At Weddingbells we love nothing more than a gorgeous destination wedding and all the fun planning ideas that come with it. To ensure you have the wedding of your dreams, we’ve partnered with TRANSAT to help you design the ultimate party. Once you’ve chosen the perfect TRANSAT wedding destination, you’re ready to tackle your destination wedding ‘to do’ list, and we’re here to help! Here you’ll find expert advice on everything from planning advice to info on essential destination wedding photo ops.
Your Destination Wedding Etiquette Questions, Answered
From curating your guest list to sticking to a budget, planning destination wedding can be a tricky business. There is no wrong or right when it comes to etiquette, but you’ll want to avoid any issues that may put a damper on your celebration. Have no fear: for every difficult question, there’s an answer that’s sure to keep all your guests (and, more importantly, you!) happy on your big day.
Q: Should I pay for all my guests’ room and board for my destination wedding?
A: Generally, it’s up to your guests to pay for their flight and accommodation for your wedding. You’re providing the party, food and drinks, so it’s okay to tell your guests that the costs of transportation and hotel are theirs to cover. One thing you can do is reserve a block of rooms for your guests and let them take the lead from there.
Q: What’s the best way to give my guests the lowdown about my destination wedding? There’s too much information to put on the invite!
A: For a larger destination wedding or weekend event, creating a website for your guests to peruse is the easiest option. That way, all the info your guests will need, such as dates, times, itineraries, etc., is in one place, and you can simply send out the link instead of answering the same questions over and over again!
Q: How many people should I invite to my destination wedding? What if some people can’t make it due to work or prior commitments?
A: This one is really up to you! You can make your destination wedding as large or as intimate as your heart desires, but be aware that not everyone you invite will be able to make it. This can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the guest. For the people you really want to attend who won’t be able to make it, hold a smaller dinner or party once you’re back home so they can celebrate your big day with you and your spouse.
Q: When should I send out my save-the-dates and invitations?
A: If you’re planning a destination wedding, it’s important to give your guests as much advanced notice as possible. You’ll want to send out your save-the-dates as soon as you’ve booked your venue, and your invitations not long after that to ensure that your friends and family members have enough time to save up some cash, book their flights and free up their schedules. As a rough timeline, send out your save-the-dates a minimum of one year in advance, and your invites a minimum of six months before the big day.
Destination Wedding Dos and Don’ts
We’ve rounded up seven tips for planning the ultimate destination celebration!
DO pick a dress that withstands heat
Your dream satin dress is a showstopper, but wear it under the Mexican sun and you’re sure to melt. Choose a climate friendly gown in a lightweight fabric like chiffon, georgette or silk organza.
DON’T skip the SPF
Getting married under the sun’s glowing rays puts you at risk for burning, and that is something nobody wants on their wedding day (or honeymoon!) Be sure to pack and wear sunscreen on your wedding day (pack a spray formula so you can easily reapply) and be a thoughtful host and have SPF on hand for your guests too.
DO pick a location that’s easily accessible
You have always dreamed of tying the knot on a mountaintop, but it’s a climb and many of your guests might not be up for the journey. If your heart is set on a hard-to-reach locale, arrange transportation for guests to and from your venue.
DON’T skimp on the research
While it’s easy to get swept up in the romance of having your wedding in paradise, overlooking the hard facts could result in disaster. Check everything from your destination’s exchange rate to its marriage requirements before putting down a deposit.
DO show your gratitude
Your guests are coming a long way to celebrate with you, so acknowledge their efforts by adding a heartfelt welcome note to their room. On the day of, tell each guest just how much their presence means to you.
DO consider hiring a local wedding planner
Planning a destination wedding is a major undertaking, so having a local wedding planner on board is a stress reliever. They’ll not only help with personalization, but will have insider information on the best vendors in the area. Most hotels offer the service of a wedding coordinator on site.
DON’T forget to live in the moment!
Wherever you and your partner choose to get married, remember you’re celebrating your love for one another, and this is what your wedding is all about! Let go of your worries so you can fully appreciate every second of your day and your chosen destination.
How To Make Your Destination Wedding Memorable
From palm frond décor to personalized towels, here are 10 epic ideas to make your warm-weather wedding an unforgettable one.
- Serve the local drink upon arrival
Start your wedding weekend off right by greeting guests with your destination’s signature drink, whether it’s a fruity rum punch, a refreshing mojito or a slushy margarita.
- Offer welcome bags brimming with destination essentials
Your guests will love a swag bag full of practical items like a towel (in your wedding colours, of course!), a local map, sunscreen, a beach read and local treats and snacks.
- Incorporate natural elements into your décor
Your destination’s turquoise waters, white sand beaches and lush rainforests are a major source of décor inspiration. Add a palm frond arch, a few seashell garlands or some coral vases for a natural yet elegant look.
- Offer warm-weather staples before the start of your ceremony
Instead of letting your guests swelter during your vow exchange, set up a table of warm-weather essentials–think flip-flops, paper fans and sunglasses–that they can grab beforehand.
- Create a cool dessert bar
Beat the heat with a frozen dessert bar full of tropical treats like guava popsicles, mango ice cream sandwiches and passion fruit sorbets.
- Arrange group outdoor activities to get your guests mingling
Keep your guests occupied all week long by organizing group excursions through your resort. Whether you go hiking or horseback riding, you’ll definitely appreciate the extra bonding time before and after your big day.
- Create lounge areas where guests can cool off and take in the view
Whether you glam up your venue’s cabana or create your own poolside rest area with some plush pillows, your guests will appreciate a cozy place where they can kick back and relax in style.
- Play informal yet fun games during your reception
Make full use of your beach venue by setting up games right on the sand. A piñata will be a hit with the kids, while a limbo stick will get the older crowd into full-on party mode.
- Entertain with traditional music
A troupe of steel drummers, a trio of mariachi singers or a reggae band will not only wow your guests but also keep them dancing all night long.
- Opt for an open-air photo booth
Nothing gets the party started quite like a photo booth, so put yours right on the beach–it’s the perfect way to capture the beauty of your destination.
Picture Perfect Destination Wedding Photos
Your wedding celebration (even if it’s a multi-day party) is going to go by in a flash, so there’s no doubt your photos will become priceless mementos of the time you spent with all of your favourite people. For this reason, it’s absolutely imperative that you put some thought into how your event will be captured and, more importantly, who will capture it.
“The best thing that you can do to ensure beautiful photos of your destination wedding is to first choose a photographer whose work inspires you and reflects the style of images that you hope to have for your wedding,” says Krista Fox, a Toronto-based photographer who specializes in destination weddings.
Do your research
Start by flipping through portfolios online to see who will jive best with the overall theme of your celebration, and keep in mind that you may need to look beyond local photographers recommended by your resort to get the types of shots you’re after. “I find that when I am hired to do an international wedding, my couples hire me because they trust in my body of work, and can meet with me in advance, either in person or with a Skype call,” Fox explains. “They know that I am accountable to them, and know exactly how to reach me after the wedding. As a photographer who loves to explore new locations, I am inspired by travel, and the images that my couples receive reflect this.”
Consider the coverage
Once you’ve locked down a photographer, you’ll need to start thinking about which aspects of your celebration you want photographed and whether the coverage will extend beyond your big day. “I would say if your goal is to come away from your wedding with images that capture the ambiance of the location you were married in—and not just the resort vibe—then I would highly suggest planning a photo session with your photographer for a day or two after your wedding,” says Fox. “When I travel, I always encourage my couples to do a day- after shoot for this very reason. It is an opportunity to have fun without the time pressure that we feel on a wedding day, in the best light and in amazing locations that have been scouted in advance.”
Timing is everything
You’ll also want to consult with your photographer before finalizing the timeline for your wedding day. While the middle of the afternoon might be a popular time to tie the knot at home in Canada, that’s not necessarily the case when it comes to destination weddings. “As a photographer who loves natural light, the best time for a ceremony is late afternoon or early evening, when the light is softer,” says Fox. “People are less inclined to be squinting, and the photos are much more flattering and beautiful.”
In addition to the obvious allure of hosting a beach party in February, destination weddings offer the opportunity to capture the types of dreamy shots that just aren’t possible at home. “The one thing that all tropical locations have is amazing light,” says Fox. “The light in the south has a magical quality, so if you can plan to do photos at the right time of day, the results can be incredible.”
Social Media and Your Destination Wedding
Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook have become such a massive part of daily life, it can be hard to disconnect—even during life’s most momentous events. Destination weddings in particular present a myriad of social media-worthy photo and video ops, so if you’re concerned about controlling coverage of your event, you’re going to need to be extra vigilant when it comes to creating (and enforcing) social media guidelines. After all, the last thing any bride wants is to wake up the morning after the main event to and her Facebook feed filled with unflattering wedding photos. Here are a few precautionary measures you can take to ensure your big day is properly represented on social media.
- Create social media rules and reinforce them.
If you’d prefer that guests refrain from taking photos during your ceremony, spell it out from the get-go. Include a note on your invitations, repeat the message on your wedding programs or signage and have your officiant give one more reminder before the ceremony gets underway.
- Create a hashtag.
The best way to keep track of what your guests are sharing is to create a custom wedding hashtag for your event. Your hashtag should appear on all of your wedding stationery and signage – you can even print it on welcome tote bags filled with snacks and sunscreen, which you can leave in guests’ rooms as a little surprise. On your big day, appoint a member of your bridal party to monitor the feed to ensure all of the shots being shared are up to snuff.
- Adjust your privacy settings.
Updating your privacy settings before the main event is always a good idea. All it takes is for your university roommate to have one too many piña coladas and all of a sudden your Facebook feed could be filled with bizarre shots of your event. To prevent this, go into Facebook and adjust your tagging settings so that you can review posts before they appear on your timeline.