If you’ve been searching for the ultimate destination wedding checklist, look no further!
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!!
Your Destination Wedding Checklist: 9-12 months before
- Think about the type of ceremony/reception you want (formal or informal, big or small)
- Create a budget
- Choose a wedding destination & research its marriage requirements
- Choose a wedding date
- Request proposals and photos from destination wedding vendors that interest you
- 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.
- Settle on a venue, reserve your date, and put down a deposit
- 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
- Start collecting guest’s email and mailing addresses and keep them in an RSVP tracking sheet
- Select the members of your bridal party
- Shop for your wedding dress, keeping in mind the destination’s climate
Your 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)
- 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
- Send out save the dates and include your website URL
- Select the flowers you want for your bouquet, bridesmaid’s bouquets, groom/groomsmen’s boutonnieres, centerpieces and other decorations
- Choose your menu and cake
- Book the DJ or band
- Buy your accessories: shoes, headpiece, jewelry, garter, lingerie
- Select your bridesmaids dress style and color
- Create a registry
Your 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
- Book your travel, and encourage your guests to do the same
- 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
- Confirm that your bridal party has ordered 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
Your Destination Wedding Checklist: 2-3 months before
- Order favors and welcome bag items
- 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 bridal party
Your Destination Wedding Checklist: 1 month before
- Assemble welcome bags
- Write welcome letter
- Arrange how your welcome bag items, favors and decorations will be delivered to your hotel
- 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
Your 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 RSVPs into a guest list spreadsheet along with their arrival date, hotel, phone, etc
Your 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. See more destination wedding packing tips here.
Checklist when you arrive at your Wedding Destination
- 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
- 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
- Book a manicure/pedicure for the day before you get married
Your 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 on the back for checking off everything on this massive destination wedding checklist….then RELAX and have fun!!
Download & Print this Checklist
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Get Personalized Destination Wedding 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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Do You Have a Destination Wedding Planning Question?
We have answers! Check out 11 frequently asked questions plus ask any question on your mind and we’ll answer you personally.
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.