Planning a Destination Wedding
Hints and tips to pull off a destination wedding to remember
A destination wedding sounds rather dreamy and if done right, can be just that. However, organising a wedding from far afield can be overwhelming if you don’t give yourself enough time and a proper plan to follow. Last year, we planned a four-day wedding celebration in Turkey and wanted to share some hints and tips that we followed in our own preparations to help you pull off a destination wedding to remember.
1. Pick somewhere meaningful
There are plenty of wonderful locations out there, but do they hold significance for you and your partner? You may not be too concerned by this, but we think it makes the celebration that little more special if you have a connection to the location. At the very least, somewhere you have visited before will certainly make planning easier.
But, be mindful to balance meaning with practicality. A remote island wedding would no doubt be beautiful, but how would guests get there? How much would travel cost? Are there visa requirements? Would the island have everything you’d need to pull off a successful celebration?
2. Consider time of year
A key selling point of destination weddings is the prospect of guaranteed beautiful weather on your wedding day, but when is the best time of year?
Popular destination spots tend to have the best weather during our own summer (if we’re lucky) months and coincide with school holidays, which means the area will likely be busy and travel and accommodation costs will be higher. To avoid this, you may opt to set your wedding date outside of school holidays, but keep in mind that guests with children or teacher friends may decline your invitation.
Also worth remembering that while wet weather isn’t ideal for a wedding, neither is scorching sun. Whatever time of year you decide, remember to advise guests on dress code accordingly.
Brides, beyond climate, you’ll want to consider what style of dress will be appropriate for your venue and suitcase. We all love a princess style dress, but this may not be the most comfortable on a sandy beach, not to mention it will be heavy and take up a lot of room in your suitcase!
3. Get save the dates out ASAP
While a destination wedding may work out cheaper for you, it carries a lot of additional expense for your guests. Giving plenty of notice allows guests time to budget and save for the trip, making it more likely that they will be able to accept your invitation. Furthermore, subject to the destination and duration, guests may treat the trip as their annual holiday, so important to get the date in their diaries before other holidays are booked.
4. Look after your guests
As guests are making the effort to attend your destination wedding, it’s a nice gesture to provide them with as much information as possible to help them have a comfortable and enjoyable stay. For example, provide details on airport transfers, how best to travel round the local area, local accommodation options, places to eat and buy groceries, where to buy local currency, places to visit etc.
On your planning trip (see below) perhaps enquire with local hotels whether they’d be willing to offer discounted rates for bulk bookings. This can be a great help to guests when choosing where to stay and ideal to have everyone staying in the one place.
5. Organise a planning trip
If you have visited the destination before this is perhaps less critical, but a must if not. While the internet and social media has made it a lot easier to find suppliers, you will feel much calmer come the big day if you have vetted vendors and made your selection following a face-to-face meeting.
Make the most of your trip by arranging meetings in advance and putting an itinerary together. Remember, ideally your visit is to make final decisions, not start your search for vendors.
There may be certain elements of your special day where you’d prefer to work with a known supplier back home. For example, hair and make-up styles abroad can be very different to what you might have in mind for your wedding! If you plan to bring vendors from home, make sure this is factored into your budget and be mindful of how your vendors from home will work with your local vendors. Arranging a time for vendors to meet ahead of the wedding can be useful for everyone to gain an appreciation of different working practices, language barriers etc.
6. Consider local marriage requirements
Not a particularly fun part of the planning process but very necessary! Are you getting legally married in the destination or will this be a celebration following legal proceedings back at home? However you wish to treat your destination wedding, make sure you are informed of the requirements well ahead of the big day.
7. Keep it simple
When it comes to decorations, less is more – let the beautiful destination speak for itself. Remember, this isn’t a traditional English wedding.
If you want candles and a few statement pieces, see if your venue has anything you can use. If not, source locally – shipping stuff over from home can get expensive and realistically you won’t want to take things back with you.
For flowers, don’t assume the same options you’d expect at an English wedding will be available. See what is in season and choose local to keep costs reasonable.
Subject to destination, remember that locals may have a far more laid-back approach to weddings than we do in the UK. This is part of the charm of a destination wedding so embrace it and go with the flow.
8. Make the most of the occasion
As everyone has made the investment to get to your destination wedding, make the most of the time by considering organising additional activities/celebrations before or after the big day. Dinner/drinks ahead of the wedding can be a great way for everyone to meet and break the ice. If you know the area well, this is a great opportunity to share what it is you love about the place with your guests – best food, best day trips etc. so it becomes not just your wedding but a holiday for them to remember for years to come.
We’d recommend the bride and groom arrive a few days before guests to confirm final plans with vendors, so you aren’t running around flustered when your guests arrive – this is the time for relaxing.
9. Enlist help
While it is totally viable to plan you own destination wedding from start to finish, particularly if you are familiar with the location, it can be wise to enlist some additional support. Whether based at home or in-country, a wedding planner can help coordinate plans and ensure things run smoothly on the day, so you can enjoy the celebrations to the full.
10. Take out insurance
While you might be opting for a destination wedding for a more laid-back celebration, don’t think this means insurance isn’t required. You never know what might happen, so cover yourself for any unexpected eventualities.
For further inspiration, why not check out this recent destination wedding we planned.
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