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Tips for Planning a Destination Wedding

destination wedding

As you all know, Ben and I recently had a beautiful destination wedding in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. It was perfect in so many ways and an absolute nightmare in others. I have so much to share you with, but in the mean time, I’d love to share these Destination Wedding planning tips from Monica Nolan with you. Please do share your own tips in the comments if you have experience with planning a destination wedding!

When planning your big day, there are many options to consider when it comes to choosing the location. Many couples like to stay close to their family and friends, while other couples will opt for a destination wedding. Destination weddings are becoming increasingly popular and for many reasons: jetting off to a topical locale with your closest friends and family seems almost like a dream; it has the potential to save money; and you’re already a hop-skip away from an ideal honeymoon locale. However, planning a wedding in a different location is a large undertaking and there are many things to consider and mistakes to avoid, as you can see below.

Choosing a Wedding Planner

If you think you can plan it all yourself, think again. Choosing the location, décor, flower arrangements and accommodations while in another country has proved to be extremely difficult. It is highly advised that you choose a wedding planner that specializes in destinations weddings and also understands your vision. Not only will the wedding planner understand what shade of purple you want your table cloth to be, but he or she will know exactly how to obtain the fabrics with the resources close to the wedding location.

Know the Requirements

Always take into factor what the marriage requirements are in the country your wedding is taking place. You can plan your perfect destination wedding but end up getting it all turned down when arriving to the location. Some places have residency requirements that must be fulfilled before you can legally marry there, while others may simply ask for you to apply for a wedding license a month in advance. Whatever way you choose to do so, always remember to bring all necessary documents, and on time.

Picking the Location

How far you are willing to travel, what kind of weather you prefer and the type of backdrop you want are all important to keep in mind when choosing the location for your wedding. The destination should be a reflection of both the bride and groom, but at the same time needs take into account what the guests would be most comfortable with. Asking them to fly across the world to Australia for a beach wedding is not feasible for most people – the time it takes to travel coupled with the price of tickets would be a strain. If you are looking to have a beach wedding and warm weather, you could instead head down to the Florida Keys, which is a short flight for most people in the US.

After choosing your location, it would be best to head out there at least once before your wedding day. Checking out the photos of the area and venue websites will not suffice when it comes to making important decisions. Make sure you go during the right season your wedding will fall around; after all, seeing a beautiful location in October can look completely different in July. If you already don’t have a location in mind and need a few ideas or inspiration, Elle put together a list of the top 10 wedding destination locations for you to browse through or you can check our list too.


So, you have decided to head somewhere tropical and you want to have your wedding right on the beach. It is important to keep in mind, at this point, that your attire is going to vary quite a bit from a traditional wedding. A groom may opt for an outfit that consists of a linen shirt and pants, rather than a heavy weighed down suit. The bride should shy away from large ball gowns that will pick up a lot of sand and heavy fabrics that will trap heat. If you are unsure of exactly what would be acceptable for the beach, you can also check out our Groomsmen Outfit Ideas along with my personal wedding dress search ideas.


It may come as a surprise to many, but destination weddings can actually be a lot more affordable than a wedding close to home. The reason for this is that the guest list is minimal and there are a lot of package deals that can cut down on costs of air travel and the hotel. Planning far enough in advance allows for all of your guests to work together in choosing the same flight, hotel and activities they plan on doing outside of the wedding. The New York Times put together a little “how to” with saving on group deals, from cruises to airfare.

Based on the number of guests, many resorts will also throw in things like your room, the ceremony, and the reception. Here is a run-down of what a destination wedding at Now Amber in Puerto Vallarta would be like.

Be Prepared

Throwing a destination wedding is the “big leagues” of planning, so if you are truly serious about making the trip and tying the knot across the world, start investing, and get to planning! 

Jeana Shandraw

Jeana Shandraw

Rarely caught without a camera, Jeana is an adventurous traveler with a passion for people, cultures and food that has led her to 38 countries in 5 years. When she's not using her powers for social good, she enjoys photography, cooking and building LEGOs with her son. On occasion, you may also find her crocheting cute things to hide in her husband's underwear drawer.

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  1. November 29, 2014 at 1:56 pm — Reply

    Fantastic post. If you want to have some unique and ancient place for your wedding check this article: http//

  2. March 26, 2014 at 4:45 am — Reply

    Awesome post! Picking the location is probably the hardest part of a destination holiday! The research in a destination wedding is the most vital part…you can’t just do it over the internet…you have to go to the country you are interested in to get the most efficient information…and for the peace of mind. Hotels are probably the best bet as they can incorporate everything in house to your bespoke requirements!

  3. March 4, 2014 at 7:49 am — Reply

    Great tips. I always wished we would have done something like that but we threw our wedding together quickly.

  4. March 3, 2014 at 4:48 pm — Reply

    I sort of have done that before – but it was in the states – way up in Eureka Springs Arkansas back in 1994 – the marriage didn’t last but I can’t forget the beautiful wedding that took place up there. I remember taking a few trips up there to finalize everything.- But yeah, not sure I’d do anything like that again though – lots of back and forth stuff.

  5. Eliz Frank
    March 3, 2014 at 3:08 pm — Reply

    I do agree that it is the big leagues of wedding planning so it’s not a decision to take lightly. I can imagine all the details for a wedding thousands of miles away.

  6. March 3, 2014 at 2:00 pm — Reply

    A destination wedding sounds awesome, but I’m sure it can be stressful in so many ways as well. These are some great tips for those unaware of what to expect (and even those who think they know what to expect)! :)

  7. March 3, 2014 at 11:25 am — Reply

    Congrats on your recent nuptials. A destination wedding would be so fun!

  8. March 3, 2014 at 9:27 am — Reply

    Expenses is such a big part of it! Sometimes it is cheaper to get hitched in another country. Love that picture of you!

  9. March 3, 2014 at 9:26 am — Reply

    Your destination looks gorgeous! Everytime I think of a Beach wedding, though, I think of the bloopers with the waves rolling in and soaking everyone. :)

  10. March 3, 2014 at 8:10 am — Reply

    These are all great tips, and many congratulations to you on your wedding. The picture you have up is gorgeous (and it makes me want to take a vacation!).

  11. March 3, 2014 at 7:54 am — Reply

    I would have loved to have had a destination wedding. They look so romantic and memorable. Some of the views would be unforgettable.

  12. March 3, 2014 at 7:03 am — Reply

    I’d like to do a destination vow renewal one day. these are great tips

  13. March 3, 2014 at 6:19 am — Reply

    I know my husband would much rather have gotten married in a linen shirt and shorts than that tuxedo he had to wear. I should have thought of that angle when I wanted to sell him on a destination wedding!

  14. March 2, 2014 at 8:06 pm — Reply

    Great tips! I’m on the fence right now if this is something we will consider or not. Good things to think about.

  15. March 2, 2014 at 6:22 pm — Reply

    I did not have a destination wedding, but I love going to them. Thank you for the great tips!

  16. March 2, 2014 at 6:21 pm — Reply

    I was always so afraid of the thought of planning a destination wedding – so many things can go wrong when planning from miles away. I can’t wait to read more of your story.

  17. March 2, 2014 at 6:09 pm — Reply

    These are good ideas for those who want a destination wedding. At the same time, several of these tips are good for those planning a traditional wedding.

  18. March 2, 2014 at 5:01 pm — Reply

    These great destination wedding tips make me want to get married all over again. There are so many things to think about when getting married abroad, it’s good to have all of this advice in one place

  19. March 2, 2014 at 4:12 pm — Reply

    Great tips…I always thought that planning a destination wedding would be such work.

  20. March 2, 2014 at 3:48 pm — Reply

    Great tips! Your wedding was so gorgeous. I always wanted to have a destination wedding – we might do one for our 10 year vow renewal!

  21. March 2, 2014 at 3:36 pm — Reply

    I had a destination wedding as well. I would say being prepared and organized is very important. I would say though if you are an organized person who like control of details then you will be fine planning it on your own and will save a lot of money in the process. I had no issues planning mine all on my own.

  22. March 2, 2014 at 3:10 pm — Reply

    This is beautiful! If I planned our wedding all over again I would consider traveling somewhere for it! So fun! Thanks for the tips.

  23. March 2, 2014 at 3:03 pm — Reply

    You did an AMAZING job on your wedding, Jeana! We had so much fun and thought that everything was just perfect! :)

    • March 2, 2014 at 9:53 pm — Reply

      Thanks Jenn :) That makes me feel so much better because really, that was most important to me!

  24. March 2, 2014 at 2:31 pm — Reply

    Those are great tips. My husband and I went to Vegas to get married and it was just us, so there was very little planning involved.

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