What to Remember When Planning a Destination Wedding

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Destination weddings require a lot, I mean a lot of planning. Here are the seven things I wish I knew before inviting my nearest and dearest to our wedding abroad. 

There are two types of wedding people when it comes to planning that special day. And even if you think you're the type who loves all of the planning and bringing together of all of your loved ones for one big day, weekend, or week (I fit in that latter category)—there's a few more things to consider when it comes to moving these things to another country. 

Related: Picture-perfect Wedding Venues to Make Your Special Day Even More Magical

While details like the venue, bridal parties, color schemes, and navigating the choppy waters of family politics take over you can find yourself turning into a travel agent for guests, too. 

Here are a few moves that made my destination wedding a memorable, wonderful experience and have had guests talking for months after—along with some advice I wish I had thought of ahead. 

Hire a Local Planner

Once you've found your venue, and especially if your chosen destination speaks a different language, make sure to hire a local planner to manage the arrangements. Local planners are insiders who have established connections and have zero language barriers. They can also cut costs on "tourist prices". My now husband and I Facetimed with our on-site event planner who led us to video calls with her recommended DJs, stylists, and even the local rabbi. She was one hundred percent worth the money and saved any on-the-day headaches and unforeseen issues (like a coach not turning up!). 

Familiarize Guests With the Destination in Advance and Give Hotel Block Options of Varying Budgets

Destination weddings can multitask as vacations for guests. As far in advance as possible, familiarize guests with the location by sending them information on how to get around, accommodation options, activities, walking tours, and day trips available nearby. We also sent guests online guidebooks.  

Greet Guests With Gift Bags and a Welcome Party

Precious vacation time and money have been set aside by guests to be present on your day—so, try and offset their expenses where possible. If the hotel concierge or travel agent isn't the ones organizing, a few thought starters include; gift bags (with a mix of practical and fun items, such as an itinerary of your wedding events, travel-size sunscreen, and something that pays homage to the destination like a local liquor or snack), cocktails on arrival, a welcome party, and an excursion or walking tour. 

Ship Items Ahead

Give yourself less to carry in your suitcase. Pack things like decoration, favors, gifts, or anything fragile and ship them a few weeks ahead to your event planner or venue. 

Plan Your Dress or Tux Transportation for Both Ways

The easiest option to transport a gown (especially if your dress has a slim silhouette instead of a full skirt) is to carry it in a garment bag as your carry-on, ask a steward to hang the dress in the onboard closet space in first class. For a dress with a full skirt or lots of delicate details, you may be better off buying the seat next to you on the plane. Either way, make sure that there's a way to steam any creases once you land. Also, consider transporting your outfits back post-wedding. If you're heading on your honeymoon right away, don't carry the gown along for the ride. Ask someone in your bridal party to take it home. 

Related: How to Choose the Perfect Wedding Flowers

Turn to Instagram for Sourcing Local Vendors, Stylists, and Anything Else

Depending on how far away your destination venue is, it's likely you can't pop over all that often, which is why online and social media recommendations, reviews, and past client photos are gold. Scrolling through Instagram led me to my chosen hairstylist.

Build in Some Downtime 

Make sure there's time for both you and the guests to do your own thing. After all, it's your time and you don't want to feel as though your wedding was just a series of managing different events.