Sunday, June 15, 2008

Your Guide to Planning a Destination Wedding

Planning a destination wedding can be both exciting and tedious. Depending on your chosen destination, you’ll need at least 6 months to a year for preparations.

Remember, a destination wedding can be more expensive than a wedding at home. However, if you plan ahead, you can still have the wedding of your dreams without spending a fortune.
Here are some things that should be part of your plan:

Learn basic words in the local language. Are you going to a place where English isn’t the first language? Then learning the basic words of the local language can help you communicate more effectively. Don’t forget to bring a handy English-Local Language dictionary to help you convey your message.

Know locations for emergencies. Before you travel, know about the locations of the doctors and hospitals in the country. There’s no need to wait for an accident to happen before you start researching about this crucial information.

Know the legal requirements for marriage. If you plan to tie the knot in another country, be sure that you are aware of the local marriage laws.

For example, in the Philippines, you need to obtain and file your marriage certificate at least 10 days before the wedding rites. In Mexico, blood tests and x-rays are part of the marriage licensing requirement. Take note that you may need to spend a few days of residency on your desired wedding destination. Know the exact documents that you’ll need to bring with you to secure the license.

Pack smart. Be ready for all possible weather conditions without overloading your suitcases. For example, even if you’re going in a tropical country, don’t forget to bring a jacket and sweater. (It could rain in the afternoon or it could get cold in your hotel room)

First-aid kit. Jot down all important numbers you may need to call on emergencies (relatives, hotel, fire assistance, doctor, etc) Don’t forget to pack medicines that you may need while on your trip. If you are on medication, bring your doctor’s prescription notes in case of a security check.

Avoid Lost Luggage. Although lost luggage are recoverable, it can cause a unnecessary problems on your wedding day. Make sure that you pack your wedding gown, suits and everything that you need to be wearing on your big day in a suitcase or a box that would be kept in your plane’s cabin. Know your airline’s cabin or luggage requirements.

Shop around for possible hotels and resorts in your chosen destination. The earlier you do your search, the more time you’ll have comparing your options. Don’t forget to check out small lodges and inns for lower rates.

Most couples tend to choose peak seasons, but you may consider off-peak or what they call “green” or “wet” seasons in the tropics for bigger discounts.

Consider purchasing your wedding tokens from that place. In some countries, the cost of wedding tokens are incredibly cheaper than it is in the US or Europe. For example, if you’re getting married in the Philippines, Thailand or Malaysia, consider buying your wedding favors from there. Aside from saving your money and luggage space, wedding favors with an Asian-touch would surely be a most memorable token for your guests.

Instead of bringing gifts to your wedding destination, request that your gifts be sent to your home when you get back to avoid expensive shipping costs.

Who Pays for What? Are you planning to shoulder the travel and accommodation expenses of your guests? If yes, be sure about the exact budget you’ll need for your guests. Remember, you can still invite guests to your destination wedding without necessarily paying for their expenses.

If you want to pay for their accommodation only or for their airfare only, include the details in a note enclosed in your wedding invitation. Specify exactly which costs you’ll pay for. This will give your guests the option to accept or decline your invitation.

Make your guests feel welcome. Although it’s not your obligation to pay for your guests’ expenses, it is your responsibility to make their trip as convenient and as enjoyable as possible. Provide them with a list of the most comfortable and budget-friendly accommodations that are nearest to your wedding venue.

Provide them will all the information they will need on planning this trip (itineraries before and on the day of the wedding, climate, local customs, directions, registration and booking procedures, transportation costs, what to expect, etc.)

Don’t forget to arrange a welcome basket waiting for them in their rooms along with a personal note from you and your fiancé to show your gratitude and appreciation.

Send your wedding invitations early. For a destination wedding, it is a must to send out your invites at least three months in advance to give your guests enough time to decide whether they’ll accept or decline and to plan their trip. Don’t forget to include response cards or RSVP note cards!

Ensure provisions for the handicap. Do you expect guests with physical disabilities? If they’re attending your destination wedding, see to it that they will receive the necessary provision and assistance such as their transportation arrangements and rooming arrangements.

Create your wedding website. Setting a personal wedding web site can be a helpful tool for couples who want to have a destination wedding. On your site, post all relevant information involved with your wedding plans (travel and booking information, airlines hotel links, event schedules, gift registry, photos, etc). Free wedding websites are available from and Guests can easily check out your site at any time should they need any information about the wedding.

Hire a wedding planner. It may be best to hire a wedding coordinator who lives in your intended destination. A local wedding planner or wedding consultant can advice you about the legal requirements and the local customs as well as make the necessary preparations ahead of time.

Some hotels and resorts provide a wedding organizer as part of their wedding package. Consider availing a wedding destination package from the same hotel you plan to stay with. If you hired a wedding planner from home, you may need to plan your trip at least two weeks or more in advance to make all the necessary preparations.

Keep in touch. An open communication with your wedding planner will ensure that your expectations would be met. Explain your plans in detail and don’t be afraid to clarify things. Put everything into writing to make sure that everyone’s in the same page. Take advantage of all possible means of communication while you’re still at home (e-mail, instant messengers, fax, voice & video conferencing). Keep all copies of your e-mails and correspondences for reference.

Coordinate with a travel consultant. Traveling for you and for your guests can be a lot easier with the help of a travel consultant. He/She can make all the necessary travel arrangements on your trip to and from your wedding destination. You may also be able to avail of discounted rates if you book flights by group and from the same travel agency.


Take the non-stop flight. As much as possible, book for a non-stop flight. Changing flight connections can cause delays and other unnecessary hassle.

Carefully read and understand contracts before signing up. Once you’ve made your decision about the wedding venue, it’s important to be clear about the Terms and Conditions. Typically, you’ll need to submit a down payment to assure reservation. Take note that down payments are often non-refundable so you’ll want to be very sure about your decision to hire the place.

Personally visit the place, if possible. If your chosen destination isn’t too far, it’s best to visit the place. If you have a relative or a friend who lives there, you can request them to take a look at the place for you. If this is not an option, read online reviews from other people or couples who have been to the place.

If you want to bypass international legal marriage requirements, you can privately get married in the US and plan a destination wedding celebration afterwards.

Plan the honeymoon. Usually, couples choose a destination wedding so they can spend their honeymoon in their dream place at the same time. Don’t forget to ask the hotel where you’ll be staying or where you’ll be holding the wedding about their honeymoon packages. Most hotels offer a destination wedding plus honeymoon package at a more affordable rate.

Pay with credit card. Generally, paying with your credit card is the safest way to make payments. Credit cards are also cheaper than issuing checks and it eliminates the need for exchanging your money to local currency which can cost you even more.

However, don't forget to check the currency conversion rates if you’re going to use the card abroad. Sending your credit card payment online from your hometown can also save you from the additional currency conversion charges.

Do you have your own wedding destination tips to share? We'd love to know!

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tcampbell said...

You are so right. I am a travel agent that book destination weddings and I give out a similar list. It is wonderful that you have this section for your bloggers.

Marlene said...

Great wedding blog with good links. A great resource. My tip to help keep the budget in check for couples or their parents is to use the Honey Moon Bridal registry found at:
See 'Extras' tab

Guest using the registry typically will spend more on gifts couples want to have the honeymoon of their dreams.