This is a guest post courtesy of Ariel Chiu, Principal Planner and Owner at Wonderstruck Weddings & Events.

A destination wedding sounds like a fun and relaxing — but expensive — way to get married. The truth is, it can be very difficult and stressful to plan, and also not necessarily as expensive as you might think. If you want to have a beautiful, dream destination wedding you’ll have to realize that it is a very different process in a number of key ways than planning a more typical wedding in your hometown. Here are six tips to help you plan a destination wedding with these differences in mind.

Pick Your Wedding Date Carefully

When you are choosing where you want your destination wedding to be, make sure you research every location you are seriously considering before booking anything. There are a few reasons why:

  • Weather — you don’t want to accidentally pick a date during the stormy or cold season
  • Prices — tourism in any country has high and low seasons, and to save money you can look into the low season
  • Local laws and customs — countries have different laws or customs about getting married and having a wedding that you may have to follow

To avoid being blindsided by poor weather, huge prices, and laws that make your planning more difficult than it needs to be, do your due diligence. You might find that the location you initially wanted won’t work for your wedding, but you can find a similar — and much more suitable — alternative.

Visit the Location

When you book a venue or a vendor for a typical wedding close to home, it’s easier to go to the actual location and meet them face to face to get personal experience with them. That way, you have better peace of mind knowing that you’re getting what you want without any uncertainty.

With a destination wedding, however, that can be more difficult and you might consider forgoing personally visiting your chosen location. In a word: don’t! Pictures, videos, phone calls and emails will not do your venue or vendors justice. Try and manage to have at least the two of you go out to the venue, scope out the location where you and your guests will be staying, and meet your most important vendors in person to go over your wedding plan. You will get valuable information from visiting, or potentially uncover big red flags that help you avoid a disastrous wedding day.

Keep a Relaxed Schedule

When you have a destination wedding, odds are it will be in a very interesting location that will have plenty to do and see. While you might want to have tons of special events planned, it’s a good idea to keep your schedule relaxed and loose — both you and your guests will undoubtedly want to go out and do the things you’re interested in, which won’t often overlap.

It’s a good idea to actually plan for certain days or times to have no activities at all — people are free to do what they want so they’ll be around during those times when you need them. Alternatively, you can plan a series of events that are optional or flexible with the scheduling — aside from the rehearsal and wedding day, of course — where people can come and go as they please.

Choose Your Guest List Carefully

There are two good reasons to keep your guest list shorter than typical weddings: your location might be too small to have a full guest list, and destination weddings tend to be more expensive. It will help for you and your spouse-to-be to sit down and come up with a list of only the people you absolutely want to be there, at least to start.

If you find that you have more room at the location and in your budget, you can then come up with a revised list plus some extras at hand in case others have to back out. It’s a good idea to do this before you book anything or send out invites — that way you can make quick and efficient decisions when you need to.

Budget for Helping VIPs

An unfortunate problem that is common with destination weddings is that some of your guests will not be able to attend because they cannot afford the cost of travel and accommodation. For your most important guests that you absolutely want to be there, you might want to try setting aside a portion of your wedding budget to help cover their costs. This is another reason why your guest list will likely need to be smaller than a typical wedding.

Stick to Your Priorities

Destination weddings are usually dream weddings — it’s somewhere you’ve always wanted to go, maybe even somewhere you always wanted to get married. While some parts of the wedding planning will need compromise and flexibility, in the end you should make sure you stick to your core priorities as much as possible. Do you want to get married on a beach? Get married on a beach. Do you want all your family there but not everyone can afford it? Cover their costs so they can see you walk down the aisle.

This also means that you need to be more flexible and willing to compromise on anything that isn’t among your core priorities. For example, maybe you get married on a different beach than the one you originally planned, if beaches in general is more important than a specific beach.

About the Author:

Ariel Chiu is the Principal Planner and Owner of Wonderstruck Weddings & Events, a corporate event and wedding planning company located in Vancouver, British Columbia. Ariel Understands how special life events can be. She believes that these important memories should be cherished. Ariel feels honored to have been involved with successfully organizing and coordinating weddings in any season, and bringing dreams to life through her confessions.