Planning a wedding can be overwhelming, especially when that wedding is abroad! There are a number of aspects to consider when choosing a destination wedding, here are our top tips and advice to plan your perfect dream wedding in paradise!
Location, Location Location: Once you have selected your location (the Caribbean) you now need to decide which island to get married on. This may be a very easy decision for some couples: based on their favourite vacation together, perhaps family ties to a particular island etc. It is important to consider travel here also – is the island remote requiring additional transport after the flight etc?
Decide on the Place and Date: Once you have selected your location the next step is the place and date. If you can visit the location for yourself now is the time to do so. If you cannot visit then call the prospective resorts on your list and speak to their wedding planner. They will be able to send you their wedding package information so you don’t have to solely rely on websites and photographs!
Budget: Now is the time to set your wedding budget, while you are not expected to pay for guests’ travel costs you will need to budget for the general wedding expenses like reception, flowers, photographer and music.
Guest List: Put together your preliminary guest list (taking into consideration who can and will be willing to travel for your big day). Keep the guest list short if you have a modest budget.
Research Marriage Requirements: It is essential to research your chosen island’s marriage requirements to ensure you arrive with enough time to take care of the legal side of your union.
Book your travel: Booking your travel and hotel early means you can secure your chosen dates and also saves money through early bird deals!
Create your wedding website: This is a great way to keep guests informed throughout! Once the date and location is confirmed you can inform guests on the website.
Save the Date: Send your save the date by email or post to your guests. It is advisable to send these about 9 months before your big day to allow guests to save and book for your wedding!
Choose your Bridal Party! This is always a fun and precious occasion for the bride and her bridesmaids regardless of a wedding at home or abroad!
Find local vendors: You will need to source local vendors for your wedding – from officiant, musicians, photographers, florists to the baker etc. It is recommended that you contact the vendors to discuss your wedding instead of placing all your trust in the hotels suggestions!
Passport / Visa: Ensure your travel documents are up to date. It is important to note some countries require a passport that is valid for six months minimum. If you or anyone in your wedding party require a Visa for entry to the country, ensure this is applied for early.
Block Book Accommodation: You will need to block book accommodation and ask for group rates to avail of better discounts. Once you can confirm a certain number of rooms will be occupied, you should find great savings for your guests!
Say Yes to the Dress! Order your dress about 9 months ahead of time to allow for plenty of time and the alterations required once it arrives at the store. Be mindful of the climate when you are selecting your dress, you want to ensure you are comfortable as well as stunning on your big day!
Bridesmaid Dresses: If you are ordering the bridesmaid dresses you should plan to 6 months before the wedding. Alternatively a lot of brides are buying their bridesmaid dresses off the rack in stores. For a Caribbean wedding you will want Spring Summer stock so regardless of your wedding date you should shop for the dresses in season! To save money you can sale shop but this can be risky as the size or style may be sold out!
Book All Vendors: You need to get signed and countersigned vendor contracts from all vendors you have booked for your big day. Ensure everything is listed on the contracts.
Send Your Invitations: Aim to send invitations 8-12 weeks ahead of the wedding to allow guests time to prepare. Remember you sent the Save the Date early to allow guests to make travel arrangements.
Update your Wedding Website: Now you can be creative and update the website with information for guests like the itinerary for the trip (are you planning excursions like a catamaran cruise, pre-wedding dinner party, drinks reception?) Also advise guests on packing tips, the weather etc!
Plan Guest Transportation: This is not essential but a great way to ensure your guests are comfortable and taken care of. This could include transport from the airport to accommodation, wedding day transport etc.
Confirm All Vendors: A couple of days before the wedding contact all vendors to confirm everything is on track for your big day!