10 Steps to Planning a Destination Wedding Like a Pro

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10 Steps to Planning a Destination Wedding Like a Pro

Looking forward to having a destination wedding but don’t know where to start from? The professional international wedding planners from Belief Wedding Creators will show you how you can pull off a fantastic destination wedding step by step without forgetting any detail.

Here is a step-by-step guide on planning a destination wedding like a pro:

1. Choose Your Destination Carefully

According to wedding planner Marie-Laure Giacomelli, one of the most common situations is for a couple to choose a destination that means something to them, or is related to their life story. For example, "a country where the proposal took place, your first holiday destination, or a country where one of you spent a lot of time as a child. It can also be the country where one of you comes from," says Marie-Laure Giacomelli.

Italian wedding planner Valentina Lombardi, from the Italian Wedding Company believes that a destination needs to be chosen according to the bride and groom's tastes and wishes. "It seems silly, but let's try not to choose a destination just because it is trendy. Let's choose it because you really like it and you feel comfortable there. Maybe it was the place where you got engaged in, or where you loved to travel to in the past. Be sure to choose a place that you ‘fit’ well in it. A place where you like its atmosphere, people, habits, cuisine and landscapes. Do not try to replicate a traditional wedding of your country in another destination; embrace different cultures, climate and atmosphere and feel happy doing it", advises Valentina.

Sometimes, there isn’t an obvious reason to choose a particular destination; the couple is simply looking for a new experience. "In this case, the motivation is generally to live an experience. The Dolce Vita with a Vespa and the sun, the Tuscan experience with the vineyards and traditional food, the French Château wedding with the glamour and elegance, the experience itself is in this case key," suggests Marie-Laure Giacomelli.

2. Pick the Best Time of the Year

Once you decide where you would like to have your destination wedding, it’s time to decide on the date. "It depends on the selected area and the kind of event the couple wishes for. If it’s an outdoor wedding it’s necessary to consider the driest season of the year, while if the couple wants to have a wedding at a wonderful ancient venue, then the winter season is an option too", says wedding planner Veronica Frasca from Tailored Dream Events.

Julie Bonenfant, a wedding planner from Noces Du Monde, also advises against major holiday periods, such as Christmas or New Year’s Eve, "except if you want to feel the atmosphere of Christmas in New York for example", she says.

Don’t forget that the seasons are different between the northern and southern hemispheres, "if you are getting married in South Africa, for example, seasons are reversed to those in the Middle East or Europe", reminds us Marie-Laure.

Also take into consideration that spring and summer are usually the high seasons for weddings in many countries and cities, so the prices might be a little bit higher. And it can also be more difficult to find the venues and hotels during the high season, so start planning well in advance.

If you are thinking about doing an outdoor wedding, it is also recommended to learn about sunset times and the rainy season, "summer months would be preferable, however, this could also mean rain in some areas" alerts Cheri van Staden, a wedding planner from 2iC Events.

3. Set Your Budget

When you start planning your destination wedding, consider your budget carefully as it will also impact on the destination you’ll choose.

"Determine the ideal guest count. Got a tight budget? You can get married anywhere, but flying to the Maldives might be a bit expensive. Unlimited budget? Lucky you! The world is your oyster!" says Viviana Reatti, wedding planner from Wedding in Cortina.

According to Marie-Laure Giacomelli, a common mistake that couples make while planning a destination wedding is forgetting to include in their budget the travel expenses. So keep an eye on that!

4. Hire a Wedding Planner

Hiring a wedding planner is a must-do if you’re planning a destination wedding. We advise hiring a local wedding planner, or a planner who knows the country, its language and local habits well.

"Hiring a local wedding planner is fundamental to go through the wedding planning experience happily and calmly till the wedding day. Planning a wedding in general can be a very stressful experience. It seems easy, but it is not. You need to know many details, consider all possible services, issues that could happen or guests' needs to satisfy. It requires experience, knowledge of the area and suppliers, management skills and some creativity to make the wedding your own wedding. A wedding planner can help the couple consider which vendors they need, keep the budget under control, or focus it on services that better represent your style, and finding nice ideas that will let you realize what you really want", explains Veronica Frasca.

Valentina Lombardi believes that the wedding planner can be your right arm in a location where you cannot be physically in. "The planner can be a good intermediator and advisor on local customs and traditions. She/he can suggest the best venues, the best professionals to work with, and the best spots for your wedding photos. Most of all, a local planner can speak both your language and the local one, so she/he can act as a good "middleman”. Do not hesitate to be sincere with your planner telling her/him what you like and what you don't. This will make the relationship easier and her/his job smoother following your tastes and needs. A good relationship with your planner is a good base for a successful event", points out Valentina Lombardi.

Some wedding planners also partner with local professionals to organize everything. "We love partnering with local planners where required as it assists in ensuring the quality of service providers for the day. They know the 'lay of the land' and so their relationships are important through the planning of the wedding", says Cheri van Staden.

5. Find the Right Venue

Some couples usually ask if it is necessary to go to the wedding venue or visit the country before the wedding. Marie-Laure Giacomelli believes that it is necessary for the planner but not for the couple.

"Travelling back and forth can be costly and requires time, especially with long distance trips. Some couples really want to see the venue before picking it, others trust the planner to find the best spot. It's quite challenging when the couple has never seen the venue and they must rely on the planner for the decoration, details... But most of the time they are so happy with the result,  and it's so magical when they discover it all. That being said, stressed brides and controlling couples need to visit the venue at least once", says Marie-Laure Giacomelli.

For Julie Bonenfant, she says that it is not necessary to visit the destination, as the wedding planner can give all information, photos, videos and tips needed by the couple.

If you are unable to visit your destination wedding venue before the wedding, wedding planner Viviana Reatti advises couples to be there a week in advance of the wedding day.

6. Consider Distances and Accommodation

While choosing the wedding venue, it is important to consider distances and nearby accommodation. "This is very important to know in advance, because very long transfers might be boring for your guests and also cause delays to the wedding timeline. This is another reason why hiring a local wedding planner who perfectly knows the area and can suggest the best solutions to newlyweds to enjoy every single moment of their wedding", says Veronica Frasca.

You can also provide your guests with some touristic tips of the area where the wedding will be held. "So, first of all, hotels, apartments and nearby Bed & Breakfast, then some suggestions about what to do and how to spend time there before or after the wedding", suggests Veronica Frasca.

7. Create a Website for Your Guests

How will your guests have access to information about hotels, wedding timetable, local attractions, and all the details? A website can be of great help.

"Create a website for your wedding with all the information your guests may need before their departure (transfer, accommodation, tips, visits, things to do... )", recommends Julie Bonenfant.

8. Consider Your Luggage Allowance

If you are planning on bringing many items with you to your wedding from home, consider how many pieces they are, how you'll transport them, and above all, check with the airline about what you can bring along and the allowed weight of the baggage, according to Cheri van Staden. This is one point couples tend to forget, says Cheri. 

9. Spoil Your Guests

Your guests will be travelling across the world to see your big day, so it is nice to plan something special for them.

Viviana Reatti, Valentina Lombardi and Marie-Laure Giacomelli suggest offering them a welcome bag/basket with a gift, or a welcome drink and information from the wedding venue such as maps, what to do, emergency numbers.... Include the program of the wedding with the pre and post wedding days. "Nothing fancy but just a little brochure with the activities in the surroundings, and a little map of the town can do the trick", says Marie-Laure Giacomelli.

Another suggestion from Marie-Laure Giacomelli and Veronica Frasca is to arrange a welcome dinner/cocktail the night before the wedding, to allow your guests to meet each other and start enjoying the atmosphere of the area and venue you have chosen for the wedding. "It is also a way to offer them a more comfortable experience, as they might find it difficult to look for a place to eat on arrival, after perhaps a long trip", suggests Veronica Frasca.

As for the wedding, Cheri van Staden suggests to keep it as bespoke and personal as possible. "Your guests want to feel like you are hosting them, so the whole experience needs to echo your wedding theme", recommends Cheri van Staden.

10. Think About Yourselves

If you are going to plan a destination wedding, don’t forget to think about your own selves. "Don't get me wrong! This is not about being selfish, it is more about trying to meet your tastes, wishes and dreams without thinking too much about what friends or family will think. Sometimes this can be hard, because a destination wedding could be a big leap of faith, but at the end of the day everybody will have fun for sure. Family maybe won't feel involved and friends will judge your choice, but it will be a great occasion to spend a great time with people who love you and whom you love. Try to follow your dreams without thinking too much about what "the others" will say, and when they will see you happy and not stressed out they will be joyful too", advises Valentina Lombardi.