Destination Wedding Planning Tips

Combining your wedding vows with an idyllic honeymoon venue provides the simplicity of one coordinated wedding-honeymoon package.

Benefits of a destination wedding

Destination weddings are becoming increasingly popular and why not? Combining wedding vows with an idyllic honeymoon venue provides the simplicity of one coordinated wedding-honeymoon package.

One plan, one price and one destination means one big romantic adventure! That’s one good reason to escape to an exotic hideaway for the ultimate in wedding romance.

There are many benefits to this type of wedding: all the organisational hassles are taken out of your hands, plus there are many potential financial savings – a lot of resorts offer free wedding packages and you are essentially combining a wedding and honeymoon in one.

To help you decide whether a destination wedding is right for you, here are the top 10 benefits to consider:

  1. Amazing choice of destinations. Experience anything from tropical islands to secluded mountain retreats and five-star hotels in cities worldwide
  2. More time to spend in a dream destination of your choice
  3. Family and friends also get to travel to an amazing place, turning your wedding into an exciting adventure for them as well
  4. The cost of the wedding and honeymoon are one, simplifying your budgeting
  5. An overseas wedding can be less expensive than one at home, depending on the type of wedding you choose
  6. A destination wedding relieves you and your family (and possibly friends) of hosting duties such as airport pickups, putting-up out-of-town guests, hosting dinners etc.
  7. Many resorts and hotels at popular wedding destinations have qualified professional staff with years of experience providing the best possible time for you, your family and friends
  8. The opportunity of having a small and intimate wedding. You decide who’s coming!
  9. The chance to ‘elope’ and do your own thing!
  10. A once-in-a-lifetime experience

Drawbacks to consider…

1. Fewer guests

– You may end up with fewer guests as some of your friends and relatives may not be able to get the time off work to join you on your wedding day. Also, some of your guests may not be able to afford the cost of overseas travel to your dream-wedding destination!

2. Is it legal?

– You may want a church wedding, but the ceremony may not be legally recognised in your country of residence. Or the laws of the country may not permit the religious ceremony of a non-resident. In this case, so you might have to have compromise and have a civil ceremony followed by a blessing.

3. Correct Documents

–  Different countries have different requirements, so you will need to ensure that you have all the necessary documentation before you get married abroad. But generally, this is not as tedious as it seems!

4. Minimum Residency

– There may be a minimum residency stay before you can get married. This often varies between countries.

Planning Tips & Ideas

Here are 10 top planning tips to help you plan your ideal destination wedding…

Plan early

Think it through with your partner and family. Ask lots of questions. Compare the price of getting married at home and going on honeymoon overseas with a combined destination wedding-honeymoon package. Do you want a small wedding or a large one?

Where to go and who’s to pay?

Once you’ve chosen your destination and wedding package and agreed on a budget, you’ll be in a better position to decide on how much you can spend on guest expenses.

How many guests are you planning to invite and who will pay for what? How long do you want your guests to stay at your destination? What elements of the wedding can you afford to pay for – transport, accommodation, food, entertainment or just the ceremony and reception?

Talk to your travel consultant about possible group discounts. Pass on this information to your prospective guests and let them know what you can or cannot pay for so they can make an informed decision on whether to join you or not.

Where to stay?

Unless you plan to elope to a romantic island hideaway, consider your guests when choosing a resort or hotel.

An adults-only resort on a remote Fijian island may be exactly what you want, but what about your relatives and all their children who want to join you at the ceremony?

It’s important for all your guests to be comfortable with the resort and destination. If this poses a problem perhaps consider your quests staying at a resort close by.

Informing your guests in advance

Let your friends and family know in good time so they can start planning for your wedding. They may need to request time off work or to save money.

Be understanding of those people who may not be able to join you either as a result of time or financial constraints. Remember to let guests know of your post-wedding plans before they make reservations.

Invest in a wedding coordinator

Unless your local wedding coordinator has extensive experience of your destination (and many do), plan to hire a wedding coordinator/planner from the destination.

This can simplify your planning process as this person will be knowledgeable about local vendors and marriage procedures. Usually the resort of your choice will be able to recommend good people they have worked with in the past, or even better, the resort may have their own in-house coordinator.

Whatever you do, make sure your coordinator has easy access to the internet – e-mails are cheaper than international phone calls. While you may have the wedding ceremony planned to the last second in your mind, ask your coordinator for suggestions.

Often a local custom or tradition can be incorporated to make your destination wedding even more memorable.

Hot deals and special offers

Ask your travel consultant to check airfares and accommodation rates on wedding packages at the resorts located in your chosen destination.

Certain times of the year may be less expensive than others and often resorts and hotels will offer special deals for reasons you may not be aware off. Give your travel consultant a rough idea of how many guests may accompany you; numbers count when negotiating discounts.

Overseas marriage rules and regulations

Everybody is different and so too are countries when it comes to regulations on getting married. Check our destination wedding guide for specific information on rules and regulations on getting married in each location.

Check this well before booking just in case there are any problems you would prefer to avoid. Procedures on obtaining a marriage license do vary from country to country but generally are not that onerous to obtain.

Once you’ve selected a resort, don’t be afraid to email them and ask for information. The resort wedding coordinator should know all the laws and any recent changes that may affect you.

What to bring?

Perhaps large presents are best sent to your home or left with your parents rather than taken to your wedding destination. If you really need certain bridal items, make the most of your airline baggage allowances; ask family and friends to carry items for you. Bridesmaid gifts could possibly be bought locally.

Plan to arrive early

To meet local regulations you may need to arrive at your destination a day or two before your wedding ceremony. Use this time to finalise any last minute details with your wedding coordinator, visit your ceremony site and get to know any local customs you plan to incorporate in your ceremony. This will also give you time to relax before guests start arriving.

Welcome basket

A fun surprise for your guests when they arrive at their hotel room and a nice way to thank them for flying out to your wedding. Pack a few goodies, such as drink and food snacks – possibly even a half-bottle of sparkling wine if your budget allows, or perhaps include a local souvenir. Remember it’s the thought that counts!

The Honeymoon!

Once the ceremony and reception are over make sure your honeymoon doesn’t drift into a family vacation. This is your time now! If you are all staying at the same resort for the wedding, then plan to relocate to a resort nearby for your honeymoon. If this isn’t an option schedule time to be alone – take excursions or dinners by yourselves.

What's your wedding theme

A destination wedding offers a lot of choice in destination and theme. Here are a few ideas to consider:

Tropical beach weddings

One of the most popular and well catered for by most luxury resorts and hotels in Australia and around the world. Often comes with a choice of theme; yours or theirs. Very practical as you can simply roll from wedding mode into honeymoon mode without ever leaving your idyllic island or romantic beach location.

Mountain weddings

Great at any time of year but worth considering at winter for the crisp fresh air, beautiful mountain scenery and freshly powdered snow beneath your feet as you say your marriage vows.

In the northern hemisphere this is a perfect way to welcome in the New Year, and as people are generally on holiday between Christmas and the New Year, it’s also a convenient time for all your family and friends.

Desert weddings

For many the desert contains an air of mystery. What better way to share that ‘frontier experience’ with friends and family than in a desert wedding with a rugged backdrop of red sand, stunning ranges and awesome colours?

Australia’s Northern Territory offers several resorts that can answer your every wish for a combined frontier type wedding and honeymoon.

Vineyard weddings

If you love fine wine sipped in a rustic setting then consider a wedding at a vineyard or in wine country. In the US, California is well known for such a wedding.

In Australia, many resorts within major wine growing areas such as the Margaret River, Hunter Valley and the Mornington Peninsula offer specialised wedding facilities. What could be better than getting married in a vineyard and then spending your honeymoon tasting the region’s fine wines day after day?

Cruise weddings

A wedding at sea … how romantic is that? Many cruise lines offer affordable wedding packages. Ask your travel consultant for prices; do the maths and you may be presently surprised.

Be aware that if you do decide on a luxury liner, the cost may be a lot for some guests and perhaps more than some can afford.  However, for a romantic elopement (perhaps with a couple of your closest friends) this could be the romantic wedding-honeymoon of a lifetime.

Castle weddings

Although you may have to go to Europe for this style of wedding, the romance of getting married in a medieval castle and feeling like a real-life princess (or prince!) could be hard to beat.

There’s a wide choice: many castles in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England offer lavish theme weddings in magnificent surroundings.

Europe has a host of castles offering similar facilities in romantic destinations such as France, Germany, Spain and Italy. If you were already considering a European honeymoon, this could make for an unforgettable wedding-honeymoon romantic getaway.

Top destination wedding locations

Searching for the perfect destination wedding spot? Looking for white-sand beaches, picturesque mountaintops or perhaps a historical architectural backdrop? Then let us help you find the perfect place to get hitched — from Europe to the South Pacific and everywhere in between.


Some frequently asked questions about destination weddings.

How long will I need to be in a country before getting married?

Some countries don’t require a couple to spend any time in their country beforehand, whereas others may require you to spend a few days there before the ceremony can take place. If in doubt, check with the embassy of the country where you plan to get married.

Can we get married at any time?

Generally you can get married any time the official marriage celebrant is available, although some countries have restrictions on Sundays and national holidays.

How much notice should I give my guests?

If your wedding is all about the destination and you want your nearest and dearest there, then you should give them at least six months notice in order to save money, book tickets and rooms and prepare. This also gives people time to collaborate and organise group deals were possible.

Can I get away without having a traditional reception?

Absolutely. Having a wedding away from home says to your guests that you’ve chosen against the usual stresses and rules of a traditional wedding; that you’re all about relaxation.

A casual pre-wedding cocktail do, after-dinner drinks or a bonfire barbecue on the beach will say more than any mountain of sugar-covered almonds.

What about the honeymoon?

You’ve already travelled this far – don’t go anywhere further! Look upon your honeymoon as an entirely new holiday in the same destination, this time without the pressure of a wedding.

Possibly, some of your guests will stay on, so be prepared for a ‘group’ honeymoon. If you’re happy with that, then hey, the more the merrier! If not, make some friendly ground rules that allow you and partner sufficient time alone.

Can the bride travel home under her married name?

Unfortunately not. The bride must travel under her maiden name until she is able to change her Australian passport into her married name.

Will my marriage be valid in Australia?

Most overseas weddings are legal in Australia, although you should always double check with the relevant authorities before you leave.

Latest update: Destination Wedding Planning Tips & Ideas: 26 April, 2022->