My youngest daughter got married on a beach miles from where we live. When she first got engaged and announced this news it seemed like a long, long time in the future. However, life has a way of rushing by and the day approached quickly. I thought I would share my 10 best tips for planning a destination wedding . . . just in case it ever happens to you!
#1 – Start Planning Early
It may seem like you will have plenty of time, but really you won’t. So everything that you do happen to get done early will definitely be a blessing! My daughter works at my printing company as the graphic designer, so her first thought was to design her wedding printing. I was so thankful she had done this when we had a computer crash and we had to install an old backup of our files. The designs were still there because she had worked on them so early. Happy, happy day!
#2 – Choose a Convenient Destination
Sometimes convenience with travel is about how easy a place is to get to . . . and sometimes convenience is about how easy it will be to plan from a long distance. My daughter picked a location that she was very familiar with and had traveled to many times. This fact made it so much easier for planning when it came to picking restaurants, accommodations, etc.
#3 – Figure Costs Before You Commit
There are many reasons that a destination wedding could actually be cheaper than marrying in your hometown. And, of course, there are many reasons it could be more expensive. When I got married, my husband and I paid $1,200 to have our service at our church. The price included the minister, the sound guy, the musician, the wedding coordinator and cleanup of the church after we were done. My daughter’s wedding on a beach in Florida didn’t have those costs. We did, however, have to all get to Florida and stay for several days so we had those expenses instead of a church expense. It is a really good idea to price things early and to know what the event will cost before your plans are set in stone.
#4 – Try to Make Things Easy on Your Guests
I am very thankful that Destin is a pretty easy place to get to. For me and for our guests. There are 2 nearby airports to use and it is actually not a bad drive from Missouri (where most of our guests were coming from). The location of the wedding and reception was also convenient and a very nice place to stay. And it’s a beautiful place, so a lot of our wedding guests booked for an entire week and turned the trip into a great vacation!
#5 – Hire a Planner
We debated whether we needed a planner, but in the end we decided to hire one. I really think it proved to be the right decision. The wedding planner had held an event in the same location before, she helped us find an officiant for the service, she rented and took care of delivering the beach items (arbor and chairs) as well as the tables, tableclothes, decorations and chairs we needed for the reception. While we are down on the beach for the ceremony and taking pictures, she was at the reception location making sure the food and drinks were being set up properly. I think having her around really made the day less stressful.
#6 – Plan for the Legalities
In the end, the most important part of the day was that my daughter got married. And that required a license and a person who is legally allowed to perform the ceremony. All the other details are just the icing on the cake.
#7 – Do a Site Visit Before the Event
You can make a lot of phone calls and do a lot of planning before the event, but some things just require you actually being there. We made a trip to Florida 3 months before the wedding to meet the planner, look at the reception site, pick the food and dessert, etc. Those were all things that we just couldn’t do from Missouri. (We really had to taste those cupcakes!)
#8 – Arrive at the Destination Early
We were in Florida 3 days before the actual wedding took place and I’m really happy we planned it that way. We were able to have the decorations put together, the marriage license picked up, dresses steamed, etc. I can’t imagine showing up with only part of a day to get things ready. Yikes!
#9 – Give Your Guests Plenty of Information
One of the pre-wedding mailings that we did was a booklet of information for our guests with travel and accommodations options, directions, things to do, etc. We wanted to make the travel planning as easy as possible.
#10 – Ship Items Early
We are lucky that some friends and family members drove down and took some “stuff” with them. As simple as the day was, we still needed to have lots of things in Florida. It would have been worth it to ship the things we needed if that was our only option. The only thing that I think the bride should worry about is her dress!
These are our tips to make planning for a destination wedding easier. Once the planning was finished, we were able to relax and really celebrate! If you ever plan an event like this I hope everything turns out perfect!!!