Congratulations! You’ve decided to embark on the journey of planning a destination wedding — but now where do you start? It goes without saying that planning a destination wedding (or any wedding, for that matter) takes time, organization and a bit of know-how. You need to know when to get things done, how to get things done, and the best way to take pressure off everything involved.
The big trick for how to plan a perfect destination wedding? Experience. After doing them for so long, you start to learn who to talk to, how long things take and where to go for the best deals! Obviously, you don’t have that kind of time to learn everything - you’re too busy! I’m here to help! I’ve put together a checklist that breaks things down by month all the way out to more than a year before the big day.
Use this to get an idea of when you need to start placing your attention on certain tasks. But, if you have any questions, or want to know more about how to get all this done - hit me up!
12+ months to go
Announce your engagement
Choose a destination
Decide on a budget
Select your venue
Draft a guest list
Order your save-the-dates
Send out save-the-dates
Make sure your passports are up to date
Select your bridal party
Book the honeymoon suite
Stay organized – start a binder to keep track of all your wedding business!
I know that sounds like a lot for just 12+ months out, but a destination wedding takes twice the planning that a regular wedding does. Guests need to know when the wedding is at least a year in advance so they can request time off of work and secure travel plans. Don’t let that overwhelm you, the more you get done earlier in the process the smoother the planning will be!
9-11 months to go
Start wedding dress shopping. Read our post on how to travel with your wedding dress here
Choose your menu and cake
Create a wedding website with all of the travel details
Research and book excursions. We recommend 1 per day!
Book a block of hotel rooms for your guests
Secure a DJ or band
Create a registry
6-8 months to go
Take engagement photos, if you haven’t already
Purchase your airline tickets – get those early bird deals!
Order your wedding invitations
Decide on your guests’ attire
Select a date for bachelor/bachelorette parties
Make contracts with vendors
3-5 months to go
Send out wedding invitations
Book any rentals you may need
Finalize honeymoon plans (if different from destination wedding location)
2-4 months to go
Plan the welcome party and rehearsal dinner
Order welcome bags or favors
Book a hairstylist and makeup artist
Write your destination wedding welcome letter. Read how to here
Create a seating chart and place cards
2-4 weeks to go
Double or triple check all reservations/bookings/vendors
Write your vows
Put together a packing list
1 week out
Check the weather of your destination
Make sure you have the correct outlet converters
Take a trip to the spa. Wedding planning is stressful, make sure you’re also taking care of yourself before the big day!
Prepare any payments
Travel to your destination
Get your wedding dress steamed
Check out the venue
Apply for a marriage license
Assemble welcome bags and distribute to guests’ rooms
Manicure and pedicure
Trial hair and makeup – make sure it’s exactly the look you’re going for!
Take a deep breath
Enjoy your day!
I hope you find this checklist helpful in easing the stress of planning for the big day! Let me know if there’s anything I can add to this list to make it better for you!