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How to Have a Destination Wedding

Getting married is no small feat, but why settle for an ordinary ceremony when you can have a destination wedding? It's like a regular wedding, but with a little more adventure and a lot more sunscreen.

Destination weddings have become increasingly popular in recent years as a way for couples to celebrate their special day in a unique and memorable location. Whether you’re dreaming of a beach wedding in the Caribbean or a mountain wedding in the Rockies, planning a destination wedding requires careful consideration and attention to detail. In this blog post, we’ll explore everything you need to know about how to have a destination wedding.

1. Choose the Perfect Location

First things first, you need to choose the perfect location. Maybe you're dreaming of a tropical paradise, or perhaps you're more of a mountain person. Either way, make sure your location has great photo opportunities. When deciding on a location, consider factors such as your budget, guest list, and personal preferences. You may also want to think about the weather and climate of the location, as well as the accessibility and availability of accommodations.

Popular destination wedding locations include beach destinations such as the Caribbean, Hawaii, and Mexico, as well as mountain locations like Colorado and California. Other popular locations include European cities like Paris and Rome, and tropical destinations like Bali and Thailand.

2. Set a Budget

Once you've decided on your location, set a budget. Destination weddings can be more expensive than traditional weddings, as they often require travel and accommodations for both the couple and their guests. So, when setting a budget, consider all of the costs, including travel expenses, accommodations, venue fees, and vendor fees. Be sure to also budget for any unexpected expenses that may arise.

We know, talking about money can be a real mood killer, but you don't want to come back from your honeymoon and find out you're in debt. Remember, you can always sell a kidney on the black market to help with the costs.

3. Hire a Wedding Planner

Now, it's time to hire a wedding planner. Because who doesn't love adding an extra layer of stress by relying on someone else to plan your big day? lol, i'm kidding! But for real, planning a destination wedding can be overwhelming, so hiring a wedding planner can be a great investment. A wedding planner can help you with everything from finding the perfect venue to coordinating vendors and managing logistics. They can also help you navigate any language barriers or cultural differences that may arise when planning a wedding in a foreign country.

Just make sure they have experience planning weddings in your chosen location, and ideally, can speak the local language. After all, you don't want to end up with a bouquet of cacti instead of roses.

4. Consider Legal Requirements

Before you go too far down the planning rabbit hole, make sure you've considered the legal requirements, such as obtaining a marriage license or fulfilling residency requirements. You may also want to consider hiring a local wedding planner or lawyer to help you navigate the legal requirements. After all, you don't want to show up on your big day only to find out that you needed a signed permission slip from your 3rd-grade teacher lol.

5. Choose the Perfect Venue

When planning a destination wedding, choosing the perfect venue is crucial. Whether you’re dreaming of a beachfront resort or a mountaintop lodge, your venue sets the tone for your entire wedding.

Consider factors such as the location, size, and amenities. You may also want to consider the venue’s flexibility and willingness to work with your wedding planner and vendors. Be sure to also consider the logistics of the venue, such as transportation and accessibility for you and your guests.

But, whether it's a beach resort or a mountaintop lodge, just make sure it has room for both the ceremony and the after-party. You don't want to have to move the party to the local McDonald's because the venue has a strict curfew.

6. Send Out Save-The-Dates Early

Your guests need time to plan, book flights, and maybe even renew their passports. Be sure to send out save-the-dates as early as possible, ideally at least 8 to 12 months before the wedding date. Plus, you'll want to make sure everyone can take off work, or at least convince their boss that a wedding in Bali is essential to the company's success.

When sending out save-the-dates, be sure to include all of the important details, such as the wedding date, location, and any travel and accommodations information. You may also want to include a wedding website or contact information for your wedding planner or venue coordinator.

7. Chose Your Wedding Photographer

Choosing a wedding photographer for your destination wedding can be a daunting task, but it's important to find someone who can capture the memories of your special day. A big question people ask all the time is "Should I chose a photographer for my wedding that lives in the location i'm getting married or fly one in." There is no right or wrong answer to this question as it depends on your personal preference and the specific circumstances of your wedding.

Here are some factors to consider when deciding whether to choose a photographer who lives in the location you're getting married or to fly one in: Cost, Availability, Photography Style, Familiarity with the location.

Ultimately, it's important to choose a photographer who you feel comfortable with and whose style aligns with your vision for your wedding day, regardless of whether they live in the location you're getting married or not.

If you'd like to read a deeper dive into this, read my blog I wrote on this here!

8. Plan Group Activities

One of the benefits of having a destination wedding is the opportunity to spend time with your guests in a beautiful location. Consider planning group activities and events to help your guests get to know each other and make the most of their trip.

Group activities could include things like welcome dinners, beach or mountain excursions, or cultural tours.

9. Coordinate Travel Arrangements

As the wedding date approaches, it’s important to coordinate travel arrangements for both you and your guests. This includes booking flights, hotels, and transportation to and from the wedding venue.

Consider working with a travel agent or using a travel booking website to make the process easier. You may also want to provide your guests with a travel guide or itinerary to help them navigate their travel arrangements. And if all else fails, just have everyone meet at the airport and hope for the best.

10. Working With Local Vendors

When planning a destination wedding, it can be beneficial to work with local vendors who are familiar with the area and can provide the services you need. This includes vendors such as caterers, makeup artists and florists.

Your wedding planner or venue coordinator can help you find and coordinate with local vendors. Be sure to communicate your preferences and expectations clearly, and ask for references or samples of their work before making a decision.

11. Plan for Unexpected Challenges

With every wedding there are challenges, and the same applies to destination weddings. There may be unexpected challenges that arise along the way. Be prepared for unexpected weather, travel delays, or other issues that may arise. Because let's face it, things are bound to go wrong. Just remember to take a deep breath, and remind yourself that at the end of the day, you're marrying the love of your life. And that's all that really matters.

Bonus tip: Consider purchasing wedding insurance to protect yourself against unforeseen circumstances. You may also want to work with a wedding planner who has experience handling unexpected challenges.

12. Enjoy the Experience

This is the most important part!!important to remember to enjoy the experience. Take time to explore your destination and spend time with your guests, and don’t forget to take plenty of photos and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Having a destination wedding can be a wonderful way to celebrate your love and create a memorable experience for you and your guests. By following these tips and working with experienced professionals, you can plan the perfect destination wedding and create memories that will last a lifetime.


Now go forth and plan the destination wedding of your dreams! And don't forget the sunscreen. And if you need an amazing photographer who will be with you every step of the way, click on the button below!

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Makenzie's Design Photography

Hi, I'm Makenzie! Your quirky/fun elopement and destination wedding photographer, and your best friend that will be with your every step of the way till you say "I do!"

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