8 Do’s and Don’ts of Destination Wedding Planning


Destination weddings are an amazing way to create a truly memorable celebration with your nearest and dearest. From sun-soaked beach ceremonies to secluded tropical receptions, it’s easy to see why the idea of jetting across the globe to tie the knot is such an appealing one!

However, planning a wedding from interstate or overseas often means some extra preparation leading up to the event. From finding a suitable location to communicating effectively with your guests, there are some definite destination wedding rules you should be following in order to avoid any hiccups!

If you’re currently dreaming of an exotic celebration for your own big day, it’s important to ensure both you and your guests are prepared appropriately. Keep reading for our top 8 destination wedding “Dos and Don’ts” to help you create a seamless and stress-free event!

Photography by Sally Pinera Photo

Don’t: Send Your Invitations Too Late

Planning a wedding can be time-consuming enough, but a destination wedding is an entirely different story! Procrastinating on your destination wedding plans and sending invitations too late can not only leave you in some stressful situations, but can also impact your guests ability to attend your nuptials in the first place.

Keep in mind that your guests will need to budget for their trip, take time off work and make travel plans to join you for your big day. Leaving your guests with limited time to plan and prepare accordingly will make it extremely difficult for them to join you!

Instead, get a head start on your planning and give your guests as much notice as possible. Your wedding invitations should be sent at least 6 months before your day, or earlier if possible. This will give your guests enough time to make the necessary arrangements required to be involved in your destination wedding.

When it comes to ticking tasks off your to-do list, it’s best not to follow a standard wedding planning timeline. There’s a lot more involved in organising a destination wedding, so make sure you tweak your planning timeline to suit!

Do: Choose a Location That Aligns with Your Vision

Have you considered which location will actually be best suited for your destination wedding celebrations?

Before you get caught up in glossy travel magazines and Pinterest inspiration, take a moment to think about what your dream wedding day actually looks like!

Your wedding location is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make, so it’s crucial that your chosen destination actually reflects your authentic wedding vision. Think about the experiences that stand out from previous holidays with your partner. Do you guys prefer warm, coastal locations, romantic city escapes, or cosy mountain getaways?

It can also help to look back at any locations that might already have a significant meaning to you. For example, a proposal that took place in Santorini, or your first holiday together in Bali. These are the kind of memories that can make your destination wedding feel even more special, and will also make the planning side of things a little easier with your previous experience.

Something else you’ll want to consider is the number of guests you’d ideally love to join you for your celebrations. Do you want to throw an extended party with a big group of friends and family, or would you prefer to elope quietly with just a handful of your closest loved ones?

The answers to these questions will be the best place to start when it comes to choosing a location that fits your own unique wedding vision, so take some time to really think about how you want your day to unfold before making any concrete decisions. You can also check out our top 5 destination wedding locations for some ideas to consider!

Photography by Ryan Ray

Don’t: Forget the Legalities

It can be all too easy to get caught up in the excitement of your upcoming getaway, but don’t forget about the legal side of things that will actually make your marriage official!

In order to legally say “I do”, there will likely be a stack of paperwork and local customs that need to be taken into consideration, depending on your chosen location. It’s vital to do your research thoroughly and prepare for all of the legal steps involved in tying the knot.

Remember too, that different countries have different rules when it comes to the legal requirements for marriage. For example, a legal wedding in Bali requires both a religious and civil ceremony to be hosted on the same day. While in Greece, couples need to follow a quirky custom of publishing a wedding notice in the local newspaper before they can obtain their marriage license!

Although it might be more fun to focus on things like flowers, food and styling, the legal stuff is what will actually make your marriage count – so make sure this task is a priority on your to-do list.

Do: Hire a Wedding Planner

Planning a wedding from overseas or interstate can be an overwhelming task for any couple. Hiring a local wedding planner who is familiar with your venue can be one of the best ways to save time and stress in the lead up to your day, allowing you to relax and simply enjoy the process!

Not only will a wedding planner be able to take a huge weight off your shoulders, but they’ll also have working relationships with other suppliers like florists, caterers and decor hire. This means they’ll be able to coordinate your entire event from beginning to end, using local suppliers that they already know and trust.

A local wedding planner will also be able to walk you through the legal side of things step by step, organise the relevant paperwork, and help you file the required notices to ensure your marriage is recognised.

Photography by Facibeni

Don’t: Make Extravagant Plans

Although planning a destination wedding is a financial commitment on your side, don’t forget about the costs involved for your guests, too!

If you’re hoping to have as many guests as possible join you on the day, be mindful of the decisions you make when it comes to your wedding location. Choosing to host your event at an extravagant 6-star luxury resort on a secluded island with no alternative accommodation options might simply be unaffordable for many of your guests.

Remember, your guests may be on a tight budget and the costs can soon start to add up quickly when it comes to travel expenses. Planning an extremely lavish celebration will definitely limit the number of guests that can realistically attend your wedding.

Do: Keep Things Cost-effective

The last thing you want is for your guests to be in serious financial debt just to join you for your special day! If you really want the majority of your guests to attend your destination wedding, consider keeping things as cost-effective as possible throughout your planning.

For example, choose a convenient wedding location that is easily accessible. Popular holiday destinations like Bali, Hawaii or Fiji can be some of the more affordable options, with many all-inclusive resorts, flight specials and package deals to take advantage of.

Many resorts will also be able to negotiate a reduced rate for group bookings, so consider finding an accommodation provider that can offer you a hotel block for a discounted price.

Encourage your guests to sign up for flight alerts, or keep them informed about any upcoming travel deals or specials that could make their trip more cost-effective and convenient. And when it comes to gifts, it probably goes without saying that the correct etiquette is to acknowledge that your guests attendance is all that’s required!

Photography by Birds of a Feather

Don’t: Leave Guests Unprepared

A basic invitation just simply won’t cut it when it comes to communicating with guests in the lead up to your event!

Think about all of the work involved with planning a holiday, from researching accommodation options and organising transport to building a practical itinerary. It’s safe to say that your guests are going to need a little more information from you in order to prepare accordingly for your big day.

Instead of leaving guests to fend for themselves, take some time to consider the relevant details they might need to know in advance. This could include local customs to be aware of, things to do in the local area, transportation options or notes about the weather. The more information you can give your guests, the less time you’ll need to spend answering phone calls and emails.

If you’ve invited guests with young kids to your destination wedding, be mindful of the additional arrangements they’ll need to make, too. Consider providing them with some trusted local childminding recommendations, or organising a sitter for the duration of the event.

Do: Create a Wedding Website

One of the best decisions you can make when planning a destination wedding is to create a detailed wedding website that outlines everything your guests need to know about your event!

A destination wedding website can essentially act as an information hub and valuable resource for your guests to refer to as they plan their trip. You can use a wedding website platform to convey all of the additional information that you wouldn’t be able to fit on your initial invitations.

From travel tips and accommodation options to any pre or post-wedding events you may have organised, a detailed wedding website will make it much easier for guests to prepare for your upcoming celebrations.

Photography by Amelia Fullarton

Plan the Perfect Group Getaway

Although planning a destination wedding may require a little more time and research, the end result will be SO worth it as you and your guests share an unforgettable experience together and create lifelong memories.

From choosing the perfect location to being considerate of your guests, simply keep these 8 destination wedding “Dos and Don’ts” in mind to help you plan a truly memorable group getaway without a hitch!

Destination weddings require a bit more careful planning and advance notice to guests. If you’re just getting started, check out this printable month-by-month checklist for destination weddings!