Destination Wedding Do’s and Don’ts

There is just as much detail that goes into planning a destination wedding… or maybe even more!  We want to offer you these destination wedding do’s and don’ts that will help you out when planning all the details of your big day.

Jennifer Stein with Destination I Do has put together some important do’s and don’ts of planning a destination wedding.

destination wedding do's and don'ts
Photo Credit: Thanasis Kaiafa Photography in Sifnos, Greece.

Destination Wedding Do’s

1. Select a destination that is easy to get to. Your guests are more likely to attend and be happy once they get there. Plus it eliminates other potential issues with coordinating your event.

destination wedding do's and don'ts, Faymus Media
Photo Credit: Faymus Media at Brooklyn Bridge Park

2. Carry on your dress if you have to fly to your destination. This coveted gown is the one you’ve been dreaming of wearing your entire life, and let’s face it – airlines are notorious for losing luggage. Most airplanes have a coat closet they can hang it in and knowing exactly where it is will give you much needed peace of mind.

3. Create a wedding web site for your guests. We love eweddings. You can add all kinds of cool stuff, customize it, add music and all the information you can think of. Plus if you enter the code DIDO, you’ll get $10 off a 1-year package.

4. Find local favors and gifts for your guests. You chose your destination for a reason – so reflect the destination by finding little trinkets from the area to give to guests. Do you love Hawaii because of their macadamia nuts? Add them to your welcome baskets. Captivated by Italy because of their exquisite wine? Give a bottle of your favorite vino to guests as a favor.

5. Research the marriage requirements before you select your destination. Each country and state have their own requirements, which can change from time to time. Make sure you are aware of what those requirements are and get the legwork done before you go.

destination wedding do's and don'ts, Michael Mulvey Photography
Photo Credit: Michael Mulvey Photography

6. Hire a professional wedding planner. Many hotels and resorts offer day-of planning services, but to ensure you have all the details covered, it’s best to hire a 3rd party professional. Your location will likely have a list of preferred vendors they have an established relationship with.

7. Hire a professional photographer and bring them with you. Your images will be one of the only tangible things you can take from your wedding day – make sure you’re gonna love em’!

8. Take a scouting trip prior to the big day. If you can afford to go to the destination at least once before your event, do it. It helps to meet your professionals before you go and get an idea of any potential issues you’ll have (traffic, distance from other hotels etc) so you can work around them. It will also show you some awesome places for amazing wedding photos.

Thanasiskaiafa Photo - Sifnos low
Photo Credit: Thanasis Kaiafa Photography in Sifnos, Greece.

9. Call hotels to see if you can negotiate group discounts. If you book 10 or more rooms, most hotels will provide a discount. Call the Group Sales Manager and ask for details. You can also see if you can do a full buy out depending on the amount of rooms and guests you expect.

10. Create an event that is unique to you and your fiance. Cookie cutter events are a thing of the past. Find out what your passions are and reflect them in your event. Dog lovers? Make a donation to an animal rescue organization in the name of each of your guests – then leave a card letting them know of what you did. Not a huge fan of wedding cake? Do a “Candy Bar” or serve up your favorite sweet treat instead. Do you love the winter and both have a passion for skiing? If so, why not plan a destination wedding in Vermont.

destination wedding do's and don'ts, Lis Photography
Photo Credit: Lis Photography

Destination Wedding Don’ts

1. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Things may go wrong with a hometown wedding or a destination wedding. Make sure to keep it all in perspective and enjoy the process every step of the way.

2. Don’t wait until the last minute to send your invitations. You need additional lead time when planning a destination wedding. Family and friends should get at least 3 months notice so they can book their accommodations, request off of work if needed, get a sitter planned and do all of this with out paying a huge amount of money for their trip.

3. Do not assume people know where they are going. Some people aren’t 100% comfortable traveling to a place they’ve never been. Instead – make it easy on them by providing them written correspondence beyond the invitation with maps and directions. Also, make sure each guest gets a welcome basket with repeated itineraries and how to get to each place. This couple below had their wedding in Sifnos, Greece. Do not assume your guest have all visited here and feel comfortable with directions for where they are going… be sure to give them all the information they need. This photo is by Thanasis Kaiafa Photography.

destination wedding do's and don'ts, Thanasis Kaiafa
Photo Credit: Thanasis Kaiafa Photography in Sifnos, Greece.

4. Don’t expect too much of others. Sure it’s “your big day” but know that your bridesmaids, groomsmen and family members are not your temporary slaves. Sure you can expect them to help out, but keep it realistic, give others duties you know they can handle, yet still allow them the ability to enjoy your event too.

5. Do not let “Aunt Flow” pay you a visit. You’ve dreamed of this event for, most likely, your entire life. If you are PMSing, feeling bloated, irritated and can’t seal the deal on your wedding night – you’ll be disappointed. If you are taking the pill, talk to your doctor about ways to avoid your period. If you are not on the pill – make an effort to avoid planning your wedding during that week.

6. Don’t leave guests hanging. The rehearsal dinner and wedding are obviously required events, but adding a few more activities that are “optional” for guests is the way to do it. People will want to explore the destination on their own, but also want to have some quality time with you. Maybe try a “bon fire” on the beach at sunset. Bring some blankets, ingredients for s’mores and a few bottles of wine. The gatherings don’t have to be extravagant; it’s more about spending time with your loved ones.

7. Don’t except that everyone will come. If you live in Manhattan and are doing a destination wedding in Kauai, you may have a small number of attending guests. Understand that cost, time and distance will play a major role in how many people attend. And if you are planning a destination wedding that is somewhere closer and many guests can drive to, the turnout may be much better than if it was an international destination wedding.

destination wedding do's and don'ts, Scott W. Baker Photography
Photo Credit: Scott W. Baker Photography

8. Do not forget to check the average traffic flow in the area you will be saying “I Do”. Communicate to your guests how much time they will need to get there on time. Or better yet, try to get room discounts so most or all of your guests can stay at or close to your wedding site.

9. Don’t choose a dress because of what is “IN”. Rather choose a dress that compliments your body and accentuates your best features. Go shopping with a friend or family member you know will be honest with you.

destination wedding do's and don'ts, The Visual Artist Studios
Photo Credit: The Visual Artist Studios

10. Haul your dress around with you on your honeymoon. Designate a family member or friend to take the dress home with them – and any other items you can’t carry.

Destination I Do Magazine offers advice just like these destination wedding do’s and don’ts as well as tips on wedding and honeymoon locations, etiquette and creative inspiration for your big day. Subscribe to Destination I Do if you are planning your wedding or you need wedding planning advice!

Be sure to check out our other post from Destination I Do all about destination wedding etiquette.

Are you looking for amazing destinations for your upcoming wedding? Some of our favorites at SnapKnot are the Amalfi Coast of Italy, Mustique Island, Aspen, Colorado and the Bahamas.

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