Top 20 Do's and Don'tsWords by Jennifer Stein
Photos courtesy of Megan Wynn
So you're thinking about or in the process of planning a destination wedding? Welcome! We aim to be a valuable resource to any and all couples considering going "destination" for their nuptials. We sat down with a handful of industry pros to curate a generalized list of do's and don'ts to help kick off your planning journey.
Select a destination that is easy to get to.Your guests are more likely to attend and be happy once they get there. Plus it eliminates other potential issues with coordinating your event.
This coveted gown is the one you've been dreaming of wearing your entire life, and let's face it – airlines are notorious for losing luggage. Most airplanes have a coat closet they can hang it in and knowing exactly where it is will give you much-needed peace of mind.
Carry on your dress.
We love, love, love www.ewedding.com. You can add all kinds of cool stuff, customize it, add music and all the information you can think of.
Create a wedding website for your guests.
You chose your destination for a reason – so reflect the destination by finding little trinkets from the area to give to guests. Love Hawaii because of their macadamia nuts? Add them to your welcome baskets. Captivated by Italy because of their exquisite wine? Give a bottle of your favorite vino to guests as a favor.
Find local favors and gifts for your guests.
Each country and state have its own requirements, which can change from time to time. Make sure you are aware of what those requirements are and get the legwork done before you go.
Research the marriage requirements before you select your destination.
Many hotels and resorts offer day-of planning services, but to ensure you have all the details covered, it's best to hire a 3rd party professional. Your location will likely have a list of preferred vendors they have an established relationship with.
Hire a professional wedding planner.
Your images will be one of the only tangible things you can take from your wedding day – make sure you're gonna love em'! You can browse through our photo gallery to see examples of work from our contributing photographers. Each one of them will travel anywhere in the world to capture your special day.
Hire a professional photographer and bring them with you.
If you can afford to go to the destination at least once before your event, do it. It helps to meet your professionals before you go and get an idea of any potential issues you'll have (traffic, distance from other hotels, etc) so you can work around them.
Take a scouting trip prior to the big day.
If you book 10 or more rooms, most hotels will provide a discount. Call the Group Sales Manager and ask for details. You can also see if you can do a full buy-out depending on the number of rooms and guests you expect.
Call hotels to see if you can negotiate group discounts.
Cookie-cutter events are a thing of the past. Find out what your passions are and reflect them in your event. Dog lovers? Make a donation to an animal rescue organization in the name of each of your guests – then leave a card letting them know of what you did. Not a huge fan of wedding cake? Do a “Candy Bar” or serve up your favorite sweet treat instead.
Create an event that is unique to you and your fiance.
Sweat the small stuff.
Things may go wrong with a hometown wedding or a destination wedding. Make sure to keep it all in perspective and enjoy the process every step of the way.
Wait to the last minute to send your invitations.
It's best to have additional lead time when planning a destination wedding. Family and friends should get at least 3 months notice so they can book their accommodations, request work off, get a sitter planned, and do all of this without paying a mint for their trip.
Assume people know where they are going.
Some people aren't 100% comfortable traveling to a place they've never been. Instead – make it easy on them by providing them with written correspondence beyond the invitation with maps and directions. Also, make sure each guest gets a welcome basket with repeated itineraries and how to get to each place.
Expect too much of others.
Sure it's “your big day” but know that your bridesmaids, groomsmen and family members are not your temporary slaves. Sure you can expect them to help out, but keep it realistic, give others duties you know they can handle, yet still allow them the ability to enjoy your event too.
Let “Aunt Flow” pay you a visit.
You've dreamed of this event for, most likely, your entire life. If you are PMSing, feeling bloated, irritated and can't seal the deal on your wedding night – you'll be disappointed. If you are taking the pill, talk to your doctor about ways to avoid your period. If you are not on the pill – make an effort to avoid planning your wedding during that week.
Leave guests hanging.
The rehearsal dinner and wedding are obviously required events, but adding a few more activities that are “optional” for guests is the way to do it. People will want to explore the destination on their own, but also want to have some quality time with you. Maybe try a “bonfire” on the beach at sunset. Bring some blankets, ingredients for s'mores and a few bottles of wine. The gatherings don't have to be extravagant, it's more about spending time with your loved ones.
Expect that everyone will come.
If you live in Manhattan and are doing a destination wedding in Kauai, you may have a small number of attending guests. Understand that cost, time and distance will play a major role in how many people attend.
Forget to check the average traffic flow in the area you will be saying “I do."
Communicate to your guests how much time they will need to get there on time. Or better yet, try to get room discounts so most or all of your guests can stay at or close to your wedding site.
Choose a dress because of what is "in."
Rather choose a dress that compliments your body and accentuates your best features. Go shopping with a friend or family member you know will be honest with you.
Haul your dress around with you on your honeymoon.
Designate a family member or friend to take the dress home with them – and any other items you can't carry.
For more helpful tips on places to wed and honeymoon, etiquette advice and creative inspiration for your big day – subscribe to Destination I Do Magazine - click here
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