7 Tips to Planning a Fabulous, Flawless Destination Wedding to Remember
A destination wedding is often a once in a lifetime opportunity to gather family and friends from all walks of your life in a beautiful place. Instead of just one special day, you’re gifted with several days- maybe even an entire week- of wedding celebration combined with a group vacation. Sounds like a dream, right?
Destination weddings are amazing, but they also require a different set of planning tools and considerations in order to be successful. Traveling to tropical locales can come with some unknowns. Take sunscreen for example. If you’ve selected a warm, tropical location for your wedding venue, chances are, you and your wedding party will be enjoying the sunshine for a few days leading up to the wedding, however the last thing you want to worry about on your wedding day is a painful or unsightly sunburn. (Image getting your wedding photos back and realizing they’ve been ruined by an awful sunburn!) If you’re planning a destination wedding in a tropical location, you’ll want to take extra special care to protect your skin leading up to the big day. You’ll also want to graciously remind your bridal party and guests- particularly if they are coming from a cooler climate. This is a great example of how destination weddings can require special planning considerations. Lucky for you, we’ve done the ground work and compiled a handful of key tips for planning the flawless destination wedding of your dreams!
Tip #1: Create your Vision Board with Pinterest
Many brides (if not all) use Pinterest boards for wedding inspiration and early wedding planning, no matter where they intend to get married. Destination brides however, should consider their Pinterest board the holy grail. I recommend using photos and visuals through the entire wedding process. Include photos in emails as a reminder and reference point. The challenge of coordinating nitty gritty details of such an important day via phone and email, can be eased with visuals to assist in the planning. Even if you are able to allocate funds from your wedding budget to take a planning trip to your destination location, you’ll still have limited time to meet with your vendors face to face. Creating a Pinterest board with inspiration for table décor, colors, theme, and even the smallest details will give your vendors a clear visual guide to help bring your perfect wedding vision to life. You can also encourage your vendors to send you pins that match your style and give you confidence that you are working with someone that understands your vision. This will ensure you stay on the same page and eliminate any troublesome surprises.
Tip #2: Hire a Local Wedding Coordinator and Appoint a Family Contact
Keep in mind that in addition to normal wedding week hustle and bustle, you’ll be traveling! By identifying a professional coordinator, you’ll feel at ease knowing that has everything is handled. Destination wedding venues sometimes include the help of a planning coordinator in the cost of the venue, a service that Trilogy Weddings is happy to offer our brides and grooms. This is a perk you should absolutely take advantage of! (You can even meet our fabulous wedding coordinators here.) If you happen to be using a destination venue that does not offer an in-house coordinator, I highly recommend finding one to ease your burden day of. A local wedding planner will know the ins and outs to best execute to your special day and ensure a success.
Keep in mind that you will also have a group of family and friends traveling that may have questions. My husband and I had more than 1 family member that never traveled out of the country prior to attending our wedding. Not only is it key to have a wedding coordinator help field questions, I also recommend nominating a key family or friend contact (could be the MOH or Best Man) to act as the point person for any traveling family that has last minute questions. Communicate to your guests before you travel to the wedding site that any last-minute questions leading up to the wedding or day of can be answered by your appointed family travel coordinators. You’ll thank me later.
Tip #3: Do Your Vendor Research
In addition to hiring a wedding coordinator and/or day-of coordinator, do your vendor research. Any well established and reputable vendor will have a strong presence online and on Instagram. Use that to your advantage. Find vendors who are showcasing their very best on the gram and start following vendors you are interested in. Watch their IG stories, see who tags them in weddings. Like Pinterest, Instagram is all about the visuals which is incredibly helpful when choosing your Videographer, Photographer, and Hair and Makeup artist. Go to your coordinator’s Instagram and see who they like to work with and if you like their styles too. Don’t know where to start? Search for popular tags within your destination like #mauidestinationwedding #mauibridalmakeup #mauiweddingphotography etc... If you like other vendors that your coordinator doesn’t seem to have a relationship with, don’t be afraid to ask. Any gracious and professional coordinator will keep your preferences top of mind.
Tip #4: Over Communicate
Give your guests enough time to commit to your destination wedding by sending out your save the dates early! I recommend at least 8 months in advance. Also get your RSVPs in 3 months prior to your wedding, to ensure you are not planning (and putting deposits down) for more or less people than you are expecting. Put all details you can think of on your wedding website. Send a reminder email before you depart. Add printed itineraries for the week/end to your guest welcome bags. If you’re hosting a welcome reception, a farewell brunch or other, it’s best to over communicate these details. Your family coordinator(s) can also help spread the message!
Tip #5: Be Smart about DIY
Handmade seating cards and table runners. Images courtesy of the Author.
The appeal of saving money and DIYing wedding elements can be tempting, but this typically isn’t a realistic option for a destination wedding. The cost and logistics of shipping items long distance (check ahead of time if your venue will store boxes for you, many will not) typically isn’t cost effective. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t DIY anything,only that you may be forced to bring your DIY items with you. My wonderful mother crafted the table runners and seating cards for our wedding reception. It was much more cost-effective than renting table covers and I preferred the ones she created over the ones available to me from my resort venue. She devoted a single rolling carry-on bag to bringing these items, so I knew they were safe. Speaking of carrying on your luggage:
Tip #6: Carry-On Your Wedding Attire
Not only should you and your fiancé plan to carry-on your wedding attire, it’s a smart decision for your bridal party as well. One of my bridesmaids connected through Mexico City on her way to my destination wedding in Cancun and used her long layover to visit family in Mexico City. Unfortunately, though she arrived safely in Cancun, her bags did not. She quickly learned that her bags were still in Mexico City. Luckily, my trusted bridesmaid had made sure to carry on her bridesmaid gown. Long story short: ensure that key members of the wedding party carries-on any wedding attire that can’t be easily replaced onsite. Better to be safe than sorry and scrambling last minute in a potentially remote location for a replacement.
Tip #7 Go with the Flow
Perhaps the most important tip of all: Be sure to “go with the flow” and make sure you enjoy your destination wedding week! A married friend of mine gifted me a magical piece of advice leading up to my wedding: “Expect things to go wrong”. He wisely reminded me that with so many variables and details, chances are that a surprise or two may arise day of. Just go with it. The key is to trust that your wedding coordinator has it handled and that no matter what the day will be amazing. Reminder, you’re getting married in a special location surrounded by friends and family that have traveled to celebrate your union. You’re making memories that will last a lifetime; Enjoy every moment. Happy Wedding Planning!
Written by Brittany Friskics
Brittany Friskics is the Marketing and Creative Manager for Trilogy Excursions. She planned her 2017 destination wedding with her husband in Cancun, Mexico. Stay tuned for her next blog in this destination wedding series where she shares tips on planning a destination wedding on Maui!