Planning for the big day can begin as soon as you utter the words "yes." With all the excitement and energy that is happening around you post engagement it is easy to get overwhelmed fast. Thoughts such as "Who do we invite, what type of destination, what style wedding?" can quickly begin pouring into your subconscious. So to help you tread through the turbulent planning waters we've asked some of our resident experts to help you chart what destination wedding decisions need to be made first and where to begin.
Figure out the size of your wedding:
Don't panic, this doesn't mean figuring out your guest list. This is really the 50,000 ft. view of how big or small your wedding will be. Defining size will help to guide you towards what a good destination might be and what type of wedding is right for you. For instance, if you're planning on inviting a large number of guests (for a destination wedding that's about 80+) picking the Seychelles or someplace in Europe might not be very realistic. However, more distant places might be feasible with a smaller and more intimate guest list.
Start to think about timing:
For destination weddings seasonality will play a big role. Destination wedding locations can face seasonal changes that include hurricanes, monsoons, humidity, and more. So thinking about when you are looking to get married will also help guide where you might get married. Since most of your guests will likely take a few days off to enjoy the location, thinking about planning the wedding around a holiday can also be helpful.
Consider your personal style:
Figuring out your wedding style is crucial for destination wedding brides. Not only will figuring out your wedding style help you pinpoint what type of destination wedding you are dreaming of, it will also help pinpoint the place. How? Destination brides that can be honest with themselves upfront in regards to how elaborate or simple they are envisioning their wedding to be will be well served. Many destination locations simply do not have the breadth of vendors that brides are accustomed to in the States. If, as bride, you can figure out the amenities such as special linens, event rentals, lighting, etc. that are important to you, it will help eliminate many destination possibilities.
Talk about money:
This is perhaps the most uncomfortable part when planning a wedding, but it doesn't have to be unpleasant. Having the financial talk upfront will help you figure out your budget, remove question marks, and make everyone less stressed. Sitting down with both sets of parents and finding out what they are looking to contribute, whether it's covering the cost of the whole wedding or helping out with a part will be a much easier conversation if had earlier rather than later.
Stick to a budget:
Whether your budget is big or small, having one and sticking to it is an easy way to make sure that the financial stress level stays low. Setting a budget will help you determine your priorities as well as help determine the things that can be skipped or perhaps taken on as DIY projects. If as a couple you are the ones paying for the wedding, start saving as soon as possible. If you can put away $100 a week, in 12 months you'll have $5,600 to put towards your wedding. That amount can go a long way if planning a smaller destination wedding.
The earlier your husband-to-be gets in on the conversation the more likely he'll be to participate throughout the planning. Alright, we know he's never going to care whether you choose roses or ranunculus, but the big ticket items like where, who's coming and what kind of a feeling you want your wedding day to have are areas he most likely would like to be a part of. So ask his opinion: you just might be surprised how much he's willing to contribute.
Find the perfect dress:
The dress can help set the tone or be the one piece of the wedding that is uniquely its own. Let's be honest: for most brides this is one of the most exciting parts of the wedding process. People fawning all over you, dozens of gorgeous dresses being presented to you--it's your moment to focus solely on you as the bride you have always imagined. Keep in mind though that while yes, it is your day, if you have always dreamed of being married on the beach, a satin ball gown might not be the best idea...even if it is what you have always envisioned.
Identify a point person:
Your point person can be a wedding planner who is stateside, a wedding planner who is local, or the coordinator from your hotel, but have someone. Having a contact is essential when planning a destination wedding, especially if you are unfamiliar with the locale or don't speak the language. In the end a planner/coordinator/or liaison of some type will save you money, time and help keep you sane.
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