Planning a destination wedding is exciting, but it's also a lot of work. In addition to figuring out the elements of your big day, you'll also have to contend with things like language barriers, unknown local laws and customs, and international marriage requirements. That's why it's more important than ever to keep track of all the important details and to cross their associated tasks off your to-do list in a timely manner. To help navigate this potentially tricky situation, we've rounded up the most crucial details that can't be overlooked for a destination wedding.
Get to know the marriage laws.
Before you make a final decision on your wedding destination, you'll want to know about the legalities and requirements for marriage in each destination. The majority of destination weddings are actually symbolic ceremonies, with couples choosing to legally marry in their home country since that's often the easier and more cost-effective option.
Think about the types of vendors you'll hire.
As you're researching vendors for your destination wedding, you'll have to consider whether you'll hire local pros or fly vendors in from home (or maybe even a combination of the two). There's no right answer: Working with locals and flying in talent both come with pros and cons. If you're getting married somewhere remote, the vendor options might be limited, so the idea of bringing in a pro you know from home may seem appealing, but it's important to remember that you'll have to factor the costs of their travel and accommodation (in addition to their other fees) into your budget. On the flip side, using the local vendors, especially for catering and floral design, can help you achieve an authentic and intimate wedding celebration, but you may not know as much about the professional you're hiring beforehand.
Build a great wedding website.
Have your wedding website fully built before you send out save-the-dates, which will mean you'll be inundated with fewer questions. Make sure to build a robust site with travel tips, accommodation information, packing suggestions, and any local restaurant and activity recommendations that will help guests plan out their stay.
Have a site visit.
Making the most of your site visit is important when planning any wedding, but especially so when you're tying the knot far from home and may not have an opportunity to return again. While email makes remote planning a breeze, it is still important to walk the venue space, meet with local vendors, and get a feel for accommodation options.
Organize necessary transportation.
When you're getting married far from home, anything you can do to make life easier for your guests will be appreciated. Since most guests won't have a car for the weekend, it's a nice gesture to organize transportation for them for the weekend's events. You may even consider offering something like a charter bus or trolley from the airport to the hotel to make travel even easier.
Consider planning any additional parties.
Since guests are carving out an entire weekend for your destination wedding, planning supplemental events to keep guests occupied is always appreciated. These events can be as simple or extravagant as you want: A welcome pizza party for a wedding in Italy, a farewell beachside brunch in the Bahamas, or a mezcal tasting for a rehearsal dinner in Mexico are a few fun ways to incorporate the local culture into your weekend. You can also plan activities, like a group hike or diving adventure, or even just invite guests to join you at the hotel pool for a pre-wedding swim session.
Create an itinerary for your guests.
Whether you're planning supplemental events or not, it's important to provide guests with a detailed itinerary for what's happening throughout the weekend. It can be as simple as a card with the wedding's timeline or as elaborate as a booklet with an illustrated map. Either way, an outline of all the main events, plus additional activities guests can enjoy should they choose to, helps everyone involved. Your guests will know where they need to be and when, and you'll have less questions to answer.
Leave time for relaxation.
While everyone in present to celebrate your union as a couple, your guests are also probably looking forward to a bit of downtime. In light of this, don't feel obligated to schedule every minute. Give guests enough to do that they are able to enjoy the destination, but also allow them enough free time that they can relax and unwind however they see fit.