Sunny Plans: Ultimate Destination Wedding Checklist
Hey there, Sunny here! Planning my WeddingMoon has made an otherwise usually overwhelmed me the Olivia Pope of check list and charts. Me, a glass (ok, bottle) of red wine and my wedding to-do list has literally helped me stay one step ahead month by month. The number one rule of making your destination wedding experience is plan ahead to stay organized. I shared my ultimate destination wedding checklist with Wedding Paper Divas and now I’m sharing it with you. Print it, check it, use it!
12 Months Away
- __ Get Engaged. Check!
- __ Set a Budget (I cannot express enough how important this!)
- __ Start planning and draft your Guest List.
- __ Pick your wedding venue (keep in mind if you’re planning a WeddingMoon -wedding and honeymoon in one-, you’re essentially picking your honeymoon spot first unless you’re hopping to another location.)
- __ Look up and start to gather the weddings documents you need to get married in the country you’ve chosen.
- __ Make your first wedding/honeymoon deposit to secure your wedding date and honeymoon suite.
- __ Once booked, schedule your first call with your pre-travel wedding planner.
- __ Start thinking about the time of day you want your wedding.
- __ Research good travel insurance.
- __ Ask friends and family you’re considering being a part of your bridal party.
- __ Optional: If you haven’t visited your destination before, plan a visit. Look for venues abroad that offer a chance to test drive your wedding destination.
10-11 Months Away
- __ Research best group wedding hotel accommodation deals at your destination. Look for hotels/resorts that offer group wedding discounts and reserve a block of rooms or share this information on your wedding website for your guests.
- __ 11 months away: Finalize your guest list and send out save-the-dates (also very important to give guests time to plan travel).
- __ Build out your wedding website with as much travel and wedding information as possible to include the link with your wedding invites enclosure cards.
- __ Research and book your wedding photographer, especially if they’re located at your wedding destination.
- __ Buy your plane tickets.
- __ Schedule two – three calls with your pre-travel planners to talk wedding documents, décor and vendors.
- __ Secure the time of day of your wedding.
- __ Apply for passport and travel visas if needed. Caribbean destinations don’t require a travel visa.
- __ Optional: Sign up for a honeymoon/travel wedding registry (if you’re not into traditional wedding registries).
9-7 Months Away
- __ 10-9 Months Away: Shop for, order and send out destination wedding invitations, especially if you’re getting married during peak travel seasons like winter, spring and summer.
- __ 9 Months Away: Buy your destination wedding dress.
- __ Shop for and order bridesmaids’ dresses.
- __ Shop for wedding bands.
- __ Start to think of the type of reception you want to have including food, specialty bars, desserts etc.
- __ Think about your wedding entertainment.
6-5 Months Away
- __ Go through RSVP list and note accommodations/hotels for all your guests.
- __ Arrange a call with your planner to set your cocktail and reception menus and entertainment for your reception.
- __ Send off your wedding documentation if you haven’t already.
- __ Shop for beach or vacation wear/swimsuits that you absolutely must have. Don’t forget your flip-flops!
- __ Shop for your wedding accessories including the right wedding shoes for your venue.
4-3 Months Away
- __ Follow up call with your pre-travel planner: make all your hair, makeup and any other spa appointments.
- __ Check in with your guests to see if they’ve made their hotel accommodations and to see if you qualify for any group wedding perks.
- __ Order any favors or special items you want to take with you to your venue like cake toppers, guest book, cute robes, etc.
- __ Rent/Buy Groom and Groomsmen attire.
- __ Call your airline to ask about traveling with your wedding dresses. Most airlines have a separate policy and may not allow you to store it in the on-board closet.
2-1 Months Away
- __ Write your wedding vows
- __ Set your wedding day order/run-of-show including speeches and wedding traditions you want to include, i.e. tossing of bouquet, cake cutting etc.
- __ Make Up your seating chart
- __ Make a must-play or do not-play list for your DJ.
- __ Pick all your ceremony music (i.e. wedding party processional, song the brides walks to, document signing, recessional, etc.)
- __ Do a final call through of outstanding RSVP and get a final headcount. Give a firm and final deadline to your guests and those who don’t RSVP by a certain date will be marked as not attending.
- __ Order your bridal party and family gifts.
- __ Have an over view call with your wedding planner to go over all your destination wedding details including seating charts, wedding day timeline, final décor details, assure all final documents have been received to apply for your marriage license. Plan your pre-wedding, rehearsal dinner at your destination.
- __ Have your final gown fitting and arrange for your gown to be professionally packaged for travel.
- __ Order all of your wedding day stationary – wedding programs, table numbers etc.
- __ Assure all your bridesmaids have everything they need – dress, accessories, etc.
- __ Order and put together items for your welcome bags/packets.
The Week Before
- __ Pack your bags for your honeymoon. Don’t forget to pack sunscreen and other toiletries in your checked luggage, not your carry on.
- __ Go over final headcount and menu details with your on-site wedding planner.
- __ Have a brief meeting with your wedding party to ensure they’re all set for travel and go over any wedding details like who will carry the rings, be your contact person for the day of your wedding for your wedding planner to coordinate with, etc.
The Week Of
- __ Arrive at Destination.
- __ Relax
Seriously, take a breather. You’ve made it through everything on your destination wedding checklist! If you’re planning a destination wedding where you have a local or on-resort planner, you can actually have a bit of fun because it’s all being handled. Arrive at your destination, take a deep breath and get ready to enjoy it all.
- Meet with your on-site wedding planner.
You may have a day to get settled in and then by the next day have a brief over view meeting with your wedding planner to go over the details and make any last minute tweaks. Do a walk through of your wedding location to confirm your ceremony and reception spot. This is the time to give over any special items you may have brought with you and any special instructions as well as hand out welcome bags. You may also have to go and apply for your marriage license in person with the help of your planner.
The Day/Night Before
- __ Have your Rehearsal/ Pre-Wedding Celebration Dinner.
- __ Introduce your on-site planner to your maid-of-honor or whoever will be your point person the day of your wedding.
- __ Have a quick rehearsal/walk through of walking order of your bridal party.
- __ Give your bridal party their gifts, especially if they will be worn the day of the wedding.
- __ Spend a little time alone before all the excitement of the next day.
Then, it’s Wedding Day Time!