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How to Plan Your Destination Wedding - Tips, Advice, Locations

How to Plan Your Destination Wedding - Practical Tips & AdviceWhen you can't imagine breaking the bank on your wedding, but still want to have an unforgettable day, a destination wedding may be the perfect solution. Destination weddings have a reputation for being far more relaxed and budget-friendly than traditional local weddings due to smaller guest lists and less extravagance, but they do take more up-front planning.


Why have a destination wedding?Destination weddings account for over 10% of all North American weddings. Many hotels/resorts that offer destination wedding packages can arrange for the marriage license, officiant, florist, photographer, wedding cake, rehearsal dinner, wedding reception, etc.

Whether your special day involves just the two of you or whether you'll be inviting friends and relatives to join in the occasion, a destination wedding can be a wonderful experience. Many couples are saying "I do" to the idea of destination weddings not only as a way to make their day special, but also as a means of simplifying the entire wedding process.

Destination weddings have caught on for several reasons. According to hotels and resorts around the world, they're especially popular with:

    • Couples on a budget who don't want the expense and fuss of an elaborate wedding and want to limit the guest list.

    • Couples planning their second marriage looking for something fun and different or who'll need to bring along children on the honeymoon.

    • Couples that are bringing a small wedding party and want more one-on-one time with them.

    • Couples who want to revisit the same location where they married on their future anniversaries.

    • Couples that want the wedding day to blend stress free with their subsequent honeymoon.

    • Couples that want to marry in a place that is personally significant to them.

    • Couples that have family members, especially grandparents out-of-country. Having a destination wedding permits those elder members of the family to participate in the wedding.


Destination wedding bridal party.Unfortunately destination weddings aren't for everyone. If you're in love with the idea of a large wedding with all your friends and family, do not consider a destination wedding at all. Even with a year or more of planning, it's darn near impossible to get everyone's schedules coordinated for this kind of event.

Planning for a destination wedding is quite different from a traditional wedding. It's likely that you won't be able to visit the actual wedding location, taste the food, have a cake tasting, or get to know the minister who will marry you before you arrive. This is why consulting with an on-site coordinator who will help with all of these details is of extreme importance. Other important factors to consider include:

    • What is the typical weather during the month of your wedding?
    • Are there special hotel rates for members and family of the wedding party?
    • What previous experience does the hotel or resort have in planning foreign weddings?
    • Consider that almost half of the guests you invite will not be able to attend.


Bride walking with suitcase.Before you head off to your fabulous destination wedding and honeymoon, don't forget the packing for the wedding itself! What you pack will mostly depend on where your wedding will be and your own personal style. Be sure to carry your wedding dress with you onto the plane and do not trust it to checked luggage.

Check with your airline to see if they have a coat closet on board for your garment bag. Grooms should also carry any clothing needed for the ceremony as many destination wedding locations do not have tux rental shops. It's easiest and less stressful to bring your own clothes with you.

Also very important is to carry all original legal documents including birth certificates, passports and divorce papers, if applicable. Keep these safe in your carry-on bags. Do not pack these in checked luggage under any circumstances! Most resorts and popular destination wedding locations have on-site beauty salons for hair and makeup, etc.

However, be sure to check first on the electrical current requirements and plugs at your destination. You may need to bring converters for hot rollers or other appliances. Depending on your plans, you may also want to pack these wedding items:

    • Special hosiery or undergarments.
    • Wedding shoes (bride/groom).
    • Guest book.
    • Wedding rings.
    • Address book & thank you cards if you'd like to write them on the way home.
    • Any special wedding decorations, accessories or gifts.
    • Wedding music.
    • Written vows.


Destination wedding couple on the beach.Are you curious as to which wedding destinations are the most popular? According to Bud Carmichael, the founder of Destination Weddings, an online travel agency that helps couples plan their wedding away, here and on the following pages you can find the top destinations his company booked. They appear in no particular order.


Marriage LawsIt's important to do your research into the local marriage laws at your destination. Many countries have loosened their marriage regulations so it's easier for foreigners to tie the knot but it's still wise to know the facts and not leave anything to chance. When doing your research, make sure to get answers to the following questions:

    • Will your home country recognize a wedding in the designated country as valid?
    • What proof is required if you are divorced or widowed?
    • What is the minimum residency period before the marriage can be performed?
    • What blood tests are required and, if so, can you bring them from your home doctor or must they be performed locally?
    • What paperwork will you need to bring from your hometown house of worship if you're planning a religious ceremony?
    • Will there be staff members available to assist you in your native language?


We carry a variety of beach wedding supplies for destination weddings as well as a useful wedding budget calculator tool to manage your expenses. Below are more sites to help you with planning your destination wedding.