Your Failsafe Destination Wedding List – So, you have decided to have a destination wedding. But what exactly qualifies as a destination wedding? A good definition is that it is a wedding in a place that is exotic, beautiful, or romantic but which generally does not have any particular connection with either the bride or the groom.
Think long and hard before you decide on a destination wedding. It’s probably going to be very expensive (although perhaps a small destination wedding can be less expensive than a very large wedding at home). It may mean that people you would like to have with you on that day can’t be there. These days, with Covid regulations in place, you might find that key members of the wedding party – even you – are unable to travel at the last minute. (In this event, insurance is not likely to cover all your lost expenses.)
On the other hand, it will be an unforgettable experience, and you will have fabulous pictures to enjoy for the rest of your married life.
If you have thought it all out, and have decided to go ahead, then you absolutely must be very well organized, and that means a checklist.
What Is a Destination Wedding Checklist?
A destination wedding checklist is a tool that enables you to manage every aspect of your wedding, ensuring that important steps are taken in good time. It means you can sleep at night knowing that everything you need to do is getting done!
The Ultimate Destination Wedding Checklist
A Year to Eighteen Months Before The Big Day
- Decide on your destination.
- Talk to key people in your life about whether they will be able to travel to your chosen destination. Figure out who you will pay for and who will pay for themselves. At this point, be prepared to change to a less expensive or otherwise problematic destination.
- Check what the weather will be like at the time you want to hold your wedding. Believe it or not, tropical paradises can be cold and rainy, cities can be overcrowded and expensive, and rural destinations can be plagued with bugs. Ask local people via social media for real information – wedding planners have a vested interest in filling their calendars.
Choose a date.
- Research the cost of travel and accommodation for your desired date. It makes sense to avoid expensive times like mardi gras in New Orleans.
- Locate a good wedding planner at your destination. Once again, social media can be a great source of references. The wedding planner will take a great deal of the work off of your hands, but we will list everything that you should make sure they are doing for you – so you can make sure it’s being done!.
- Check regulations at your destination. Do you need a time of residency, blood tests, vaccines, or particular legal documents? Advise your guests of any travel regulations that they need to comply with, e.g., Covid 19 testing.
- If you want a religious service, make sure that the officiant is happy to marry you without your having gone through marriage counseling. A good way around this objection is to get your marriage counseling at home by someone from the same denomination and have this certified.
- Book the person who will perform the marriage, including arranging any legal requirements.
- Contact everyone who will be traveling with you, so they have plenty of time to get travel documents and make arrangements for vacation time.
- Make sure that you have the right travel documents.
- If you can afford it, make a trip to your destination to scope out venues and meet suppliers.
- Set up a website so that you can easily inform guests about all the arrangements.
Six to nine months before the Big Day
- Book travel and block book hotels. Advise guests of the arrangements.
- Choose and order your wedding outfits, including bridesmaids’ and groomsmen’s outfits.
- Confirm with your wedding planner venues, photographer, the person who will actually perform the ceremony, music, flowers, cake, and menus. Pay deposits if required.
- Buy accessories, gifts, and rings.
- Set up a wedding registry
- Shop for resort wear and honeymoon wear for the bride and groom
- If you are traveling to another location for your honeymoon, book travel and accommodation for this destination.
- Plan pre and post-wedding activities for you and your guests
Two to four months before the Big Day
- Send out formal invitations
- Arrange with your wedding planner for Zoom so that people can attend the wedding virtually
- Reconfirm all bookings with your wedding planner
- Book a local make-up and hair person at the destination
- Arrange for delivery of flowers on the Big Day to older friends and relatives who are unable to attend.
One month before the Big Day
- The final fittings for your wedding outfits – be careful not to gain or lose an inch in the next month!
- Yet another confirmation with your wedding planner.
- If you intend to make your own vows, they should be written by now.
- Put together gift and information packs for guests
- Ship these packs and any other items you will need on the day that can’t be purchased locally – for example, table décor – to your wedding planner using a reliable shipping service.
Two weeks before the Big Day
- Check all reservations and flights once more
- Contact all the guests who are traveling with you to make sure they have confirmed their flights and reservations.
- Begin packing your hold luggage
One week before the Big Day
- Finish packing.
- Check if other members of the wedding party can carry items in their luggage for you if needed. Otherwise, be prepared to pay for excess baggage if you are flying.
- Travel to your destination!
- Meet your wedding planner and ensure everything has been arranged as you wanted.
- Obtain any legal documents and permissions that are needed locally
- Walkthrough the ceremony.
- Have a hair and makeup run-through so that you will look great on the day
- Meet the photographer and explain the style of pictures that you want. Identify guests who must be included in photos and who they will (and won’t) want to be photographed with. (Uncle Fred and Auntie Phyllis definitely do not want to be in the same picture!)
- Book a soothing couple’s massage for the day before the wedding. Get a good night’s sleep.
On the Big Day
- You’ve worked hard.
- You’ve thought of everything.
Just enjoy the day, don’t worry if small (or even big) things go a little bit wrong. This is the wedding – the important thing is the rest of your lives together.
If you expect everyone to pay their own way to travel to some exotic faraway place just to watch you being hitched, then perhaps it is.
Why not get married at home surrounded by loved ones and then take your wedding outfits on your honeymoon with you? Book a fabulous location and photographer and get those never to be forgotten pictures. This may be the best of both worlds, and it is certainly less expensive and less stressful – although maybe not as romantic!