Tropical Destination Wedding 15-pt Checklist

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Destination wedding planning is exciting, but can leave some couples with worries as they learn of new considerations along the way. Have no fear in choosing a tropical destination, just be sure to consider the following to ensure a seamless planning process and worry free lead up to the next day.

  1. A clear vision

  2. Weather and seasonality

  3. A planner and location expert

  4. Visit the location

  5. Local laws

  6. Hidden fees

  7. Travel and accommodations

  8. Items to bring

  9. Communication and timeline

  10. Shipping

  11. Planning and tools

  12. Vaccinations

  13. Dressing the part

  14. Aesthetic

  15. Recommendations and reviews

Now let’s take a deeper look into each one of these and why they’re important.

  1. A clear vision

    With a clear vision, you will be able to design exactly what you’ve imagined. Start with developing a mood board where you select a single image to represent your ideal for each element of the day. This will include the venue, lighting, having an unplugged wedding, invitations, attire, seating layout, linens, food, color choices, accessories, having a reveal with your partner, hair, make-up, and any other element important to you on your wedding day.

  2. Weather and seasonality

    Each tropical destination has its own climate and micro climate. Be sure to do your research on what the weather will be like during your selected time of year, how busy the tourists season is, and what costs fluctuate at the venue based on season. Consider room and flight costs as well as availability as you best manage your budget and invite guests to attend.

  3. A planner and DESIGN expert

    Putting a value on hiring a wedding planner is almost impossible because they are invaluable. Wedding planners play a critical role in creating a cohesive look to your wedding and keeping your mind on the tasks you should best spend your time on while they handle the little details. They also have a huge number of resources at their fingertips that are tried and tested. Your planner can be destination or local – most important is your relationship with them and your trust in their skill. Allow you wedding planner to guide you in how to host, design and style your wedding for the venue you choose. For more on why wedding planners are so crucial, visit 10 Wedding Planning Mistakes to Avoid. And if you’re braving your wedding planning without a planner, download the 5th Photography Wedding Planning Guide right here.

  4. Visit the location

    The ambiance of a venue is crucial. What is the mood of the venue? Who is the staff? What is next door or in the vicinity of the venue that may affect the ambiance of your celebration? What are the photo locations and lighting of the venue? All of these questions are best answered in person to ensure you host your wedding in a place you love that will satisfy you and your guests.

  5. Local laws

    Every locale has its own laws. These can include marriage laws, place of worship policies, to foreign vendor laws (such as visa needs for destination florists, photographers and planners), beach laws and travel laws. Although not the most romantic topic, this is a critical component in your planning as you want to ensure there are no surprises that will affect your plans and designs. Inquire about marriage certificates (legal vs. ceremonial), work visas (inquire with the venue and federal government if they needed and how long processing times are), ceremony location laws, and if there are any travel laws that may affect your planning (like travel to Cuba, for example).

  6. Hidden fees

    Hidden fees are everywhere. We see them in our lodging bookings, in our flight and luggage bookings, and in many other areas. Talk to venues and vendors about all-inclusive rates and ask for a grand total price. Verify with each of your vendors and the local government that there are no overage fees in food and beverages (alcoholic and non alcoholic), damage and use of equipment or space, web vs. full size image resolution, early vs. late booking, etc. Not all fees are negative, some protect you, but when they come as a surprise your planning and budget can go off plan. Do your research in every area and ensure you are informed.

  7. Travel and accommodations

    In addition to hidden costs and seasonality, be sure to as about group rates and wedding packages. Not all packages fit all couples, however, knowing the full range of options will help you make the best decision for you and your wedding day. Book ahead of time, if at all possible, to avoid running into space and availability issues, in addition to securing early-bird pricing.

  8. Items to bring

    Your wedding and design will feel like it is taking on a life of its own as you find yourself needing to consider everything from linens to salt and pepper shakers. Use your mood board to layout all of the design elements most important to you. From there identify which pieces are available locally vs. which could be shipped or carried to the venue. While venues may include certain items in your service or have them available at a cost, focusing on your design and pricing out options of where to source them is worth the aesthetic and financial gains. There are no rules on how wedding plans must be executed, create the wedding of your dreams. You can make anything happen.

  9. Communication and timeline

    As with any relationship, communication is key. Focus on developing an aesthetic, budget, vision. Once this is complete and put together in your first draft of your mood board communicate with your planner and vendors what you like and don’t like. Find ways to connect with your vendors regularly, ensure you select vendors who will have multiple touch points with you as well as with each other to create a cohesive and elegant wedding. One excellent area to connect on is your wedding day timeline. Find a downloadable timeline template and guide here. Your timeline is critical to all vendors. At 5th Photography, I work with all clients to develop one in great detail at the beginning of the planing process. Clients then share this timeline with vendors to ensure we all operate under the same plan and coordinate our services to make a seamless day. At all costs, avoid last minute planning that is executed in haste without thought and emotion behind it. You will get the most out of a day that is thoughtfully and well planned. The more you communicate the more clarity and precision will be brought to your day.

  10. Shipping

    Tying back to no. 8, consider shipping for all aspects of the wedding. Post covid-19, weddings and industry have taken a new form. Vendors are shipping all over the world at affordable prices in streamlined ways. Have vendors send items directly to the venue (flatware, stemware, linens, signage, attire, accessories, etc.) when possible. If certain items are handpicked by you and in your possession, consider sending those items yourself, such as a wedding dress or suiting. Insure your package and allow it to arrive with peace of mind to you.

  11. Planning and tools

    This topic could be an article on its own. There are a plethora of services that you have at your disposal. From wedding planners, to organization apps, research the tools that will allow you to be successful in pulling off a brilliant event that is meaningful to you, without getting bogged down in places where automation (apps) or services (planners, designers, coordinators) can help you.

  12. Vaccinations and apothecary needs

    Sometimes forgotten are the health risks of traveling to tropical destinations. Depending on where you live you may never have been exposed to certain pathogens that could ruin your wedding day by causing an illness in you. Visit the CDC website to learn of needed vaccinations for your destination and check with your physician and online travel blogs to inquire about some of the forgotten items that you may need for your destination. Sometimes things you take for granted (triple antibiotic creams, for example) are not available in areas. Sometimes they are available, but in a store far from the venue. Sometimes you simply don’t have the name of the product you need in the language you need to communicate in and Wi-Fi is not available. Prepare yourself for as many situations as you can and research where apothecaries, cosmetic stores, and drug stores are in the area where you are traveling. You may be surprised at what each of those stores carries in a foreign country.

  13. Dressing the part

    With so many options at our fingertips online, we can often get pulled in many different attire design directions while planning monumental events like weddings. As we have discussed, creating your mood board is a crucial step in centering your design. Look at your aesthetic and be sure to layer in ambiance and weather. When it comes time select wardrobe, select pieces that compliment your physique while also staying true to the weather of your destination as well as to the overall mood and ambiance of your wedding. Some attire can seem right when trying it on in an air conditioned store, but in high temperatures can become uncomfortable and add a layer of stress. On the wedding day, avoiding stress is key to enjoying your celebration, so eliminate any potential stressors ahead of time.

  14. Aesthetic

    Gone are the canned tropical weddings of the 1990s and 2000s. Great style and design are available all over the globe at all different price points and couples are realizing the value of experiential events where the day is dynamic and full of life and love, rather than static components and uninteresting food and entertainment. Avoid falling into the Pinterest trap of creating a stale design and brainstorm what is important to you. Imagine yourself as a guest walking into your wedding. What do you see? What is the ambiance? What music is playing? What food is being served? What are guests wearing? Now do the same exercise as the host. What are guests feeling? What is their reaction? What does the conversation center around? Consider these small nuances and build in pieces that trigger emotion through beauty and experience.

  15. Recommendations and reviews

    Find vendors that you love for their work and personality. By creating a team of experts that is great to work with you allow the team to feed off of energy and design. Read reviews online, dig into about sections (here is ours) of vendor homepages and ask industry professionals and those in your circle of friends and family if they have recommendations. While every vendor does not work for every couple, hearing why someone recommends a vendor to you is valuable information in pulling together your amazing day.

Thank you so much for inviting me into your planning. I truly hope this guide and checklist serve you in your planning. If I can be of help in your photography or for consulting services, please reach out to me. Until then, best wishes.

Ready to book your wedding photographer? connect with steph on availability.

 

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