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How To Plan The Perfect Destination Wedding

Dreaming of a wedding on the beach? Destination weddings are a fantastic way to make one of the most memorable days of your life even more amazing. But where do you even start to bring your dream big day to life?

Organizing a wedding can be challenging enough — and adding in the logistical considerations of a destination wedding can make things even more complex. The good news is that destination weddings are becoming more common and accessible, so bringing your dream wedding to life may not be as hard as you think. Destination weddings also come with many perks that can streamline the wedding planning process. With a clear vision and a little help from a wedding planner, you can achieve all your wedding goals.

In this article, we’ll dive into everything you need to know when deciding if a destination wedding is right for you (and how to pull one off if it is). We’ll walk you through everything you need to get started in our 10 steps to destination wedding planning.

Destination Wedding Planning Checklist & Timeline

We’ll dive deeper into the most important steps in planning a destination wedding,

12 to 18 Months Out …

  • Choose a location (this may involve planning a trip to your destination to tour and select a venue)

  • Book your venue (the most importat thing to do first)

  • Set your budget

  • Hire a wedding planner

  • Build your guest list

  • Check visa requirements & renew your passport (if necessary)

9 to 11 Months Out …

  • Book your vendors (especially your caterer and photographer)

  • Send out save the dates

  • Create your wedding website

  • Set up a wedding room block at a nearby hotel

  • Recruit your wedding party

  • Purchase your dress and/or tux

  • Plan & book wedding-related events (welcome dinner, group outings at your destination, etc.)

  • Check marriage laws/requirements at your destination

6 to 8 Months Out …

  • Book your rehearsal dinner venue (note that it is customary to invite all of your guests to your rehearsal dinner if you’re hosting a destination wedding)

  • Work with your wedding planner/caterer to decide your menu

  • Order & send your wedding invitations

  • Continue booking vendors (hairstylist/makeup artist)

3 to 5 Months Out …

  • Book travel & transportation

  • Complete dress/tux fittings & alterations

  • Buy wedding rings & accessories

  • Schedule recreational activities at your destination

  • Book your honeymoon

  • Keep track of guest RSVPs & meal choices

6 to 8 Weeks Out …

  • Confirm ALL bookings & reservations

  • Get required vaccines for your destination

  • Ensure you have all necessary legal documents (birth certificate, passport, visas, etc.)

  • Buy gifts for the wedding party (your wedding planner can help with local vendors)

  • Order favors & welcome bag suppliers for guests

3 to 5 Weeks Out …

  • Build seating chart & order a place-escort cards

  • Mail any supplies you can’t pack to your on-site coordinator

  • Have final wardrobe fittings

  • Pick up your rings

  • Make a list of any additional clothing/accessories you’ll need for your trip

  • Make a plan for packing your dress/tux (do you need a special suitcase?)

1 to 2 Weeks Out …

  • Pick up dress/tux

  • Confirm travel plans

  • Ensure you have the proper cash (in the right currency!) on-hand to tip vendors (if necessary)

4 to 5 Days Out …

  • Pack your bags!

  • Arrive at your destination (ideally 1-2 days before the bulk of your guests)

  • Do a walk-through of your venue

  • Meet with your coordinator and other vendors

  • Apply for marriage license (if doing so locally)

  • Organize arrival bags for delivery to guests’ rooms

  • Do hair & makeup trial

1 Day Out …

  • Have dresses & suits steamed for the entire wedding party

  • Enjoy your rehearsal & rehearsal dinner

Day Of …

  • Give yourself plenty of time to get ready

  • Enjoy your big day!

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