Destination Wedding: 10 Things You Should Know Before Planning It

plan your destination wedding
©Sidney Yassen Photography
Muriel Saldalamacchia
Muriel Saldalamacchia

For more than 10 years in the destination wedding business, travelling the world for weddings, Muriel is France based, but has also rocked in Italy few years ago.
Asides her travels with her clients, Muriel is also an International Speaker, dealing with her peers onto the Luxury and destination Wedding Market.
Muriel is also a French author, dealing with business methods to international peers accros the globe, while having the clients in the focus of attention. Her first book "The Anti-Ghosting-Method" is available on Amazon and Barnes & Nobles.

Planning a destination wedding is a dream, but it might also have some drawbacks. So, before you start organizing it and telling everyone that you are getting married abroad, it is very important to be aware of all of these points.

plan your destination wedding
©Valery Villard

Planning a destination wedding

When you plan a regular wedding, you have lots of details to think about. On the other hand, when it comes to destination weddings, the concerns triple. So, for you to have a smooth planning process, I’ve prepared a list of everything you should know before organizing a wedding abroad. 

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1. Be flexible and happy

Destination weddings require an open-minded attitude – you’ll need to embrace the cultural differences, especially when it comes to communication! After all, English isn’t always the mother tongue of your counterparts. Be prepared for a few twists and turns before you get that ‘Aha!’ moment.

My pro tip: As a non-English native speaker, I am keen on asking / repeating , to make sure we’re both on the same page of communication. It is my secret as I have to navigate with american english and british english. 

plan your destination wedding muriel saldalamacchia
©Jeremy Ferrero

2. Have a budget for conversion rates/ check payment methods

Fortunately, nowadays, it is a lot easier to send money abroad and make international payments. There are many tools available to make your life simpler. For example, Wise can handle many different currencies and give instantaneously amounts of  fees and timings of delivery. However, you still have to consider that there are some extra charges included in the conversion rates and that currencies might fluctuate according to the market. 

My Pro tip : I personally build a calendar for payments that I share with my clients. With all the vendors’ agreement, I know when terms of payments are due, and we can navigate with the best rates for you to wire the money. I also negotiate a lot with vendors to find the best way to be paid based on your wishes. Bearing in mind online credit payment are not popular yet.

plan your destination wedding muriel saldalamacchia
©Umbrio Capri

3. Hire a local wedding planner

Above all, this professional will be your eyes in the chosen country – so he/she should be playing on your team and helping to make the best choices. Due to that, you have to feel comfortable with the chosen wedding planner and be able to communicate properly. Also, this professional should know very well the region where your wedding will be held – he/she needs to know very well the best local vendors.

My pro tip :  If you’re expecting a wedding in Provence or Lake Como, I’ll make sure I can help you when you contact me. I’ll explain what the best process is and we would be able to chat about your expectations. 

plan destination wedding muriel saldalamacchia
©Kristine Grinvalde

4. The planning process, online meetings, online visiting

Planning a wedding in another country means lots of online meetings and visits. Your wedding planner will probably set up some online meetings to get to know local vendors and learn about their work. It is a way for you to feel more confident about the work that is being done. 

My pro tip : from the very first meeting, I’ll ask you how available you are in terms of days a week, timings as well, and how many times you’ll plan to fly into the wedding area. I can then immediately adapt the planning timeline, and we’re all aligned this way.

plan destination wedding muriel saldalamacchia
©Nora M Photography

5. Choose the venue

This task won’t be easy if you are not able to do an on-site visit. That’s why you have to hire an expert wedding planner, who knows the local industry very well and can do a site inspection to check if the venue meets your wishes and needs. Of course, this professional must do an online visit to the place to help you to envision your big day. 

My Pro tip : my iPhone is defo my best friend. Making sure I have the best connection coverage as a virtual visit is what I do with 100% of my clients who can not travel when we scout for the venue. I also love to make films with my iPhone for each path we could have for each reception with your guests. 

plan your destination wedding
©Jeremy Ferrero

6. Wedding dress: how to pack it with you?

As I mentioned in my article “How to choose your bridal dress for your destination wedding and travel with it?”, the good news is that ALL the airlines today accept that you travel with your bridal dress by plane. Your bridal dress is considered hand luggage. However, I suggest that you call the airline before to tell them you will carry on your bridal dress and ask if there is any special requirement. Just make sure you don’t use wire hangers because you might have problems with the security gates.

My pro tip : make sure you’re having a fantastic dress consultant who is not only trying to sell what looks gorgeous on you. You’re splendid anyway, anyhow. Embrace the destination (and the season)  first!

wedding dress destination wedding
©Felicia Sisco

7. Tell your guests in advance

Since they must organize their agendas and sometimes schedule holidays from work, it is very important to tell them in advance – at least six months. You can create a website with all the information and details about the wedding and send them a save the date.

My pro tip : I love asking my clients to send a digital save the date as soon as we lock the venue and dates. At the same time, we created the wedding website sharing only main infos, while mentioning formal invitations will follow.

plan destination wedding
© All Seasons Photo

8. Expect some people to be upset with the destination wedding option

Well, you can’t always please everyone. And some people might feel sad about not being able to attend your wedding. But remember that you can always stream the ceremony online for the ones who weren’t able to come and offer them a lovely favor. 

My pro tip:  if you prefer, you can invite them to an open-house party in your own country. 

plan destination wedding muriel saldalamacchia
©Jeremy Ferrero

9. Not all countries allow legal marriage for foreigners

Regrettably, not all countries allow legal marriage for foreigners. In France, for example, one of the fiancés must be French or have a residence in the country. So, be aware that you`ll only be able to do a symbolic ceremony – and, in some cases, it is possible to have a religious wedding. 

My pro tip : while getting civilly married is an official affair, hosting a great reception is a matter of love and celebration  with your favorite people. 100% of my clients tie the knot at their town house 1 week or 1 month before flying out. 

plan destination wedding muriel saldalamacchia
©John Dolan

10. Logistics is very important

If you are planning a destination wedding, you can not escape dealing with logistics. If you have the help of a wedding planner – great! This professional will help you to manage the flight schedules of your guests and with the transfers to the wedding venue, especially if you are all staying together in one place.  

My pro tip : I also handle the scheduled leisure activities that you planned to do with your guests, as well as the rehearsal dinner and other festivities that a destination wedding might include. 

plan destination wedding muriel saldalamacchia
©Nora M Photography

Most frequent questions about destination wedings

How do I start planning for a destination wedding?

First and foremost, it is important to hire a wedding planner. This professional will help you to define the style of your wedding based on your interests and needs, and also to set a budget. Also, the wedding planner will help you to plan every step of the big day and introduce you to reliable vendors. 

What are the drawbacks to a destination wedding?

Unfortunately, not everyone you expected will be able to attend the wedding. This is a major drawback. Furthermore, you must have an experienced local wedding planner to help you organize everything, including the logistics – as you`ll probably not be able to see all the details in loco. So, you must hire a reliable professional to be your eyes in the chosen country. Additionally, if you are bringing stuff from your own country (like the wedding dress, for example), it is important to accommodate it properly. Moreover, some companies might offer “destination wedding packages” with standardized experiences, which might let you down if you are looking into a more personalized wedding.

What are guests expected to pay at a destination wedding?

Usually, guests pay for their costs, like airplane tickets and accommodation. However, couples often get some special conditions for group lodging. Some activities and meals during the destination wedding are normally offered by the couple, like a post-wedding brunch or a welcome reception, for example.

Are destination weddings worth it?

Definitely. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will allow you to enjoy some of the best days with your beloved ones. It is a great opportunity to straighten bonds with family and friends while you appreciate gorgeous scenarios. 

Do you invite everyone to a destination wedding?

Just like in regular weddings, you should invite only the people you envision on the most important day of your life. 

You dream of celebrating a destination wedding?

Simply ask for a first chat, and we will be more than happy to answer each of your questions.

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