Engaging the help of a destination wedding specialist planner or coordinator is key to making sure everyone feels welcome at your celebration. They can suggest suitable accommodation, airports and travel checklists that ensure all your guests arrive comfortably.
Set your ceremony and reception times, working backwards. Add this information along with flight and hotel booking details onto your wedding website.
1. Plan Ahead
Planning ahead can make for a smoother experience at destination weddings, since most guests require more notice to arrange time off work, book travel arrangements and make childcare arrangements if necessary. We advise sending Save-the-Dates 8-12 months prior and including links to your wedding website so guests can stay updated as they start their travel plans.
We strongly suggest visiting your venue prior to your wedding, which will give you an idea of its size as well as familiarize you with nearby restaurants, shops, hikes, shows or experiences that you can share with guests during their stay.
Consider hiring local vendors when planning your wedding celebration, not only to support local economies but also to mitigate cultural barriers and add meaningful layers to the day. For multicultural celebrations, we suggest including elements of local culture into decor, cuisine and rituals of your celebration to make guests feel welcomed and connected to you as a couple – this might include welcoming parties with traditional dances or songs and locally sourced foods – creating an experience they will remember fondly years later! This gives you an opportunity to craft something truly memorable and authentic that will leave an indelible mark upon memories!
2. Plan for Guests’ Travel
Today’s unpredictable travel climate necessitates that guests make their travel plans without prior information. Virga recommends sending Save-the-Dates one year before your event to give guests enough time to plan for and find affordable flight rates. She further suggests creating a wedding website with information such as hotel room block details, airport information registration forms and even maps with predicted weather so guests know what clothes and shoes they need for travel.
Experts advise adding pre- and post-wedding events like welcome parties and farewell brunches as part of your destination wedding experience. Not only can these extra events offer extra time for celebrating with loved ones, they can set the scene for an immersive wedding event by including local ingredients, cultural decorations, or traditional attire that helps make guests feel at home in your chosen location.
Welcome bags or baskets containing goodies native to their destination are great way to show guests that their attendance and comfort are valued by you. Incorporating items like sunscreen, aloe vera, aspirin or hot cocoa mix as staples of warm-weather destinations or hot cocoa mix and mittens for alpine settings shows them just how much their presence matters to you!
3. Create a Schedule That Works for You
Destination weddings provide the chance for couples to create unforgettable experiences together away from home, but a lot of planning work still must be done in order to ensure its success. In order for your destination wedding event to run seamlessly, it’s essential to begin preparations early.
An ideal timeline is two years or more in advance for wedding travel planning, giving couples enough time to book everything needed – such as accommodations, transportation and local attractions – as well as give guests enough time to save up for and schedule their vacation days.
Once you have an ideal guest list in mind, the next step should be sending Save-the-Dates. This will give your guests plenty of time to make travel, lodging and dietary arrangements; save money while reserving their airline seats; as well as save themselves some embarrassment by arriving late!
As you plan for the big day, brainstorm ways to offer guests something truly memorable and exciting. Since many may have traveled far for your celebration, why not add something extra? Perhaps host a Welcome Dinner or suggest group recreational activities such as sunrise hot air balloon rides?
4. Don’t Overdo It
As you plan a schedule that will make your destination wedding truly unique and unforgettable, take care not to overschedule events. Your guests have already invested significant time and money to attend, so adding too many activities can overcrowd the itinerary and create unnecessary stress for everyone involved.
According to Theresa, striking the right balance is of key importance when planning your guests’ stay. While extra activities can give your visitors an opportunity to appreciate your destination and learn its culture, ensuring adequate rest and downtime for everyone is also necessary.
One way of doing this is to give your guests access to a wedding website which details everything from the schedule of events and location information (transportation options, restaurants) through to recommended activities and attractions (like Jessica).
Kaveri Vij of Designer Events Inc. India strongly emphasizes the importance of conducting extensive research before finalizing a destination, including checking whether any permits or licenses are needed, weather patterns and hurricane season details, budget implications as well as emergencies that might arise. She advises keeping an extra cushion in your budget in case unexpected costs or emergencies arise during travel plans.