6 Essentials For How To Plan Your Destination Wedding
Want to know how to plan a destination wedding? It’s simple, find a photographer you adore and bring them with! lol. Only teasing. But for real, did you know many of your favorite photographers “have camera & will travel”?
I’m so fortunate to have had two couples this fall that loved my work & personality so much they brought with them to Mexico! They were both incredible experiences and I will cherish them forever.
So I’ve been thinking through these destination weddings and how they are really amazing because the couples choose a location that is meaningful and relaxing. They & their guests essentially get to celebrate their marriage with a vacation! They spend not just one but several days together bonding, relaxing, and building a memory. Nothing says OMGOSH YES more than that!
So below I made a basic and easy list of 6 essentials for how to plan your destination wedding.
ESSENTIAL 1: Where Do You Want To Go?
Sky’s the limit! Where do you want to get married and celebrate those lifelong vows? Beach, Villa, Mountaintop, Italy, Jungle? I mean it’s really all available in our era. Anywhere you can imagine celebrating is simply there for you.
You would want to choose something that makes you feel alive and is the perfect setting for the mood you are going for. I would say most American destination weddings are beach either remote or resort. Also, there is an increasing number of mountaintop destinations.
The average local wedding costs around $30-$50k in America. Sometimes couples will save more by doing a home wedding for under $20k. The average destination wedding will cost $27,000! That is because the guest count for a local wedding is MUCH higher than a destination wedding. So you save a lot of costs on favors, food, etc. One of the largest costs for a wedding is simply feeding everyone! I found that number by googling & reading a lot of statistics from the Knot, Brides and more.
Just remember that your guests will have to put out some cash to travel as well. Some couples pay for their guest’s expenses… then your cost goes up a lot. Some couples will subsidize the expense. Maybe they will pay for everyone’s rooms which is usually around $900 for three nights, but it’s all inclusive! Or they will pay for everyones flights, that might be $400? So do research on the cost you are asking them to invest & how much you are willing to invest. Then decide what you can do. Depending on how many people you want to be able to attend choose a budget-friendly (or if you want to weed out the annoying aunt, pick a more expensive option lol).
Check with your most important people before you decide. Make sure they would have the budget and what they think. This can be a good indicator on if a destination wedding location is a good fit for you.
ESSENTIAL 3. When Should I Let Everyone Know?
Remember that because you are planning a destination wedding you really should give your guests a lot of notice to plan, arrange life and such around your special date.
You should send your save the dates out between 8-12 months before the wedding.
ESSENTIAL 4. Google, Pinterest, Etsy OH MY
We are so lucky to live in an age where everything to plan our vision is essential at our fingertips! After you have chosen the place you want to go spend some time researching your full vision. Style & colors etc.
Remember one of the best ways to save money to make the most of the natural resources in your destination. So choose flowers that are native and will be in season, choose to have the reception right on the beach like Daniel & Kim so really barely any decor is needed. I mean the sand & ocean is pretty extravagant! All they added was simple white linens, culturally themed table cards, and beautiful floral but simple centerpieces. So simple to implements without much planning required but somehow so incredibly elegant. So get to pinning and researching what’s native in your destination and how to make the most of it.
Then don’t forget about Etsy. There are thousands of local and worldwide small businesses & artists at your fingertips. From rings, ring boxes, invites, and fake florals, to jewerly & dresses alike you can pretty much find everything you love on Etsy!
ESSENTIAL 5. Bring Your Favorites “Have Cameras & Will Travel”
Obviously, I have to talk about this. I mean after all I am a photographer, and I travel for destination weddings… so I’m gonna try to explain why you need me! lol. Many destination couples do not realize the sky is the limit. You are not stuck using your resorts media team, you can often forgo the included option and bring along your dream photographer and videographer.
WHO ARE YOU GETTING?
Now while sometimes the resorts photographer team is amazing but I have heard that it could just be a hotels employee with a camera and you can just hope they get any decent photos. Also, you don’t necessarily know who you will get on the wedding day. You lose control of style, personality etc.
I believe your photographer is more than just style of photographs. Your photographer is also a personality that is going to be by your side and up in your business ALL day long. You really should like each other. haha. I’m so lucky the clients that invest me love my personality and my style, I so often feel like a bridesmaid. I’m so involved & apart of all the intimate moments in the day. I LOVE IT! It’s why I do weddings, yes they are beautiful and exhilarating, but even more, I truly get to love on my couples and make them feel at ease & beautiful behind the lens. I get to make magic!
TIMELINE & PLANNING:
Another great point with working with a professional local photographer is that they will most often help you with your timeline, assuring that the style of photos you want are possible because they are masters of light & angles. We can help create a timeline that flows & gets you the portraits you really want. I help my couples plan everything. First looks, time of the ceremony, time for portraits and the portrait list, the location of portraits (I scout the day before your wedding) etc. So that’s a bonus you won’t get with a destination media team, they will be pretty hands off. You won’t know who your photographer is most of the time. I understand this isn’t always the case, but more often than not, you are not going to have a relationship with your photographer if you don’t bring one you love along.
So as you can see if you have a photographer and a videographer that you love you simple can bring them.
TRAVEL EXPENSES, WHAT TO EXPECT:
Yes, I understand you are paying for their services+ travel expenses. But many photographers offer extras to make up for the extra expenses. Like if you hire me & my husband for a min of 8+ hours at your destination wedding, you will pay our air, transport, a resort for 3-4 nights, and meals (included at an all inclusive resort)…. This can range anywhere between $2500-$3000. BUT I will throw in the rehearsal OR a trash the dress the next day. My husband second shoots the wedding but you don’t pay the normal second shooter cost, just his travel. I also generally throw in a free mini engagement session. So I’ve totally made up your travel costs with all my bonuses! So it’s a win-win! Generally, my out of country destination costs for two photographers are $6000. Stateside is normally around $4500. Many local photographers start at that right here in Phoenix. So I think it’s a pretty amazing deal.
ESSENTIAL 6. Hire the Rest of Your Tribe
I highly recommend working with a travel agent. I even use a travel agent when I shoot destination weddings. They know the customs, they know the process, they know EVERYTHING. They can even find you great deals without all the stress of searching & peeking things together. Also, they can get you non stop transfers from airports, upgraded rooms, and even other fancy extras. Again you are cutting your stress in half! (My Agent’s Info is at the bottom of the post- I love her! Check her out)
Hire a wedding planner to cut your stress in half or more! Your planner can either handle everything for you or just do the basics and take a LOAD of stress off your back. Some wedding friendly resorts even have in-house planners & coordinators THAT ARE INCLUDED! They will handle so many elements for you but again it depends on the resort as to how helpful they will be. This is what Daniel & Kim did. The day of planner was really amazing. I loved her! The team in Dreams Tulum was ON point. Friendly, knowledgeable, and super fun to work with. Another helpful thing with destination planners is they know all the local florists, and vendors you might need in the area.
You can also choose a local planner & bring them along just like your photographer. This all depends on your budget, but once again hiring a planner you know and trust can make all the world of difference. Kelly & Yousiff brought their planner along and she worked side by side with the resort coordinator. She worked side by side with the resort planner to ensure the couple got a personalized experience.
So those are my 6 essential need to know tips for planning a destination wedding.
Enjoy Daniel And Kimberly’s breathtaking Tulum Wedding and pin some images for your Pinterest inspo board! Oh and maybe bring me with on your destination wedding!
Yours Truly- Tracy Battaglia
Fully Alive Photography
My Travel Agent:
Alterations by Couturier Sadie Mardiha
Maid of Honor
Dreams Tulum Salon
Stephanie w/ Savante Salon
(Bride) Gemsetters &
Thank You Sign
Etsy- Vanessa’s Destination Wedding Invitations
Floral – Fake
6 Essentials For How To Plan Your Destination Wedding
Check Out Other Destination Weddings
Or Trash The Dress Destination