Planning a destination wedding means you’ve got a few extra to-dos to check off your list—and much of it is the same as if you were to wed at home. As soon as your wedding venue and wedding date is booked, spring into action with these next six steps and you’ll be well on your way to destination wedding bliss.
1. Create a wedding website.
All engaged couples are encouraged to create a wedding website to act as the virtual hub for the wedding—a place where you can share everything from stories about your relationship to where you’re registered. But having a wedding website for a destination wedding is even more important. This is where you’ll include all hotel accommodation information, welcome party and other event details, travel tips, weather information and suggestions for excursions and activities for guests to enjoy on their own. It’s a great way to answer the many questions that you’ll get about the weekend without repeating it 100 times.
2. Team up with a travel agent.
Even with all the travel apps, hotel websites and information on the web, a travel agent is still worth their weight in gold, especially for a destination wedding. They can help secure deals and upgrades for you and your guests, manage those pesky travel questions for your loved ones (especially when visas are involved) and help when things go awry in a location. Just like a wedding planner, having a travel planner advocate for you as an expert in your corner means sleeping well the night before the wedding day.
3. Buy traveler’s insurance.
I recommend that all couples purchase a wedding insurance policy, but for a destination wedding, you’ll want traveler’s insurance too. In some cases it can be an add-on to your wedding policy. Make sure you’re protected from as many worst-case scenarios as possible in the event of a big change with your destination situation or wedding plans.
4. Send out save-the-dates.
This may seem obvious, since most couples today send a save-the-date about six to eight months before the wedding date. But for a destination wedding, this is one of the first moves you should make once you’ve secured the venue. For the best possible attendance, and to be kind to the calendars and wallets of your guests, alert loved ones to your travel plans as soon as you pick your date and venue so they have time to join you too. Your save-the-date can go out as soon as the location is secure and wedding website is live (you’ll want to include the web address on your mailing).
5. Select another honeymoon spot.
You might be tempted to honeymoon where you wed, since you’ve already packed your bags and touched down at a place that’s special to you. Keep in mind that many friends and family might extend their trip to also enjoy a vacation after your wedding day—and that’s no honeymoon for two. At minimum, move hotels for your honeymoon or even consider a quick island-hop or jet set across the globe if you can. You’ll want to plan early so your flights reflect the best possible travel itinerary from where you wed.
Some experts say destination wedding guests are exempt from buying the couple a gift because their cost of travel far exceeds flatware. But most guests still expect to purchase a gift, and often at the time of engagement. So whether you’re getting married abroad or at home, you’ll want to register as soon as you can and upload that information to your wedding website so the gifts can start shipping and your website is complete from the start.
Harmony Walton is the founder of The Bridal Bar, host of Bridal Bar Radio airing on iHeartRadio and editor of the destination wedding blog Jet Fete by Bridal Bar. With a vast celebrity clientele and over a dozen years of experience, she and her company have been recognized around the world and featured in media outlets such as The Associated Press, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Entertainment Tonight, People Magazine, The Los Angeles Times and many more.