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The Ultimate Destination Wedding Checklist for Couples

Thinking of throwing a destination wedding? If you and your partner are dreaming of an intimate, exotic affair, a destination wedding may be just for you. But before you embark on this exciting journey, there...

Thinking of throwing a destination wedding? If you and your partner are dreaming of an intimate, exotic affair, a destination wedding may be just for you. But before you embark on this exciting journey, there are a few things you need to consider and plan for. Luckily, we've got you covered with our ultimate destination wedding checklist that will make the planning process a breeze. So grab a cup of coffee and get ready to dive in!

12 Months Until Your Destination Wedding

the-ultimate-destination-wedding-checklist-for-couples-1 Pop open the bubbly and start brainstorming locations - Celebrate your recent engagement and start discussing where in the world you want to host your special day. Planning a destination wedding takes time, so the sooner you start this conversation, the better.

Create a budget that includes travel costs - Set a realistic budget for your destination wedding that includes not only the usual wedding expenses but also travel costs for you and your guests. Plan to spend at least $1,500 on travel if your wedding will be international.

Consider opening up a travel rewards account - Since you'll be booking travel for your destination wedding, it's a great idea to open a credit card account that offers travel rewards. Look for cards that offer bonus points on airfare and hotels. Many large hotel brands also offer wedding planning options and assistance if you host your wedding at their location.

Research potential destinations - This is the fun part! Research different locations for your destination wedding and consider factors such as significance, backdrop, budget, weather, and distance. Find a place that is meaningful to you and your partner and offers the stunning backdrop you've always dreamed of.

Research international marriage requirements - Once you've narrowed down your potential destinations, take the time to research the marriage license requirements for each country. Some countries have specific residency requirements, so make sure to plan accordingly. If needed, you can consider getting legally married in the U.S. before your destination wedding.

Create a wedding-specific email address - Set up a dedicated email address for all wedding-related communication. This will make it easier to keep track of vendor correspondence and avoid any long-distance call fees or time zone issues.

Compile a rough destination wedding guest list - Start creating a guest list and determine who you want to invite to your destination wedding. Keep in mind that not all invited guests may be able to attend due to travel constraints, so be prepared for a potentially smaller guest count.

Consider hiring a local wedding planner - If it fits within your budget, hiring a local wedding planner in your destination wedding location can be a great idea. They will have experience working with local venues and vendors and can provide valuable insider information.

Decide if you're going to hire a travel agent - A travel agent can make planning and booking your travel and lodging much easier. They have extensive knowledge of popular destinations and can help negotiate costs with resorts. Best of all, many travel agencies are free to use as they are paid a commission from airlines and hotels.

Gather wedding inspiration for your vendors - Create a Pinterest board and gather inspiration for your wedding color palette and theme. This will help you communicate your vision to vendors and ensure you get exactly what you're looking for.

Book your site visit - If possible, plan a trip to your destination wedding location to scout venues, meet with vendors, and finalize details. Take at least three days to ensure you have enough time to see everything and make informed decisions.

During Your Destination Wedding Site Visit

the-ultimate-destination-wedding-checklist-for-couples-2 Visit potential sites - Take the time to visit potential wedding venues in person. Tour the venues and consider factors such as resort venues, all-inclusive options, and natural scenery. Choose a venue that fits your vision and meets your needs.

Decide on a destination wedding venue - After touring several venues, make a decision and reserve your chosen venue. This will give you an idea of nearby lodging options and rehearsal dinner locations.

Put a deposit down - but watch out for international transaction fees - Once you've selected your venue, put down a deposit to secure your date and space. Ensure you use a credit card that doesn't charge foreign transaction fees to avoid any extra charges.

Scope out nearby lodging - Check out nearby lodging options while you're visiting your wedding destination. Get a feel for the proximity to amenities and consider booking a hotel block for your guests to alleviate some of their accommodation costs.

Book a hotel block - Reserve a hotel block for your guests to make their stay easier and more affordable. Consider booking blocks at multiple hotels to provide flexibility in price range. Choose between courtesy blocks and guaranteed blocks based on your needs and budget.

Consider purchasing travel insurance - Protect yourself and your guests by looking into travel insurance options. Trip cancellation insurance can provide financial protection in case of unexpected cancellations or delays.

Tour rehearsal dinner or welcome party locations - Use this opportunity to visit potential locations for your rehearsal dinner or welcome party. Consider hosting an inclusive celebration where everyone is welcome and can kick off the festivities together.

Meet with local vendors - Schedule meetings with potential vendors during your site visit. Discuss details and pricing, and select vendors who align with your vision and budget. Don't forget to book a local photographer to capture your special day.

Return home - but keep planning - After a productive site visit, share the exciting details with your loved ones. Review your notes and ensure all the details are firm before sending out save-the-dates and creating your wedding website.

9-11 Months Until I Do

the-ultimate-destination-wedding-checklist-for-couples-3 Research excursions - Help your guests plan their itinerary by researching and recommending popular restaurants and activities in your destination wedding location. Provide them with all the necessary information to make reservations and enjoy their stay.

Build out your wedding website with travel details - Set up a wedding website and include all the necessary travel details for your guests. Provide information on the venue, hotel blocks, and any activities or events they should know about. Make it easy for them to access and navigate.

Send out save-the-dates early - As soon as your wedding website is up and running, send out save-the-date cards to give your guests ample time to plan and prepare. Include all relevant details, such as the location, venue, and lodging information.

Go shopping for a wedding outfit - and consider the climate - Start shopping for your wedding attire and consider the climate of your destination. Choose fabrics that are breathable and suitable for the weather conditions. Take into account the humidity and choose something that will keep you comfortable throughout the day.

8-5 Months Until I Do

the-ultimate-destination-wedding-checklist-for-couples-4 Order you and your partner's passports - Check the validity of your passports and apply for new ones if needed. Make sure you have all the necessary travel documents well in advance of your wedding date.

Decide on entertainment - Book your DJ or wedding band for the reception. Consider the atmosphere you want to create and choose the option that best suits your style and budget.

Book a hairstylist and makeup artist - Research and book local hairstylists and makeup artists for your big day. Look at their previous work and book trial sessions if possible to ensure you're happy with the results.

Arrange transportation for guests - If your wedding venue is not within walking distance of the accommodations, consider booking transportation for your guests. Arrange airport transfers and provide information on local transportation options.

2-4 Months Until I Do

the-ultimate-destination-wedding-checklist-for-couples-5 Send out your wedding invitations early - and include dress code - Mail out your wedding invitations, including all relevant details such as the dress code. Make sure to mention any specific dress requirements, especially if you're hosting a beach or resort celebration.

Purchase destination-specific items for welcome bags - Prepare welcome bags for your guests filled with destination-specific goodies. Include practical items like sunscreen, maps, and local souvenirs to make their stay more enjoyable.

The Month of Your Destination Wedding

the-ultimate-destination-wedding-checklist-for-couples-6 Count your RSVPs - Keep track of your guest count as RSVPs start rolling in. Be prepared for a potentially lower attendance rate for destination weddings. Let vendors know the final headcount to avoid extra charges.

Follow up with vendors - and be prepared to wait on island time - Check in with your vendors to confirm all the details and finalize any remaining arrangements. Keep in mind that communication may be slower in certain destinations due to island time.

Reconfirm your flight booking - Check your flight details and confirm that everything is in order. Contact your airline if there are any changes or issues with your booking.

Check the local weather - Keep an eye on the weather forecast for your wedding day and communicate any updates to your guests. Prepare for different weather scenarios and provide packing suggestions to your guests.

Pack for your honeymoon - If you're heading straight to your honeymoon destination after the wedding, make sure to pack accordingly. Consider the climate and activities of your honeymoon location and pack your essentials.

Arrange wedding outfit transportation - Ensure your wedding attire is transported safely to your destination. Use a garment bag and consider carrying it on the plane to avoid any damage or loss.

Upon Arrival at Your Destination Wedding

the-ultimate-destination-wedding-checklist-for-couples-8 Arrive in town first - Be the first to arrive at your destination wedding location to finalize last-minute details and welcome your guests. This will also give you time to relax and prepare for the upcoming celebrations.

Apply for a marriage license at your resort - If you haven't obtained your marriage license beforehand, make sure to register for it as soon as you arrive at your resort. Familiarize yourself with the required documents and complete the necessary paperwork.

Meet with your wedding organizer - If your venue provides a wedding organizer or if you hired a local wedding planner, schedule a site walk-through with them. This will help you visualize the setup and address any remaining tasks or concerns.

Treat yourself to a massage - Take some time to relax and indulge in a massage or spa treatment. It's essential to take care of yourself amidst the wedding preparations and enjoy the amenities of your destination.

Greet your guests as they arrive in town - Make an effort to spend time with your guests as they arrive at the destination. Welcome them and make them feel appreciated for making the journey to celebrate your special day.

Attend your wedding rehearsal - The rehearsal is an opportunity for you, your wedding party, and your partner to get comfortable with the ceremony venue. Walk through the process to alleviate any nerves and ensure a smooth ceremony.

Have a great time at your rehearsal dinner or welcome party - Enjoy the celebration and spend time with your guests. Thank them for attending and make sure they feel included and appreciated.

Get a good night's sleep to fight jet lag - Take care of yourself and get enough rest before your big day. Combat any jet lag by establishing a good sleep routine and avoiding any late-night activities.

Wedding Day Checklist

the-ultimate-destination-wedding-checklist-for-couples-9 Eat something that won't make you sick - Even if you're nervous, it's important to fuel your body. Choose light, non-spicy foods that won't upset your stomach. Stay hydrated and avoid unfamiliar ingredients.

Thank people for traveling for your nuptials - Show gratitude to your guests for making the effort to attend your destination wedding. Take the time to personally thank each person and express your appreciation for their presence.

Write memories down in a souvenir journal - Capture your favorite memories from the day by jotting them down in a journal. Find a journal at a local gift shop that will serve as a souvenir and a reminder of the special day.

After the Wedding

the-ultimate-destination-wedding-checklist-for-couples-10 Save and preserve your gown, dress, or suit - Take the necessary steps to preserve your wedding attire. Follow proper cleaning and preservation methods to ensure that it retains its color, fabric, and shape.

Make sure guests made it safely home - Reach out to your guests and check if they made it home safely after the wedding weekend. Show your appreciation by ensuring their well-being even after the celebrations have ended.

Begin writing thank you cards - Start writing thank you notes to express your gratitude to your guests. Follow proper etiquette and aim to send them within three months of the wedding.

Enjoy life as newlyweds - Congratulations, you did it! Take some time to savor the moment and enjoy your new journey as a married couple. Reflect on your beautiful destination wedding and look forward to a lifetime of happiness together.

With this ultimate destination wedding checklist in hand, you're ready to embark on this incredible adventure. Remember to stay organized, communicate with your vendors, and most importantly, enjoy the process and the unforgettable moments that await you on your special day. Cheers to a lifetime of love and happiness!