9 Must-Have Tips for Planning Your Destination Wedding


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A destination wedding is one of the most fairytale-like ways to get hitched. Tying the knot on a tropical beach or at a romantic Paris hotel with your other half and closest friends and family in tow is certainly something you’ll never forget. But you can’t just book a plane ticket, invite your friends,  pack your bathing suit, and hope your big day goes off without a glitch. These nine must-have tips for planning your destination wedding will ensure your important day is memorable for all the right reasons.

#1. Research Wedding Requirements at Your Destination


Countries have some wacky wedding laws, and you’ll want to make sure your wedding doesn’t break any of them. Many countries require that the people being married have been in the country for a specific amount of time before being wed. Other countries require parental consent, that the parties exceed a minimum age requirement, or even that the parties take blood tests. Research your destination to ensure there aren’t any confusing laws that will hang you up on your wedding day.

#2. Give Yourself Plenty of Time to Plan


The excitement of getting to your destination may make you want to hurry the planning process, but you’ll have a lot more venue options available if you start planning at least 18 months before your wedding date. Destination weddings can also be tough for friends and family to make without sufficient notice, so send out your “Save the Date,” cards as soon as you’ve confirmed your wedding day and destination.

#3. Consider Scheduling in Shoulder Season


The most ideal weather conditions at your destination may coincide with the busiest tourist season. Consider scheduling your wedding immediately before or after your destination’s high season, and you could save yourself (and your guests) a lot of money on hotel rates and airfare. Don’t forget that the shoulder season sometimes means shops, restaurants, and attractions may be closed, so you’ll want to weigh your options when choosing the perfect wedding time for you and your guests.

#4. Don’t Forget About Your Guests


There’s no denying that a destination wedding is all about the couple getting married, but if you want your guests to show up, you have to think about their needs too. Consider a destination that is affordable and accessible for your friends and family. Look into places that offer a variety of accommodation options for varying budgets, and try to pick a place that has favorable flight connections and easy transportation to and from the airport.

#5. Confirm With Your Hotel First


Confirm your wedding date with your hotel before sending invitations to your friends and family. Many small islands have a limited number of judges who can perform wedding ceremonies and fulfill the requirements you need to get married. The hotel you plan to book may have plenty of vacancies on your planned date, but confirming that a wedding is actually possible is even more important.

#6. Let Them Help


Many hotels in tropical destinations are used to planning weddings, and some even have wedding planners and event coordinators on site. These experts probably know more about getting married at your destination than a wedding or event planner in your home town. The services are often available for one nominal fee, and in higher-end hotels, they’re often free.

#7. Ask for Upgrades


Don’t be ashamed to ask for free room upgrades when planning your destination wedding. Most hotels — in appreciation of the large amount of business your wedding party is bringing — will offer a complimentary upgrade for the bride and groom. You definitely don’t want to stay in a single room when you could be in the honeymoon suite for the same price.

#8. Be Prepared for the Weather


The phrase “destination wedding” evokes thoughts of a sunny, 80-degree day with low humidity, but that’s not always the case. The fall shoulder season in the Caribbean coincides with hurricane season, November to March is the rainy season in Hawaii, and Spain and Italy can be unbelievably hot in the dead of summer. Make hot temperatures easier for your guests by providing plenty of shade and cold beverages, and ensure your venue offers options if it rains.

#9. Take Some Time to Relax


Your destination wedding may not be quite as relaxing as you once imagined, but you do need to take some time for yourself, so you’re not completely worn out on the big day. Schedule a relaxing afternoon at the spa and don’t plan any extravagant (or late night) events for the day before your wedding. And if you can’t seem to find any relaxation time before getting hitched, consider reserving a couple of nights in a romantic hotel following your big day.

About the Author: Courtney McCaffrey

Courtney McCaffrey is a travel writer and editor based in Wilmington, N.C, Mexico and around the world. In addition to writing, she lives for travel - seeing new places, experiencing new cultures and surfing new waves.

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