17 things I wish I’d known before planning a destination wedding

Beautiful Wedding Couple Holding hands on the beach. Destination Wedding

Sunny beaches, ancient castles, iconic city skylines — those are just a few of the romantic vistas that have enticed couples to get married far away from home. While planning a wedding is always stressful, throwing one in a distant locale comes with its own set of challenges.

Before you decide to jet off and tie the knot, here’s some helpful advice from real-life brides (and a groom!) that’ll guarantee a memorable and successful out-of-town celebration.

1. See the venue in person

“If you have the means and time, plan a trip to your destination to meet with your vendors in person. It’s great to put faces with names and to discuss details in person rather than over email for months at a time. I also loved seeing the different venues beforehand because pictures can be misleading. It helped make our decision.” saidJocelyn Delk Adams, who is from Chicago but got married in Maui.

2. Pinterest is your best friend

“Create a vision board on Pinterest that you can share with your vendors like florists, designers, wedding planners, cake decorators, etc. It’s hard planning a wedding far away so communicate with visuals as much as possible,” Adams said.

3. Arrive early!

“Get there a few days before your guests do. I landed on Maui ahead of time with my future husband, mother and aunt so we could get organized and make our gift bags,” said Adams.

4. Don’t go overboard with the DIY

“My husband and I got married in New Orleans, and since he’s Southern and I’m Indian, we were very particular about having a unique wedding that blended our two cultures. It seemed like a brilliant idea to go with a blank space so we could hire two caterers to serve both Cajun/Creole food and Indian food. But that meant I had to take care of all the little details, from choosing napkins and silverware to renting catering equipment and décor — even stocking the bar. Doing that where you live is hard enough, but doing it remotely is a really big headache,” explained Vidya Rao, who lives in New York City and got married in New Orleans.

5. Find full-service vendors

“We had the most amazing time at our wedding, which perfectly showcased our personalities and taste, but because we didn’t have full-service vendors, we had to be back at the venue the next morning to clean up … and then figure out what to do with all the décor, linens and leftover alcohol (Can you believe such a thing exists?). Our wedding was way more work than it needed to be, so don’t make the same mistake! Make sure your caterer or your venue will take care of the details and you can just enjoy,” Rao said.

6. A (good) wedding planner is essential

“We had a wonderful planner who understood our budget, what we were looking for stylistically and was on the ground at the wedding destination. She was extremely experienced at planning international weddings at that particular site and had a roster of vendors who were also experienced at traveling for weddings. Our wedding was in France, but luckily, she was American and bilingual, removing any sort of language barriers on both sides,” said Maria Shieh, who’s a New Yorker at heart but got married in France.

7. Add an extra day

“Although we planned a weekend of festivities for our guests, I wished we had built in an extra day. Our wedding location required quite a long journey to reach and it was in a drastically different time zone. After deducting the travel time, jet lag, late arrivals and early departures, we felt that we barely spent any time with our guests,” Shieh explained.

8. Don’t sweat the small stuff

“You and your guests are going to remember the stunning sunset during the wedding ceremony and the amazing view from the rooftop bar overlooking Manhattan, not the centerpieces, bouquets, favors or themed place cards. So if you can, cut out these details and keep it simple! Leverage off what the destination already has to offer and save on planning, stress and set-up,” said Mallory Kane, who traveled from Australia to New York City for her wedding.

9. Take local transportation

“My bridesmaids and I arrived at our Central Park ceremony in an iconic yellow New York City taxi. My husband, his groomsmen and our guests caught the subway. It was a great way to add to the destination wedding vibe, cut down on costs and avoid the hassle of trying to organize enough cars for the bridal party on the day of,” Kane suggested.


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