How to plan your dream destination wedding

In partnership with Sandals

Arianna Chatzidakis

Destination weddings with warm weather and tropical backdrops are becoming more popular, and in 2020 we're set to see more couples than ever tie the knot abroad. Organising such a wedding doesn't have to be a difficult task either: with a little bit of help from us, you'll know exactly what factors to consider, from location choices to legal paperwork…

Choosing Your Location

First thing's first: before planning your destination wedding, you need to decide on where to have it, whether that be on a balmy beach or at a winter wonderland. Beach weddings are perhaps the first choice for couples, but no destination is off bounds, with some brides-to-be opting to get wed up a mountain or in an ancient city. 

In terms of hotspots for 2020, the Caribbean is still proving to be one of the most sought-after destinations, due to its picturesque beaches and beautiful weather. As a bonus, some Caribbean resorts like Sandals are renowned for offering a ‘free’ wedding ceremony to couples who stay a certain number of nights. Stay at one of the 15 Luxury Included® Sandals Resorts in Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Antigua, the Bahamas, Grenada, and Barbados for 3 nights or more to get your wedding ceremony included in the cost. Ooh la la!

Planning Your Travel

When booking your flights, use your maiden name unless you plan on legally changing your name before you fly. Plus, it's best to carry your wedding dress as hand luggage on your flight for peace of mind but do check with your airline before booking to see if this is doable.

Managing Your Budget

Organising a wedding abroad from scratch can end up being quite costly, but if you seek out budget-appropriate venues that offer wedding planners, it can make things a lot more affordable for both you and your guests. For example, Sandals Resorts will assign each couple a personal planner to customise their wedding, booking everything from seating and cocktails, to music and food, so all you’ll have to do is say ‘I Do!’.

Making a budgeting spreadsheet well in advance will also help you keep track of your outgoings. Remember to add in every element, from currency exchange to travel, and bridesmaid dresses to toiletries.


Notifying Your Guests

While destination weddings are typically smaller than traditional weddings in your home country, it’s still important to give your nearest and dearest as much notice as possible to allow them to budget for your trip and book off annual leave. Email save-the-dates are an easy (and free!) way to notify everyone about your wedding details. If you want to go the extra mile, you can pull together a list of recommended places to stay that cater to large groups, to help make the booking process easier for your guests.

Prepping Your Paperwork

If you're getting married abroad, you may need to present relevant documentation including passports and birth certificates. Depending on what country you get married in, it can take up to 3-6 months to get your documentation approved. Luckily, some venues offer to prepare your marriage documents for you, to make the process as stress-free as possible. Travel and wedding insurance should also be done in advance.


Tailoring Your Dress

When picking your wedding dress, consider the destination you'll be getting married in. For example, at a beach wedding, flowing airy dresses are ideal, as breathable fabrics work well in hot climates. Whereas for a city wedding, a fitted, extravagant dress would be more suitable. Let your wedding dress stylist know where you plan on getting married and they’ll be able to recommend you relevant dresses to try.

Choosing A Theme

Every wedding needs to have a theme which showcases your style, story and personality. To decide which one will work for you, it's easiest to first pick a colour theme that you like, before moving onto the flowers, ceremony décor enhancements and wedding cake design. Some resorts like Sandals offer couples the flexibility to either design their own wedding from scratch or choose from beautiful pre-designed themes.

If you're interested in a destination wedding, be sure to check out Sandals Resorts' wedding offering. Not only can you enjoy an idyllic wedding in a tropical paradise, but when you stay 3 nights or more at Sandals, your wedding is free.

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