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Destination wedding planning guide

You are here because you are searching for the best destination wedding guide to help you plan a destination wedding or at least consider it. 

If you are serious and considering planning a destination wedding, you have come to the right place. 

Organizing a wedding abroad is no easy task. 

Whether planning a beach wedding somewhere fancy or planning on getting married on a fancy vineyard or a mountain top somewhere in the world, we are here to facilitate your destination wedding plans. 

When it comes to celebrating love and starting a lifelong adventure together, more and more couples are choosing to plan a destination wedding. 

And why not?

It’s an incredible way to create unforgettable memories that will stay with you forever.

We have you covered in planning a Caribbean wedding, a European or Canadian wedding, and anywhere else you might consider.  

Planning a destination wedding is a significant undertaking, and following a simple guide like this one will save you so much stress and money. 

When you know what you are doing, you can genuinely have fun during the planning process, especially because you might be heading out to an exotic location and having one of a kind wedding ceremony.

Lucky for you, we have a lot of fantastic tips on the blog to help you design, plan and coordinate destination weddings that are budget-friendly and unique. 

Just like planning a wedding locally (in your hometown), you will still need to put effort into planning it. 

So, let’s dive into why escape wedding adventures have become such a big hit and share some tips to help you plan your dreamy celebration.

We will also explore exciting ideas to match different wedding venues and add that extra oomph to your special day.

Get ready to be inspired!

We will be looking into a few popular topics in planning a destination. 

Here is what we will be touching base on:

  • How to do a destination wedding step by step

  • A complete destination wedding guide covering everything

  • Destination wedding tips to help save money

Destination weddings are a great way to celebrate your love, surrounded by family and stunning landscapes. 

If you want to have the destination wedding of your dreams, with blue skies and crystal clear waters but are unsure where to start, get ready for our tips. 

What is a destination wedding?

Before planning your big day, you must decide what type of wedding you want.

So what is considered a destination wedding? 

A destination wedding is where the couple chooses to have their ceremony and reception in a location away from their hometown.

This could be in a different state or country, typically in a location that holds personal significance to the couple, such as a favourite vacation spot or a place they have always wanted to visit.

I consider a destination wedding pretty much any wedding that takes place at least 2 hours away from where you reside.

Destination weddings often involve a smaller guest list and can be more intimate and personalized.

They also typically require more planning and coordination due to the logistics of travel and guest accommodations.

Are you thinking of hosting your wedding at a lovely tropical location?

Or maybe a mountain wedding (This can be extremely pretty)?

European weddings are usually beautiful (Think France – specifically, the South of France).

You can easily decide by going to a destination location you have both been to or somewhere new! 

We will go into more detail in this destination wedding guide. 

If you are on a budget, a quick wedding budget checklist such as this one will help you determine if you can afford a destination wedding, but at the end of the day, I genuinely recommend our Ultimate Wedding Budget bundle.

Grab this wedding budget spreadsheet printable to help meet all your wedding planning needs. Here's how to make a wedding budget that's perfect for you, without skimping on the fun stuff. Check our printable Wedding Budget Templates!

It’s designed to meet all your wedding planning needs and ensure you cover all your wedding expenses, leaving little to no surprises. 

Making a budget for your destination wedding can help you avoid spending more than planned.

A budget can also help ensure you have some money left over for other financial goals.

Following this destination wedding guide will also help you save some money!

With that in mind, we’ve put together a few tips on planning a destination wedding of your dreams. 

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Get ready for the best guide for planning a destination wedding 

Before we start on this destination wedding guide, we wanted you to take the time to like our Facebook Page here! We also use affiliate links in our blog posts, meaning we can make a commission if you use any of our affiliate links. 

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Why Should You Consider Having a Destination Wedding?

Destination weddings provide a unique and outstanding celebration for you and your guests.

There are so many fantastic reasons to have a destination wedding.

Here are a few essential factors why you should consider having one:

A Beautiful Backdrop: Destination weddings offer you the possibility to tie the knot in breathtaking locations, which include pristine seashores, lush forests, spell-binding castles, or romantic vineyards. These scenic backdrops create a mystical environment that enhances the romance and beauty of a wedding. Choosing the right destination wedding location is essential if you want that wow factor

Intimate Celebration: As destination weddings regularly involve a smaller guest list, you can spend a pleasant time with your closest friends and family. This intimate putting fosters a more comfortable and private atmosphere where your relationships may be reinforced and cherished.

Built-in Honeymoon: One of the best things about a getaway wedding is the built-in honeymoon. After the ceremony and reception, you can seamlessly transition into a romantic getaway without the hassle of travelling to another country. It’s really perfect to begin the newlywed adventure together.

So how do destination weddings work?

This is the ultimate destination wedding planning guide for couples needing help to plan a wedding abroad or somewhere that is far from them. To help you plan the perfect destination wedding will be going through a few steps and checklists to consider. By following the Destination Wedding Etiquette Advice you will be well on your to planning the perfect destination wedding!

Where to Start: Planning Your Dream Destination Wedding

Planning a wedding may appear overwhelming initially, but with the best wedding vendors and attention to detail, it may be an exciting experience.

Here are some key considerations that will help you plan the perfect destination wedding:

1. Destination Wedding Budget Considerations

Determining your destination wedding budget is an essential first step in planning your big day in another location.

To create a wedding budget that works, you must learn to negotiate, be flexible, and think outside the box. 

Start by discussing how much you want to spend for your big day, considering your financial situation.

If you have family contributing, knowing exactly how much they can pitch in is helpful for creating a destination wedding budget that works. 

Next, research the cost of your preferred location, travel costs, hotels, and venue prices.

Remember that prices may vary depending on the time of the year and the place’s popularity.

Once you have a basic concept of how much your destination wedding will cost, create an in-depth spreadsheet to track all wedding-related costs.

Feel free to grab this wedding budget checklist to stay organized and track everything. 

It’s completely free. 

For a more detailed budget breakdown, you will need this wedding budget bundle to help track and manage your expenses effortlessly. 

Allocate the budget to distinctive categories, including venue, catering, wedding attire, decorations, photography, and transportation.

It’s essential to be practical and prioritize what you want as a couple to maximize your budget.

Find ways to cut costs by looking at weekday weddings or going during unpopular times. 

Don’t forget about any hidden wedding costs or unexpected fees that can stand up.

Build a contingency fund into your finances to deal with unforeseen situations or last-minute expenses.

You can ensure a financially responsible and stress-free wedding by diligently monitoring your expenses and staying within your price range.

Consider grabbing these wedding-saving trackers to save extra cash for your destination wedding. 

Check out these wedding saving trackers to help you save money. Make sure to save money with these amazing trackers. Check out these wedding saving printables to help save money.

2. All-Inclusive Destination Wedding Package 

It’s best to book an all-inclusive Destination package if you want to save money. 

Planning a destination wedding may seem like a breeze but it can be challenging.

Coordinating with vendors from afar can be complicated, primarily if you cannot oversee the details on-site.

Indeed, you want everything to be perfect, but budget constraints can make this a daunting task.

Here are some tips to help you plan a destination wedding on a small budget:

  • Opt for an all-inclusive bundle to help cut costs. Look for locations that cover your flights, hotel stay, excursions, and wedding venue. This can significantly reduce your expenses.
  • Secure more room bookings to entice resorts to throw in a wedding package. Some resorts are willing to compromise if you can guarantee a certain number of room bookings.

These tips can help you save money and minimize the stress of planning a destination wedding.

3. Choose Your Perfect Venue

Planning a local wedding is usually much more manageable than choosing destination locations. 

You can easily plan a visit to a local wedding to check out the venue. 

You must rely on photos, reviews and referrals with destination wedding locations. 

Selecting the right venue is essential as it will set the tone for your big day and give you peace of mind.

Several factors must be considered when selecting a venue for your destination wedding celebration.

Here are a few that are important: 

Location: Consider the geographical vicinity that appeals to you as a couple. Are you attracted to a tropical seashore, a fascinating nation-state, or a bustling city? Consider the accessibility of the vicinity to your guests and the general atmosphere you wish to create.

Here are some fun places to consider hosting your destination wedding: 

  • Mexico
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Dominican Republic
  • Bahamas
  • Puerto Rico
  • St Lucia 
  • Miami 
  • Paris 
  • Italy
  • Costa Rica 
  • Fiji

I suggest circling back to your budget before committing. 

Here is another list of the best vacation spots for couples that could help when planning your destination wedding. 

Here are some popular types of destination wedding venues to consider:

  • Beach resorts are ideal for couples who want a tropical, laid-back wedding by the sea.
  • Vineyards are perfect for those who want a rustic, romantic wedding surrounded by scenic countryside views.
  • Castles are great for couples who want a fairytale-like wedding in a majestic and historic setting.
  • Private islands: a luxurious option for couples who want an exclusive and intimate wedding surrounded by the ocean.
  • City hotels are ideal for couples who want a chic and sophisticated wedding in the heart of a bustling city.
  • Mountain lodges are perfect for couples who want a cozy, intimate wedding surrounded by nature and breathtaking views.
  • Cruise ships are a unique option for couples who want to combine their wedding with a vacation and set sail to their honeymoon destination.

Capacity: Determine the approximate range of guests you propose to invite to your wedding. Ensure that the venue you choose can accommodate your guest list.

Facilities and Services: Assess the facilities and services offered with the aid of venue coordinators. Do they provide in-house catering, or can they advise on trusted caterers? Consider whether the venue will provide you and your guests with hotel rooms. Look into any additional perks for booking your wedding with them.

Reviews and Recommendations: Read up on reviews and ask for referrals. Consider asking for referrals from couples who have previously held their destination weddings at the venues you’re considering. Their reviews and insights can provide precious statistics about the venue’s excellence, professionalism, and other insights.

Don’t forget to look into hotel services for your wedding guests, such as shuttles, rides share services, and the overall walkability of the area!

This information should be readily available on your wedding website.

A wedding planner familiar with the area can also help with questions, inquiries and planning.

A local wedding planner is highly recommended. 

Here are a few more reasons to hire a destination wedding planner

Once everything is in place, finalize and book your venue and vendors. 

5. Send Out Save The Dates 

A complete destination wedding guide means you need to think of everything.

Staying organized during the wedding planning process ensures a smooth and stress-free process.

Sending out save dates for destination weddings is crucial for several reasons.

Firstly, it lets your guests plan their travel and accommodation in advance, ensuring they can attend your special day.

Destination weddings often require more preparation and coordination than local weddings, so giving guests ample notice is essential.

Secondly, it gives you a better idea of the number of guests attending, which can help you plan and budget accordingly.

Finally, saving the dates can set the tone for your wedding and build excitement among your guests.

Overall, sending out save the dates for destination weddings is a small but essential step in ensuring your big day succeeds.

Ideally, save the dates should be sent out six to eight months before the wedding.

This gives guests enough time to make travel arrangements and avoid scheduling conflicts.

There is nothing wrong with sending save the dates earlier if you’re planning a destination wedding or getting married during a busy season.

Save the dates for weddings can be found in various places.

You can create your own using online design tools such as Canva or hiring a designer to create them for you.

Many websites sell pre-made save the dates, such as Minted, Etsy, and Zazzle.

AWildBloomDesigns has unique sets of save the dates wedding invitations on Etsy. 

Stationery stores and wedding supply shops also carry save the dates.

Some couples also prefer to send electronic save the dates via email or social media.

Ultimately, the best place to save your wedding dates will depend on your budget, design preferences, and timeline.

Don’t forget to update your wedding website with all the necessary information. 

These save-the-date cards are perfect for your destination wedding! Featuring a beautiful design and customizable details, they will give your guests a taste of the exciting adventure. Whether you're getting married on a tropical beach or in a charming European city, these cards will set the tone for your special day. Don't miss out on the chance to make a lasting impression – order your save-the-date cards today!

Boarding Pass Save the Date Template

6. Book Your Destination Wedding Vendors

Regardless of the wedding you plan, booking vendors as soon as possible is always highly recommended.

Once you have secured your venue or resort, it’s a good idea to start researching and contacting vendors.

Ideally, you want to work with a local wedding planner.

It’s also worth asking your venue or resort if they have a list of preferred wedding vendors.

Here are some tips to help you select your vendors:

Destination Wedding Photographers:

  • Work with a local photographer knowledgeable about the most beautiful and unique locations to take wedding photos in your destination.
  • You can also work with a photographer of your choice, provided he knows the destination. 
  • Print our checklist of questions to ask your photographer.

Music and Entertainment:

  • Will you create a playlist, hire a local band, or choose a DJ? Regardless of your choice, include some hit songs from the local region. This will allow your guests to enjoy a tango, hula, or a collection of mariachi tunes, depending on where you are going for your wedding. A genuine music selection can create lifelong memories of your wedding destination.
  • Use our simple wedding song list template to help you organize your wedding songs and entertainment for the day.  

Wedding Florists:

  • Choose a florist who understands local arrangements that will leave a lasting impression on your guests. They can also assist in ensuring that the flowers you’ve been dreaming of are available at your destination and help you choose alternatives if necessary.

Your Caterers:

  • Remember, people don’t travel halfway across the world to eat food they can get back home. Collaborate with your caterers to infuse local ingredients or dishes into your wedding menu while providing dishes your guests will enjoy. A local bakery can also create a unique cake for your event. Adding a signature cocktail or two that showcases local fruit or liquor is another way to create a well-themed cohesive menu.

Decor Rentals:

  • If your venue is not all-inclusive, ensure you know what day-of decor they’ll provide and which outside vendors you’ll need to hire to handle it. This could include everything from generators and temporary bathrooms to stunning tents, table arrangements, and lighting.

7. Define Your Destination Wedding Style

Defining your wedding ceremony style is essential to planning the wedding of your dreams. 

It sets the tone for the complete celebration and helps you make cohesive choices concerning the venue, decorations, attire, and overall atmosphere.

Here are a few pointers that will help you define your wedding ceremony style:

Gather Inspiration: Browse through wedding magazines, blogs, social media structures, and Pinterest forums to get ideas. Save pictures and ideas that resonate with you as a pair. Look for commonplace themes, colorations, and styles that stand out most.

Consider Your Personalities: Your wedding ceremony should reflect your style and personality. Think approximately what makes you and your partner unique. Are you nature fanatics, artwork fans, or journey seekers? Incorporate elements that showcase your passions and shared hobbies.

Evaluate the Destination: Take your ideas and inspiration from the destination itself. Consider the natural environment, local culture, and architectural features. Infuse factors of the location into your wedding style to create a cohesive and harmonious party. For example, if you’re getting married in a tropical seaside destination, incorporate colourful shades, seashell accents, and a comfortable atmosphere into your wedding elements.

Fashion and Accessories: Your wedding apparel and add-ons play a significant role in defining your wedding style. Consider how you can customize your look to reflect your individuality and style. If you are a bride that typically wears glasses daily, consider getting these stylish prescription eyeglasses! They will make a fashionable and unique addition to your wedding day ensemble. Let your eyeglasses be a beautiful accent that complements your standard appearance and showcases your personality. With an extensive range of frames, you could pick out frames that fit your wedding ceremony colour scheme or choose a bold and latest design that stands proudly.

Wedding Décor and Details: Pay attention to the small details to achieve your ideal wedding theme. Consider incorporating colours, textures, and patterns that align with your vision. Whether it’s a country, bohemian, traditional, or modern aesthetic, ensure that every decoration complements your wedding style. From flower arrangements and table settings to signage and lighting fixtures, each detail should contribute to the ambiance you aim to create.

By defining your wedding style, you can create a cohesive and customized celebration that genuinely reflects who you are as a couple.

Embrace your individuality, work with things that are meaningful to you, and let your wedding style shine through.

Here are a few examples of destination wedding decor ideas: 

destination wedding decor 1

Destination wedding decor 4

Destination wedding Decor 3 destination wedding decor 2

8. Destination Wedding Theme Ideas That Complement the Venue

Our destination wedding guide would not be complete without a theme.

Once you have selected your destination and venue, deciding on a theme that complements the surroundings will enhance the general experience.

Here are a few theme thoughts for specific destination wedding locations:

Tropical Beach Wedding of Your Dreams:

Embrace the natural beauty of a seaside wedding spot with a tropical-inspired wedding theme.

Incorporate vibrant hues, lush florals, and beachy elements to create a comfortable and vibrant atmosphere.

Bohemian Fairytale in The Forest:

A bohemian fairytale theme can perfectly capture the mesmerizing atmosphere if you have selected a woodland or wooded area venue.

Add dreamy lighting fixtures, whimsical decor, and earthy tones to create a magical and romantic mood.

Timeless Elegance Inside the Vineyard Dream:

A winery place requires a classic and stylish theme.

Embrace undying elements, tender colour palettes, lush greenery, and antique-inspired decoration to create an atmosphere of refined splendour and sophistication.

This theme perfectly complements a bride’s engagement ring, effortlessly emphasizing the timeless engagement ring style.

Historical Wedding in a Castle:

If you are lucky enough to plan your special day in a citadel, embrace the ancient appeal with a regal theme.

When planning a historical wedding in a castle, matching the bride’s style with the venue and atmosphere is essential.

A wedding in a castle is perfect for incorporating any wedding theme style. 

You could incorporate elements of a traditional medieval castle.

This may include a castle or palace venue, medieval-inspired decors such as tapestries and chandeliers, and attire reminiscent of the era, such as long gowns and suits of armour.

You can also go with a princess ball gown

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The theme can also feature medieval-inspired food and entertainment, such as a feast and sword-fighting demonstrations.

Overall, a castle wedding theme aims to create a romantic and magical atmosphere that transports guests to another time and place.

To match the bride’s engagement ring with a castle setting, consider incorporating ornate details, such as lace or intricate beading, into the bride’s dress.

These details can add a touch of historical charm to the bride’s overall look while complementing the intricate details throughout the castle.

The bride’s accessories, such as her veil, jewelry, and shoes, should match the castle setting.

Modern Urban Romance:

For couples who pick a contemporary and vibrant mood, an urban wedding theme is an ideal preference.

Select a present-day city venue that comprises glossy designs, ambitious shades, and modern-day accents.

These elements let in for creativity and flexibility, imparting endless possibilities to reflect your specific style as a couple.

Other destination wedding etiquette to consider

If you are having a beach or destination wedding and your wedding party and guests will be travelling to the destination, there are a few things they should know.

First, make sure everyone knows the dress code and brings appropriate attire for a beach setting.

It’s also important to remind everyone to pack sunscreen and insect repellent.

You should also plan for the weather and have a backup plan for any potential rain or wind.

Finally, ensure everyone knows the travel logistics, such as transportation to and from the venue and any accommodations that have been arranged.

Don’t forget about the following: 

  • Rehearsal Dinner 
  • Welcome bags
  • Marriage License 
  • Honeymoon 

And that’s it for our destination wedding planning tips!

I hope you got all the advice and tips for planning a destination. 

It’s our complete guide on how to plan a wedding abroad. 

When planning a destination, it’s essential to research and consider factors such as budget, travel time, and local customs.

Start by choosing a location that interests you and fits within your budget.

Look for deals on flights and accommodations, and consider travelling during off-peak seasons to save money.

Research the local culture and customs to ensure that you show respect and avoid any cultural misunderstandings.

Create a rough itinerary, but also allow for flexibility and spontaneity.

Finally, pack appropriately for the destination’s climate and activities.

We really wanted to simplify the process by sharing destination wedding tips that most of our brides have gone through. 

These tips for planning a destination wedding can be tweaked to meet your needs and budget. 

Destination weddings are meant to be fun!

Unite your love, surrounded by stunning landscapes and create unforgettable memories with family and friends. 

Planning a wedding involves many factors, such as selecting the perfect venue, defining the ceremony style, and choosing a theme that complements your surroundings.

Go ahead and book your wedding today!

We hope this destination wedding guide will help you plan your big day effortlessly. 

We wanted to offer as many wedding inspiration ideas as possible to simplify your wedding planning. 

Are you having a destination wedding?

Share with us in the comment section below. 

Read Next: 

The Wedding Printable shop! Wedding printables for planning weddings!

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The Ultimate Destination Wedding Guide: Themes, Budgets + More