Destination Wedding Checklist

If you’ve been searching for the ultimate destination wedding checklist, look no further!

destination wedding checklist

Chances are you’re probably overwhelmed by the numerous tasks that lay ahead of you now that you’ve decided to take the plunge and tie the knot away from home.  Not only are you planning a wedding, you’re also planning a vacation for you and your guests as well as a honeymoon.  It can be really overwhelming and things can quickly fall through the cracks if you’re not organized.

There’s so much to do, but where do you start?  Use the following destination wedding checklist to keep you organized, right on schedule and most of all, sane!!

Download the Destination Wedding Checklist

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Destination Wedding Checklist: 9-12 months before

  • Think about the type of ceremony/reception you want (formal or informal, big or small) and the time of year you want it
  • Create a budget

Get budgeting tips here

  • Choose a destination & research its marriage requirements.

Browse popular locations

  • Choose a date.  

Read about dates to avoid for your destination wedding

  • Request proposals and photos from resorts & venues that interest you.

Search top vendors in the Caribbean, Mexico and more.

  • Do a site visit if time and budget allows. You can scout venues/resorts in person before making a decision, meet with vendors, do food tastings, hair and makeup trials, etc.

More on destination wedding site visits

  • Settle on a venue, reserve your date with them and put down a deposit

Research Venues

  • Start a binder to house all your paperwork, ideas and inspiration in one place. For example, contracts, and magazine pages or print outs of photos that inspire you (flowers, attire, favors, decorations)
  • Compile the guest list

Guest List Etiquette Tips

  • Start collecting guest’s email and mailing addresses
  • Select the members of your bridal party
  • Shop for your dress, keeping in mind the destination’s climate

Browse bridal gowns

Buying online?  Read this guide for avoiding scams when shopping for a wedding dress online


Destination Wedding Checklist: 6-9 months before

  • Choose an officiant
  • Book a photographer (the good ones are booked quickly so do this sooner than later).

Get tips on finding the best Destination Wedding Photographers

  • Book a block of hotel rooms for your guests
  • Launch a personal destination wedding website. You will use this website to keep your guests updated about important wedding information and collect RSVP’s.

See reviews of travel and beach themed websites.

  • Send out save the dates and include your website URL

Save-the-date ideas, free templates and resources

  • Select the flowers you want for your bouquet, bridesmaid’s bouquets, groom/groomsmen’s boutonnieres, centerpieces and other decorations

Browse Gallery of Flowers, bouquets, arch, and centerpieces

  • Choose your menu and cake.

Brose gallery of beach themed wedding cakes

  • Book the DJ or band

Read our tips on choosing the right entertainment for your destination wedding.

  • Buy your accessories: shoes, headpiece, jewelry, garter, lingerie
  • Select your bridesmaids dress style and color.

Browse our photo gallery and tips for choosing beach bridesmaid dresses.

  • Create a registry

Destination Wedding Registry Do’s & Don’ts.

Destination Wedding Checklist: 4-6 months before

  • Obtain your passports
  • If required by your destination, get blood tests or vaccines
  • Purchase your rings.
  • Order your invitations.

Find unique travel and beach themed invitations here.

  • Book your flight and accommodations and encourage your guests to do the same.

Before you book, discover travel tips that will save you time and money.

  • Buy any goods or accessories you need such as décor, guest book, cake topper, etc..
  • Shop for resort/honeymoon wear
  • Book wedding day transportation (limos, bus to transport guests to venue)
  • Arrange transportation/transfer from airport to hotel for you and your guests
  • Make arrangements for pre-wedding events/activities such as excursions, welcome reception, rehearsal dinner
  • Buy groom’s attire.

Wondering what should the men should wear? Click here for ideas.

  • Make sure your bridal party order their dresses/attire
  • Start a list of must play (and must NOT play) songs for the DJ and continue to update it throughout the next few months


Destination Wedding Checklist: 2-3 months before

  • Order favors and welcome bag items

Read this post for 17 Welcome Bag items & favors your guests will love

  • Confirm details with all your vendors (Floral arrangements, photography package, DJ song list, menus) and get everything in writing!
  • Mail out invitations
  • Book a hairstylist and make-up artist. Your local planner or resort can offer suggestions.
  • Buy a wedding gift for your fiancé.
  • Purchase gifts for your bridesmaids


Destination Wedding Checklist: 1 month before

  • Assemble welcome bags
  • Prepare welcome letter
  • Arrange how your welcome bag items, favors and decorations will be delivered to your hotel.

Find out how to travel with all these items and past customs/borders

  • Have your final gown fitting (make sure to bring your shoes and accessories).
  • Make arrangements to pick up your dress or have it delivered.
  • Write your vows and choose the readings for your ceremony.
  • Ensure hotel reservations for your guests have been completed


Destination Wedding Checklist: 2 weeks before

  • Confirm your flight and hotel bookings.
  • Review and re-confirm all details with all vendors to make sure you are on the same page and nothing falls through the cracks.
  • Create a seating chart and place cards
  • Make or order ceremony programs
  • Enter RSVP’s into a guest list spreadsheet along with their arrival date, hotel, phone, etc…

Download our free planning spreadsheets to create seating plans, track RSVP’s and manage your budget.


Destination Wedding Checklist: 1 week before

  • Start packing and making arrangements to have family members take some of the items such as favors/welcome bag in their luggage. This may seem early, but with so many important items to take you don’t want to leave it for the last minute.

More Packing advice


Checklist when you arrive at your location

  • Do a walk through/rehearsal at the ceremony site
  • Inspect ceremony and reception sites
  • Confirm details with your ceremony officiant and planner
  • Apply for a marriage license
  • If your destination requires on-site blood test, make arrangements to have them done
  • Assemble your welcome bags and make arrangements to have them delivered to guests rooms or handed to guests by the front desk at check in.
  • Arrange a time to have your bouquet and groom’s boutonnieres delivered to you before the ceremony.
  • Have a hair and make up trial a few days before to make sure it’s exactly what you’ll want on your big day.

Pictures of beach wedding hairstyles

  • If you didn’t do a site visit, this is a good time to do food tastings and change any menu item you don’t like.
  • Have your dress pressed/steamed to smooth out any wrinkles it encountered while traveling.

More about traveling with your bridal gown

  • Book a manicure/pedicure for the day before you get married.


Wedding Day Checklist

  • Make sure you have your rings before heading to the ceremony
  • Have one of your bridesmaids deliver your gift to your fiancé while he gets ready.
  • Give yourself a pat in the back for checking off everything on this massive destination wedding checklist….then RELAX and have fun!!


Save and Print Destination Wedding Checklist.

Get your destination wedding packing checklist

Follow Me on Pinterest to Get More Tips & Ideas


Get Personalized Checklist Alerts Sent to Your Inbox

Fill out the form below to get personalized alerts sent right to your email reminding you of everything you need for your destination wedding.

The checklist will synch up with your wedding date so you’ll receive customized emails guiding you throughout the entire planning process.  You’ll receive an email with a list of to-do’s when you’re 9-12 months away from your destination wedding date, another email when you’re 4-6 months, etc.. all the way up to the big day.  I’ll make sure you don’t forget a thing on your to-do list.

Each checklist to-do will include super helpful links to destination wedding articles with tips, photos and some awesome ideas to help inspire you.  Even better, we’ll send you some exclusive discount codes and freebies for everything from the save-the-dates to the thank you cards!

Fill out the info below to start getting your personalized destination wedding checklist!

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Founder/Editor at Destination Wedding Details
Cynthia is the founder and editor of Destination Wedding Details.She has over 15 years experience in the Marketing and Event industry and launched Destination Wedding Details in 2010, shortly after planning her own destination wedding. Cynthia uses her experience and genuine passion, to inspire brides who are planning their dream wedding away from home.


  1. Stella says

    I liked how you broke this checklist down to the last weeks before the wedding. Very helpful. Thanks.

  2. says

    Great resource! With so much to plan for a destination wedding, it’s so nice to be able to have a file like this that details all the things that you need to be aware of along with the timeline of when to have them finished. I will be sure to pass along to my destination clients. Thank you for sharing – Cheers! Mark

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