Love Is In The Air
Hosting a destination wedding is an ideal way to bring together your nearest and dearest for a beautiful getaway, in the destination of your dreams, to celebrate the love that you and your partner share. From the iconic cityscape of your favourite film to swoon-worthy sandy beaches, the allure of hosting your wedding in a far-flung location can be hard to pass up. Here, Pamela Hale discovers everything you need to know before jetting off for your fairytale destination wedding; from timelines and transportation to guest lists and gift guides, read on to discover a host of crucial tips and tricks to ensure your destination wedding goes off without a hitch.
FIRST THING’S FIRST
When it comes to planning a destination wedding, it’s no real surprise that the destination itself is an excellent starting point. Once you’ve established the ‘where’ of your special day, you can begin to factor in the more specific details, such as the venue, guestlist and itinerary. Whether there’s a destination that you’ve only ever dreamed of visiting, or a particular place that resonates closely with you or your partner, there’s plenty of ways to settle on the right locale for your nuptials. Perhaps you’ve decided that rather than inviting friends or relatives who live overseas to your big day, you’d prefer to take the party to them. If your heart is set on hosting a destination wedding, but you’re unsure of a specific setting, find inspiration by scouring through Instagram posts and Pinterest boards – the destination wedding hashtag on Instagram currently has more than seven million posts!
After you’ve settled on the locale, be sure to consider what time of year would be best for your nuptials; while you’ll likely want to go when the weather is at its best, avoiding peak tourism periods is also a good idea for myriad reasons. When travelling outside of busy travel periods, you’ll be more likely to find availability for your preferred venue and accommodation, while also avoiding escalated booking prices and fees.
If possible, having the time to familiarise yourself with the destination can also make for a smoother process. If your wedding will be hosted somewhere you’ve visited in the past, this will certainly make things easier; however, if you’ve not visited before, it would be ideal to take a quick trip to get the lay of the land before arranging anything. Scouting locations in person will always guarantee more accuracy than basing your choice solely off images. Likewise, trialling menus and testing cakes is not only a whole lot of fun, but a practical stage within the planning process. However, if you don’t have the time or budget to have a pre-wedding visit to the destination, take heart; hosting your wedding at your dream destination without having visited previously would certainly make for a memorable occasion. In this situation, you’ll simply need to be doubly diligent when it comes to planning.
LOST IN TRANSLATION
If you are planning to wed in an unfamiliar location, a crucial step to take early on is finding a wedding planner. Although many couples prefer to do the planning themselves, when it comes to destination weddings, it’s certainly advisable to rely on someone with a little more expertise in this field. If you’re planning to get married in a locale where you don’t speak the language, the planning process will become all the more important to ensure your plans aren’t lost in translation – figuratively or literally! Luckily, the increase in couples looking to hold destination weddings has seen a proliferation of wedding planners who deal specifically in this type of occasion. Having an expert planner at hand will help alleviate a whole host of potential stressors, and ensure your wedding is well organised. If anything doesn’t go according to plan, there’s the added benefit of having your planner at hand to remedy any problems.
SAVE THE DATE
After you’ve found the destination of your dreams, and someone to help you orchestrate your big day, finalising your guestlist and sending out your save the date cards ought to be a priority. This is particularly important to arrange early when international travel is involved, as your guests will need ample time to ensure their travel documents are up to date. On than note, be sure to double check the validity of your own passport, keeping in mind that many countries won’t accept a passport that’s valid for less than six months at the time of travelling. You’ll also need to make sure you have all the necessary documentation arranged to ensure the location you’ve chosen will allow your marriage to occur, and that your marriage will be recognised within Australia.
Settling on a date will also help with many of your other scheduling dilemmas, from selecting a venue so you can make a booking, to the theme or styling you’d like to incorporate, and the types of celebratory events you’d like to host.
When it comes to styling, the aesthetic you settle on will likely be influenced by not only the location, but also factors such as the season, which can impact decisions such as floral arrangements and colour palettes. Likewise, if you’re hosting an autumnal Tuscan affair, the activities you arrange will be vastly different to if you were to settle on a seaside escape in the summertime.
CELEBRATE IN STYLE
Once you’ve got the nitty gritty details sorted, you can begin to spend time focusing on the fun stuff. From what to do before and after the ceremony, to gorgeous gifts for your guests, the little details that will make your destination wedding all the more special are well worth considering.Pre- and post-wedding events are typically influenced by tradition. That being said, the possibilities really are endless, and should be governed by the type of experience you would like for yourself and your guests. Since you’ll have guests travelling, and possibly flying in, for your occasion, a destination wedding is best hosted as a multi-day if not week-long occasion. So, why not host a fabulous party in order to kick off the celebrations; allow your guests a relaxed environment in which to meet and mingle; and show your appreciation for the efforts they’ve made to celebrate with you.
When going to the effort of hosting a destination wedding, regardless of the reason why you’ve settled on your special spot, the place itself will become a pivotal aspect of your big day, and the memories that surround it. For this reason, having location-specific surprises and events will make the occasion all the more memorable. Finding ways to incorporate the unique culture of your destination is an exciting aspect of planning a destination wedding. Think long lunches at iconic venues, tailored bachelor and bachelorette parties, and culture-specific customs.
Since you’ll probably have a few days to spare either side of the big day, and your bridal party will certainly be in attendance, why not host your bachelor and bachelorette parties once you’ve arrived? These occasions are the perfect time to celebrate your upcoming nuptials with your closest friends; be sure to celebrate in your own style, whatever that may be. Over the past several years there has certainly been a shift towards more luxurious events than the traditional wild nights out that are so prevalent throughout popular culture. These events are also an opportunity to thank your nearest and dearest for taking such an important role within your wedding. Consider hosting a pampering session at one of the region’s most celebrated day spas, or a cocktail night overlooking the location’s iconic landmarks.
These events are another reason to find a knowledgeable wedding planner; they’ll be able to give you an abundance of recommendations, catered to your preferences.
Another activity to orchestrate, whether it functions as your bachelor and bachelorette party or perhaps just a fun day out for all your guests, is a city-wide scavenger hunt. This will give your guests the opportunity to take in the sights and explore more of what your destination has to offer. Arranging a few extra activities that you wouldn’t normally do back home, and indulging in the occasion with friends and family wouldn’t go amiss either. Whether its swimming with dolphins in Maui or wine tasting in Bordeaux, finding activities that will bring you closer together, and inspire fond recollections for years to come, will make your wedding trip all the more memorable.
Be sure to gift your guests with location-specific treats, too. While activities will certainly be cherished, it’s a nice touch to leave your guests with something they can take away. Even if it’s something little like a few sweet treats; think Honolulu Cookie Company if you’re in Hawaii, or Charbonnel et Walker truffles if you’re in London, your guests will be sure to appreciate the memento.
HERE COMES THE BRIDE
When it comes to the big day itself, incorporating the cultural customs of the destination can be achieved in a respectful way. Depending on your wedding destination, you might find yourself breaking bread or breaking plates. Either way, honouring the traditions of the place in which you’ve decided to host such an auspicious life event will add value to the occasion. That being said, assuming the traditions of another culture can be tenuous, so be sure to inform yourself on the culture’s customs, heed the advice of your planner, and focus on honouring and appreciating the culture of your destination rather than replicating it.
There are many other pragmatic considerations to take into account before your wedding day arrives. For instance, if you have your outfits arranged before you go and need to travel with them, things can become far trickier than you may have anticipated – especially when it comes to the wedding gown. First and foremost, it’s always best not to place wedding gowns in checked baggage, and instead take them as carry on. You’ll need to liaise with your airline to ensure your gown is packed in a way that meets their requirements and see if there are storage options apart from the overhead compartments. Likewise, find out if your planner, accommodation or venue will be able to provide steaming services; if not, the best option is to take a portable steamer with you. You don’t want to walk down the aisle with crinkles in your gown!
WHAT COMES NEXT
While planning a destination wedding, it can be all too easy to focus on getting to ‘I do’, but you’ll certainly need to factor in what comes after your ceremony and reception to get the most out of your trip away. After your wedding day has comeand gone, having a day or two to wind down and enjoy post-wedding celebrations with your guests will likely be the proverbial icing on the cake. Hosting a post wedding breakfast is a lovely way to end your celebrations, or if you’re planning to party long into the night, perhaps a brunch or lunch would be more advisable. Often, it’s these little overlooked moments that end up having the most significance. Taking the time to unwind with your guests in a relaxed setting will make for an ideal moment of reflection before going your separate ways.