For some, destination weddings seem like a dream. A chance to wed the love of your life while on a relaxing vacation in a beautiful place? Yes, please! However, it’s important to remember that a destination wedding is, in fact, a wedding – and that means it requires serious planning. Here are a few things you should do to ensure the destination wedding of your dreams.
1. Make a Wedding Website
These days, most couples create a wedding website to post photos, share stories about their relationship, and give their guests information about the wedding (when and where the ceremony will take place, where the couple is registered, etc.). Wedding websites are a valuable resource for all newlyweds-to-be (and they’re pretty fun to make, too), but they’re even more essential if you’re having a destination wedding.
If you plan to have your friends and family join you for your destination wedding, they are going to have a lot of questions. Do they need a visa to attend the wedding? Do you have hotel rooms reserved? Where can your guests exchange their money for the local currency? All these questions are totally fair—but if you want to avoid a barrage of text messages from your guests, create a wedding website and put all the answers there!
2. Hire a Local Wedding Planner
One of the hardest parts of a destination wedding is planning from a distance. It can be difficult to scout out venues online. Finding the perfect caterer, photographer, or makeup artist is tough when you’re miles away (especially if you’re getting married in a country where you don’t speak the language). If you want to pull off a destination wedding, you need someone in your corner who knows the lay of the land.
There are many ways to find a local wedding planner. You can find one online (just read the reviews carefully), go through your venue if you’ve already booked one, or hire a company that specialized in destination wedding packages. Not only will they be your boots on the ground when seeking out vendors, but they can also use their local contacts to make sure you get the very best.
3. Arrange Travel and Lodging (for Everyone)
A destination wedding is lots of fun, but it can also be a bit of a hassle for some of your guests. Some may not be able to afford the trip. Others may not have enough vacation time saved up at work. And others still may be too busy to book their flight or hotel accommodations. This is where you can step up to help your loved ones celebrate with you.
Obviously, I’m not suggesting that you pay for your guests’ flights or hotel rooms (unless you really want to), but you can make things a little easier by reserving hotel blocks at your destination or booking a group flight. This method may end up saving everyone some cash; some airlines allow travelers to book tickets of 10 or more for a discounted price!
4. Get all Your Documents in Order
Anytime you travel, it’s important to make sure you have all your paperwork squared away. Will you need to bring your passport? Do you need a visa for your trip? Does your bank or credit card company know about your travel plans, so your cards will work appropriately? Forgetting one of these little details can detail your entire trip—and if you have a venue, hotel, and many vendors waiting for you, you can’t afford to miss out on your big day!
Additionally, you’ll also want to look into any laws regarding getting married at your destination. Do you need to bring a second ID, like a birth certificate or passport, to get your marriage license? Do you even want to get legally married at your destination? In some places, it can be easier and more cost-effective to have a “symbolic ceremony” in your dream locale, and then make it official when you get home (in Mexico, for example, foreign couples need to pay for a blood test before they can get a marriage license). Look into all the laws and regulations you can think of, and don’t be afraid to ask your wedding planner for help.
5. Safely Pack Your Wedding-Day Look
Once you’ve gotten all the paperwork sorted, the flights books, the rooms reserved, and the vendors secured, it’s time to start packing. For the most part, this step is easy: just pack what you normally need for vacation! But while you can toss your toiletries, swimsuits, and flip flops into your bag and call it a day, your bridal gown or suit will require a little extra care.
Firstly, do your best to avoid putting your wedding outfit in your checked bags. Even the best airlines have been known to lose a bag or two, and it’s just not worth the risk! Instead, slip the dress or suit (or both) into a garment bag and ask your flight attendant to hang it up or lay it flat in the overhead bin. Upon arrival, your wedding-day look should be as good as new!