How to Plan a Destination Wedding

How to plan a destination wedding.

The wedding planning process can be one of the most hectic and stressful times of your life. Even more so, if you are planning a destination wedding. Not sure when you should start planning? Not sure how to even start planning? Use this timeline as a guide to make your planning easier.  A great resource is your local travel agent/expert who is a specialist in this type of travel! Trish at Just 4U Travel is a member of DWHSA. Destination Wedding and Honeymoon Specialists Association (DWHSA) is an association of specially trained travel experts who love planning romance travel.

You will find there are many moving parts to a destination wedding, put these parts together in the wrong order can be disastrous! A travel agent that specializes in destination weddings and honeymoons can also be a great help in providing advice about destinations and help in planning each step along the way. Most of all,  Specialists in Destination Weddings arrange many weddings on beautiful beaches, rooftops and resorts per year and as a result, will have resources you may not be able to find on your own.

15 to 12 months prior

  • Determine an estimated budget as a guideline
  • Determine the type of ceremony, legal, symbolic or Catholic Church
  • Research destinations that sound interesting
  • Consider travel time for guests in picking a destination
  • Determine a guest list, who must absolutely be at your destination wedding?
  • Reach out to the core guests (such as parents); make sure they would be open to the idea.
  • Research possible Hotel choices in your top destinations
  • Contact wedding departments and planners to verify available dates
  • Selected date and make a deposit to hold your space on wedding date and package.
  • Work on securing a block of rooms for your guests
  • Send save the date, you don’t have to have all the details finalized. Give guests time to save and clear their calendars.

Destination Wedding Gazebo in Mexico

12 to 10 months prior

  • Finalize invited guests, the number of rooms.
  • Send a more formal invitation with more details. Be sure to include information on how your guests should book their trip, and when.
  • Maybe, visit the resort you’re having your destination wedding at.
  • Build a wedding website for guests to refer to, so they don’t have to blow up your phone with questions.
  • Obtain passport, legal documents for a wedding in a foreign country.
  • Remind guest about their passports.
  • Sign up for a honeymoon registry
  • Secure photographers, band, DJ, videographer- review the agreements and contracts.
  • Start gown shopping
  • 10 months or less secure your airfare to your destination.
  • Purchased travel protection is strongly recommended.

10-7 months

  • Create a list of items to bring on your trip
  • Start shopping for gift bags for your guests
  • Make plans for your pets care while you’re away
  • Determine additional wedding events such as welcome cocktail party, rehearsal dinner or bachelor party.

White Beach Wedding destination Hard Rock AI

7-4 months

  • Finalize guest list and who is attending
  • Release unused rooms
  • Select the wedding decoration options, make sure they fit your budget
  • Start planning the songs you want to be played during your ceremony
  • Shop ahead for new swimsuit or luggage, remember the season in the clothing world is ahead by several months.

4-3 months

  • Make sure you have all your paperwork submitted for a legal ceremony.
  • Remind guests their final payment will be due soon
  • Confirm any changes to ceremony, reception or guest list

Apply for your passport book.

3-2 months

  • Make a final payment towards the wedding ceremony
  • Make a final payment on travel plans
  • Work on the menu for the reception, if any
  • Start a list of what wedding photos you want
  • Are you writing your own vows?
  • Do you have a hairstyle in mind? Do a trial at home and take pictures for resort stylist.

 2-1 month

  • Confirm a timeline of events
  • Book hair and makeup appointments at the spa for the bridal party
  • Confirm with wedding planner special requests are noted
  • Reconfirm wedding guest list to on property wedding planner
  • Prepare wedding itinerary for guest about welcome cocktails or other events planned.
  • Check with your mobile carrier for service out of country, along with added fees, if any.

1 month

  • Receive and review travel documents.
  • Give guests your wedding itinerary for other events.
  • Find your passport you got months ago, put with travel documents.

2 weeks prior

  • Review airline reservations and reconfirm airline, airport transportation is in place and nothing has changed.
  • Review luggage sizes and maximums each airline allows.

1 week prior

  • Review last minute packing lists.

1 day prior

  • Check in on the airline website or app, many will allow you pre-pay for your checked luggage.
  • Carry on important items: your dress, his tux, legal papers if needed.
  • Make one last check of your travel documents… passport, flight, transportation… do you know who you are looking for when you arrive?

At arrival

  • Confirm your meeting time and date with the resort or destination wedding planner. Where is their office?
  • As you welcome guests, get their room number. This could make it easy to contact them if needed.
  • It may be a couple of days before your ceremony. Take care and use hi SPF sunscreen so you and your new spouse are not a Rudolf in your wedding pictures.

A great travel expert who is educated in planning weddings in other countries can be a great asset and will take care of most of these details for you. Then you can relax and have a stress free wedding and honeymoon with those you love the most.

Need some help and guidance? Contact Trish at 316-729-8589 or Email

Your Destination Wedding