destination wedding planning guide:

4 ways to Get started

october 2, 2019
UPDATEd on December 14, 2020


As I was driving in my area today, I saw a sign from another local travel agency. Their sign said “Island weddings are stress free”. I love the imagery this phrase creates, however I have to disagree with them because planning a wedding in general can be stressful! In my experience, I would say that a destination wedding is LESS stressful. So I created this destination wedding planning guide to help you get started.

The most stressful part of wedding planning is the unknown, but if you work with a Destination Wedding Expert they can help alleviate this stress by pairing you with the right property for your dream wedding. After planning numerous weddings at all-inclusive resorts, I narrowed it down to these 4 important ways to get started. 

You can sit down with your fiancé over a glass of bubbly and discuss: 



Write down everyone you want to invite. Then cut that list in half as that will most likely be your true guest list. Statistically, on average 60% of your guest list will attend the wedding. This will ultimately save you a lot of money compared to what you will spend at a local wedding with double, even triple the guest list.


Most couples have not been to the resort they chose for their wedding. Luckily their destination wedding expert has most likely been there and can advise them on what the venue locations look like and what to expect. Most resorts do offer a ‘test drive’, where you can travel to the resort at a discounted rate for a few nights and meet with the wedding coordinators to make sure it’s a right fit. If you end up booking your wedding with the resort, they will most likely apply the funds you spent for the test drive towards your wedding. Cha Ching! It’s practically a free trip!




You’re half way through the guide to planning the perfect destination wedding!



Wedding planning is done primarily done 3-4 months prior to your wedding date and a lot of last minute decisions are made during your walkthrough 3 days prior. The reason being that they are working with 100s of brides and work on them based on the couple’s wedding date. If you are detail oriented and want to get started sooner, then send the wedding planners your vision so they can get started on your proposal. The sooner the better so they can accommodate specific requests. For example, if you have a specific ceremony arch that is not offered by the resort or a vendor and has to be custom made, then you should send your vision over right away so they can find a vendor to create it for you.

Also, keep in mind that response time in Mexico and other Caribbean destinations can be very slow. They are on “island time” so to speak. As I mentioned above, they are working with 100s of brides, so they may not respond right away. It may take them 5-7 days or longer. Be sure to copy your travel specialist on every email so they can step in and escalate a response, if needed.



Let’s talk money. Destination weddings can be a lot less expensive than a local wedding. According to The Knot, here in Chicago, the average wedding costs $50,934. Let me tell you, you will NOT be spending that on a destination wedding (unless you absolutely want to – depends on your vision). Most resorts have packages that are fairly inexpensive, but they have a lot of upgrades (aka enhancements) that can add up very quickly. 

Tip: Packages include a certain number of guests, so you have to pay a per person rate for each guest over the package guest allotment.

You also want to think about what you want your guests to spend on their travel arrangements, which includes, accommodation, transportation, flights, meals & drinks, etc. This can add up quickly so it’s best to have a number in mind. For an all inclusive wedding, a typical guest budget is $1,200-$1,500 per person for a mid-range to higher end resort brand.



Now you’re ready to talk

Once you have these four important items written down, then I recommend scheduling an appointment with a Destination Wedding Expert so we can recommend destinations and/or resorts based on your requirements. You will be more prepared for your appointment since we will be asking you for these, plus lots more details.

I would love to chat with you to discuss your dream destination wedding. Feel free to schedule a complimentary, no obligation, Destination Wedding Design Session with me. For real, even if you don’t have a date and are feeling clueless, I can help walk you through the process and you can ask all the questions you want. Let me help make your island wedding planning stress free!

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