Planning a Destination Wedding

I originally wrote this post last summer, but I'm bringing it to the top of the blog feed because this content is so important. Enjoy! ~Betsy

I love to travel to new places.

I believe the best love stories begin in quaint places.

I don’t want my wedding to be like my all of my other friends' weddings.

I have always dreamed of having a destination wedding in a remote location.

Do any of these sentences sound like something you would say?  There are a million reasons to celebrate with a destination wedding. If you are contemplating any of these reasons, cheers to you! If the thought of planning a destination wedding is overwhelming, don’t worry! Our team has traveled to some amazing places and today I’m sharing a few tips to help you start the decision-making process!


Destination weddings don’t fit the typical wedding planning formula so forget everything you’ve read about what you’re supposed to do and when. After all, your wedding isn’t supposed to be like anyone else’s! My recommendation is that you don’t choose your location first. I know this is the opposite of everything you’ve ever heard about planning a wedding! But before you think I am crazy, hear me out and keep reading. Unless your grandmother has a vineyard in the South of France or there is a family vacation spot that you’ve dreamed of for the last 20 years, my rule is to hold off on selecting your location and venue until you have a few more details figured out. What could be more important than the where? Trust me on this one and it will all make sense….



The first step in planning a destination wedding is to determine the people you want to invite to your celebration. Write down the names of your family and friends and tally up the numbers of total potential guests. Are you surprised by the list? The more intimate the guest list, the more likely everyone will attend. The bigger the list, it’s safe to assume between 65-75% of the list for a destination wedding. Keep in mind that you can continue to edit and change this list until the Save the Date is sent out. Being able to edit your guest list can be helpful if you later fall in love with a venue or destination that can’t accommodate your entire list. Because your list may change, I recommend that you keep the early planning details quiet so that you can avoid potentially uncomfortable conversations later on with someone who mistakenly thought they would be invited.  


Once you’ve determined the group of people you want to witness your nuptials, think about how long your group might be able to be away from work and home. If your list consists of just close family and friends, they may happily take a full week of vacation time for your wedding weekend. However, as the list grows, typically your guest list will not be able to be as generous in giving you their time away from home and work. Your guests' vacation time may be limited or some guests may need to split time off between other weddings or family commitments. Consider your guests’ expectations if you want most of your guests to be able to attend, because it may quickly limit your destination to somewhere within close geographical distance that can easily be traveled in a long weekend. The same can be said for ease of travel. Some of the most beautiful locations in the world are also the hardest to find and travel to and from. Do your guests have an entire day to travel first by plane, then by car/bus and then by boat just to get to the spot? You should consider overall travel time and expenses for your guests that might include multiple flight connections, car rental and maybe even an elephant ride! Sticking relatively close to a major airport may be the right call for you and your guests.


Perry Vaile Photography

Available overnight accommodations are another equally important detail to consider. There is great romance and appeal in small mountain communities, refreshing beach towns and remote hillside vineyards. Unfortunately, what appeals to us also can make things difficult for our guests. Holiday Inns don’t exist in the South of France and Marriott Resorts are few and far between in the mountains and beach communities. Before you begin to search for a venue, make sure the city/ town/ area has the accommodations and conveniences to keep your guests comfortable.


Congratulations- you’ve made it through all the hard parts. I know it seems like I’ve taken all the fun out of planning a destination wedding but I promise the fun has just begun! With the hard stuff behind us, you already have some great search parameters in mind. Now... where do you and your fiancé see yourselves getting married?  What kind of scenery do you love?  Do you adore the mountains, beaches, soft rolling hills, vineyards, glaciers, redwood trees, historic homes or wide-open pastures? What’s your favorite time of year? Do you like snuggling under soft wool blankets in the fall or feeling the sun beat down on your shoulders? Once you can answer these questions together as a couple, you can start to narrow down the where and the when (or course keeping in the mind the guidelines you established earlier and your budget). 

If all of this seems a little too overwhelming, you’re not alone! Choosing the destination is the hardest and equally most important choice in beginning the planning process. Here’s the best part- you don’t have to know where to begin if you're working with us! In fact, we love working with couples at the very beginning so we can help offer insight to guide the decision-making process. If you and your fiancé are considering a destination wedding, we would love to chat with you and hear your story!  

Our beautiful destination wedding last weekend began just the way I described! Brittany and Lincoln knew they wanted to have a destination wedding but weren’t sure about much else.  By working together over the course of the year and a half we were able to plan and design a celebration in a location perfect for them as a couple, their guests and their budget.  At the end of the wedding, Lincoln told me with tears in his eyes that it was the best wedding he’d ever been to and that he wouldn’t have changed a thing!  It was the best compliment he could have given and it brought us so much joy to see everyone so happy and blissfully unaware of all the work done behind the scenes so that the wedding week would be so enjoyable.

Be sure to come back on Thursday as I’ll be sharing more insider planning tips on how to choose a venue and what to look for before you sign your contract.