The Destination Wedding Checklist

Are you and your honey jet-setters, ready to say “I do.” in a far away land? Adventure awaits, and we’re right there with you to help you prepare for your big day, and your big trip. You may be headed to a tropical paradise, or a sprawling urban destination but either way a few boxes or more will need to be checked off the list as your make your voyage. Below is our ultimate checklist for any destination wedding, complete with the ability to even print it off and check them off yourself.

12 or more months before I Do

  • First thing is first, get yourself a big beautiful binder to compile all your destination wedding plans and checklist in one easy place for contacts, appointments, vendors, and the rest.
  • Create a budget that makes sense. On average you will spend about $1,000-$3,000 more than expected as you start to plan, so leave some cushion room in the budget for things that inevitably pop up.
  • Decide what sort of ceremony and reception you want, and start looking for your dream venues and locations. You’ll want to book as quickly as possible, however, so don’t take too long. Many venues are booked around a year in advance, so be flexible with your dates until you nail that dream venue. If you’re not sure where to have your destination wedding, look at these 5 unique wedding venues around the world.
  • From this budget and date, you can start choosing vendors based on pricing and availability, or work with your destination wedding planner to choose. Vendors are typically booked 6 – 12 months in advance so you have time, but make sure to secure these vendors as soon as possible, and in clear and conscience writing. Everything in writing. This includes:
    • Hair and Makeup Services
    • Event Decor
    • Music
    • Officiant
    • Photographer / Videographer
    • Catering
    • Cake / dessert catering
    • Florist
  • Now is the time to think of your wedding party and asking them to be involved
  • Based on the guest count that fits into the budget and you have your date set, start choosing the loved ones you want to celebrate with.
  • Start looking for your dress style and silhouette you want, maybe choose a designer if you’re getting one custom made
  • Consider styles for invitations and save the dates. Send your save the dates asap! Find uniquely beautiful invitations at Paper & Lace

6-11 months before I Do

wedding in progress at viscaya museum in Miami with big trees and guests
  • Secure any vendors that aren’t already booked.
  • Choose a hotel for you and your guests, making sure to call and block out an area for your guests to be able to easily book and stay in one location.
  • Create and send out save the dates
  • Choose your wedding party colors, bouquet flowers, and event decor options
  • Take engagement photos
  • Make sure your reception hall has been secured
  • Do you need wedding insurance? Now is the time to think about it. A destination wedding checklist is great, but it won’t cover weather or no shows
  • Create a place, such as a website, where your guests can go to see the details of your celebration. Things to include are a timeline of events, a map of accomodations / venue, and your registry. Many people make a website which you can do for free at but there are other options. A simple one time email or card included with invitation can work, but do realize this as not as easy to change if the timeline changes.

3-6 months before I Do

bridesmaids in a fun stance with bride in middle and green bouquet in front of a lake
  • Choose your wedding party dresses / tuxedos and have them fitted
  • Choose your wedding gown (eep!) and your reception or other event outfits.
  • Start thinking of what dinners, activities, or other outings you want planned for your guests, and for you and your soon to be beau
  • Create a registry
  • Purchase any accessories you may be wearing like jewelry, veil, shoes, and bedroom garments
  • Select final menu(s) and cake
  • If required for your destination, get shots or blood work marked off the wedding checklist
  • Book your travel and encourage guests to do the same
  • Send out formal invitations with your new engagement photos
  • Book your rehearsal dinner location

1-3 months before I Do

just married couple show off their rings to the camera with pink bouquet in background
  • Make sure your rings are sized correctly and ready to go with you
  • Finalize your hotel suite and encourage guests to do the same
  • Buy any goods you may want to bring like cake topper, guest book, or party favors
  • Finalize any of those informal guest activities, as well as the couple activities
  • Finish details with your vendors like song lists, photo and video must haves, and delivery / pickup times  
  • Arrange any legal documents needed for the trip including passports and wedding license
  • Start putting a packing checklist together. Give yourself plenty of time to think, rethink, and dream of all the possibilities. Get a list going, make it large, and you can always take things off you realize are overkill.
  • Hunt down anyone who hasn’t RSVP’d yet (le sigh)

Month of the Destination Wedding Day!

golden Goodie bags with honey for wedding party favors
  • Create welcome bags for guests and wedding party
  • Chat with your planner about anything that may need to be adjusted last minute.
  • Send anything you cannot take on the plane to the wedding planner or hotel / event location. Things like wedding decor, welcome bags, guest book, paper goods, etc and be sure to get insurance on your package. Use a trusted worldwide source for shipping like UPS
  • Pick up your gown and / or tux
  • It’s time to pack! Pack your carry ons with your rings, a nights worth of clothes and toiletries, and your ceremony outfits. The last thing you’d want is some lost luggage to ruin your big day.
  • Finalize seating arrangements
  • Confirm – Check into your flights, confirm travel from airport to hotel for you and your key players in the wedding. Be sure to confirm any bookings you may have like music, hair, and makeup services along with finalizing their payout and tips
  • Get your nails done, your hair waxed, and any last minute facial or relaxing massages you might need.
Mountaintop destination wedding with guests and view of mountains and sky

These are the closing hours, the anxious nights of excitement, and the frantic final details. When you start to feel overwhelmed come here to this destination wedding checklist and visually mark off the things you have accomplished, realize that you’ve been busy! Now is the time to trust your past, less anxious self and that she has fully prepared you for this moment the best she possibly could. You’re in good hands, and it is not the time to forget your luggage or the rings, so keep your head clear, mark your destination wedding checklist, and BREATH. You’ve got this, girl!

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