Destination Wedding Tips | Washington DC Wedding Photographer
Over the past few years I’ve had the opportunity to photograph a handful of destination weddings and just this past month, I was a guest at one, as well. I’ve learned a ton about what it takes to plan for and execute a destination wedding and I thought it might be helpful to those couples who are thinking of getting hitched on the road if I shared some of my experience and insight!
MAKE A WEDDING WEBSITE
First off, make sure you have a wedding website to organize all of the information your guests are going to need. And believe me, they’re going to need a LOT, especially if your wedding is overseas or a far distance away. We offer wedding website design to all of our couples but if you’d rather take on the job yourself, we recommend using Joy or Zola. While you’re not able to heavily personalize them like a custom site, they’re free and super easy to use.
HIRE A WEDDING PLANNER
It’s hard enough planning a wedding locally so you’ll definitely appreciate the guidance from a professional when it comes to planning one abroad. Remember, the “coordinator” that sometimes comes with your reception package is not there for you and your guests but rather to oversee their employees at the venue. They’re not going to get you down the aisle or keep the timeline running smoothly or organize speeches and dances and things like that. You need to hire your own planner for the things that matter most, especially when it comes to hiring vendors from home or the location you’re tying the knot.
HIRE A PHOTOGRAPHER YOU TRUST
We recommend hiring your wedding photographer from your hometown. While it is a bit more expensive since you’ll be paying for their travel, it’s totally worth the relationship you’ll be able to form with them beforehand. How comfortable you feel in front of the camera is determined by how empowered you are by the person who is behind it. (My friend Robert told me that.) That kind of mutual trust and comfort doesn’t happen over night and it’s something you won’t feel with a photographer you meet for the first time the morning of your wedding. By hiring someone from home, you’ll be able to meet them during your engagement session where not only will you get practice in front of the camera but you’ll be developing a stronger relationship with your photographer, as well. This is the difference between good wedding photos and photos that will knock your socks off.
SHARING IS CARING
If you’re using a travel agent to book your trip, make this person available to your guests, as well. Usually you, as a couple, can get a better deal, the more folks you recommend to your travel agent or your resort, hotel, etc.
USE A WEDDING REGISTRY
If you’re accepting wedding gifts, kindly ask your guests to send them before or after the wedding so you don’t have to lug them back home. We love using Zola for this feature, as well, because it allows your guests to send the gifts directly to your home. If you’re gifted a check or cash, be sure to have a safe place to store them during your travels. It’s a smart idea to split up these kinds of gifts in different bags between the two of you so if something is stolen or lost, you don’t lose it all. Make sure you have your bank’s app downloaded to your phone, too, so that you can deposit any checks you receive right away!
KEEP YOUR GUESTS IN THE LOOP
Make a packing list for your guests, especially if the destination is out of the country. For some of your guests, this might be their first time traveling internationally and they’ll appreciate the extra guidance. You might also consider including insight about the culture and the people of the place you’re traveling to, as well. For example, if you’re getting hitched in Paris, remind everyone that Parisians don’t usually eat dinner until around 10 PM. If you’re having a religious ceremony in an Italian church, remind folks to come with their shoulders covered. All of these little tips will ensure your guests feel comfortable, safe and happy during their trip!
CREATE A TRAVEL GUIDE
Create a travel guide with recommendations of where to stay, restaurants to try and tours to check out. A lot of your guests will probably end up extending their trip and making a vacation out of your celebration so this will be helpful when it comes time to make reservations.
INVITE ALL OF YOUR GUESTS TO THE WELCOME PARTY
If people are traveling a great distance to celebrate with you, it means they’re arriving days early and most likely taking off work, arranging for child care, and putting their day-to-day lives on hold for you! It’s a really nice gesture to include them in the pre-wedding festivities as a way to say “thank you” and to recognize their presence at your wedding. This doesn’t need to be a big, elaborate dinner. A lot of resorts will let you rent a space where you can host drinks and appetizers - one of my couples hired a steel drum band for some beach-side music, too! At the wedding I attended as a guest last month, the couple hosted everyone at their airbnb in Rome with wine and a beautiful charcuterie board. It was intimate, relaxing and a great way to spend time with guests!
DON’T MAKE YOUR GUESTS TRAVEL TWICE
A destination wedding is a big ask, especially those that are international. If you and your partner plan on having bachelor and bachelorette parties, consider having them a couple of evenings before your wedding so that your guests don’t need to plan for and travel more than once! The couple whose wedding I attended in Italy last month did this! That Friday evening the girls went on a food and wine crawl around the Trastevere neighborhood in Rome while the guys went out for dinner. We all went out after for drinks and dancing and had an absolute blast!
Check out some of our favorite destination weddings and elopements below!
The Lauren Louise Wedding Collective is a Washington DC based full service wedding collaborative that offers photography, videography, planning and design services. We strongly believe that hiring wedding vendors that know and love working with another makes a difference in the overall feeling and style of your day. We focus on creating a collaborative experience for all of your vendors and strive for authenticity in everything we do in order for your true personalities to be shared and displayed throughout your wedding season. While we are based in the DMV, we travel frequently for destination weddings and events all over the world. We have photographed in five countries and over 20 states - to find out more about what it’s like to work with us, please fill out our contact form here.