6 Destination Wedding Planning Tips

Destination:  Beach!

I’m always on the lookout for some fun inspiration for our Sanibel Island beach wedding!  Today, I stumbled upon an article at Travel Insurance which covered 10 Tips for Planning and Executing a Destination Wedding.  Ten tips, could it really be that simple?  Of course, we’ve already started planning ours, but hopefully there are some lessons to be learned for all you future brides-to-be!
To save you the reading, here were the 10 tips in the article:

  1. Know your guests.
  2. Check for discounts.
  3. Do your research.
  4. Hire a wedding planner.
  5. Know your spot.
  6. Know the weather.
  7. Go there at least once.
  8. Organize your day, down to the last detail.
  9. Set your attire.
  10. Relax

10 Tips?  Overkill!

Image by paparutzi (Flickr)

I’ll admit the article was a well thought-out list of important tips to keep in mind when planning a destination wedding.  My fiance and I considered a few of the same when we began this process.  However, if I were putting these together, I’d tweak them into a slightly different list.  I felt as though the original 10 missed the mark and were overkill for what you need to know.  As such, here is my list of 6 Destination Wedding Planning Tips!

  1. Know your future guests:  Many blogs seem to focus on whether your guests can attend based on their current financial or health situation.  However, we opted for a mini heart-to-heart with everyone on our guest list.  Why?  Sure you may know your guests present situation, but what about their future plans?  We wanted to make sure that the folks who (caught up in the excitement) said “yes” today would in fact be a “yes” in 2 years.  Its not that plans have to be solid, but it’s good to know which of your guests may be planning a move, a new baby, or returning to school or graduating.  Life changes of that magnitude can definitely affect your attendance rates.
  2. Do more research than necessary:  Make sure you find all the possible venues for your wedding and receptions.  Ensure you get the list of “preferred vendors” from each location.  Make sure you scour the Internet for recommendations on vendors.  Find out if any of the locations and vendors offer discounts for particular days of the week, times of the day, packages, etc.   I know it is time consuming, but it will help maximize your budget flexibility and give you confidence that you’re meeting with the professionals.   Also, you may be surprised by the responses you get based on how you ask your questions (such as cheaper rates for Sundays or Mondays, mornings, etc).
  3. Go to your destination at least once:  I can’t stress this enough!  If you read the write-up from our Planning Trip #1, then you’ll know brochures can paint a picture which is drastically different from reality (or your budget).  You may be surprised by what you find (cleanliness, ammenities, and friendliness) once you experience the resort from a “guest” perspective.  Also, use the opportunity to meet potential vendors or attend a bridal show in the area.  We plan to make at least three trips to plan our own destination wedding!  (Just one more excuse for a vacation, right?!)  Ultimately, this will also help you with the next tip…
  4. Know your location:  If you want to make sure your wedding becomes the fairytale you have in your head, you’ll need to know your intended location as well as your own hometown.  Overkill?  Maybe, but knowing your location will help you in numerous ways, the least of which is selling the destination to your potential guests!  Put yourself in their shoes – do they spend hundreds of dollars to see your wedding?  Or, do they spend hundreds of dollars on a fabulous vacation that just happens to be the location for your wedding?  Tell your guests what to expect: site-seeing, entertainment, restaurants, etc.  They already want to be there, but building the excitement will make it that much more a priority!  Also, the Travel Insurance article did bring up a good point – know the marriage laws wherever you look!
  5. Know the weather AND travel seasons:  It’s one thing to know the weather (such as hurricane season, rainy season, etc).  However, none of the blogs I read seemed to tell you the OTHER side to knowing the weather – exploiting the weather in conjunction with travel seasons.  For example, we initially were looking at an April date for our Sanibel Island beach wedding due to the dry and generally warm (but still cool for Florida) weather.  However, we found that “off-season” at the resorts started on May 1st and the humid/hot/rainy season didn’t really start until June.  As such, we planned to book our wedding during May.  This gave us approximately the same weather, but allowed our guests to book at room rates which were significantly (i.e. $100/night) cheaper!  That’s using the weather to your advantage!
  6. Do it yourself:  I know I will probably incur the wrath of many-a-wedding-planner worldwide when I say this, but you can totally plan and execute a destination wedding on your own.  I think the only two caveats to this would be if there’s a significant language barrier with the vendors at your destination or you absolutely cannot manage a tasklist.  There’s plenty of free and/or cheap planning toolkits available (see our Wedding Ideas page, or the links below) which can help ensure you don’t miss a thing.  Ultimately, the price you pay for the convenience of a wedding planner can eat a significant chunk out of your budget.
    •   The Everything Wedding Organizer: Checklists, Charts, And Worksheets for Planning the Perfect Day! (Everything: Weddings) Wedding Planning For Dummies, Second Edition
    •  Simple Stunning Weddings: Designing and Creating Your Perfect Celebration Destination Wedding Planner: The Ultimate Guide to Planning a Wedding from Afar
Any Tips You Would Also Include?
Are you planning your own destination wedding?  What tips would you add to this list for future brides-to-be?  What unusual circumstance arose during your wedding planning that you wished someone would have mentioned?

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About Rob

A northerner that recently moved South! My newlywed wife and I are long-time vacationers around southwest Florida, and our hearts definitely belong on Sanibel Island!

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