How to plan a destination wedding like a pro


Pack your bags! Your wedding is waiting for you! If you’ve been dreaming of hopping on a plane, heading to a special destination and marrying the love of your life; a destination wedding might be for you! Are you picturing somewhere with white sand and clear water? Or maybe snowy mountains and cozy cabins! Where ever the location may be, we have some tips and suggestions that can help in deciding and planning this amazing chapter in your life!

Smaller Guest List and Greater Time

Destination beach wedding in Florida reception table at the beach

First thing to really think about though, is a destination wedding for you? Traveling can get expensive, and not everyone on your guest list may be able to go on an exotic trip. But if you don’t mind having a smaller more intimate wedding, than that’s okay! Many couples will choose to select their families and closest friends. We advise selecting a date that will give everyone involved plenty of time to make arrangements for this trip, such as getting time off from work and planning the finances. Many experts recommend 8-12 months. We know that your friends and family will greatly appreciate as much time as they can get, and the more advance notice you give, the more likely they’ll be able to make it!


Once you’ve decided that a destination wedding is right for you and your fiance, it’s time to start looking at locations! You should begin by making a list of places you both have thought about and can picture getting married in. The Caribbean, Hawaii, and Florida are great tropical destinations, but don’t forget about Alaska or even Europe! The mountains have such an amazing view and beautiful backdrop. It’s all just dependent on how you are envisioning your big day. There is beauty in every corner of the Earth.

Average Cost and Research

Many couples turn to the internet for where their price point should be and if you ask google what the average cost of a wedding is, they will say $30,000. However, if you visit The Knot and WeddingWire you’ll find different numbers. No one truly can tell you what your wedding should cost and the internet’s average shouldn’t be how you come up with your wedding budget. The reality is that many couples have a different financial status from one another and there are so many factors that you cannot rely on the internet to use as a set budget or guess how much it’s going to cost you.
Do the research. This way you will be more aware of how much your wedding is going to cost and what those funds are going towards. You should look up some of the bigger items first such as flights, hotels and venues. This is more than likely where you are going to spend a good portion of your budget. After looking at a few of those, continue looking at photographers, food, DJ/music, and decorations. Once you get those average price for these vendors you will be able to see what your wedding will most likely cost you. This is a great way to select a realistic budget for yourself.
If you are able to, seeing some of these venues in person can really help in deciding if this is the perfect location or not. Something about walking around and getting a more personal feeling can really help in the decision process. But we know that sometimes that’s not an option. Luckily we know a profession that can guide you in selecting a venue and help to keep you organized throughout the entire wedding planning process.

Wedding Planner

YES, a wedding planner! For a destination wedding, this will be your most beneficial investment! Selecting a local who will know the area and who to contact for all of your needs will make your life so much easier. Wedding planners are great for contacting vendors, setting up your timeline, and making sure things run as smooth as possible. They can oversee all aspects of the wedding. Some venues may have restrictions, such as no music after a certain time or a list of vendors that you have to use.

There are many venues in places where it’s common to plan a destination wedding, such as Hawaii, who may have someone on their staff designated to help you with planning your wedding! If so they may be included in your wedding package at no additional cost. You won’t want to be worrying about the small details of things while you are traveling to your destination. Let someone else help take care of these things for you! This way you can enjoy your wedding so much more!

The Law is The Law

It’s important that if you are traveling outside the USA, make sure you are aware of that country’s laws. Some countries require you to have been a resident of their country for a certain period of time before getting legally married. A way to get around this is to get legally married in the USA and then have a ceremony at your destination wedding. Some countries have a “Value Added Tax” or VAT. Many don’t advertise this until the end. Double check all laws and make sure you have the proper documents needed and pay any additional fees for wedding ceremonies.

One of the documents will include a passport. If you need to get a passport don’t wait. It can take up to 6 weeks in most cases to receive your passport and with all the planning you will be doing you don’t want to wait to the last minute. If you do have one, check your expiration date. For adults a passport is good for 10 years from the date issued. You don’t want the passport to expire while you’re away. (And make sure to remind your loved ones to update their passports, too!)


A major plus about having a destination wedding, you have already traveled to your honeymoon! You can stay an extra week or two while all your guests depart to go home. This can save you so much money. Once it’s just you two, upgrade your room to the presidential suite and travel the land. If you’re near a beach, go snorkeling. If you’re near the mountains, go for a breathtaking hike. Enjoy this romantic vacation with excellent cuisine and late night dancing.
There might be a lot of luggage to bring for not only your wedding, but also for your honeymoon. Instead of lugging it around with you through the airports and all other transportation, send them ahead of time to your destination. Many resorts and hotels offer to hold on to your luggage until you arrive. This way you can carry light and have the important things with you the whole time.

Your Guests

Remember your friends and family who are going want to celebrate with you. They took time to travel and be there for you. The best way to thank them is to give back in any way. A great idea is a gift box. You can put a map of the area, activities to do, some games or even some drinks. This could be waiting for them when they arrive. Another great idea is plan an activity with everyone such as site seeing or watching a show. (We did a Luau for our destination wedding in Hawaii and it was such a big hit! You can check out some photos from our wedding here). This way you are able to show your appreciation for the people who traveled so far just to celebrate you two!
An easy way to keep your guests informed is to create a wedding website. The Knot and Zola are a couple good websites you can use; and they are all completely free!! On your site, you will be able to post the dates, times, travel details, location details, hotel information. You can even post the weather when it gets closer to the date. This way everyone will know what to pack and have all the details at their disposal. Plus this may reduce the amount of questions everyone will have for you.

Now Departing

Planning a wedding can be overwhelming at times, but it should also be so enjoyable! Planning one hundreds to thousands of miles away can really intensify all those emotions you are feeling. Being prepared, having someone local and knowledgeable in your corner, and knowing what to expect can really make you feel more in control during your wedding planning. Just remember, the most important thing is the happiness between you both and that you are celebrating something so beautiful with those who mean most to you! Plan your dream wedding and enjoy it!

If you have any tips or helpful ideas about planning a destination wedding feel free to share by commenting below! We’d love to hear them!

Destination wedding at sunset in Florida beach wedding bride and groom running

  1. Jacob Oliver says:

    Very Good Article. Thanks For Sharing. Keep Up The Good Work

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