What’s more fun than going on vacation with all your friends AND loved ones in one place for a whole week? Having a super fun party and getting MARRIED while you’re there, of course! Planning and preparing for a wedding is super stressful, but throw in having to plan something in another country, and you’ll see many brides running for the hills.
Having said that, Destination Weddings have become a lot more popular in recent years, thanks to the utter amount of fun and enjoyment that can be had (by all). Here are a few tips from brides who have planned, executed and had a rocking time at their own destination weddings, with some photos from my own which was held at Val de Vie Estate, Western Cape (South Africa).
Use a Local Planner/Coordinator
I can’t stress this enough. You need someone who has done a lot of weddings at this venue and location before, who knows the staff, the grounds, the vendors etc. Trust me, you don’t want the headache of having to follow-up with florists, caterers and wedding bands the week before your wedding while you have so much else to worry about! You hire someone to do that for you so you can enjoy your vacation.
Sourcing everything from abroad is not only a huge hassle and very expensive, it’s just plain silly. You’re having a destination wedding after all, so embrace that country/area’s uniqueness and go all out. Use the local flowers, local beers/alcohol, incorporate the local cuisine and decoration and use the country as your theme. Your guests will love the exotic flavours, textures and colours, and it will be something to remember for the rest of your (and their) lives. Using local vendors will also work out to be much cheaper, even in the hair/beauty department, so make sure to ask your planner or on-site coordinator for suggestions for hairstylists and make-up artists.
It’s all about the Pre-Wedding events
The beauty of a destination far away is that only the people who REALLY want to be at your wedding will make the extra effort to go, and you will enjoy it that much more knowing that these people literally flew across the globe to be with you on your big day. Planning some cool events a few days leading up to the wedding (other than the rehearsal dinner) is a great way for guests to start mingling and getting to know each other beforehand. After all, this is probably the first time your childhood/college friends are going to be meeting your current friends, and you want to mesh those two worlds in the best way. It avoids those awkward first handshakes at the service, and allows the guests to feel very comfortable on the big day – having met everyone already – meaning they can just enjoy the party with some new friends.
Some nice ideas: A sunset “booze-cruise” boat ride (if your destination is at the coast), wine tasting with lunch at a nice wine farm, cocktails on the beach/at the hotel bar, exploring a part of the city together on a guided tour.
Invest in a videographer
Wedding photos are treasures that will last a lifetime, but having a video to watch is even better. We’re not talking about a boring 3 hour spectacle that is only fun to watch if you were the ones getting married. Rather, a short 3 minute video that highlights the entire day from start to finish. Ask your videographer to create a “music video” of the day instead, and perhaps a second video of personal messages from wedding guests for the bride and groom. These videos are so much better to look at because you are actually seeing people interact, how their expressions change and you get a better general sense of all those unbelievably real and special moments.
Get it done before you travel
You might find this impossible as you get closer to the wedding date, but try to get everything done before you travel to the destination. Don’t leave your vows or final plans for when you get there. You’ll want to be spending every second with your friends and family, and will end up procrastinating on important, last minute things which will only stress you out even more. Anything you can do while you’re sitting at home after work is way better than missing out on 10 minutes with all your family and friends in one place.
Learn how to wear your dress in advance
If you’ve chosen a dress with many layers that need to be bustled or tied-up after the ceremony, learn and practice how to do it before the wedding, and show your maid of honour or bridesmaids ahead of time! There’s nothing worse than spending 30 minutes in the bathroom with someone under your dress trying to figure out where to tie all the little knots so you won’t keep tripping on your own dress.
All Photos in this post were taken by the amazing photographer Ryan Graham.
If you’ve had a destination wedding and have something to add to this post, please leave a comment below!