Singaporebrides | Weddings 101

April 2024

12 Essential Tips You Need To Know About Planning A Destination Wedding

Is your dream wedding a destination wedding? Then, you need to equip yourself with these tips.

Destination weddings have always been popular amongst couples who desire a different experience for their once-in-a-lifetime and guests, especially today’s young couples who want their big day to not only be a celebration of their union, but also a pleasant experience their guests can enjoy themselves at.

While the idea of a destination wedding is undeniably romantic, the logistics of planning such a large-scale celebration can be daunting. From choosing the perfect venue to managing vendors and coordinating travel arrangements for guests, there are many details to consider when planning one. To help you navigate the challenges and plan the perfect destination wedding, we’ve put together 12 essential tips you need to know about planning one.

Why are destination weddings so popular?

Joymarie and Mackenzie’s Fun, Tropical Bali Wedding by Apel Photography

Getting married to the love of your life is a dream come true, but exchanging your vows in a stunning location where you first vacationed as a couple or where your proposal happened is the icing on the cake. Not only is it a unique and unforgettable way to say “I do”, it’s perfect for couples who wish to create memories with the people closest to their hearts in a place that means a lot to them.

Destination weddings also tend to be more intimate affairs, allowing the couple to personalise their wedding and spend more time with their guests. Plus, the couple can jump right into their honeymoon after the wedding, while guests can enjoy a mini getaway after the celebration!

How To Plan A Destination Wedding

1. Set/plan your budget

Destination weddings can be more expensive than traditional weddings, so setting and planning your budget early on is crucial to help you manage costs and avoid overspending. Note down all the costs you expect to incur in your destination wedding, including travel, accommodation, venue rental, vendor fees and other miscellaneous spending such as transportation to ferry guests to and fro the airport or extra meals, so you have a clear picture of how much you need.

By setting a budget early in your planning, you can then prioritise your spending on areas that matter the most to you and consider cutting back on those that are less important to ensure that you don’t exceed your financial limits. You are also able to explore cost-saving options, such as choosing a less expensive location or downsizing your guest list, when you have a budget in mind and make informed decisions to minimise any financial stress or post-wedding debt.

2. Choose a location

Wedding in SwitzerlandFulfil Your Destination Wedding Dreams in Breathtaking Switzerland by Kuenzli Photography

First and foremost, decide on where you’d like to have your destination wedding. Most couples choose a sentimental location to say their “I do’s”, either a place they’ve traveled to together, had a milestone event happening at, such as a proposal, or a location they’ve always wanted to visit as a couple.

Once you have a list of destinations you’d like to have your wedding at, narrow it down to one or two based on the other factors that affect your decision, such as travel costs, country exchange rates, visa requirements, accessibility for your guests and more. Your dream wedding location should not be a nightmare to get to for your guests, so research on flight and accommodation costs, and accessibility from the airport to the venue to make it a pleasant and enjoyable celebration for your guests as well.

3. Hire a professional wedding planner

Hiring a professional wedding planner is essential for destination weddings. Not only can a wedding planner with experience in destination weddings offer valuable insights and recommendations for a destination wedding, he or she also has the experience or navigating the logistical challenges of organising a large-scale event overseas, such as coordinating with local vendors, securing permits and arranging transportation and accommodations.

Additionally, an experienced wedding planner can also relieve you of the stress of planning and coordinating an overseas affair, allowing you to relax and enjoy your special day without a worry in mind.

You can choose to engage a professional wedding planner from your home country who has the experience of managing and coordinating a wedding in the destination country you’ve chosen to host your wedding. Alternatively, you may engage a local wedding planner from the location you’ve chosen who’s experienced in helping overseas couples get married in their home country, if it suits your needs and budget more.

4. Try to engage local vendors

Khye Theng and Tony’s Romantic and Timeless Wedding with Pops of Blue at Villa Plenilunio, Bali by MomentsbyJeremy

When possible, always try to engage local vendors for your destination wedding for a more seamless and successful experience, especially wedding planners. They are likely to have a better understanding of the area and its logistics, and possibly have planned at wedding at your desired venue before, so their experience will be invaluable when planning your destination wedding.

Additionally, they may have established relationships with other wedding vendors in the area, which can lead to smoother coordination and better prices for their services, giving more bang for your buck. Plus, if your team of vendors are made up of locals, they are more readily available for meetings and site visits, making communication and planning an easier task.

5. Visit the venue and meet up with your vendors in person

Once you’ve zeroed in on a location you’d like to have your destination wedding at and met a team of local vendors you’d like to work with, do make a trip down to tour the venue and meet up with them in person. It is vital to do so because it allows you to get a firsthand look at the location and acquaint yourself with the team whom you’d be putting your trust in to perfect your wedding after you return home and may not be able to oversee everything in person.

Visiting the location and meeting your vendors in person will allow you to visualise how your wedding will look and feel, and help you feel more confident and reassured about your choices and vendors’ experience and professionalism for a more enjoyable and stress-free wedding planning journey.

6. Downsize your guest list

Joy and Josh’s Summer Coral Wedding in the Surga Villa Estate, Bali by Jiwa Photography

One way to have your destination wedding dreams come true without breaking the bank is to downsize your guest list. The more guests you invite, the more you’ll have to pay for decor, catering, accommodation and other miscellaneous activities you have arranged for your guests.

Additionally, not all your guests will be able to travel for your wedding, so invite only those who are most important to you and your groom-to-be so you can stretch your dollar to create a more memorable experience for them for a more intimate and meaningful celebration.

7. Inform your guests early

If you are planning for a destination wedding, always inform your guests early. While they are delighted to be invited, they will need to plan ahead for time off work, budgeting for travel expenses and arranging accommodations if they have to travel for a destination wedding. For some, they might also need to decide if they are able to travel for your wedding due to work schedules or budget restrictions.

Send your save-the-date cards to your guests at least nine to twelve months in advance to give both of you sufficient time to plan and prepare for the destination wedding. Provide them with all the information they need to make a decision – a rough cost of a return flight, accommodation, and an estimate of the expenses they might incur during the trip. If you are planning to absorb some of their costs partially or fully, do let them know as well.

8. Be a good host to your guests by making sure they have a positive experience at the wedding

Patricia and Martijn’s Island Luxe Wedding in Khayangan Estate, Bali by Putra Bali Photography

Your guests will be taking time off work and incur additional travel costs to attend your destination wedding, the least you can do is to be a good host to them so they can have a positive and memorable experience at your celebration.

Start by keeping them in mind when you’re choosing a destination. While it is important to wed in a location of your choice, do consider how accessible it will be for your guests, especially the young and old, and their travel and accommodation costs. After you’ve decided on a destination that is ideal for both you and your guests, do provide them with all the information they need to plan their trip.

To make their trip a smmoth-sailing one, provide them with all the information they need to plan their trip, such as the name and address of the resort or villa where the wedding will be held, travel tips and local attractions or activities they can enjoy after the wedding.

If your budget allows for it, do consider covering part of your guests’ travel costs, especially your VIP guests like your immediate families, such as their accommodation during the wedding or transportation to and fro the airport and resort to make their trip a stress-free and enjoyable one.

Since destination weddings are usually a two-day or more affair, consider organising group activities or excursions to help guests who arrive earlier make the most of their time. You can also plan a welcome pre-wedding party for guests to mingle and get to know each other before the actual celebration, or arrange for games and activities for them to enjoy. On your wedding day, ensure that guests are comfortable and well taken care of at all times by providing them with adequate refreshments, activities, shade and so on.

9. Plan for the unexpected

It is essential to plan for the unexpected when planning a destination wedding. Language barriers, cultural differences, travel delays, weather and other unforeseen circumstances can impact your wedding, so it is important to discuss contingency plans with your planner so you can be prepared for any challenges that may arise without stressing out at the last minute.

10. Check local marriage requirements

Grace and Nik’s Modern Oriental Tea Ceremony and Ethereal White Wedding at The Apurva Kempinski Bali by Iluminen

If you are planning to have a legalised solemnisation ceremony during your destination wedding, do remember to check local marriage requirements in the destination country of your choice and your home country. Each country has its own set of marriage requirements, permits and paperwork, so it is important to thoroughly research and meet all the legal obligations for marriage in your chosen location and home country.

11. Incorporate your honeymoon

Combining your wedding and honeymoon is a great way to make your money go further. Since you are already travelling to an overseas destination, it is the perfect opportunity for you to honeymoon once the wedding celebration is over without having to plan or make a separate trip. It also allows you to create more memories of the place that’ll remain forever precious to you and your groom.

If you are residing in the same resort or villa, you might also be able to work out a package deal with the venue for booking both together, giving you greater savings at the end of the day.

12. Enjoy the Experience

Sheila and Ivan’s Dreamy Bali Wedding at Alila Villas Uluwatu by Annora Pics

Planning a destination wedding may prove more challenging and stressful than a traditional one. However, your wedding comes once in a lifetime, so do take the time to enjoy the process and celebrate your love in a unique and beautiful celebration in a setting that holds the most meaning to you.

Credits: Feature image from Shan and Jason’s Scenic Destination Pre-Wedding Shoot in Perth and Rustic Vineyard Inspired Wedding at Chijmes Hall Singapore by Shannon Stent.

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12 Essential Tips You Need To Know About Planning A Destination Wedding