Its only right that I talk about destination weddings since I travel to destinations to shoot them. I strongly believe that traveling to another country or state to say your “I do’s” is a dream come true! When I get married, I’m having the most epic Mexico wedding, or I will say I do on a mountain facing the beautiful Caribbean waters because I am a Caribbean myself.
Planning a destination wedding though can be a little tricky. I want to share with you my top Do’s and Don’ts for planning your destination dream wedding so you can plan accordingly and feel more at ease.
DO Choose a location, date, and venue before making it facebook official. Before sending out invitations or posting on facebook about your plans, make sure you have the location and venue set and stone. It would really stink if you tried making plans after announcing only to find out that the location is wayyy out of your budget or you can’t have an open bar. Once you have the venue chosen, pick a date very far in advance and pay the venue deposit. Then, you can call it official and share the news.
DONT send your invitations late. This is a big one that a lot of brides miss. If you are 100% sure that you want to marry the love of your life in Cancun, and its a year and a half away, SEND INVITES. If you think its way too early to send invitations, SEND THEM. Planning a trip takes time and budgeting, giving your guests lots of time can ensure they will make it.
DO research the area before planning and booking your venue. The internet isn’t always what it seems. Anyone can post photos and on the internet sadly, so be very careful when shopping around for venues. It would be horrible to get there then realize that dream castle with the “wedding and hotel included package” was a scam. yes, it can happen to you! This is a real thing. Research the area, check crime rates, look for real reviews, go on destination facebook groups and ask questions, talk to people who have been there, and always check google photos for real images from real customers.
DONT book a wedding blindly. When doing your search, Google will target you and show you all kinds of advertisements for vacations and great deals in the area you want to go. “Full wedding planning services, limited time, $300.00 US.” NOOOOOO. It sounds good but please, research the heck out of it.
DO find a wedding photographer as soon as you pick and pay for the venue. Actually, find all the vendors you need ASAP. I always suggest hiring a local wedding planner in the area you are traveling to because they know all the rules and in the area. I recommend starting your wedding planning as soon as you have the venue locked in. Some destination locations don’t have the necessary vendors, especially in other countries. Let me give you a crazy example but lets say you want your wedding decked out in roses, but the location you’re going to doesn’t grow roses so quickly and it’s too dry for them, then you might need to consider hiring a destination vendor to fly in with your roses for your wedding day. You might want to consider hiring me, *cough* I mean a photographer that travels as well. Sometimes its hard to find a photographer you like that has the style you love and speaks your language 🙂
DONT wait until last minute to find your vendors. They need to budget costs just like you and your guests. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to find vendors. If they have to squeeze your date it, it will probably cost way more.
DO pick your bridesmaids carefully and wisely. A destination wedding is a big commitment, and I’m sorry, this may sound harsh but I don’t want my unreliable cousin to be my bridesmaids if I fear she will procrastinate everything and end up not showing up anyway. I am not saying ditch your BFF. You love her, and you want her to be there, but if your BFF if like my cousin, then plan to tell her about your plans WAY in advance, set reminders for her, and be on her ass to get a ticket as soon as possible. Once the ticket is paid for, the rest of the planning gets easier.
DONT Get upset because they can’t make it and completely ditch them. Like I mentioned, if you are worried about them not being able to show up because they can’t even show up on time for dinner, then let me know. This is huge for you, and you really want them to be a part of it. what I would do? I would let my bridesmaids know about my plan, that I want them to be alongside me for my special day, but I also know its a huge commitment so if they feel like they won’t be able to make it, then just let me know NOW. I would explain to them that even if they reject my bridesmaid request, I still love them and would love it if they celebrated with me if they could. P.S, not everyone will be able to travel to your wedding, and that’s one of the many sad truths you will have to suck up if you are planning to travel for your I DO’s
DO give your guest a travel guide before the wedding. Create the experience a fun one. They are flying across the nation for your special day, make plans to gather after at a restaurant, Give them hotel options, restaurants to visit, and even fun activities to do while they are there. Heck, you can even plan a big family activity like going on a boat ride or visiting a monument. I know its another thing to add to your plate, but that’s why you have a MOH, make her do it. Just kidding. Maybe.
DONT do everything for them. Give them a list of hotels in the area, and let everyone know of a few activities, but don’t plan a super detailed vacation for every. single. person. this is not only stressful but super uncool.
DO remember to use proper etiquette. Depending on your location, somethings that are OK where you are from might be a big NO NO somewhere else. For example, don’t take photos in the UK throwing up the peace sign, especially where there are little kiddos around. The peace sign is a gesture which is made by sticking up your first two fingers up, very cool and common for wedding photos and basically everywhere in the US, and in the UK, it means f@#$% you.
DONT forget about the legal side of things. Different states, different rules. imagine a different country? Even a wedding in your home state requires legal paperwork after the kiss, so make sure you research the legal customs in the area. For example, a wedding in Greece requires couples to publish their wedding notice in the local newspaper before obtaining a marriage license. A local wedding planner will also be able to walk you through the legal side of things step by step, organize paperwork, and help you file the required notices to ensure your marriage is legit.