Destination wedding planning checklist

Now that you’ve booked your destination wedding, and have gotten acquainted with your  wedding consultant and photographer, it seems like you’ve got months, but the big day is right around the corner!

Eight to 10 months in advance

In order to manage expectations for this special event, you need to start by setting your wedding budget. Asses the amount you have set aside for the wedding (not including travel). And if there are members of your family who will be contributing, discuss their contributions with them well in advance.

Timing is everything, especially when you are planning a destination wedding. And if there are certain people that you specifically want to have in attendance, giving ample notice is not only necessary, but also proper etiquette. Check with key family and friends before you finalize your wedding date so that they have plenty of time to make suitable arrangements.

Check important items off the list before yoiu walk down the aisle

Start seeking inspiration from stylebooks and galleries on blogs, wedding websites, and planning portals, which will help shape your wedding style preferences. Online boards like Pinterest are great tools to assist you in the initial stages of destination wedding planning. Some wedding planning sites give you the opportunity to create your own custom boards, helping you collect ideas on colour palettes, seating charts, decorations, dresses, bridal party attire etc.

Select your attendants, both female and male. Start thinking about their attire and communicate your expectations before-hand. Once you’ve spoken to your bridal party, it’s time to focus on you, you and only you! Choosing the wedding dress that suits your body type, the occasion, the destination and your style is one of the most important parts of your wedding planning process. Go dress shopping immediately! Make appointments at local wedding dress shops or start perusing online bridal stores to get ideas of what shapes and styles make you all giddy with excitement. Then, once you’ve said, “Yes” to the dress, look at purchasing or renting your groom’s attire.

Decide what you are going to do with printed materials, from invitations to save-the-date cards, menus to programs, and whatever other collateral you’d like to make part of your special day.

Make sure you and your hubby-to-be have valid travel documents and meet all legal requirements to leave the country.  If you are having a religious wedding, book your officiant now, and make sure all legal documents are ready and valid (passports, religious requirements, etc.) for this specific type of ceremony.

Photos hold the most precious memories of your big day. That is why your photographer is your most prized vendor. Book your photographer and confirm that your wedding location will allow outside vendors.

 Choose the right Photographer for your Big Day months in advance

Choose a wedding location, including a venue for your ceremony, cocktail and wedding reception. Once this is complete, you can start getting a better idea of how your celebration will look and feel in these spaces.

To ensure that you are a blushing bride, create a health and beauty schedule for yourself (gym, facials, hair cuts, etc.) so you’re in good shape – all around – for the big day.

Your wedding consultant will host a personalized, interactive wedding website for you, so it is time to start working on the site, by including all the things you’d like to share with your guests leading up to your wedding day.

The fun begins when they give you the bar code gun at your favourite department store or boutique shop. Register for gifts and add these details to your wedding website.

Your wedding bands are a symbol of your commitment to one another. Choose rings that will reflect your personalities, but that will also have longevity in terms of style and durability.

Finally, about eight to 10 months in advance of your special day, you will want to send out Save the Date cards to give guests plenty of time to make travel arrangements. There are great deals available when travelling in large numbers, make sure to ask questions about group travel during the planning process.

Four to seven months in advance

Get the whole gang together for your Big Day

Here comes the fun stuff! This is the time to choose your flowers (bouquets, boutonnieres, chuppah, flower petals, centrepieces, etc.). Music will make or break your event, so it’s important to book your musicians (soloists, bands, DJ, etc.) to ensure that the soundtrack to your special day suits your vision. Just a friendly reminder that at this point in the planning phase, you will need to have finalized your photographer and videographer (if you haven’t already). When it comes to the look and feel of your event, this is the time to decide on, and confirm, the colour scheme and theme that will make your celebration unique.

Food will be a very important part of your day, and something that will take careful consideration, especially since you’ll want to consider the various food preferences and allowances of your guests. This is the time to narrow down menu selections for the reception, cocktail reception, etc. This is also a good time to determine your bar selections for all events. Will you be asking the venue to prepare a signature drink for your special day, or offering special shots to commemorate your nuptials, all these need to be considered and communicated at this time.

Selecting your wedding cake, including flavours, style, icing and decor, is next on the list. Also, if you are electing to have a cake topper, this is the time to search for it.

At this point, you’ll want to make sure all invitations (including programs and escort cards) are in the works.

Two to three months in advance

Find the perfect flower bouquet

Shop for footwear (keeping in mind all events and baggage allowance), and also shop for your “outfits” for the wedding weekend, including the rehearsal dinner, good swimwear (keep in mind tan lines for your dress), and any other necessities.

This is the time to finalize flower selections, dinner and drink menus.

When it comes to photography, since your day will be a whirlwind for you and your groom, it’s helpful to create a shot list you would like the photographer and videographer to capture, since these vendors might not know if you want lots of photos with your bridal party, or a special portrait of you with Grandma J. Regardless, it’s good to communicate what memories you’d like them to focus on – after all, this is your day, and you want to create valuable memories you can cherish on your 10th, 25th and 50th (even 70th) wedding anniversary!

Confirm the officiant, and make sure you have all documentation ready if you are having a religious ceremony.

If your hotel or restaurant requires that you let them know about any special meal requests, send out dinner selection inquiries to your guests.

Update your website with any newly planned events, like the rehearsal dinner, welcome cocktail, after party or post-wedding brunch.

Voila! The time has come to send out your invitations.

Capture the most special moments with a shot list

It’s almost go-time! Put together a wedding itinerary for your guests. This is a nice touch for out-of-town guests (which is pretty much, all of them) to receive, since it keep everyone moving in the right direction of the big day.

Compile a music playlist of some favourites, if you have hired a DJ or are setting up an iPod set list, here’s your chance to pay tribute to your past, present and future with some great, and meaningful, tunes. If you’re hiring live musicians, start selecting songs, as well, or send them sheet music now to learn.

Source and order all wedding favors and bridal party attendant gifts.

Finally, you want to have some fun while you’re in an exciting new destination with your loved ones. So what better way to thank your guests for joining you in paradise, than by arranging a fun-filled tour or excursion for the group before or after the wedding?!

In the end, all the planning and organizing will result in an event that will be etched in your memory forever. Make it count, and most importantly, make it fun!