You and your spouse-to-be have finally settled on a venue for your big day and it just so happens to be miles away from where you call home—welcome to planning a destination wedding.
Bursting with benefits, destination weddings give you (and your guests!) the opportunity to explore a new part of the world and create memories that are tied to your “I, Dos”. For everything-in-between, we’ve asked the experts on all thing’s guest excursions, local vendors, and of course, your walk down the aisle.
Supply information through your invites.
“Informational invites help provide your guests with the data they need to help them plan for their trip and decide whether they can make it,” says Kimiko Hosaki, Founder and Creative Director of Elements by K.H & Co. Provide a personalized guidebook for great things to do at the destination in advance, with suggestions on sights to see, restaurants to eat at as well as a list of group excursions that guests can join you on if they’d like. “Don’t make it mandatory though unless you are paying for the experience; remember that some of your guests are on vacation, not just there for your wedding,” says Hosaki.
Strategize backdrops with spectacular views.
One of the main reasons for hosting a destination wedding is the opportunity to utilize the scenic landscape. “Capturing the picturesque backdrops of a couple’s chosen destination brings the entire experience together and helps showcase the reason why they chose the destination in the first place,” says Ashley Kelemen, Owner of Ashley Kelemen Photography. “Whether it’s Maui or Los Angeles, find those swoon-worthy spots that will highlight your location’s best views,” Kelemen adds.
Host a welcome party.
“The best part of hosting a destination wedding is that your guests arrive early and stay late,” says Christina Baxter, Owner of Christina Baxter Weddings and Events, “so take advantage of the long weekend, by hosting a fun and relaxed welcome party.” A welcome party is a great opportunity for all of your guests to meet in a relaxed environment. “More importantly, it gives you and your family an opportunity to say hello to everyone the day before the wedding, so that you can completely relax and enjoy the wedding day without feeling you need to speak to everyone!” Baxter adds.
Pick a location with emotional significance.
Picking a location that has meaning to both you and your spouse-to-be will help provide inspiration for your planning and design. “Maybe that means the mountain town where you went for your first ski trip together, or wine country because you both love Merlot,” suggests Lindsey Nickel, Owner of Lovely Day Events. Being able to share a place that you both love with your friends and family will create extra meaning and a unique experience.
Incorporate your destination into your design.
“Love a romantic style and having a beach wedding?” says Meghan Cox, Owner of Mil Besos, “A romantic tropical vibe can be achieved with a soft palette and tropical greenery,” Cox adds. Feed off of the originality of your whereabouts by finalizing a design that speaks to your location and its surroundings.
Put together custom favor bags.
“Gift your guests with weekend essentials as well as items native to your destination,” suggests Heather Lowenthal, Owner of Posh Parties. Favorites from local vendors add a special touch and welcome your guests to fabulous finds specific to the area. “And including an itinerary with a list of favorite spots will have them feeling like insiders from the start,” Lowenthal adds.
Plan time for plenty of photos.
After traveling to another destination for your day, the last thing you want is not to have every memorable moment captured by your photographer. “Plan another day to shoot in case of bad weather,” says Austin Trenholm, Owner of Trenholm Photo, adding, “in addition to making the most out of your trip.” Hire a photographer who has a lot of experience shooting in distant places and can foresee what possible potential problems of travel can be.
Consider extending your trip.
“As a destination wedding photographer and past destination bride, I think it is essential to extend your trip for a few days after the wedding,” says Julia Franzosa, Owner of Julia Franzosa Photography, adding, “And let everyone know that you will be soaking in your newlywed’s status privately.” It is so easy to get caught up in the thrill of spending time with so many important people, but this is the beginning of everything together so don’t forget to carve out some time for just the two of you!
Embrace cultural differences.
For Alex and Klinton’s wedding in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, the couple embraced the cultural nuances that were later implemented into details throughout their wedding day. “Creating a crossover in your design between your destination and your preferred wedding style will give your guests a taste of who you are as a couple, as well as create an authentic destination experience,” says Emily Clarke, Creative Director of Emily Clarke Events.
Don’t forget to routinely visit your venue.
Couples should ideally visit their venue again 3-4 months before the wedding to finalize details and talk through open questions. “If that’s not possible, aim to arrive 5-7 days early in order to finalize decisions,” says Lauri Arons, Founder of Laurie Arons Special Events, adding, “do a hair and makeup trial, and secure putting the finishing touches in place.”
Stick with your preferred beauty style.
“Don’t feel like you have to go overboard with your destination’s theme when it comes to hair and makeup,” says Dani Wagener, Owner of Dani Wagener Beauty. “You can still be glamorous and classic.” Choose hair and makeup that will withstand any type of weather and have a back-up plan for your preferred style. “Be prepared for touch ups!” Wagener adds.
Utilize local vendors.
The weekend should be fun and feel seamless. Your guests should leave with a genuine appreciation for the destination and its meaning to you,” says Kara Lachance, Director of Sales and Marketing for Wequasett Resort and Golf Club, who suggests using local vendors who are experts at complementing the location and creating the quintessential feel of your destination. Whether it’s a local florist or caterer, incorporating local expert vendors will bring an authentic feel to your day.