Destination Weddings - Top 10 Tips for Planning the Perfect Destination Wedding

by Meredith Jenkins

Christopher Lovell Murphy and Columbus Christopher Coleman (aka - “The Chrises”) were married on Saturday, April 21, 2012 at Las Caletas, a private island cove in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Accessible only by sea, and once the private home of film director, John Huston, Las Caletas’ secluded beaches and majestic Sierra Madre Mountains served as the tropical backdrop for their destination wedding.

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Family and friends boarded a luxury catamaran for cocktails and hors d'oeuvres and sailed to Las Caletas for a private sunset ceremony, followed by dinner, entertainment and an open bar reception on the beach.

The couple is still in honeymoon mode and plan to return to Puerto Vallarta in April to celebrate and renew their vows!

Top 10 Tips for Your Destination Wedding

10. Choose wisely. 
The world is your oyster! Point to a map and go - but when scheduling the date (especially for tropical locations) be mindful of rainy/hurricane season, spring break and national holidays specific to the area that can impact your day. Also, get a pulse on how LGBTQ-friendly the area is!

9. Don’t allow distance to be the barrier.
If your planner resides at your wedding destination, use this to your advantage! Who knows the area better than your planner in this case? Pick their brain for ideas and ask them to keep their ear to the ground. Meet regularly via Skype and email photos of samples to convey your vision for your big day.

8. Use your location to your benefit.
Instead of spending a lot of money on decorations, use the natural beauty of your location! Use flowers indigenous to the area and pull in inspiration from the scenery around you!

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7. Visit the destination at least once prior to the wedding. 
Get a lay of the land! If possible, visit the same month one-year-out prior to the wedding. (How’s the weather? Are there more tourists than usual during this time?) Plus, it’s a prime opportunity to locate fun spots and activities that you can share with your guests later.

6. All-inclusive! 
Direct your guests to accommodations with an all-inclusive option. Your guests will appreciate the savings while on the trip and you won’t have to plan meals. Most all-inclusive programs include all meals and beverages - including alcohol. (You can also honeymoon at a different resort after the ceremony like the Chrises did for some alone time!)

5. Don’t sweat the guest list. 
Invite who you want to attend. The people who you think may not be willing to travel just might surprise you! Also, remember that destination weddings double as a vacation - and many folks welcome the opportunity! You can have a reception/party at home when you return and celebrate with everyone all over again!

4. Give your guests at least 1 year notice and hard deadlines! 
Remember that some people on your list may not be travel savvy. Helpful reminders and deadlines to book accommodations and apply for passports early will help your guests feel better prepared and alleviate anxiety on everyone’s part.

3. Have a website! 
Make this go-to source for your guests for all information pertaining to the wedding and remember to make it fun! Include info about the area, the itinerary, deadlines (RSVP, passports, etc.), info on accommodations and travel tips. The website should answer everyone’s questions (and reduce the amount of phone calls coming your way.)

2. Utilize your wedding party on the day-of. 
Remember that they are there to support you - so don’t be afraid to put them to work. Assigning specific duties will allow you to focus on more important memorizing your vows!

1. Enjoy! 
When else will you have your family and friends all abroad celebrating your union? The day goes by fast, so soak in everything and make time to relax and enjoy the getaway with your partner!