1. When should I have my destination wedding?

This depends on your schedules and availability, but seasonal changes make a major impact. If you want to take advantage of the great outdoors, check the average rainfall by month and or talk to your planner, they should have knowledge of the destinations seasonal changes.

2. When do I notify guests of my destination wedding?

Save-the-dates should be mailed eight to 12 months before the wedding. Official invitations go out no later than four months before.

3. Guest accommodations?

Guests are traditionally expected to cover their personal lodging and transportation expenses, but it’s important that you make this as gracefully clear as possible. Tactfully lay out expectations, if you’ve booked a hotel block emphasize that each guest needs to reserve their own room within it. Your wedding website and save the date’s will be your best tools in getting the word out.

4. Do I need to help guests book travel?

You don’t need to book anyone’s travel, but it’s a nice gesture to make the process easier. Enlisting a travel agent can help lighten the load by taking over group reservations, inputting everyone’s travel info, and scoring the best deals. They may also be able to snag upgrades and luxury treatments. Start a Facebook group or group chat so everyone can share flight deals or make plans to travel together. Providing a wedding itinerary will keep everyone on schedule and fully informed.

5. Do I need a registry for a destination wedding?

Given the increased costs of guests attending the wedding, you may want to consider scrapping gifts. Utilize the invitations or wedding website to let everyone know that their presence is the best gift. If you prefer to have a registry, be sure to have gifts shipped to your home rather than brought to the venue or opt for virtual gifts.

6. Hire a pro.

HIRE A PLANNER that specializes in destination weddings. This way, instead of spending hours on phone calls trying to guess who to trust or making executive decisions from miles away, you have an expert taking care of it all for you.

7. Visit in advance.

Ideally, tour once before booking (include catering tastings, and potentially hair and make up trials at the same time) and have the planner visit again three to four months before the wedding to finalize details.

8. Meet vendors.

Set up meetings via zoom with all recommended or preferred vendors. Your planner will provide referrals. If you’re bringing planners from home, expect to cover all travel costs. Negotiate all of these expenses up front so things don’t get out of control.

9. Plan additional events.

Guests will enjoy some extra activities to make their trip even more worthwhile. A full wedding weekend or just host a welcome party to greet everyone (following a rehearsal). Some couples include interactive activities that showcase the locale like group tours or tastings. You can also close with flair and say your farewells at a post-wedding brunch or luncheon.

10. Secure wedding insurance.

When it comes to getting married in a foreign locale, it’s best to expect the unexpected. Protect your financial investment and offer some emotional assurance—plus, some venues even require it. It’s best to sign up well in advance (though some companies can accommodate a tight turnaround) and get crystal-clear on the type of coverage you’re signing up for.

11. Consider unexpected expenses.

Destination weddings can be economical if done on the micro scale. Be sure to include wiggle room in your budget for unexpected expenses, such as non-vendor tips, airport transfers, shipping costs, and baggage fees. Plus, adding that welcome party or day-after brunch will definitely cost you. Don’t forget to let your credit card company know of your travel intentions so you don’t get hit with foreign transaction fees or worse—a declined card—at the final hour. You’ll want to carry some cash with you (in the local currency) as well.

12. Check local marriage requirements.

Making a marriage legal isn’t quite as easy as hiring an officiant. Countries have different requirements necessitating a whole myriad of paperwork from birth and medical certificates, letters of intent, and even proof of residency. Educate yourself far in advance to ensure you have enough time to get everything together. In some cases, it may be easier to get a domestic license (these vary by state) and have a civil ceremony prior to your departure.

13. Secure passports and other documents.

A valid passport is a given for international travel, and you’ll at the very least need a driver’s license for domestic destinations. Double-check all expiration dates as soon as you choose your wedding date and location, then check again! Depending on the country, additional information, such as a list of previously visited countries, health records, or vaccinations, may be required.

14. Create welcome bags.

Show some hospitality with welcome bags once guests arrive. Add items that will provide some comfort for their stay. Things like water bottles, snacks, maps, and aspirin are great additions. Warm-weather destinations may call for sunscreen or aloe, while alpine environments may include hot cocoa mixes or mittens.

15. Go light.

No need to over pack. Pre-ship dresses, specialty items through a variety of shipping resources. Your planner can provide guidance and in some cases storage solutions.

16. Tailor your wedding dress to the destination.

Consider the climate and terrain of your wedding day when choosing a dress. Light breathable fabric works in hot humid locations. Lightweight lace in Mexico is stunning as is an embellished ball gown at a villa in France.

17. Get away gracefully.

Transitioning into honeymoon mode may require a bit of finesse, especially if you’ve decided to stay at the same resort as guests who have extended their own travels. Be clear about your departure (even if you’re staying on the property) by saying your goodbyes.