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For the romantic and adventurous couple out there, planning a destination wedding can become the thrill of a lifetime. Saying “I do” during a colorful sunset in the heart of Las Vegas’ Mojave Desert or tying the knot on a secluded tropical island in Fiji are both fine examples of the sexy, modern jet-setting nuptials available today.
Before you start packing your glamorous wedding dress in excitement, however, challenges can arise when international travel comes into play. This isn’t the same as a local wedding. Most people forget that language barriers can confuse things along the way, in addition to the unique regulations found in individual foreign countries, etc.
So we have carefully put together all the details you need for the perfect Destination Wedding Checklist:
12 Months Before The Wedding
It sounds old-fashioned, but you really need to set aside money for all your wedding day essentials, and then, you need to consider travel costs and hotel accommodations, etc. Get organized, and leave yourself plenty of time to estimate the big-ticket items.
Who will you invite, and who can travel? The number of friends and family who attend also directly figure into your budget.
This is more important than you think. Luckily, when deciding on a dream destination wedding here in lovely Las Vegas, there is no waiting period or blood testing required, and your license to wed is valid for one year.
Other countries have different regulations, and yes, some require blood testing and waiting times. So be sure to check out the country’s specific license laws ahead of time.
Maybe you and your fiancé have fallen in love with a dream island or region and won’t go anywhere else. To ensure an ideal day of wedded bliss, check out the country’s weather reports. For example, you don’t want to schedule your nuptials during hurricane season.
This is another key step in the wedding planning process. You don’t want to be caught off-guard with a soon-to-expire passport.
Heed the six-month rule. Passports should have at least six months of validity when traveling internationally.
Yes, you should hire one. These professionals are up to speed on international rules and trends. These experts do the heavy lifting to leave you stress-free for your big day. She or he can even advise you about wedding insurance.
When you have all the details done, set that venue and wedding date! If deposits are required, stay organized and keep records, especially when it comes to signing contracts.
When you book your wedding, don’t forget about the hotel accommodations for you and your fiancé.
At The 9-Month Mark
Make sure your maid of honor is good to go and that the girls’ passports are all valid.
Save The Date
When it comes to the destination wedding, sending out save the dates is a major requirement. Your guests need all the extra time for booking travel and hotel rooms.
Thank goodness for the convenience of social media. Put together a website so your guests can plan ahead for the weather, get airport info, accommodation details, gift registry stuff and more.
It’s always great if you can take advantage of some early bird specials and buy your tickets sooner than later. Search around for current deals.
Your wedding planner can hook you up with the proper parties. If your vendors are based in the country where you are traveling to, make sure you don’t book them blindly. Speak with them first.
6 Months and Counting
Who doesn’t adore the loved-up photos of the engaged couple? Find an amazing talent who can snap your pics now.
This is the delicious part of the nuptial planning. Discuss with your wedding caterer about the wedding venue and the food you would like served following the ceremony and reception.
This is another key part before the big event, and even destination weddings believe in the traditional rehearsal dinner. Make arrangements, and secure a location for the pre-wedding dinner.
It’s time to get glamorous and ensure that everyone in the bridal party is sculpted into their gorgeous dresses. A dress fitting is done for the bride, her party and even the flower girl.
Order these up, and leave your special guests enough time to RSVP. Include your website address, so it can also direct them to any other details they need clarification on.
Every venue differs, but if you require transportation from the hotel to the wedding site, book your transportation needs now for you and your guests.
Put together a list of guests for the bridal shower, bachelorette and bachelor parties. Your maid-of-honor can move ahead with the arrangements.
It’s also time to start blocking in additional vendors in these important areas:
- Reserve the marriage officiant
- Hair/makeup stylist
- Disc jockey or band
- Cake baker
Be firm and always get everything in writing. No one likes hidden surprises post-wedding. Read the “fine lines” in the contracts.
Three Months To Go
Four Major Steps
- Make sure the invitations go out.
- Nail down any recreational activities planned at the destination like horseback riding on a beach. Update your guests at the website.
- Buy the wedding rings and all the goodies that go with the nuptials like the shoes, veil, etc.
- Secure the honeymoon adventure.
In the Last 6 Weeks
You’re on the home stretch, so it’s just a matter of confirming the details as the weeks count down:
- Have your final dress fitting, and have fun shopping for destination resort wear like a bikini or sundress.
- Make sure you’re on the same page as the officiant, caterer, florist, photographer, hotel, DJ/band and any others involved in the wedding.
- Assemble the favors and/or welcome bags.
- Put a packing list together, and plan your different outfits for the various wedding and honeymoon events slated.
- Your hairdryer is a huge beauty tool required for when you say “I do.” To make sure you electrical devices work in other countries and you create a bomb hairstyle, bring along the right electrical converters.
On The Day Of Your Wedding
- Visit the site of the nuptials, and speak with your marriage officiant.
- Go over any last minute details.
- Distribute the welcome bags to the guests’ rooms.
- Pamper yourself in every way; have a manicure and pedicure.
- Relax, smile, and don’t freak out. Just remember to bring the wedding rings and license to the ceremony.
- Take a deep breath; you’re both doing incredibly well.
Look around you at the beautiful location you have chosen and the special family and friends sharing in your happiness. The dream destination nuptials are certainly worth it.
Download the Ultimate Destination Wedding Checklist for Couples
McKenzi Taylor is America’s go-to elopement and micro wedding expert, often featured in small and major media outlets, such as the New York Times. With over 15 years of wedding photography experience, it was after planning her own Las Vegas elopement in 2016 that McKenzi felt her purpose shift into elopement coordination. She started Cactus Collective Weddings soon after in 2017. Since then, she’s become a WIPA board member, and has helped well over 1000 couples get hitched in style around Las Vegas, San Diego and Black Hills.