Destination Wedding Planning Tips From the Pros

Jalepeńo margaritas, live music, dancing under the stars, sand between your toes… all idyllic reasons to ditch the traditional and head to a tropical location for your nuptials. But getting there, not seeing the space beforehand, travel details on TOP of wedding day details… sometimes it sounds too good to be true and then you’re overwhelmed and you scrap the idea entirely. But destination weddings don’t HAVE to be more work than a more traditional “local” event. I recently reached out to our little social media friends to see what everyone’s biggest questions around destination weddings were and decided to put alllll my tips/tricks in one place for ya!

Photo by: Emily Magers

One of the most common responses I got from everyone on reasons for being unsure about a destination wedding was, the idea of NOT seeing the space ahead of time. I wanted to tackle that one first. Of all the destination weddings I’ve planned – I’ve NEVER seen a space before the day of or a couple days before the wedding and it’s never been an issue. That being said – only one of my clients DIDN’T see their spaces ahead of time. Could we have planned everything without them seeing it – yes. In fact, often times we changed things up after I got in country… did it give them peace of mind seeing it – yes. So my advice… do your research, but don’t let the fact that you cannot visit the space ahead of time deter you. I promise, it will be okay (as long as you follow my other tips lol).

Photo by: Catherine Coons

Next up – hire TWO KEY people. 1) A wedding planner. Doesn’t have to be me haha although I would LOVE to help you plan your destination wedding. A planner will help keep you on task, help you manage your time and tasks, and will help with some of the logistics that should put you at ease if you cannot see the space ahead of time. They will manage communication with in country vendors (WHICH WILL ALLEVIATE SO MUCH STRESS) I could go on and on about the importance of a planner and everything is exactly the same for destination – so just jump on over to that post over HERE for more on that ;-)

photo by: Francisco Salas

Second most important person to hire – a travel agent. Now, if you’re anything like me (before I started doing destination weddings) I honestly didn’t know what travel agents actually did. That’s what Expedia was for, right?? haha it’s all good – no shame. But when you’re trying to get 40+ adults all to another place (international or just plain far – like Hawaii) having a professional who can manage everyone’s travel itineraires is KEY. I cannot stress this enough. The amount of heavy lifting they do for all your travel needs during wedding planning is worth every penny…. which ironically, there typically isn’t a fee. So WIN WIN! Another win – travel agents can help get bundle deals and discounts that Expedia cannot. And their customer service and personal touches make everything so seamless. I have some incredible recs if you need any!

Photo by: Francisco Salas

Lastly – don’t assume that destination = cheap. I think a lot of people think, “we want to save money on our wedding so we’re going to do destination to (enter any tropical space) and only invite 50 people!” Don’t get me wrong – there are definitely ways to be smart and save money on certain things in country. But travel + lodging and extra fees add up. I think a lot of couples get an extra sticker shock on some of the vendor fees as well… just because you’re booking food, rentals, florals, etc in country doesn’t mean it’s going to be CRAZY cheap. These people gotta eat too! But really, some flowers are MORE expensive in other countries and some delivery fees are MORE in other countries because they have to drive further distances.

I’m not saying EVERYTHING is crazy expensive, I’m more just suggesting that you change your frame of mind. Don’t go into planning thinking every single thing will be dirt cheap. Rely on your planner to get you formulate a realistic budget before gathering proposals, that way you’re mentally prepared beforehand! *That being said, there are some places and ways to save a good amount of money on your wedding. Your wedding planner and travel agent are the best bets to help you do that!

Photo by: Emily Magers

To get you guys the BEST tips possible, I reached out to some of my very own destination brides to get their best insight after having lived through the experiences to share with you!!! They have some great tips for you all! They all basically started out the same – HIRE A PLANNER! I’m telling you guys. You will not regret it.

  • Save money and headaches by booking a hotel room block. (a travel agent can help with this!) You don’t necessarily have to have your wedding there but coordinating and meeting up with family and friends is so much easier and most importantly, the extra time you’ll get to spend with them is priceless!
  • Eat the local food! Don’t have your wedding in Thailand and want Italian food. Embrace local produce. The food was a huge reason why we picked Mexico for our wedding (and the copious amounts of tequila). 
  • Be flexible! We changed our ceremony time a week before the wedding to avoid the heat of the day. Don’t be afraid to make a change if you need to. 
Photo by: Dean Sanderson
  • If welcome bags are in your budget, I highly recommend providing them! It’s a nice way to thank your guests for traveling all the way to you on your special day, but at the very least, I recommend giving each guest something that easily identifies them as a member of the wedding guest travel party (i.e. bright sunglasses, a koozie, floaties, etc.).  One of my favorite parts about being on vacation with 70 friends/family members was that by the end of the trip, everyone knew each other and felt like one big family.  It’s such an easy ice breaker for guests who don’t know each other to be able to approach someone else wearing the same metallic gold sunnies and say “How do you know the bride/groom?!” or “you’re here for the wedding too!”.
  • Take your wedding party on an adventure around the country. One of the best parts of the wedding was spending our “buddy moon” with all our friends and family after the wedding itself. It allowed us to relax and catch up with everyone.
  • Expect a lot of questions! Although we made a website with all the information our guests could ever need, they still asked a million questions. This is normal, people are flying around the world to watch you get married. Expect a lot of questions and phone calls with everyone to help them organise their trip but don’t be afraid to refer them to your site as well if their question can be answered that way. (this is a great tip!)
Photo by: Catherine Coons

SUCH great advice, right?! If you guys have more questions or need more destination wedding help – feel free to reach out to me directly at tastefultatters{at}gmail.com or simply fill out our contact form which you can find on the top menu bar!

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