Planning a destination wedding can feel like a huge challenge. Making a wedding planning checklist for a wedding near home is difficult enough, add in all the extra stresses of a destination wedding and it might feel overwhelming.
Have no fear! We’re here to help! We’re going to give you our ultimate destination wedding checklist to help your wedding abroad go as smoothly as possible.
All weddings abroad run on different timelines. So we’re not going to give you deadlines, our checklist will instead help you with all the tasks that need to get done in each stage of planning a destination wedding, no matter what your timeline is.
The planning phase
– The first thing you need to decide is your budget. Destination weddings come with more expenses such as travel and accommodation. Choose your budget wisely, think about who is contributing and how much you can realistically afford on the venue, dress, food etc.
– Once you’ve worked out your budget you can move on to the more fun things like picking a destination!
– Choose your wedding date.
– Choose your guests. This might take some time and depend a lot on the budget. Also think hard about who is going to be able to come to your wedding abroad based on the location (older relatives, for example, might not make it to a wedding on an African safari).
– Send out save the date cards as soon as possible. Most people need time to plan a trip abroad, so the more notice you give the more people will be able to make it. Of course, for the relatives you don’t like you could always forget to send them a save the date!
– Hire a wedding planner – if you really want a stress free destination wedding then you need a planner. Preferably one experienced at weddings in your chosen country.
– Find out exactly what you need to get married in your chosen location. Every country has different requirements so it’s important to find this out sooner rather than later.
– Check both your passports are up to date and order new ones if you need to.
– Secure your wedding venue and honeymoon suite. If you have the time and budget you might want to go and visit your potential locations. If this isn’t possible, make sure you’re choosing a well-reviewed location with plenty of pictures and preferably videos of the venue.
– Choose your wedding party.
The organisation phase
– Design and send out your invites – make sure to keep track of who can make it to the wedding (remember spreadsheets are your friends).
– Send out accommodation and flight details to all of your guests.
– Find the perfect wedding dress! Before you start looking make sure you know the temperatures in your chosen location, this is going to affect your choice of dress. Destination wedding dresses take some thought as if you’ve chosen a hot country you don’t want to be sweating all day!
– Organise your wedding day transport, if you are travelling to somewhere other than your hotel.
– Purchase your flight tickets well in advance.
– Book transport from the airport to your hotel.
– Get any vaccines you may need.
– Consider booking your honeymoon in advance to get the best deals, or if your honeymoon is in the same location as your wedding plan some fun activities for just the two of you.
– Discuss the vendors with your wedding planner. Mostly you want them all to be based in the country you’re getting married in to make life easier. If you’ve chosen a hotel they may also have a lot of in house vendors or can give you advice on the best local vendors.
– Book everything in advance as much as possible. So choose your photographer and spend the time picking your menu and finding the right wedding cake early.
– Get your bridal party organised. Bridesmaid dresses, suits and check everyone has a passport.
– Book a DJ or a band.
– Choose and book your officiant.
– Plan your hen and stag parties.
– Think about other events around your wedding, are you going to have brunch the following day or activities for your guests to take part in?
The ‘we’re not going to panic’ phase
The important thing to remember is that you are marrying the person you love. It might seem stressful now but no matter what happens your wedding day will be amazing! Here a few details you can deal with to try and stay calm in the run-up to the wedding:
– Buy your wedding accessories – always a fun task!
– Get your rings, an important decision make sure you choose a ring you want to wear forever!
– Plan your honeymoon.
– Create a kick-ass playlist for your wedding (if you’ve gone for a DJ).
– Book a hairstylist and makeup artist.
– Create your seating chart.
– Write your wedding vows.
– Choose readings for your ceremony and choose guests to read them aloud.
– Decide on your first dance.
– Take time out to look after yourself. Read bridal magazines in a bubble bath or have a wine night with your girlfriends but decide not to talk about the wedding! Sometimes you need to take your mind off things.
The final details phase
– Start packing.
– Confirm all of your vendors.
– Check all the legal documents and that you have everything you need to get married.
– Send any decorations or anything you can’t take on the plane to the wedding coordinator.
– Pick up your wedding dress.
– Organise welcome bags and letters.
– Check all of your guests have flights and accommodation sorted.
– Don’t drive yourself crazy double checking everything. Have a spreadsheet with all the important tasks and vendors listed. Tick them off once they are organised and then use this phase to tick each one off when you have checked them one final time.
Crossing the finish line
– Most brides head out to the location a little before the wedding to help organise everything. Check the venue and decorations are all in order.
– Hair and make-up trial.
– Be pampered! Use this time to relax and also looking your best for the wedding. Manicures and spa days are perfect!
– Sleep! Get plenty of sleep and drink lots of water in the run up to the wedding. You want to look your best.
– Deep breaths everyone.
– On your wedding day, the most important thing is to enjoy it. You want to remember this day as being amazing for the rest of your life. Try not to get caught up on the details. If you’ve followed this checklist you shouldn’t have forgotten anything. However, no one is perfect. If something does go wrong on the day try to stay calm and don’t let a small thing get in your way. Let go and enjoy the party!
Hooray! You’ve done it. That was so easy, right? Maybe not, but we hope our destination wedding checklist has helped you put some order into the madness which is international weddings. Have an incredible wedding and let us know if our checklist helped you in the comments below!