

Getting married while on vacation with your closest friends and family is what makes destination weddings so dreamy—but that doesn’t mean they are without their own pitfalls. There’s a different set of challenges when it comes to planning a destination wedding rather than one in your hometown. Avoid these 10 mistakes for a destination wedding that goes off without a hitch.

1. Not Giving Guests Enough Notice

If you’re having a wedding at home, you traditionally only need to mail your invitations about six to eight weeks before the event. But because you’re asking your guests to essentially book a full vacation to attend your wedding, they’re going to need much more notice than eight weeks. Send a save-the-date at least six months before the wedding date and set up a wedding website with all of the resort details as soon as you have it.

2. Forgetting the Marriage License

A bride signing a marriage license.

Just like you would at home, you need to know what the rules are for acquiring a marriage license in the country you’re tying the knot. Many countries have what is called a “residency requirement,” which means that you have to be a “resident” for a certain amount of time. This time frame could be anywhere from three days to months.

If either of you have been divorced, you may also need to be prepared to provide documentation with divorce papers. Consider working with a local English-speaking lawyer in the destination country to see what steps you need to take to make it legal. Or, to avoid the hassle of making it legal in another country, you could have a legal wedding at the courthouse in the States before or after your destination wedding ceremony.

3. Checking Your Wedding Dress or Suit at the Airport

The thought of carrying your wedding dress through airport security may seem exhausting, but it’s best not to check it. The last thing you want to be doing when you arrive at the airport is to be digging through lost luggage or even worse—not having your dress when you walk down the aisle.

4. Not Paying Attention to Local Weather Patterns

A bride and groom walking in the rain at their destination wedding.

You may think that a summer destination wedding on a tropical island sounds about perfect—but you may not realize that it’s actually hurricane season in June. Before you book, do some research on the local weather patterns to ensure that you won’t be getting married in the middle of a monsoon.

5. Overscheduling Your Guests

You want your guests to be entertained when they’re attending your destination wedding, but you shouldn’t have mandatory events for them every single day. Remember, it’s their vacation, too! A good rule of thumb is to have an “arrival” get-together in the form of some sort of meal and perhaps a send-off breakfast. You can provide optional activities for your guests to do during the day, but be sure not to wear them out and don’t expect everyone to attend.

6. Having too Many DIY Projects

Every couple wants to personalize their wedding and DIY projects are the perfect way to implement your own special touch to the celebration. However, remember that you are going to have to carry all of the finished product with you in your suitcase, leaving you less room for bathing suits and other vacation gear. If you’re planning on DIYing some things, keep them small and lightweight.

7. Picking a Location That’s too Remote

A bride and groom walking in a rustic city environment at their destination wedding.

Choosing a location for your destination wedding is no easy task—there are so many beautiful places in the world! But one thing to keep in mind when you’re choosing a location is accessibility. Think about exactly how long it’s going to take your guests to get there, and how expensive it will be. While your dream may be to get married on top of a remote mountain in the middle of South America, this may not be the trip to invite your grandma on.

8. Not Giving Your Guests Enough Time to Arrive and Settle In

You may be eager to get the party started right when you arrive at the hotel, but it’s important to give your guests plenty of time to travel to the resort/city before the wedding day. If you ask your guests to get there on a Thursday, it would be wise to wait to have the wedding until at least Saturday or Sunday to have some cushion for any travel delays.

9. Not Using a Travel Agent

We know, we know. You can arrange all of your travel online these days—but this is a big trip that involves a lot of logistics. Using a travel agent will give you peace of mind and make your wedding day even easier.

10. Forgetting that it’s also a Vacation

A couple on the beach at their tropical wedding destination.

Sure, you’re getting married—and that’s such a big deal—but don’t forget that a destination wedding is also about relaxing and having fun with your friends and family. After all, how often are you all in a beautiful place together making memories? Don’t forget in the midst of all the wedding stress to have a good time.

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