Ready to pack your bags? Any jetsetter bride or destination wedding planner will tell you that while away-from-home nuptials are tons of fun — sunshine! Gorgeous views! Swanky hotels! — they're also tons of work — think: travel arrangements, big expenses, and tricky vendors. No one knows this better than pro planner, Michelle Rago, who's put together more than 50 destination weddings. Here, she spills her insider tips!
1. Planning your bash without visiting the venue is like building a house while wearing a blindfold. You need to know how long a course takes to come out of the kitchen, how late the beach clears out, and when music will be playing. Embrace how a hotel does things, then plan around it.
2. If you do a buyout, don't over negotiate — especially in the high season. A wedding can displace a lot of business, especially in the restaurants, so you don't have as much leverage as you think.
__See more: The Dos and Don'ts of Destination Weddings __
3. Any vendors who come with you may have to apply for work permits. This is where a planner with connections really comes in handy.
4. And if you're bringing your own officiant, some destinations may still require that a local official be present for the wedding to be legal.
5. You're going to want to park yourself on the beach with a glass of rosé as soon as you arrive. So book and cook all details, including the seating chart, before you go.
6. Spontaneous gatherings can be tough. Say your guests are staying at three hotels and the wedding is at the most expensive one. They're not going to let you roll up to the pool with 40 people who aren't registered guests. Make sure you organize group activities ahead of time.
Want more genius planning tips? For the best wedding dresses, advice, and big-day inspiration, pick up the BRIDES December 2015/January 2016 issue, on newsstands now and available for download here!