1. Research, research, research multiple locations in order to find YOUR ideal location. There will be many people who will tell you where to get married because of where THEY want to go. Don’t fall into that trap. Once you and your fiancé have decided what your budget will be, choose locations that fit within your budget. Be mindful of climate, exchange rate, transportation costs, etc. I chose Bali because the exchange rate is extremely favorable for the U.S dollar and I wanted to get married somewhere off the beaten path.
2. When creating your guest list, cut it in half, then in half again, lol. There may be lots of people who love you very much but as soon as you say you’re having a destination wedding, the number of guests will drop significantly. When James and I first started planning our wedding, we set a budget in anticipation 40 guests would attend. We later cut the number to 30 but at our actual wedding there were 19 guests. The benefit of starting off with a much smaller head count is you can always add guests at the last minute and pay after the fact. However, if you send a final head count of 40 to your hotel and only 20 show up, you will still have to pay for 40 guests. There were guests who decided not to come literally the week before the wedding. This was frustrating and expensive because it was too late to recoup any costs. Be prepared for people to RSVP to wedding events who have no intention of attending. Unfortunately, people who have never planned a wedding don’t understand the importance of sending RSVP/cancellations if their plans change. It is inconsiderate to RSVP to attend a wedding and not show up. Even if folks don’t have to travel far for your nuptials, there will be no-shows who RSVP’d.
3. If the location isn’t too far like Mexico or the Caribbean, visit the hotel before the wedding so you can visualize everything before the big day. Since our wedding was in Bali, we relied solely on YouTube videos and photos.
4. Have a contingency plan for rain! Our wedding day festivities were supposed to be outdoors but mother nature had other plans. It rained off and on so our wedding/reception was held indoors much to my chagrin. I never factored in the possibility of rain since August falls in Indonesia’s dry season. If at all possible, choose a venue which has beautiful indoor and options.
5. Take advantage of any family/friends who can lend their talents: photography, makeup, and hair skills. I had a makeup trial the day before the wedding. The outcome wasn’t horrible but the color used on my skin was not a great match. Thankfully my sister is an extremely talented make-up artist who was able to save the day. My brother in-law is a great photographer who was more than willing to help out too. The day after the wedding, we were able to take photos on the beach thanks to my brother in-law and sister working their magic for the second day in a row.
6. Arrive 2-3 days before your big day. We made the mistake in arriving only one day before the wedding. We had only one day before the wedding so we didn’t have much down time before we had to switch gears. After the wedding was over, we weren’t able to relax because we wanted to spend time with our friends and family.
7. Plan a separate honeymoon trip or switch locations for your honeymoon. James and I will have our official honeymoon in October, which is much needed. Even though we were on vacation while in Bali, in some ways it didn’t feel like it. Every day we found ourselves occupied in some capacity, so although our trip was great, it wasn’t the most relaxing vacation.
Are you engaged and debating having a destination wedding? Have you ever attended a destination wedding? How was it? I’d love to hear from you!