Destination Wedding Planning

There is something exciting as well as special about getting married in a destination where it means something to you and your partner. It may be where they proposed, in that favourite holiday destination that you went to ever since you were kids by the beach or where you met your partner at a friends camping trip set amongst the backdrop of the mountains.

As gorgeous and sentimental as these locations are, they require a lot more effort and planning for a wedding in comparison to a wedding in your “own backyard” so to speak. You may not be overly familiar with the area and layout of the land, you may be more limited to choosing your preferred suppliers (you may need to ask your favourite sppliers if they travel) and most of all if you plan a destination wedding you are asking your guests to consider the requirement to travel – spend a little more in time AND money. But with a little knowledge, assistance and planning, you can create a memorable wedding celebration getaway for you and your guests. Follow these tips to help you arrange your amazing destination wedding experience that you and your guests will remember and be talking about for years to come!

Picture courtesy of Impeccabelle Creative Studio 

Send out a Save The Date

If you’re like me and love a good celebration with ALL your friends and family then this is essential if you are planning a destination wedding. It gives your guests a chance to do just that- save the date and get organised in regards to attending your wedding. This may include

  • organising travel to your destination,
  • booking their accommodation, even looking for a beautiful air bnb to share with friends,
  • perhaps organising babysitters (if children are not invited to the wedding), petsitters or house sitters depending on your location and how far away your wedding will be.

The best timeframe is generally 9-12 months to allow plenty of notice to plan the above. I’m all about the planning, so the more time to plan, the better!

Inviting Children?

Another thing to keep in mind when planning a destination wedding, is that some of your friends and family may have children and might want to make a family trip out of your wedding weekend. The easiest way to indicate that children are invited to the wedding itself is to address your save the dates and invitations with “and family” following the “Mr. and Mrs.” If you are inviting them, it’s nice to suggest babysitters or childcare services so that your friends can more easily plan a worry-free night of celebrating. Or why not provide a designated childrens area at the reception? Think low lying tables and cushions, some colouring packs, bubbles and maybe even some craft activities! Great to keep them entertained while they aren’t eating or dancing up a storm on the dance floor! If children aren’t invited to the celebratory night, leave it as “Mr. and Mrs.” on the envelope. However, to be extra clear, it’s a good idea to include a small statement on your save the date/invitations if the event is an adults-only affair.

Guest Accommodation

If you are holding a destination wedding in a location where some of your guests may not have been to, it’s a great idea to include a list of suggested accommodation options to be provided with your save the date, to give them plenty of time to look into where they would like to stay.  Also why not ask your planner to touch base with local accommodation providers to provide options of group booking deals and special rates that could be provided for your guests. This is a fantastic choice when the wedding location is a little remote and there aren’t many options to stay close to the venue. Another suggestion is that you  will have people on all different budgets, so its nice to provide a range of different accommodation options—from 5-star boutique varieties to budget-friendly selections such as caravan park cabins (plenty of great options in the Shoalhaven region!) On the other hand your guests may put in towards a luxury airbnb accommodation –  after all they cannot wait to celebrate their best friends wedding.. right? Or your venue may be able to accommodate glamping onsite – a great way to keep your friends close! So many options it can sometimes be a little overwhelming! However don’t forget that with plenty of notice it gives your guests time to think about what they want to do.

Guest Transport

If you are holding a destination wedding, a nice gesture to your guests is to include a coach or bus service to transport your guests to and from their accommodation (or a central meeting point) to the ceremony and reception venue.

There a couple of reasons why – they may not be familiar with the area of your wedding, they will be at your ceremony on time, eliminates parking issues at the venue(s), encourages inter guest bonding and hey the biggest benefit – they won’t be drinking and driving! Plus its one less thing they have to worry about with all the preparation of what to wear, where they are staying and whos looking after the kids. Instead of arriving to your wedding frazzled and rushed after spending 20 minutes stuck in traffic on the highway, they’ll come happy, refreshed, and more than ready to celebrate!

Plus – if you need some shuttling of the smaller décor items, eskys for drinks and even the drinks themselves, why not put them in the bus too! Just remember to entrust that job with someone responsible..

Pre & Post Wedding Events

A destination wedding is a designated holiday for all your wedding guests that might run over one night, a few days or even a week! A wedding away from home allows for a series of rolling events not just one night of celebrations. An example of a wedding weekend itinerary may include a Pre Wedding Cocktail Parties or low key dinners (separate into girls and boys if you’d prefer a girls date or a guys hang) are usually planned for everyone on arrival, with post wedding get together’s organised for the following day after the wedding.

It is a good idea to welcome your guests and organise a few drinks the night before the wedding that run over a couple of hours – not into the wee hours of the morning! This could be cocktails with canapes at the hotel bar, pub dinner or drinks and grazing platters on your deck at your acommodation. This is a great way for guests to mingle and get to know each other before the wedding the following day.

The day after the wedding it is a nice idea to hold a casual brunch or lunch, usually hosted by the couple or a relative or friend at your reception venue or maybe even a local park or beach. Add some garden/lawn games to add a little fun and for your guests and to reconnect and reflect after an extravagant celebration the night before. This can be a lovely send off for your guests before they take the long (or short!) journey home.  In terms of catering keep it light and simple- it could be bacon and egg rolls a fruit platter and tea and coffee. If guests would prefer to keep going and possibly for those extending their break, maybe provide some light alcoholic beverages (there may be some left from the previous evenings proceedings).  Whatever it may be, keep it simple as the last thing you’d want to be doing is setting up another big celebration.

Ultimate Guest Gifts

And finally a super considerate gift to give your guests at your destination wedding is a Welcome Bag. This can be as a substitute for your bonbonniere especially if you’re stuck for ideas, yet more practical. The bags could include:

  • A tourism guide of the local area (or your own customised welcome booklet of things to do places to see in the area) and /or an itinerary of your weekend – great if you have planned pre and post wedding day activities.
  • Sunscreen (especially if planning an outdoors ceremony)
  • Bottle of water with a customised label
  • Maybe a snack such as a packet of chips or lollies
  • And maybe even some panadol know- to cure that hangover!

Customise the products to your season (eg instead of a bottle of water, you may choose to substitute for some tea, coffee or hot chocolate for winter time). It doesn’t have to be presented in a bag, although a cute tote is always useful. For example, you could also use a box or basket (although a basket may be difficult for them to take home on a plane). Make sure the container you choose isn’t too big, so you don’t have to buy too many products to fill it! The welcome bag can mean a lot to someone who has travelled far and maybe not so far but it is a nice gesture for your guests to appreciate them attending your celebrations.

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