Tips for Destination Weddings Done Right

by Julia Nikolaus
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destination weddings

Destination weddings are an auspicious start to any marriage. But taking your friends and family out of their ordinary lives and translating them into a gorgeous destination takes careful planning and coordination. And that’s what this post is about: How to do destination weddings right (without losing your mind.) When you’re organized, the potential for chaos meets its match. So, let’s look at some important details and how they contribute to the perfect destination wedding.

Keep It Intimate

Planning a destination wedding can turn into a family feud quickly. You can upset relatives and friends, who may demand date changes or complain about the cost of attending.

Planning your wedding well in advance is an excellent strategy, giving everyone you invite a long-range heads up. Another strategy is to keep your wedding intimate. Again, not everyone will be happy but it’s your wedding, not theirs. So, to smooth over ruffled feathers, throw a party when you come home to include all those you weren’t on your invitation list. Explain that you’re keeping your wedding small and invite them to the after party!

Sort the Paperwork Out

Domestic destination weddings involving a jaunt to a resort or to an ever-popular wedding hotspot – like Las Vegas – might be simple to organize in this regard. But other destinations may present a challenge when it comes to having your nuptial paperwork in order. PRO-TIP: Your wedding planner can help with this (see below.)

For example, Mexico is a tremendously popular destination wedding country, with numerous stunning locations. But there are still hoops to jump through to satisfy the Mexican government’s legal requirements. You not only need the usual identification (tourist visa, valid passport, and birth certificate).

You also need to know that Mexico requires chest X-Rays in some states and blood tests to check for STIs. So, what’s the upshot? The solution is to have a legally binding civil ceremony at home and a symbolic destination wedding when you arrive. This is a recommended strategy for all destination weddings.

Smart Wardrobe Moves

Don’t assume that you’ll find the groom’s tux and your gown when you arrive at your wedding destination. That’s just a recipe for disaster that’ll see you getting married in board shorts or a less-than-worthy tourist dress. Instead, choose your wedding wardrobe well in advance.

For the groom and his best man, opt for customized suits that have a quick 2-week turnaround time, and that will present them at their very best. But, be sure the garments are ready well in advance of your trip.

And brides, I hate to tell you this but that showy gown isn’t going to fit in your suitcase. Choose something appropriate to the climate at the destination. Pick a material and style that can be packed with ease. You don’t want to be lugging a steamer trunk into the airport to accommodate your extravagant bridal confection. Keep that dress simple and sleek.

Hunt Down a Planner at Your Destination

You’ll want to find a great wedding planner at your destination. Start hunting one down at least 6 months before the date of your wedding. To do that, join local Facebook pages and ask the members. They’ll give you great recommendations because they’re on the ground as residents of the beautiful location you’re getting married in!

It’s important not to expect your planner to have access to the same kind of wedding decor available where you live. Instead, your wedding will be decorated to reflect the location. If you’ve got your heart set on certain wedding decor items, order them in advance and let the wedding planner know. Then, pack them and take them with you. Focus on easy-to-pack items that are small and lightweight. Don’t try to bring everything with you.

Choosing the Destination

If your heart’s set on a specific stunning location, then find out everything you can about it before booking. You’ll want to know what kind of weather to expect around your wedding date, and about resorts or even larger villas that might accommodate your wedding party and guests. Again, your wedding planner can help with this.

And remember that if you’re planning to wed in a tropical location, a June wedding may not be very comfortable. The tropics can be volatile during the summer months, with extremely high humidity, possible hurricanes, and plenty of rain. So, know your destination’s climatic quirks before getting attached to a date.

Also, you may want to consider destinations closer to your home base to make it more affordable for friends and family to attend your intimate gathering. Dubai is a leading choice for destination weddings but it’s also very far away with considerable travel time involved. Choose a classic wedding destination you and your guests can take direct flights to. There are some incredible wedding locales in the USA, too!

Wherever you’re planning to tie the knot, these simple tips will lead you in the right direction. Your wedding day is special, so plan carefully for maximum enjoyment!

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-All photos from, as credited. Cover photo by Jonathan Borba.

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