Taking the most important event of your life and planning it in another country can be a little intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! We are convinced that you can successfully plan your dream destination wedding by following these tips:
1. Choosing Your Location
Location, location, location! The location of any destination wedding is the most important detail and can affect how many guests you are able to have. For example, if you just want the close family, you may be able to choose an exotic location like Bora Bora; however, if you want a larger group, a closer destination like Jamaica or Cancun may make more sense.
It doesn’t have to be tropical, though! Don’t forget the Colorado Mountains, vineyards in California, or even European castles.
Jessica’s Tip: Choose a location that represents you and your fiance. When choosing Uptown to plan your destination wedding, we start the process by discussing all of the key factors that are important to you in your location selection and help you to narrow down and select the perfect destination.
2. Picking a Date
When planning a wedding in your city, choosing a date can be rather flexible, and you’re already familiar with the weather and climate, so that makes it even easier! When planning a destination wedding, however, timing can be a bit trickier.
Shoulder months, immediately before and after high season, are the perfect time for your big event. Late spring (mid-April to early June) and fall (Sept to mid-November) are best for tropical locales.
If snow and mountains are more your style, any winter month other than December would be a good choice. Snow might linger a bit longer in some places even up until April. This will give you nice weather and even save you a few bucks!
Jessica’s Tip: Avoid all holidays. This will affect the cost of flights & hotels. At Uptown we always check the local holidays as we don’t want you to select a date where the entire city is shut down and the local vendors are on vacation.
3. Inviting Your Guests
Communicate with your guests early by sending out Save the Dates. We recommend at least 10-12 months in advance, more if you can. This way your guests will be able to make travel plans in an appropriate amount of time. You may find that you do not need to send out actual invitations as you will be communicating with your guests throughout the planning process.
Jessica’s Tip: I love themes and Save the Dates are a perfect way to set the theme of your wedding. Tie in cute details that hint to your guests what the style of your big day will be.
4. Booking Flights & Hotel Rooms
First choose your location then carefully plan the travel. Ideally, you want to book the flights and hotel rooms 10 months in advance. We recommend arriving at least 2 days prior to your wedding day so that you have plenty of time to handle last minute details, and you will have a cushion in case any flights are delayed.
Jessica’s Tip: Splurge a little on your flights and hotel room! Upgrade your seats, enjoy that glass of champagne on the flight, go for the ocean-front suite! As your destination wedding planner, I make sure that everyone knows you are celebrating this special occasion (think free upgrades!)
5. Managing Cultural Differences
Keep in mind that you could be communicating and planning with vendors of a different culture than you and that can result in frustrations at times. We recommend expecting these differences to arise, so they don’t take you by surprise. If you choose a tropical destination, you may experience delayed responses in communication as they are on “Island Time.” Remember that they do want your business – time just moves a lot slower there (which is probably one of the reasons why you chose it!)
Jessica’s Tip: I know my brides are busy and have fast-paced lifestyles. That’s why I always recommend hiring a destination wedding planner. As a destination wedding planning company, we have contacts that help us to efficiently plan the details (even on island time).
6. Taking Care of Your Guests
Your guests have come to a foreign country to celebrate you, and some of them may feel a bit uneasy at first, so you get to help make their stay be as comfortable as possible. Arranging transportation for guests from the airport to the resort is a nice and welcoming start to their travels. You can create a welcome bag for each guest with items that would be useful during their stay like sunscreen, water bottles, or even sunglasses. Planning a group activity like a bus tour is a great way to break-the-ice, get your guests mingling with each other, and for everyone to get acquainted with the destination.
Jessica’s Tip: When planning a group outing, keep in mind the capabilities of your guests. I ask my brides about their guests’ ages and if anyone has disabilities or strong fears. I don’t want to send grandma on a ziplining trek.
7. Tackling Marriage License Requirements
Last but definitely not least, do your research on the marriage license requirements in the country of your destination wedding. Some countries require that you are there for a minimum number of days, while others can even require blood testing. Either way, you want to guarantee that your big day will go off without a hitch!
Jessica’s Tip: Consider getting married in the States before heading off to your destination. This allows you to take care of the legalities beforehand, so you can enjoy your vacation.
Still overwhelmed? Don’t worry, Uptown Events is here to take the intimidation factor away! From making sure everyone’s travel plans are set, to traveling with you and your guests to ensure everything is just how you want it for your big day, we are here to help!
With over seven years of wedding planning experience, we will save you time, money, and the stress of planning your special day all on your own in an unfamiliar location. Uptown Events is your destination wedding concierge, here to assist you.
We want to hear your tips for planning a destination wedding! Comment below.