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Planning a destination wedding? A destination wedding can be a memorable experience, but also many things can go wrong if it is not planned correctly. There are many things to consider when one is planning a wedding abroad. In this post, you can find why many couples choose to have a destination wedding, the benefits of having a destination wedding, tips for organizing a destination wedding and a checklist for planning a destination wedding. All of which is included for a totally successful celebration for you and a pleasant experience for your guests.

Tips for planning a destination wedding: A checklist for organizing a seamless destination wedding

Why have a destination wedding – Benefits of a destination wedding

A destination wedding can be a great way to combine your love for travel, with an unforgettable experience at a different location. Bring all of your special ones together in a place that might be out of the ordinary, but a wonderful bonding opportunity. It is almost like combining a vacation, wedding and honeymoon all into one fabulous event. 

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Also, consider the benefits of exploring a destination with loved ones: Introducing people to new places, sharing special moments with fun pre-activities, celebrating after the wedding. Just say “I do” to your favorite destination! Depending the season, maybe consider escaping the winter blues and getting married in the sun at a tropical destination. It is all about your preferences and choices, but these are just a few benefits of having a destination wedding.

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Tips for planning a destination wedding

1. Picking the best location

The first step should be to answer the question, “Where would we like to get married?” Maybe there is a special location for the two of you, or a preference that meets your interests/needs. Do you both prefer water sports, beach destinations, maybe a lake area, the countryside, or just more of a resort-like, atmosphere for a 5 star wedding. All of these things should be taken into consideration before picking a destination.

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2. What is your budget 

Are you planning a bigger wedding or a more intimate one? How much space will you need for the ceremony and guests? Do you want a theme wedding or just a luxury wedding? Your budget will definitely be determined by the answers to these questions. Oftentimes, people forget to plan a budget and go into debt. It’ll save you some trouble in the end if you determine and agree on a budget in the beginning.

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3. Consider hiring a wedding planner

One of the best ways to have an organized, stress-free wedding is to hire a wedding planner at the destination. There are so many choices online or maybe you can find one by asking around. There are also many amazing magazines, such as The Knot, that are full of wedding tips and even highlight amazing planners. Regardless, it is important to select someone you feel comfortable with and can trust to help you plan your special day.

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4. Selecting the right dress for the bride and bridesmaids

One important item for any bride is their gown. It is important to first know what is the best style needed, depending on the bride’s style, along with how formal, or casual the wedding is and maybe, lastly, the location.

Does the bride prefer a shorter dress rather than a traditional wedding gown or, for a beach destination wedding, you can find really stunning and comfortable wedding dresses for the beach.

Or you can have the best of both worlds, and get more than one style of wedding dress, and keep changing through out the day or night. If you are an online shopper like myself, you can find great wedding gowns online stores. I’ve attended many weddings, especially cultural ones, where the bride changes at different intervals throughout the party, or the wedding party continues for several days. Perfect for a destination wedding!

Additional considerations include hair, make-up, accessories, etc. It is also important to try these things before the wedding. You do not want to end up with an unfavorable make-up or hairstyle, especially on your important and special day!

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5. How many days are you planning for the wedding festivities? Any pre-activities to plan?

In addition to the wedding day, most destination weddings are usually minimum at least a weekend, sometimes longer. It is important to define how many days you are planning. Are you planning pre-activities with the guests, such as excursions, watersports? Or maybe activities only with the bridesmaids, like a bachelorette party or a continuity of one, or just simply spa sessions with lots of time for rest and relaxation. Whatever it is, it’s important to have a checklist for each day and to pre-book in advance.

Maybe there’s a resort with special packages or discounts, or a tour company you can work with, or the wedding planner with connections, to make all of the magic happen given your vision. These are things to always keep in mind regardless if you have assistance or you are trying to plan it independently with your family.

Lastly, make sure to give your guests plenty of notice so that they can plan arranging their schedules and finances for the trip.

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6. Planning and arranging flights/hotel; consider group discounts

Selecting a destination that is accessible from multiple airports and airlines can make a big difference to ease of planning. Are there any direct flights from your hometown or a location that most people will be traveling from? Is it convenient for most people? Try to consider these when narrowing down your selections for the final destination.

What about cost? Can you arrange any group discounts? Are there any airline or hotel group discounts that can be arranged? If most guests fly in together, that will also help avoiding multiple shuttles to and from the wedding location. Maybe a tour company or travel agent can help you set this up. Ask around to see if someone has prior experience or maybe there’s someone in your social circle with contacts you are not aware of. You never know who knows what, until you ask your circle. What else is social media for? You know what they say, “Ask, and you shall receive!”

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7. Wedding gifts for a destination party

For destination weddings, you may not want people to worry about traveling with gifts, or worrying about your returning home with them. Consider setting up a website or a bridal registry where your gifts are sent to your home or kept at the store for pickup. Another simple option is to request cash or gift cards only. Whatever your decision, guests should be informed as soon as possible.

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8. What about gifts for guests? What’s most convenient for you and/or your guests?

What souvenir would you like for your guests to take home with them? There are so many souvenirs that can be meaningful for guests, they do not always have to be expensive. It is all about having a little creativity and imagination. I find the best gifts to be ones with sentimental value, or just items that are useful and practical for the guests (and, hopefully, easy to pack).

Another Favorite: Best Affordable spots for shopping in NYC and/or online

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9. Weather: Always smart to have a ‘Plan B’ since mother nature can be unpredictable

This applies for any wedding, but especially outdoor ones. Many people choose beach destination weddings but most should keep in mind that, for example if a place is tropical, weather can be unpredictable. Make sure to avoid rainy seasons, or maybe stormy periods of time. You wouldn’t want to be stuck during your wedding week in the eye of a hurricane!

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10. Choosing the right Vendors for Music, Food, Drinks, Décor, etc

Most of the time, if you hire a wedding planner, they will take care of this, since oftentimes they already have partners and vendors they’ve previously worked with and trust. But if you are planning it on your own, caterers, DJ, photographer and other the vendors, can either make or break your party. It’s super important to work with the right people, do a tasting prior the wedding, and plan some more. I always think of the saying, “Measure twice and cut once.” If you plan accordingly, your special day can be a stress-free event full of fun and amazing memories to last a lifetime!

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Overall, we’ve just scratched the surface on the things to consider before planning a destination wedding. A wedding, like any other event, is never easy to plan, which is why is so great to get the help you need – especially consider an expert wedding planner to advise and help you. 

We do hope these tips for a destination wedding has provided some food for thought and assistance in your getting started with planning one of the most amazing experience of your life. 

Best wishes and congratulations!

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