Introducing the ultimate 2021 How To Plan A Destination Wedding Guide, your in-depth resource for planning a destination wedding with 20 or more guests. It features resources and utilizes simple and easy steps to make coordinating your wedding as simple as possible. Follow the steps below, from choosing a destination to the very final planning stages.
Choosing your destination is always the first step in planning your destination wedding. Once you know your destination, many of the details will fall into place naturally. There are many things to take into consideration when choosing your destination. Where are most of your guests traveling from? Which locations will have the most resort options? Which destinations will have the best prices?
1. Use this wedding quiz to determine the best location for you.
2. See all of the most popular destinations.
The most popular destinations include Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Central America, the smaller Caribbean Islands, and Hawaii. Hawaii is perfect for guests traveling from the west coast of the United States, however, wedding costs are the highest here and resorts are NOT all-inclusive, which makes them comparable to local stateside wedding rates. Mexico, which has the most options and the best prices for 20+ guests, will be easier to compare with destinations like Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.
Deciding when to have your wedding in 2019 is the next step in your guide to how to plan a destination wedding. There are numerous factors to consider when determining when you should have your destination wedding. Although the Caribbean experiences beautiful weather year-round, there are cooler months that may be more befitting for your ceremony. More importantly, it’s also good to look at when resorts are the busiest, which may affect room availability and rates. Use this seasonality resource, as a destination wedding planning guide to determine which dates work best for you.
The calendar year is broken into three seasons: low, shoulder, and high seasons. Each is exactly how they sound, high being the busiest time of year for resorts, and low having the lowest occupancies. Although high season may be the most accommodating time for your guests, there could also be waves of blackout dates, where occupancy is full or close to it. Use our Destination Wedding Dates resource to learn more.
It’s important to look at your budget to decide how to plan a destination wedding, while also knowing how much you expect your guests to spend per night. Most all-inclusive room rates are based on 2 person occupancies, and although food and drinks are covered, it’s good to know how much your guests are able to afford in order to attend your destination wedding. Use the Cost Calculator to get a real-world estimate for how much your wedding could cost, and compare that with the second guide to see just how affordable destination wedding planning truly can be.
1. Use this destination wedding cost calculator to get a real-time estimate for your wedding.
2. Learn about destination wedding vs local wedding cost.
Now it’s time to choose a wedding package. Destination wedding packages at all-inclusive resorts are designed to give couples as little or as much as they would like. With an all-inclusive resort, you get a lot built in, from decor and food to a wedding department who will coordinate it all for you. Some resorts even offer complimentary packages, which you can learn about through our FREE Wedding Package resource. Below is an example of tiered packages, common at most resorts. Follow the link to get the full package breakdown so you can better understand how planning destination wedding packages work.
1. Learn more about FREE wedding packages.
2. See full breakdown of different destination wedding packages.
Basic packages may be just for the couple or a small amount of guests. It typically includes basic ceremony decor and a set ceremony location.
Upgraded packages will welcome more guests, along with more decor options. The typically include a reception and a wedding cake.
The luxury package is the highest priced package a resort offers. It includes extravagant decor, a private reception, and much more.
There are two types of ceremonies for destination weddings: symbolic and civil. Civil ceremonies are legally binding in the country in which it’s performed and requires more logistics in our guide to planning a destination wedding. You can learn more about the differences and how to plan your destination wedding in this comparison resource. The ceremony venue is the next thing you should consider while planning.
Symbolic ceremonies mean you get married at your local courthouse, then host your wedding ceremony like normal at your chosen location.
Civil or legal ceremonies must follow the rules of your destination’s government and may require extra fees and paperwork.
What type of ceremony venue do you have in mind? Just about every all-inclusive resort will feature a beachfront, and beach ceremonies are the most popular choice. But they may not always be fully private, depending on your chosen resort. There are many other venues to consider too, from elegant rooftop terraces to lush tropical gardens, oceanfront gazebos, and unique one-of-a-kind venues. Utilize the image gallery to see some examples.
Unlike with a traditional stateside wedding, much of the actual planning for your ceremony doesn’t start until about the 3-month marker for destination weddings. That’s because the resorts have this down to a science, and wedding departments won’t have as much time to work with you until closer to your wedding date. This can be a pro or con for some couples, but you can trust that your wedding department knows what they’re doing.
1. Follow this planning timeline to see what a year is like up until your wedding date.
2. See all of our handy printable destination wedding planning checklists.