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Planning a destination wedding can be an exhilarating adventure, and really how does it get any better by having it in a tropical paradise?  At Weddings by Design Our Travel, we've mastered the art of crafting unforgettable events in the Caribbean and Mexico, bringing our expertise to various destinations. We understand that a destination wedding isn’t just about the ‘I dos’. It’s an experience – a chance for you and your guests to create lasting memories in a stunning setting. But you might wonder, "How do we host a memorable gathering for our family and friends in a place far from home?"

Here are our top dos and don’ts to help you navigate the exciting journey of planning a destination wedding.

The Dos of Destination Wedding Planning

Hire a Travel-Savvy Planner that Specializes in the Destination 

Having a destination wedding planner who's well-versed in the nuances of your wedding destination can make all the difference. At Weddings by Design Our Travel, we're no strangers to orchestrating events in the Caribbean and Mexico, and we're always ready to pack our bags for anywhere that involves sand + sun. We are a team of globe-trotting professionals and we understand that having a planner who brings a valuable "boots on the ground" perspective is crucial in providing the essential insights and support needed for hosting a destination wedding. 

"Sarah was amazing to work with. She helped me and my guests with anything we needed! Her response time was exceptional and never left me hanging. I will definitely recommend Weddings by Design Our Travel to anyone looking to travel, as I fully trusted Sarah throughout our entire process."  - Alesia F. - Secrets Cap Cana bride, April 2024

Choose Your Location and Time Wisely

Selecting the perfect spot for your big day involves more than just falling in love with the scenery. Consider factors like weather patterns, peak tourist seasons, and local events. If your desired destination is popular or if there are specific venues you dream of having your ceremony + reception at, it's important that you start planning 12-18 months in advance ideally.

Embrace the Local Culture

Infuse your wedding with the unique flavor of your destination. From local cuisine and decor to traditional music and customs, integrating these elements can make your wedding truly stand out and provide an immersive experience for you and your guests:

  1. Beachfront Ceremonies: Exchange vows with the turquoise Caribbean Sea or the stunning Pacific Ocean as your backdrop, immersing yourself in the natural beauty of the region.
  2. Mayan Ruins: Choose a historical site such as Tulum in Mexico or Chichen Itza in the Yucatan Peninsula for a wedding steeped in ancient Mayan culture and mystique.
  3. Traditional Cuisine: Incorporate local flavors into your wedding menu with dishes like jerk chicken in Jamaica, ceviche in Mexico, or conch fritters in the Bahamas, offering guests a taste of authentic Caribbean and Mexican cuisine.
  4. Mariachi Bands: Add a touch of Mexican flair to your celebration with live mariachi music, serenading guests with lively tunes and traditional songs that capture the spirit of Mexico.
  5. Island Music and Dance: Embrace the rhythmic beats of Caribbean music such as reggae, calypso, or soca, inviting guests to dance the night away under the stars.
  6. Rum Tastings: Treat guests to a rum tasting experience, showcasing the diverse flavors of Caribbean rum and its rich history in the region, like Jamaica's Appleton Estate.
  7. Colorful Decor: Incorporate vibrant colors and local elements into your wedding decor, such as tropical flowers like hibiscus and bougainvillea, hand-painted Mexican tiles, or Caribbean-inspired prints.
  8. Sunset Sail: Host a pre-wedding sunset sail excursion, where guests can enjoy breathtaking views of the coastline while sipping cocktails and soaking in the romantic ambiance.
  9. Hacienda or Plantation Venues: Opt for a wedding venue with historical significance, such as a restored hacienda in Mexico or a colonial plantation in the Caribbean, offering a glimpse into the region's rich heritage and architecture.

Check Local Marriage Requirements

Different countries and states have varying legal requirements for marriage. Research and ensure you comply with these laws to avoid any surprises. With our destination couples, we’ve found they prefer to handle the legalities at home with a small ceremony or simple justice of the peace service and then have a symbolic ceremony and reception with more of their friends and family at their ideal destination. 

Plan Travel Logistics

Chances are having a destination wedding = needing a passport.  It's important to inform your guests well in advance. We suggest sending your Save the Dates at least 10 months in advance to allow your guests ample time to complete all the necessary travel requirements and logistics.  It's also a good idea to notify your bank and credit card companies about your travel plans to prevent any financial hiccups.

The Don’ts of Destination Wedding Planning

Don’t Book Sight Unseen

It’s unnerving to book venues or vendors without a proper vetting process. If you can’t visit in person, utilize video calls to meet vendors and see venues. Rely on your planner's local knowledge and network to make informed decisions. At Weddings by Design Our Travel, our full-service and destination packages include utilizing our full library of resort partners and on + offsite venues.

Don’t Ignore Guest Experience

Your guests are making a significant effort to join your celebration. Consider their travel ease, accommodations, and what they can do once they arrive. Organizing group activities, providing welcome bags, and offering a detailed itinerary can greatly enhance their experience. Being that we are not only destination wedding planners, but also a travel agency makes it super easy to have us handle everything from A-Z!

Don’t Forget to Relax and Enjoy

In the whirlwind of planning and coordinating, don’t forget the reason behind it all - your love and commitment. Take time to enjoy the journey, soak in the unique experiences, and make memories that will last a lifetime.

At Weddings by Design Our Travel, we understand the complexities and joys of destination wedding planning. Let’s make your dream wedding a reality, no matter where in the world it takes us! 🌍💍✈️