Guide to Planning a Perfect Destination Wedding

A destination wedding can double as your dream vacation, but it can be stressful to organize. Couples will likely have to consider group flight bookings, hotel block reservations and a number of other logistics such as wedding ring declarations at customs and legal marriage requirements.

To help simplify the process, we highlighted seven important steps you can take to plan a perfect destination wedding.

Photography Credit |  True Photography   Location |  Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines

Photography Credit | True Photography

Location | Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines

Step 1: Take a points & miles inventory

Before you even pick a destination, it’s time to factor in your points and miles inventory. If you’re flooded with Hyatt points and Delta miles, consider a destination where you can easily utilize those points (or one you can reach using Delta or the airline’s partners). This is also a great time to take advantage of new credit card sign-up bonuses. Make sure to do this at least three to six months in advance so you can reach your minimum required spend on necessary wedding costs. Those extra points and miles can later be used for a honeymoon.

Step 2: Pick a destination

Find a place that makes sense for you

In addition to using your points and miles stockpile to guide your destination selection process, there are other factors that may affect your decision, too, such as local weather patterns, school holidays and legal marriage requirements in other countries. You can have a mock wedding ceremony in the Galápagos, for example, but foreigners are not legally allowed to wed there. And France has a 40-day residency requirement before allowing you to lawfully get married.

And remember to factor in expenses you may not have to deal with for a nearby wedding such as flights, hotel stays and dining out. Also account for the general cost of living in your destination to get an idea of your potential total spend.

And your guests will be excited about it too!

Reliable weather, gorgeous oceanfront settings, iconic hotels and blooming year-round gardens make San Diego an ideal destination for brides and grooms planning their "I do's." One of the most popular wedding destinations in the U.S., it's always wedding season here in San Diego at least 300 of of the 365 days in a Year.

Whether you're looking to say your vows on the beach, seal the deal with a kiss aboard a sailboat, or book a historic venue for an elegant indoor affair, planning your San Diego Destination Wedding is as fun as attending one. And remember, most of san Diego’s hotels and resorts have excellent event and wedding planners, multiple venues and special honeymoon packages.

Though your wedding is ultimately about you and your future spouse, it’s important to consider whether or not your ceremony is somewhere your guests will happily visit, too.

Step 3: Hire a local wedding planner 

Couples should strongly consider hiring a wedding planner based in their chosen destination. You may be compelled to work with someone in your area — especially if he or she came highly recommended — but if you’re exchanging vows in a different time zone, or a country where you don’t speak the language, don’t underestimate how helpful it is to have someone on the ground. Some venues come with a planner, which is another, even more streamlined option.

With the help of your planner, the next step is to reserve your venue and date. If the venue comes with a wedding planner, it probably also has a built-in wedding package. Be sure to ask the venue if the property works exclusively with certain vendors in case you plan to bring or hire your own photographer or videographer.

We have worked with some Great Wedding Planners we can happily refer to you.

Photography Credit |  True Photography   Location:  Scripps Seaside Forum

Photography Credit | True Photography

Location: Scripps Seaside Forum

Step 4: Maximize your expenses

If you’re hoping to maximize points and miles for a wedding, you may want to have a hotel wedding with a brand that rewards event bookings. Brands including HiltonWyndhamMarriott and Hyatt also offer wedding planning options and rewards. San Diego has some Beautiful Indoor/Outdoor venues under these brands we can happily recommend.

Step 5: Give guests some direction

Beyond simply communicating wedding day details and RSVP options, a destination-focused website keeps “guests [from] constantly texting the bride and groom asking where to to get a manicure, how to order a white wine in French or if Paris has Uber.”

If you use a planner, they can create the website for you, and provide their contact info there as a reference for guests. or try Wedding planning websites like the The Knot.

Photography Credit |  True Photography   Location |  Catamaran Resort and Spa San Diego

Step 6: Help family & friends arrange travel

Help your friends and family get the same deals you did. If you have points and miles to spare, consider using them to book award travel or your wedding guests. 

Some airlines offer discounted rates for groups of 10 or more. If you’d like to go this route, start by filling out a form or calling the carrier’s dedicated hotline. Requirements vary, but typically, group bookings must be made a set number of months in advance. Some even offer zone fares for those traveling from various US hubs to the same destination.

Blocking hotel rooms is a way to ensure your guests have a place to stay at a lower rate. Usually, hotels will expect you to block 10 or more rooms — and the discounted rates can be up to 40% off the standard price.

There are a few types of hotel blocks to consider:

  • A courtesy room block mean you won’t get charged if all the rooms you block aren’t reserved. This type of block, however, usually has a cut-off, meaning if your guests don’t reserve before a specific date, they won’t get the discounted rate. This makes the most sense if you are blocking rooms at more than one hotel or your destination has several other hotel options.

  • A closed or guaranteed block will hold you responsible for all (or part — definitely read the fine print here) of blocked rooms that don’t get reserved. Sometimes, this block requires a deposit.

Step 7: Safely pack wedding essentials

Packing can be stressful even under the most relaxed conditions, but when it comes to traveling for a wedding, there are certain things that just can’t be replaced (and that you absolutely can’t forget at home). That’s why it’s essential to pack anything of value in your carry-on. This includes, but is not limited to, the dress, suit or tuxedo and the wedding rings.

How to Pack a Suit or Wedding Dress

If your dress is voluminous or has multiple layers, this poses a bit of a packing problem. A garment bag is the ideal choice, and brides should ask a flight attendant to hang it up. Another option is to lay the gown across the luggage in an overhead bin. Calling the airline ahead to give advance notice that you’ll be traveling with a wedding (or very important) dress may help, too.

Another option is to carefully fold or roll the dress into a vacuum-sealed bag and get it pressed upon arrival.

Travelers should also call or e-mail dry cleaners in the destination for pricing and information on pressing beforehand, in case you arrive and the dress or suit hasn’t traveled well.

How to Travel With Rings

The first step for traveling with an expensive engagement or wedding ring is to get it insured, meaning if it’s lost or stolen during travel, you have options.

Did you have a destination wedding, or have you attended one? If so, share your tips with us.

Source | The Points Guy

Photography Credit |  True Photography   Location |  Grand Tradition State & Gardens

Photography Credit | True Photography

Location | Grand Tradition State & Gardens

Russell Tafarella