While destination weddings offer a beautiful setting and the chance to spend more quality time with your closest friends and family, saying "I do" in another country (or even a few hours away from home) can be challenging. Wondering what you should (and shouldn't) do as you plan your destination wedding? We asked premiere wedding planners
to provide some practical suggestions for couples who want to tie the knot in a distant land.
Before You Go
As the president and owner of Cosmopolitan Events, Josie Littlepage has planned weddings and events around the world. Here, she shares her thoughts on what you should think about before you arrive at your destination.
DO Develop a Calendar: You need to stay organized when planning a long-distance wedding. If at all possible, book at least a couple trips to the destination of your choosing to look at venues, book a photographer and finalize any details.
DON'T Check Your Dress: A wedding dress is really difficult to transport. Your wedding dress should always be in your sight, which means don't check your dress! Carry it on the plane if you have to.
DO Stay Connected with Your Planner: The biggest challenge brides face when planning a destination wedding is communication. You have to find the right momentum and routine with your planner. How do you communicate best? Are you an email person? Do you need to pick up the phone and talk? Let your planner know what you need and what you expect before you hire her. You want to make sure that you and your planner are on the same page.
Dollars and Sense
*Diann Valetine, the host of TNT's Wedding Day and wedding planner for Usher and Toni Braxton, shares her top tips for keeping the costs down at your destination wedding. *
DON'T Hire an Amateur: An inexperienced planner who has never planned a destination wedding won't be able to negotiate the best possible package deal for you and will likely present you with hidden and unexpected costs after you have already locked in your destination.
DON'T invite too many people: Hosting a large group in an unfamiliar place is much more difficult than you think.
DO Watch out for Hidden Fees: Be aware of ancillary costs such as airport and passport fees for international destinations.
Expect the Unexpected
Unexpected events—a tropical rainfall on your wedding day, a surprise serenade from local musicians—can play a large role at destination weddings. Michelle Rago, author of Signature Weddings: Creating A Day Uniquely Your Own, shares her advice on preparing for the surprises that often come along with planning a faraway wedding.
Do Think About the Weather: Brides who opt for an island wedding are often so worried about the possibility of rain, they forget about wind. It can very windy on the islands! You must consider this when choosing your dress and veil. You should also let your guests know, so they can pack accordingly. Wind will impact the amount and type of candlelight you can use, and you'll want to think carefully about tall centerpieces and escort cards, which can topple over.
Don't Forget to Do Your Paperwork: Local government web sites may not be up-to-date when it comes to the paperwork you need to either get your guests in and out of the country or for the paperwork you need to marry there. Shipping goods, such as decor, fresh flowers and goody bags, to foreign countries usually means you'll have to pay duty and/or taxes on the goods. It's complicated and laborious to track all of the paperwork, but your things will be impounded if you do not follow the letter of the law. Know too that goods are taxed differently: if it goes into a country and comes back out, that means one price. If it goes into the country and stays there, the tax tends to be higher. Also, fresh flowers are taxed at a different rate than hard goods.
DO Be Fearless: I always say, "Destination weddings are not for the meek of heart!"