The Ultimate Checklist For Your Destination Wedding
Planning a destination wedding? Lucky you! Your wedding has now become a mini-vacation to be shared with all of your loved ones. The only catch: it has also become much bigger than you originally intended, in terms of planning at least. Whether you have 3 guests or 300, there’s no getting around the fact that a destination wedding requires additional planning and preparation. Things like accommodation, transport and recovery breakfasts are now on the table and that’s on top of the standard wedding planning.
To ensure you don’t miss a thing when planning your wedding, we’ve put together the ultimate checklist for your destination wedding.
1–1.5 Years Before The Big Day
• Agree on a budget
• Draft a guest list
• Choose a destination (remember to check the best season)
• Research venues at your chosen destination
• Review guest list based on research findings
• Choose a venue and a date and lock them in!
• Finalise your guest list
• Hire a wedding planner, unless the venue offers one. It’s too hard not having one when you can’t be on-site to organize things. Make sure they’re somebody you trust and can work well with, as you will be working closely together throughout the coming year. This person needs to be your eyes and ears on the ground, standing in for you when you cannot physically be in a location.
• Get Save The Dates out as soon as you’ve set a date to give people enough time to organize work and finances
• Check marriage requirements in the specific country
• Apply for your passports, if you don’t already have them
• Get a travel agent (coordinating group travel is much easier through an agent)
9-12 Months Before The Big Day
• Choose your bridal party
• Send save the dates (for destination weddings within your country)
• Organize accommodation, consider:
o What day you will want to get there? (Bride and groom should arrive a few days before guests to meet with suppliers, get familiar with the venue and be there to greet guests)
o Where you will be getting ready
o Whether the bride and groom will sleep in separate rooms the night before the wedding
o Where your bridal party will sleep
o If you will be renting a bridal/honeymoon suite for the night of the wedding
o Setting up a wedding block so that guests can choose to stay together
• Set up a wedding website to communicate details about booking accommodation, what to pack and other events you may be running
• Decide what additional events you might offer guests and begin scheduling these. You might decide on a welcome lunch or dinner, a recovery brunch the morning after or group activities in the area that people might enjoy, especially if it’s overseas
• Coordinate with your wedding planner to book all vendors
• Book flights
• Notify your accommodation of your arrival time and organize transport from the airport – the last thing you want to be doing is trying to find a ride as you carry around your dress and other wedding supplies
6-9 Months Before The Big Day
• Finalize menu – note that this is one of the tasks that will require you working extremely closely with your wedding planner. If you cannot get to your destination before the wedding you may not get a chance to taste the options before the big day, so you need to trust the people you are working with.
• Choose your dress/tux
• Choose outfits for the bridal party
• Arrange wedding day transport if you are not staying at the venue. This should include transport for you, your partner and your bridal party. You will also need to consider how your guests will get there and, more importantly, back to their accommodation if they have been drinking or it’s a late night. Think about organizing a courtesy bus to transport guests home from the venue.
• Finalize details with all vendors/book any that still haven’t been booked. Don’t forget:
o Catering (if not offered by venue)
o Photographer and videographer
o Hair and make-up
• Work out how you will transport your dress. This will require coordination with your wedding planner and the airline to make sure there is somewhere your dress can be stored on the plane. Typically, you will take your dress on the plane as a carry-on item and the flight attendants will hang it up the front or back for the duration of the flight.
3-6 Months Before The Big Day
• Send wedding invitations
• Finalise additional guest events and book any other group activities
• Choose wedding rings
• Get your accessories (veil, jewellery, shoes, underwear)
• Plan and book honeymoon
• Organise welcome packs and agendas, if desired. Your guests may be travelling a long way, investing time and money to celebrate with you. A nice touch is to have small welcome packs available for each person upon arrival. If you have a range of events and activities scheduled, you can include an agenda with time and location details.
• Get visas, if required
6-8 Weeks Before The Big Day
• Confirm everything! It’s time to talk details and make sure even the smallest tasks have been taken care of. Make sure to:
o Confirm all accommodation bookings
o Confirm accommodation
o Confirm menu and drinks packages
o Confirm photo list with photographer
o Confirm timeline for the day
o Confirm times for a rehearsal and any other meetings/preparation before your wedding
o Confirm transport for you and your guests
• Write your vows
• Choose your songs for both the ceremony and reception
• Confirm flights
• Confirm airport transfers
3-5 Weeks Before The Big Day
• Have your final dress fitting
• Pick up accessories
• Start a packing list
• Buy electrical converters and any other things you need for international travel
1-2 Weeks Before The Big Day
• Pick up your dress
• Pack your bags!
• Check the weather (and know if you need to implement your plan B)
• Finalize payment
• Research tipping for your destination and factor the cost of this into your budget
3-5 Days Before The Big Day
• Arrive at your destination before all guests
• Get a tour of the venue
• Have tastings, if possible and desired. Take note that this is very close to the wedding and changes might not be possible anyway.
• Prepare welcome bags
• Get your nails done
• Have a hair and makeup trial if it hasn’t yet been possible
1 Day Before The Big Day
• Steam any clothing that has been creased during travel
• Finalize any last-minute details with your wedding planner
• Practice your vows
• Get an early night and try to relax!
The Big Day
• Enjoy your wedding!