Ask the Expert – Top Tips for Planning a Destination Wedding

July 25, 2014 | christine

Costa Rica wedding planner Barbara Broutin of FourNineteen Weddings specializes in creating destination weddings for couples from all around the world, and today she is revealing her top tips for planning a destination wedding. From the preparation to the execution, all of Barbara’s tips are crucial for a fun, relaxing destination wedding!

exotic destination wedding in Costa Rica, photo by A Brit & A Blonde | via junebugweddings.com
photo by A Brit & A Blonde

Research, Research, Research!

Do your own research before choosing a location for your wedding destination! Researching as much as you can about the place you are considering for your destination wedding is a great way to get some realistic information on the destination itself, even more so if it is a place where you’ve never been before. Even if you have been, it is a different thing travelling to a place on holiday than considering it for one of the most important events in your life. Research things such as marriage license requirements, weather, tourist season dates, flights, hotels, and of course, possible venues for the actual wedding. The more information you can gather before actually committing to a specific destination, the less possibility of surprises there will be in the planning process.  

tropical destination wedding in Princeville, Kaua'i, Hawai'i, photos by Brett Butterstein Photography | via junebugweddings.com
photo by Brett Butterstein

Hire Local Professionals

Once you have picked a destination for your wedding, the next step is to hire a local wedding planner. While it is possible to plan a destination wedding on your own, hiring a planner with local know-how and contacts is a great investment, and will greatly help your stress levels and sanity. A planner can give you additional advice on topics such as venues, dates, and local travel, and will put at your disposal a great list of local photographers, officiants, florists, and other wedding providers that are trustworthy and good at what they do. Your planner will handle all the on-site work, help you create a great experience for all your guests, and allow you to really enjoy your wedding day, without having to worry about a thing.

tropical elopement in Costa Rica, photo by Costa Vida Photography | via junebugweddings.com
photo by Costa Vida Photography

Always Plan Ahead

Just like back at home, venues, hotels and vendors book up quickly, particularly if you are having your wedding during high demand months, and booking services as soon as possible will be vital in getting the professionals you want. You should consider the fact that, if you are getting married in a small country, there may be a relatively limited amount of good professionals that book up quickly!  Planning ahead also includes giving your guests advance notice of your wedding plans. My rule of thumb is, the farther the destination, the sooner you need to send out your save-the-dates. You have to consider that your guests will have to plan ahead to attend your wedding, and factor expenses such as air travel and lodging, and using vacation time or asking for time off from work. While some guests might only travel for the wedding, others may want to make a vacation out of it, and you want them to have enough time to work out the details. Also consider that it is quite possible that not everyone you invite will be able to attend, so giving advance notice will give you a good idea of how many people will be at your wedding, an important factor in finalizing budgeting and details.

stylish and scenic destination wedding in St. Lucia, photo by C&I Studios | via junebugweddings.com
photo by C&I Studios

Set Your Priorities

Just like you would when planning an in-town wedding, make sure you set your priorities at the beginning of the planning process. However, you also have to consider your destination when you set your priorities, and understand, that many things that may be easy to come by at home, may not be so accessible in a faraway destination. Let your vendors know what you want, but be open to their suggestions, as they know what works best and what is available. Maybe you are set on having a peony bouquet, but it so happens that peonies are not available or are super expensive in your destination, but your planner or florist can recommend alternatives to achieve the same look.  Be open to exploring other options and do not shut the doors to different possibilities that may just be what makes your wedding unique.

exotic destination wedding in Costa Rica, photo by A Brit & A Blonde | via junebugweddings.com
photo by A Brit & A Blonde

Keep It Local!

From vendors to food to flowers, keeping as many aspects of your wedding as local as possible is not only a great budget saver and an eco-friendly strategy, but it also allows you to experience the true beauty of the place you choose to get married in. Treat your guests to a yummy dinner showcasing local flavors, customize wedding favors to include local candies, hire a local musician – the possibilities are endless.

destination wedding in Cabo with photos by Chris + Lynn Photographers | via junebugweddings.com
photo by Chris + Lynn Photographers

Consider Your Guests

Friends and family who attend your destination wedding will possibly be making an extra expense to join you on your special day. Consider this when planning, and make sure you add the extra touches that show the appreciation you feel towards them. Give them an information packet with all the travel details and activities, and fun tips about the destination. Prepare welcome bags including fun local products. Plan (optional) group activities that your guests will enjoy. Most couples also choose to invite all their wedding guests to the rehearsal dinner. Be sure to thank everyone for coming to your faraway wedding and be sure to have fun and dance the night away!

destination wedding in La Antigua, Guatemala with photos by davina + daniel | via junebugweddings.com (49)
photo by davina + daniel

Thank you Barbara for sharing your wonderful words of wisdom with us all! Be sure to check out FourNineteen Weddings if you’re thinking of a destination wedding in Costa Rica!

Wondering why we’ve got destination weddings on our mind? Stay tuned for our Love Around the World – Best of the Best Destination Photography Collection, which will be closing for submissions soon!

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  1. fantastic photo really, congratulations

  2. Realmente maravilloso, wonderfull photos, congratulations

  3. Natural scene and better capturing photography .

  4. Great Thanks for sharing this information. I am so happy to read these articles

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