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The Ultimate Guide to Planning a Destination Wedding

March 25, 2024

Are you thinking about planning a destination wedding? First off, heck yes! You are in for a treat! Destination weddings are an amazing way to celebrate the start of your marriage, and you can easily combine it with your honeymoon, making for an even more amazing wedding experience. Planning a destination wedding can sound like a headache, but it doesn’t have to be! Keep scrolling to read the six steps to planning the destination wedding of your dreams!

Your Complete Guide to Planning a Destination Wedding in 6 Steps

Select Your Dream Location

Whether you are thinking of planning a destination wedding in Italy, on the beaches in Mexico, or the shores of South Carolina, the first thing you will need to decide when planning your destination wedding is where you want to get married! The world is too big to just get married in a local building because that’s the easy thing to do. Choosing to plan a destination wedding is about so much more than just the “place”; it’s about the landscapes, the culture, the atmosphere, the EXPERIENCE of it all!

“Yes, Kim, but WHERE should we do this?” Don’t worry, I’ve gotchu. I always recommend that couples sit down together and talk about what they each want and value. Maybe you’ll decide that your destination wedding location is a place that holds sentimental value to you already. Or maybe, it’s a place that you’ve always dreamed of traveling to. No matter where you decide to go, be sure to share your thoughts and decide on a place together. 

And if you’re still having trouble choosing a location, check out my blog on my top 5 destination wedding locations for more ideas.

Bride and groom portraits in the forest during their destination wedding

Set a Budget

Having an idea of how much you can spend is one of the most important things to know when planning a destination wedding. Once you’ve decided on a number with your partner, then you can start planning all the logistics. 

When choosing how much to spend for your destination wedding, think about what aspects are most important to you. Maybe it’s the venue or maybe it’s flowers or videography. Whatever it is, prioritize that and then be willing to be flexible on all the other details. 

*Pro Tip – did you know hiring a wedding planner can actually help you save money? Not only do planners help bring your wedding vision to life, but they can also provide recommendations for other vendors that can fit within your budget. 

Hire Your Destination Wedding Photographer and Other Destination Wedding Vendors

Speaking of vendors, this is where the planning starts to become fun. Two of the first vendors you will want to consider are a destination wedding photographer (hey, that’s me) and a destination wedding planner. Your wedding photographer will be there to capture all the wild, fun, and imperfect moments of your wedding day. They’re the ones who will make sure that you are able to relive your destination wedding day over and over again through photos. 

A destination wedding planner is also one of the most important vendors to hire. A good wedding planner will help you plan your destination wedding from start to finish, provide recommendations on other vendors you may want to hire, and help you navigate the legalities and cultural customs of your destination if you are getting married in another country. My biggest tip here is to hire a local wedding planner when possible. This can help eliminate so many logistical hurdles, language barriers, unknowns, and yes, stress! 

Planning a destination wedding: guests sit on white chair on the beach waiting for the destination wedding ceremony to start

Select a Venue

Planning a destination wedding means that you can get married ANYWHERE, but you already know that! When it comes to choosing your destination wedding venue, you aren’t just limited to traditional wedding venues. You can get married on a beach with the sound of waves lapping in the distance, somewhere high up in the mountains with stunning backdrops, or at a dreamy villa overlooking the ocean. Wherever you choose to get married, make sure it lines up with your original vision.

Book Your Lodging & Transportation 

Your date is set, your vendors and venue are booked, and all that’s left is to do is book your lodging and transportation. I recommend finding a hotel that is near your wedding ceremony location (the general rule of thumb is within 10 minutes driving distance).

It is not necessary for you to pay for your guests’ lodging, however, a nice gesture is to provide them with a few different options within varying price ranges. 

*Pro Tip – According to Brides “Setting up room blocks can help you negotiate a lower price and consolidate everyone in one vicinity.”

If you are traveling internationally, you’ll want to book your flights about 5-6 months in advance. This way you’ll secure your ticket and get the best price. If possible, try to arrive at your destination a few days early. This will allow you to adjust to any time changes, meet your vendors, and take care of any last-minute details before the big day!

Consider Your Guest Experience 

Your destination wedding is meant to be fun and a part of that fun is your guest experience. Whether you want to spend time with your guests outside of your big day or you just want to make sure they have everything they need to enjoy their time away, there are a few things that can make the experience more enjoyable for everyone.

  • Provide detailed travel information well in advance so your guests can plan. This can include visa requirements, recommended airports, and accommodation recommendations.
  • Create an itinerary that offers guests a taste of the local culture and attractions. Just be sure to include some relaxation time as well.
  • Consider having welcome gifts or baskets for your guests when they arrive. 

More Destination Wedding Guides You Should Check Out


Planning a destination wedding is an adventure that requires a bit of planning and a whole lot excitement! After all YOU ARE GETTING MARRIED! Destination weddings are all about being a rule breaker and redefining tradition. It’s ok (recommended even) to do things YOUR WAY and in a way that represents you and your partner. Whether you’re called to say “I Do” along the coast, in the mountains, or any other destination, I can’t encourage you enough. Making this day about you is the number one priority so don’t let anyone tell you differently.


Ready to start planning your destination wedding? Click that contact button below and let’s get this party started!

P.S. I am offering 20% off for any destination package booked for 2025.

BEHIND THE LENS

ABOUT Kim kaye

Your destination wedding & intimate wedding photographer.

As you already know by now, my names Kim and no "Kim Kaye" is not a play on words. ;) I'm always down for popping a bottle of bubbly, making memories, laughing and never missing a sunset. I am SO excited you found me! You're probably wondering if I'm the wedding photographer for you, right? Well, I love to hear it because that promises me that you want a true connection with your photographer and I the same with my clients! 

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      ULTIMATE
timeline

Planning your day is a lot, let's be honest. Your wedding timeline is the key to having things flow freely throughout your day.
*hiring a planner is a huuuge benefit too* 
To help, I've created a timeline guide for you to use as a reference to get an idea on what you day will look like.

guide