1. A travel agent can do wonders.
Even if your wedding is not too far off the beaten path, a reliable travel agent can negotiate airfare rates and hotel accommodations far better than others. They can also prove to be a reliable resource for your guests as they plan to travel to the unknown.
2. Manage your expectations around the guest list.
Don’t be disappointed if you don’t have as many guests as you’d thought. The truth of the matter is, destination weddings can be hard on guests, particularly if they haven’t had enough time to plan. There is missing work, additional expenses, and sometimes planning around pets and kids to think about, and some guests won’t be able to swing the trip. Be sure to send Save the Dates at least 9 months out to give everyone plenty of time to plan and save.
3. Plan extra activities outside of the wedding ceremony and reception.
It’s a vacation for your guests too, so give them plenty to do! You can plan a larger rehearsal dinner to include everyone, or a big lunch a day or two before the wedding for guests to try some local fare. Depending on the location, plan an optional horseback riding, hiking, or sailing adventure for a little bit of excitement! Include lots of information on local eats and activities in your guests’ welcome bag at the hotel.
4. Hire a Wedding Planner
Weddings in an unfamiliar locale can be even trickier to get the details right. An experienced wedding planner will cut down on hours or research by reaching out to their network and asking the right questions to find the perfect vendors. They also have the experience to keep your wedding out of trouble, like understanding permit requirements or coordinating electrical needs so your wedding doesn’t blow a fuse.
5. Take care of your dress!
Don’t check your wedding dress with the rest of your luggage. You can’t afford to have it lost or damaged when you arrive at your destination. Put it in plastic in an opaque garment bag, and it will probably fit in the overhead bin; or ask a flight attendant if it can go in their closet at the front of the plane. Find out if the hotel has a steamer or steaming services you can use. If not, they can point you in the right direction to a reputable cleaner.
Ask the resort / hotel where you are staying if they have a steamer to use on the dress, research cleaners in the area to see if there is a reputable place to have the dress steamed, or invest in a travel-sized steamer and bring it with you for any touch-up wrinkle control that may be necessary.
6. Factor in Additional Costs
Not only will you be footing the bill for your own travel expenses, but traditionally the happy couple should also pay for the wedding party’s accommodations. Other expenses that come with destination weddings include welcome bags for guests, and extra day trips or activities you may have planned over the weekend. Exotic marriage requirements may also mean you need to reside in a place prior to your ceremony. Usually it’s just a few days, but there are several places where it’s even a week. In France you have to arrive 40 days before your wedding!
7. Go places, baby.
You need to be twice as organized and on top of it as couples planning a local wedding. We highly recommend taking at least 1 planning trip to your destination to really get a feel for the location, have a chance for a catering tasting, and meet your other vendors. The bright side is that if you only have 1 week to find a venue and choose a caterer, you’ll find yourself becoming very decisive! If you can have the chance to have your eyes on ground a few times, consider the 1st trip to find ceremony and reception spaces, hotels for guests, your caterer, and your photographer. Those are biggies. Use the next trip for smaller vendors, such as florists, décor companies, and hair & makeup stylists.