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How to Plan a Small Destination Wedding

Who doesn’t dream of having a destination wedding?! Having a destination wedding can double as your dream vacation or dream honeymoon, but thinking about all the logistics that have to go into planning a destination wedding can be totally stressful! Attempting to plan a wedding across the world or even just a few states away can prove to be a lot of work, but there are plenty of things to do to ease the stress and make your planning process as simple as possible! So, here are my tips on How to Plan a Small Destination Wedding!

how to plan a destination wedding

How to Plan a Small Destination Wedding

1. Pick Your Dream Wedding Location

While there are a few things you should factor into your picking your wedding location–be sure to pick a location that you love as a couple whether it be a location you’ve dreamed of visiting or a place that is meaningful to you. After all, this is your day and it’s about the two of you as a couple!

You should also consider how much you want to spend! If you are on a tighter budget, be sure to pick a location that is more affordable–so don’t have an international destination wedding as flights will cost more and that is easily something to nix from the budget and spend elsewhere!

You should also pick a location that is easily accessible and desirable for your guests! If you don’t want to consider this then I think a destination elopement will best for the two of you! Side note–elopements are just as special if not more special than having an intimate wedding! It all just depends on the two of you as a couple and how you envision your day! Ok, back to the topic–picking a location that makes it as easy as possible for your guests to get to will heighten the chances of your guests accepting your invite to your wedding. Ultimately, this is about the two of you as a couple, but when it comes to planning a destination wedding you must consider your guests.

This is also a great time to think about how much your guests would want to spend. How many of the people you truly want to be there can afford the flights to your destination wedding and costs of staying at a hotel or AirBnb? This why I suggest to keep your destination wedding as intimate as possible! Choose to invite the people that mean the most to you as a couple and the smaller your list the more options of destination you’ll likely be able to choose from!

2. Hire a Wedding Planner

It is a very smart thing to hire a wedding planner if you’re having your destination wedding in another country! It’s also not a bad idea if you’re choosing a location that you’ve never been to before. If you’re getting married in a location where they speak a different language than you know they’ll be able to bridge the language barrier for you which will be extremely helpful in so many cases!

They will also have contacts such a local florist, officiants, venues, caterers, photographer’s (or just choose me!), make up artists, etc. They will be able to help with the contracts, send emails to your vendors, and all communications. They will know the local marriage laws and help with all the necessary paperwork. They can block off hotel rooms for you and your guests if necessary and provide some important travel tips and recommendations for the local area.

This is a major step you can take to relieve a lot of stress! Having someone on foot in your destination wedding location will help you out tremendously and speed up the process.

3. Book Your Photographer

Booking your photographer can help you out in so many ways! I know I personally put a lot of work into helping my couples out in any way I can. If a couple hires me before they even have a specific location I will location scout for them to help them choose the perfect destination wedding location for them which is so fun for me!

As a destination wedding and elopement photographer I have captured weddings and elopements all over and have created some amazing connections in all parts of the world and have plenty of vendor recommendations as well! I help to create the perfect timeline for their dream wedding day and aim to create the best possible experience for them on their destination wedding day. You can contact me >HERE< to chat and inquire about your dream destination wedding or elopement!

planning a destination wedding

4. Help Your Guests Out

One of the easiest ways to relay information to your guests is by having a destination wedding website. You can do it through websites like TheKnot, WeddingWire, Zola, etc. Having a website will help your guests to not ask you a million questions! You should include information like logistics for flights, travel information, local restaurants, salons, etc. This will help your guests to feel more comfortable about the location and even excite them!

You should also consider blocking hotel rooms which will give your guests a discounted rate for their stay. Most hotels will expect you to block off at least 10 rooms to receive a discount. Be sure to check or have your planner check the types of blocks that the hotel offers as there are different types. Some will require a deposit, some won’t. Some won’t charge you if they all don’t get booked, some will. It just depends, but having this information and relaying to your guests so you can know how many rooms to block will help you and them out!

5. Pack All the Important Things

Packing for your destination wedding can be a bit stressful since there can be so many things to remember. There are things that you do not want to forget and things that you don’t want lost or broken. It is super important to pack any valuables in your carry-on. These things tend to include your wedding dress, suit, rings, and legal paperwork.

Packing your dress and suit in a garment bag is of course the most ideal if possible. If you can do this when you board the plane ask a flight attendant if it’s possible to hang it up in otherwise you can try to lay it across luggage in the overhead bins. If you’re dress is just has too many layers you can try to vacuum pack it, put it in your carry-on and get it steamed when you arrive at your location. Check with your planner if you have one for local recommendations!

You should also get insurance on your wedding rings so that if it gets lost or stolen you will have options. Before you head off to your destination wedding make sure your rings are safely stored in a bag and/or protective box. Depending on where your destination is you may have to declare your jewelry where you land so be sure to check that out as well!

6. Pinterest is Your Best Friend!

You most likely won’t be able to meet face-to-face with all your vendors so having a Pinterest board dedicated to all the aspects of your wedding will tremendously help you and your vendors out. You should have a board for your florals, your cake/dessert bar, etc. By sharing your boards with your vendors they’ll be able to see your vision and more accurately be able to give you what you want on your wedding day!¬†Since communicating by email isn’t the easiest to portray your vision, using visuals to communicate will be the easiest for both parties.

Phew–that was a lot of information! I hope this helps you to start planning your dream destination wedding. If you’re on the search for a photographer for your destination wedding I would absolutely love to be a part of your incredible day! You can contact me HERE and I can’t wait to chat with you!

Check out these related blog posts!

What is an Elopement?

5 Tips for Announcing Your Elopement 

Best Places to Elope in Oregon

5 Tips to Start Wedding Planning

how to plan a destination wedding

comments +

  1. Olivia

    July 1st, 2019 at 10:04 pm

    Honestly, i wouldn’t know the first place to start with planning an adventure wedding, so this is incredibly helpful. Great tips and awesome images. I am obsessed with the image of the bride standing in the doorway with the ivy all around!! SO stunning

  2. Skyler Rivera

    July 1st, 2019 at 11:18 pm

    Suchhhh a helpful blog post!!! And gorgeous images!

  3. Mollie Adams

    July 2nd, 2019 at 5:18 pm

    This is SO helpful for clients to have this as a resource! I love how you broke it down to be so simple and realistic!

  4. Nicole daacke

    July 2nd, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    These are such helpful tips when trying to plan an elopement! It can seem so simple and so complicated at the same time, and this breaks it down so nicely!

  5. Traci Edwards

    July 3rd, 2019 at 1:15 am

    These are great tips for people eloping and great photos to go along with it.

  6. Jenn

    July 3rd, 2019 at 4:15 am

    This is such a helpful resource!

  7. Malachi Lewis

    July 4th, 2019 at 4:59 am

    There is literally SO MUCH that goes into planning a regular wedding, and adding a destination into the mix takes even more planning. These are some great tips for planning a destination wedding!

  8. Elopement Checklist | How to Elope | Elopement Photographer

    July 8th, 2019 at 8:04 am

    […] « How to Plan a Destination Wedding | Destination Wedding Photographer […]

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