The Ultimate Destination Wedding Checklist
We don't all stay solo forever and when we meet the perfect partner to say “I Do,” arranging your dream wedding is the next step. Having been married previously in Sri Lanka, a destination wedding can be one of the most incredible ways to celebrate your big day. If you and your partner are already avid travellers, you may want to visit your favourite location for your nuptials or combine your wedding with your honeymoon.
Few things compare with the joy of saying “I do” on a beautiful beach or in front of a stunning national landmark. However, destination weddings do come with a unique set of challenges. You’re not just planning a wedding, you’re also organizing a trip for yourself, and your closest loved ones.
This ultimate destination wedding checklist should ensure you have everything you need prepared and squared away before the big day.
10-12 Months Before The Wedding
When you’re planning a destination wedding, it’s a good idea to get started as early as possible. You’re going to need to book tickets, arrange catering, and ensure you have the right budget in place to pay for everything along the way. Here’s how you can get started.
Create your budget: Make sure you have a clear idea of how much you can afford to spend from day one. A destination wedding is likely to be significantly more expensive than a wedding close to home. Cover everything from flights to accommodation, and catering.
Choose a wedding destination: Decide where you want your wedding to take place. Do you want a traditional beach wedding, or are you hoping to say “I do” in front of the glaciers of Norway? Choose something that matches your style and relationship.
Draft your guest list: You’re going to need to be pretty strict with your guest list, as not everyone will be able to travel to attend your wedding. Focus on inviting just the most important people to keep budget requirements low.
Choose a wedding date: Picking the date is an important part of planning any wedding. If you’re going to be travelling, it’s a good idea to choose a date out of peak travel times. Make sure you think about school holidays and busy periods for your loved ones, too.
Create a wedding website: Get people excited about the upcoming event with your own website or social media page. This is a great chance to broadcast your wedding hashtag to friends and family and start documenting the process.
8-10 Months Before The Wedding
This is the time to start going into full planning mode, making sure you have all the tools and resources you need to create an amazing destination wedding plan.
Hire a wedding planner: Having the extra support of a wedding planner can help to reduce some of the stresses associated with a destination wedding. They’ll be able to tackle things like arranging catering and seating on your behalf.
Check your travel visas: Make sure you’re ready to fly by checking the travel visas of yourself and your partner are up to date. You might want to remind your guests to do the same.
Secure your wedding venue: If you don’t have a specific location in mind, start researching popular venues which match your style and budget. Good venues often get booked quite quickly, so you’ll need to secure the date fast.
Reserve the honeymoon suite: Combine your wedding with your honeymoon by booking the honeymoon suite in the location closest to your venue. Some venues will have their own suite available for newlyweds.
Research marriage license options: Make sure you know what your options are when it comes to marriage licenses. You’ll need to ensure your license will still be valid in your home country if you’re travelling overseas.
6-8 Months Before The Wedding
This is the point in the wedding planning process when most brides and grooms continue to panic. However, if you’ve been following this checklist so far, you should be on the right track to preparing for your big day.
Recruit your wedding party: Make sure you know who your bridesmaids and groomsmen are going to be. Who will be the maid of honour, and who’s going to walk you down the aisle? Give everyone their assigned roles early.
Take engagement photos: You’re going to want as many memories of this amazing adventure as possible. Arrange for your photographer to take some engagement photos you can add to your album in the future.
Send out save the dates: Most people will need plenty of time to prepare for a destination wedding, so send the “save the dates” out early. Make sure you nudge people to respond if they’re taking a while.
Create a honeymoon registry: A honeymoon registry can be a great option if you want people to contribute to your vacation after your destination wedding. Give your guests plenty of options to choose from when it comes to possible gifts.
Work with the venue and caterer: Get in touch with the people who are going to be providing your food and venue, to ensure you have everything planned out. Choose your menus, and ask about seating arrangements.
Purchase airline tickets: Buying your tickets for a flight early can be a good way to save some money. It also ensures you can get multiple people from your wedding party on the same plane, in a similar area.
2-4 Months Before Your Wedding
In the 2-4 months before your wedding, the main focus will be on buying all of your must-have clothing and accessories, as well as checking in on any legal documents you’re going to need. Here’s what you’ll need to cover:
Schedule a dress fitting: Research some of the dress stores in your area and schedule a fitting with a couple of different options to find your perfect look. You may need to consider getting some alterations, too.
Buy wedding rings and accessories: Ensure you and your partner have the rings you need to exchange on the big day, along with any other meaningful accessories, like tiaras, tie clips, and wedding jewellery.
Get required vaccines: Some locations come with a special requirement for additional vaccinations. You’ll want to make sure you get these as early as possible, to avoid any side effects when travelling.
Finalize your legal documents: Check with your wedding planner and local authorities to ensure you have your legal documentation in place.
o Order wedding favours: Choose something fun and unique to give your guests when they arrive at your wedding. After all, they’ll need something special to remember the big day.
1 Month Before The Wedding
With only four weeks left before the wedding, most of the critical tasks should already be checked off, but there will be some extra points left to address.
Pick up your wedding rings: Ensure your rings fit properly, and decide whether you want any added extras, such as special engravings.
Plan your packing list: You don’t want to be rushing around searching for an extra pair of sandals a week before the wedding. List everything you need now instead.
Have your final dress fitting: Make sure your dress still fits perfectly, and finalize any last adjustments you might want to make.
Confirm flight details: Check in with the key people in your wedding to ensure they have their flight itineraries in place. Ideally, you’ll want to be sharing the same plane.
The Week Before The Wedding
In the 7 days before your wedding, you’ll likely be filled with anxiety and excitement. If you’ve checked off all the points in this list so far, you’ll only be left with a few things to do.
Pick up the tuxedo and gown: Collect your wedding clothes and make sure they’re properly packaged for the flight. You may need to invest in special protectors for your dress.
Finalize tips and vendor payments: Make sure everyone has their money in hand, so you don’t have to worry about bills on the big day, or during the honeymoon.
Start packing: Pack everything you need for both your wedding and your honeymoon. Ensure you have the right clothing, accessories, and any must-have essentials.
Get on the aeroplane: Relax on your flight and enjoy some much-needed time with your friends and loved ones.
Visit the ceremony and reception venues: Once you arrive at your destination, take a trip to your venue to talk to the managers there. Ensure everything is in place and grab some photos.
The Day Before The Wedding
The day before the wedding is all about preparing yourself for one of the biggest days of your life. While you might feel anxious, try to enjoy the experience, and ensure you grab as many photos as possible to keep for the future.
Rehearsal Dinner: Use your rehearsal dinner to ensure everyone knows the part they’re going to play in your wedding. This is also a good time to relax, unwind, and share the excitement with your loved ones.
Steam the suit and gown: Since your clothes might have gotten a little creased during transit, it’s worth giving them a quick steam the night before.
Get a good night’s sleep: Go to bed early and try to get plenty of sleep. It might be tough if you’re excited, but you’ve got a big day ahead!
The Day Of The Wedding
This is when all of your hard work and planning pay off! The day of the wedding should be all about celebrating you and your partner.
Double-check everything: Take a deep breath, relax, and go over your wedding day checklist one last time. Do you have the rings, the flowers, and everything you need?
Do the rounds: Make sure you spend time talking to everyone you’ve invited to your wedding. They’ve come a long way to be part of your big day.
Soak it in: Enjoy the fact that you’ve agreed to spend your entire life with the person you love most. You’re married now! Let it sink in.
Get Prepped For Your Destination Wedding
A destination wedding can come with a few more challenges than the average wedding, but it’s well worth the extra work. With the ultimate destination wedding checklist above, you should be able to ensure you’re prepared for any issue you might face along the way.
I loved my destination wedding in Sri Lanka and I'm sure that your destination wedding will be just as phenomenal.