Congratulations, you've made the decision to have a destination wedding.
If you're still on the fence read my blog post "Top Four Reasons We Chose a Destination Wedding. Is it Right for You?".
Many couples want to know what they should be planning and when. Below is a "suggested" timeline based on my own destination wedding and the planning I do for clients. I hope you find this timeline useful.
12+ Months Before
- Discuss your wedding "must haves"
- Research destinations and marriage license requirements (symbolic v. legal)
- Hire a travel professional 🙋
If you want more insight in what you need to consider when planning a destination wedding click here.
9-12 Months Before
- Choose a venue/resort
- If possible, do a site visit
- Discuss a budget
- Begin to clarify your wedding vision: theme, colors, flowers, extras, etc. - Pinterest can be a huge help or huge distraction😉
- Confirm a wedding date/time
- Create a wedding website
- Compile a guest list
- Send out Save-the-Dates
- Apply for passports or renew if needed
6-9 Months Before
- Order your wedding dress and any accessories
- Choose your bridal party
- Begin airfare research - Airfare Watchdog is a good site.
- Shop for bridesmaid dresses
- Set up wedding registries
- Make sure your room is booked
- Review wedding packages, menus, vendors for photography, flowers, DJ, officiant
4-6 Months Before
- Order wedding bands
- Order and send out invitations - My advice is to skip the RSVP card. Instead, have your guests go ahead and book their rooms with your travel professional and put down their room deposits as their RSVP (include that information on your invitations and your wedding website). We discovered that a majority of our guests did not return the RSVP card. It's frustrating and frankly a waste of money. When they book a room you know they are serious about coming and it will give you a real head count.
- Determine any additional wedding events (rehearsal dinner, welcome cocktail, day-after brunch). These can be private events or something everyone does on their own. Some resorts will organize meals together at their restaurants for you. Check out what your resort offers.
- Decide what excursions you and your guests may want to do and look into how to plan those
- Finalize guest list and room reservations
- Finalize vendors, wedding package, menus
- If required get blood tests and immunizations
- Order Groom's and Groomsmen's attire
1-3 Months Before
- Schedule any wedding dress alterations
- Contact any guests who have not booked for final counts
- Order favors and/or welcome bags (assemble and include welcome letter with itinerary for guests)
- Arrange how your welcome bags will be delivered
- Make sure your travel professional has all flight information for yourself and guests for airport transfers
- Buy bridesmaids and groomsmen gifts
- Book hair and make-up for wedding day
- Give DJ a song list - our DJ played the songs we requested for things like first dance, cutting the cake, entrance song, etc. but he did not honor our dance song choices
- Make sure photographer knows your expectations for photos - our photographer from the resort was great, but I realized after the fact that he did not get many guest photos at the reception
- Create a seating chart and print out ahead of time - I didn't have one and it added a bit of stress the day before our wedding😰
- Make any final payments
- Write vows (if you choose to) and select readings for the ceremony
- Confirm timeline of wedding day with wedding coordinator
Up to 1 Week Before
- Get cash for tips, incidentals, excursions
- Pack - take your wedding dress on as a carry-on item, don't forget wedding rings
- Make sure you have all your travel documents and passports
- Arrive at resort
- Meet with on-site wedding coordinator to go over last minute details
- Do a walk through/rehearsal with wedding coordinator, officiant, bridal party
- Make sure welcome bags are dispersed