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Ten Things to Consider When Planning a Destination Wedding

The Fall Wedding Season is already in full swing and our team has been extremely busy with weddings throughout Southern California. (Pictures will be posted soon..stay tuned!) With all the beautiful weddings we have been fortunate to be a part of, we are especially excited for our upcoming destination wedding this weekend in Cabo San Lucas! With this in mind, we thought it would be perfect time to share our Top 10 Things to Remember When Planning a Destination Wedding.

1. Determine Your Guest List
The first thing couples should do when planning a destination wedding is figure out the guest list. Before you can start hunting for locations, you need to know how many people you’re accommodating. Keeping in mind where guests will be traveling from is also important when choosing a wedding location. For example, if the bride’s family is based in a big city, they’ll have more destinations and flight times easily available to them than a groom’s family based in a small town elsewhere. Also, unless you’re able to take care of your guests’ travel expenses, it’s best to accept the fact that the guests who will be able to attend your wedding will be your close friends and family. After all, not everyone can afford the expenditures of hotel and airfare as well as have the opportunity to take time off from work. But that doesn’t mean you should count on guests declining your invitation. Some wedding destinations, particularly fabulous vacation areas, are just too tempting to resist — even if they are expensive.

2. Determine Your Budget
One of the first steps when organizing a wedding should be setting a budget, and that is true even more for destination weddings. It can be a rough estimate at first, but once you’ve gotten some quotes, decide on a fixed number (this should happen still very early on in the planning process) and then stick to it.

3. Hire a Wedding Planner
Planning a wedding at home can be stressful enough so don’t think planning a wedding abroad will be any easier. Language barriers and lack of knowledge of the area can be a real stumbling block so hire a professional wedding planner who will have a vast knowledge of the area and will provide the very best team of vendors. A destination wedding planner can shoulder the burden of researching and securing local vendors (especially valuable if said vendors speak English only as a second language), dealing with logistics like tent rentals and lighting and handling any last-minute fires that may start in the weeks leading up to the wedding. A planner is also the behind-the-scenes expert, creating gift bags for guests, greeting everyone at the resort, keeping people busy with fun activities once there, vetting special requests (babysitters, dry cleaners, and so on), and getting everyone where they need to be on-time.

4. It’s All About Timing
Unfortunately, the best weather in popular vacation destinations tends to correlate with tourist season, when there are typically more crowds, fewer hotel and venue availabilities, and higher rates all around. If you choose to marry during high season, you’ll want to reserve hotel blocks and venues immediately and send out save-the-dates 12 to 18 months in advance so guests can book their flights and accommodations before prices skyrocket. If you choose the shoulder season (right after high season), you may be able to save yourself and your guests some money and still enjoy great weather.

5. Finding the Perfect Destination
The location of your wedding determines not only the mood (rustic, sophisticated, beachy), but also the travel, time and budget required to pull it off. You want your guests to walk away from your wedding weekend saying, “That was so them!” Your wedding elements — not just location, but also activities and overall vibe — should say something about your personal style and your passions. Did he propose on vacation in Paris? Then why not host a swank wedding in the City of Lights? Are you foodies? Think about gathering your crew in a place like Tuscany or California wine country. Or if you love outdoor adventures, consider Costa Rica, where guests can zipline through the treetops before the rehearsal dinner.

6. Know What’s Included
When you book your venue, find out if there are preferred florists or vendors. Many destination wedding venues offer inclusive wedding packages, complete with flowers and catering; however, this is not true of every destination wedding location. Inclusive packages can be an ideal, easy way to plan your destination wedding but always read thoroughly read your contract to see exactly what’s included in the packages. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

7. Your Wedding Dress
Dresses typically take about four to six months to arrive, and usually need altering, which can take another month so allow for the time when ordering. Also, I highly suggest you don’t check your dress; take it on the plane with you.

8. Take Care of your Guests
They love you and are coming to show their support for your marriage, however they are also giving generously of their time and wallets. Arrange the best group rate possible and provide them specific details about the resort. Keep in mind, they are there for your wedding, however they are also there on vacation so don’t overload them with week-long wedding festivities. Also consider a welcome gift bag with travel sized items like toiletries, lip balm, snacks, favors, etc.

9. Making sure your Marriage is legal
Take into account that having a wedding ceremony in a country where you are not a legal citizen can be a bit complicated, whether it’s a religious or a civil ceremony. Also, you might have to have your marriage recognized by authorities in your home country afterwards, which might involve even more red tape. To avoid the paperwork, you can always opt for a symbolic ceremony abroad and do the legally binding one at home. If that idea doesn’t convince you, sort out the paperwork in advance.

10. Wedding Checklist
Consider making a checklist of all the items you need for your destination wedding well in advance and set aside these items in a bin so you have everything you need prior to your departure.

Our Destination Wedding Planning Service includes our top notch service from start to finish. We have competitive pricing on the best resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico. We will happily go above and beyond to make sure your destination wedding is everything you dreamed it to be. As a Certified Sandals Specialist, we have extensive experience to find the perfect location that fits your style and budget and help you every step of the way.

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