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How To Plan A Destination Wedding | Your Step-by-Step Guide

Are you daydreaming about getting married?

Picturing a secluded beach, lush garden, or sky terrace?

We don’t blame you.

But, planning your destination wedding can be overwhelming (we get it).

Don’t worry, now we have your back!

Your step-by-step guide is ready, prepared for you by our destination wedding experts.

And boy did they deliver!

Your stress will dissipate…

barcelo puerto vallarta wedding setup on the beach

Congratulations, your wedding date is finalized… Now it’s time to work on your wedding budget!

Believe it or not, a destination wedding can actually be cheaper than a local one!

If you want to save some dough on your big day away, it’s all about figuring out your priorities.

Wedding packages start at $1000 and go up to $20,000 + depending on the number of guest and how elaborate your wedding is.

Resorts require wedding guests to also stay at the resort.

Most wedding packages cover essentials like:

 ✓ Romantic ceremony locations
 ✓ Altar table with white linens
 ✓ Uncovered white garden chairs
 ✓ Sound system with speakers and microphone
 ✓ Bouquet & Boutonniere
 ✓ Semi-private group dinner reservation
 ✓ On-site wedding coordinator
 ✓ much more

There are many reasons to have a destination wedding. The list goes on. It can really get detailed.

Once you know what you can skimp on, you’ll have more cash to splurge on other stuff.

And don’t forget to keep your finances in check by setting up a budget for all the expenses that come with a destination wedding

Your budget should include:
  • travel
  • accommodations
  • non-local vendors

Oh, and make sure you know what currency they use at your destination so you can keep track of costs.

To give you a rough idea, here’s how much a wedding costs in Mexico👰🤵

You can also check out the top destination wedding packages here.

Dreams Bahia Mita Surf & Spa

While picking a destination for your wedding, here are 4 things you’ll want to consider:

1. Safety

Safety is subjective; it varies from person to person.

It can encompass a wide range of concerns such as civil unrest, COVID-19 infections, and even simple things like drinking tap water.

Also, make sure there aren’t any travel warnings, or health problems in the area. If there are, be sure to let your guests know.

Is it safe to have a wedding in Mexico? Check the destination and rule out your and your partner’s concerns.

2. Weather

You don’t wanna be drenched to your bones on your wedding day! So avoid rainy season. Look at these graphs to make an educated decision.

Pro tip – Consider the tourist season. Off-season rates are insanely low and can help stretch your budget!

3. Inclusiveness

Choose a place where nobody’s going to feel uncomfortable because of their religion, gender, or sexual preference.

After all, you want everyone to feel welcome and happy! Explore LGBTQ-friendly resorts in Mexico.

4. Vicinity

The longer the flight the more it’ll cost. It can really increase the costs for you and your guests.

Where are you guests flying from? 

If it’s the west coast, you’ll want consider the Mexican regions of:

If it’s the east coast, you should consider regions like:

Explore our favorite beach wedding locations in the Caribbean. If you can swing it, check the place out before you start making plans, so you know what you’re getting into.

lgbtq wedding ring exchange

Make sure you know what it takes to get hitched in your dream destination.

We suggest checking in with the embassy or consulate of that country to get the lowdown on the legal formalities.

Figure out if you want your destination wedding to be a symbolic celebration or a legal union.

Generally, there are 3 types of marriages:
  1. Civil (legal)
  2. Symbolic (not legal)
  3. Religious (not legal)

Lots of couples opt for a courthouse wedding at home, then have a symbolic ceremony at the destination of their choice.

Documents needed to legally get married:

The following list of documents is a must if you want to legally get married in a different country.

However, we suggest you also check the laws of the destination you have shortlisted. 

  1. Passport
  2. Birth certificate
  3. Tourist card or visa 
  4. Widowed or divorce decree (if applicable)
  5. Names, ages, nationalities, addresses, and occupations of your parents
  6. Blood test certificate 
  7. Witnesses’ info with copies of valid passports or driver’s license.

Mexico on your destination wishlist? Here’s how to get legally married in Mexico.

floral farms venue

Since you’re thinking of having a destination wedding, you’re gonna want someone there to handle all the nitty-gritty details.

There are many reasons to get a destination wedding travel agent and/or wedding planner. You’re gonna need feet on the ground finalizing all the last-minute details so that you and your guests can just arrive stress-free.

And if you don’t speak the local language, finding a wedding planner who knows the area like the back of their hand is extra important.

Benefits of hiring a wedding planner:
  1. Saves you significant time and effort in the planning process.
  2. Makes sure your budget is allocated effectively for the biggest bang.
  3. Frees you from many responsibilities!
  4. Helps improve communication with vendors.
  5. Provides guidance during challenging situations.

So instead of trying to make all the calls from miles away, you can kick back and relax, knowing that everything is being taken care of by a pro.

You can also check our this guide to Cancun wedding planners.

Psst – you can also explore the perks of working with Paradise Weddings!

excellence playa mujeres

Custom weddings can be time-consuming and costly.

All-Inclusive wedding packages offer a practical alternative.

You can have everything you require bundled together in one deal, saving you the hassle of booking each item separately.

Your wedding planner will be able to suggest the right package for you depending on your dreams, requirements, budget, and wedding theme.

Wedding packages usually include:
  • Wedding venue with decor
  • Non-denominational minister to perform symbolic ceremony
  • Seating arrangements for guests
  • Reception dinner (semi-private or private)
  • Cocktail hour
  • Bouquet, boutonniere, and other floral arrangements
  • On-site wedding planner and coordinator
  • Wine for toast
  • Wedding cake
  • Audio system for ceremony
  • Complimentary massage for the couple
  • Complimentary room upgrade for the couple
  • Discounts on spa services for couple and guests
  • Complimentary honeymoon for the couple

Check out these 10 best destination wedding packages under $10,000!

guests at a destination wedding

When planning your destination wedding, consider who you want to invite.

Decide whether you want to elope, have an intimate wedding with just family and friends, or a big bash with everyone you know.

Checklist for ensuring all guests can attend your wedding:

✓ Keep your bridesmaids and groomsmen informed so that they can plan accordingly.

Send out invitations well in advance to give your guests enough time to plan and book their travel.

✓ Provide accommodation suggestions for different budgets.

✓ Setting up room blocks can help you negotiate lower prices and keep everyone together in one spot.

Thinking of having a small wedding? These destination wedding packages for 50 guests might come in handy.

Wanna have an extravaganza?! Here are 10 best destination wedding packages for over 200 guests!

dreams riviera cancun location

Get yourself covered coz it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

Wedding insurance benefits:
  1. Safeguard your money
  2. Reimbursement in case of trip cancellation or interruption for whatever reason
  3. Can help with reimbursement of medical-related costs incurred during travel
  4. Wedding dresses and tuxes aren’t cheap! Insurance covers lost baggage and lost personal items.
  5. It gives you some peace of mind

Besides, some wedding venues may even require you to have one.

Make sure to sign up for it well ahead of time, and understand the policies and coverage you’re getting.

hairstylist working on bride's hair

Regardless of the type of wedding you’re planning, we suggest you start looking for and securing your vendors as early as you can.

You’ll need to shortlist:
  1. Wedding photographer and videographer
  2. Local band or DJ
  3. Make-up artist
  4. Hairstylist 
  5. Caterer
  6. Florist etc.

Your wedding planner will be able to guide you with this; they already have close business relations with several local vendors.

Having said that, just check your wedding package first – maybe it already includes the above mentioned vendors and services.

Snorkeling at Occidental Xcaret

If you want to stretch out the fun of your wedding, plan some extra events on top of the main day.

Your guests will love it, and you’ll have a blast too!

Additional events you can plan:
  1. Welcome party
  2. Cocktail hour. You can combine it with your rehearsal dinner.
  3. Post-wedding brunch
  4. Local sightseeing tours
  5. Wine or tequila tastings

Some of our favorite all-inclusive resorts in Mexico offer activities like kayaking, snorkeling, beach volleyball, movies on the beach etc.

But remember, you don’t have to plan any extra events if you don’t want to. Just do what works for you and your budget.

excellence el carmen wedding on the beach

For an international destination wedding, obviously having a passport is a must.

Check its expiration date as soon as your wedding date and destination is confirmed. Then check again!

It’s important that your passport and travel visa are valid and up to date.

For some countries, you may need to provide additional information such as a list of countries previously visited, list of vaccinations, health records etc.

Here’s everything you need to legally get married in Mexico.

Hi! I am Niyati from ParadiseWeddings.com. Need help planning your destination wedding? I'm your gal! From resort reviews to fashion tips, and everything in between, our team of certified destination wedding specialists and I've got you covered!

2 Comments

  • Avatar

    I am a 2024 bride and I am looking into a destination wedding. My fiancé and I agreed to have the wedding in Dominican Republic. We only found one venue but are in need for other options incase it doesn’t work out. If possible please send me some recommendations that you may have or direct to were i can get more information.

    • - 7188775404
    • Samantha

      We got you Kate ❤️ Expect a ParadiseWeddings.com planner to reach out to you shortly to help get things started!

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