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  • Writer's pictureOneFineDayWeddingConsultants

The complete guide to planning your Destination Wedding

Updated: Jun 19

Many couples really don’t know where to start when planning a destination wedding. Information online can sometimes make it seem daunting and off putting. But please don’t worry, I have written this guide to give you all the information you need in helping you decide if a destination wedding is for you.


Get your creative head on, create Pinterest boards, start following inspirational Instagram accounts and check out recent real wedding blogs. Links to some real wedding blogs are listed at the end of this post. The more research you can do in your initial planning stages, the more you can narrow down your dream wedding ideas.


Planning a destination wedding is actually really straight forward as long as you have an experienced wedding planner who knows the area and location you choose.


Guide you through each step.

Advise you on budget.

Recommend venues based on your requirements.

Negotiate with, recommend and coordinate suppliers.

Manage all timelines, appointment times, supplier meetings and give you help and guidance.

Take charge of your rsvp's if required to

Advise and help with venue styling

Be there with you and your guests on location ensuring everything runs smoothly for as many days as your celebrations last for

Advise and arrange accommodation and transport options if required to

This will ensure that you are relaxed and can enjoy the fun parts of planning your destination wedding, such as choosing your dress and spending hours looking through for dreamy inspiration, or having fun on your hen and stag weekends and generally enjoying the whole process

We will take the burden and responsibility of trying to plan a wedding in another country off your shoulders.

In fact, some of our couples do not come and view their wedding venue before booking their wedding as they trust our advice and feel comfortable that we have helped them choose the perfect venue and location specifically for their requirements and wishes.


So what are the first steps when planning? You need to have an idea of guest numbers, time of year, style of wedding/venue, also a rough idea of budget.


Wedding finances needs to be one the first decisions you make, this is absolutely vital.

The cost of a wedding can easily get out of control, so not setting a budget early on can lead to many mistakes.

We can help hugely with keeping your budget on track.

Once you have decided what you can afford, you can then split the budget up into different categories such as...

Wedding Planner


Travel costs

Ceremony costs (all differ depending on whether you choose religious, civil or symbolic)

Wedding Stationery

Food and drink

Flowers and decor

Lighting options for reception and after party

Wedding Cake




Music and entertainment


Hair and Make Up

Bridal gown

Bridesmaids dresses


Accessories such as jewellery and shoes

Gifts for your bridal party

Welcome Party

Farewell Brunch

Wet weather contingency fund

Any potential transportation costs for your guests to the venue


Of course a some of the above are optional and there are also many other extras that are available such as...


Ice cream cart

Traditional musicians

Traditional dancers


Note...A well structured budget will help you to keep control of your expenses and plan every detail of your wedding carefully. Based on your budget, we will help you stay on track and suggest the best options for you.


Deciding on your guest list at the start makes it easier to decide on venues and also get a rough idea on costs. Decide who you would want to invite from each side, each of you making a separate list and see how many that totals to.

 Note... For a destination wedding you will need to think about any restrictions for less mobile guests and realise that for this reason, you could have some family members or close friends that may not be able to come.


Once you have your budget and your approximate guest numbers in place we will talk about venues that are appropriate. This is the most time consuming part of your whole planning journey. But it has to be right!!

The search for the perfect location is one of the most exciting phases of planning. There are so many various options we can show you, from historical residences, castles, luxury villas and exclusive beach clubs, to countryside borgos and farmhouses and glamorous hotels.

In this search you need to consider the environment of each option, its architectural style, the available facilities, and the venue’s capacity in relation to the number of guests.

The next step is to give you info, photos, videos and an idea of price of all the venues that are suitable and available on your dates.

You will receive a proposal for each venue documenting the costs of your wedding day (and accommodation if choosing an exclusive hire venue)

Then it is up to you to decide if you have fallen in love with any of them.

Visiting the location of your choice prior to your wedding celebrations is of course preferable. However, if this is not possible, you can view virtual tours, videos and real wedding blogs.

We can set up skype calls with suppliers such as photographers and venue owners, caterers and florists etc. It also goes without saying that if a face to face meeting isn't possible with us, then Skype, Zoom or video calls are a must.

If you decide to plan a visit, we can organise and plan meetings with suppliers, trials with hair and make up, venue tours, menu tastings and anything else you need prior to your arrival.

This is your chance to get everything sorted and in place and for you to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and location of where you will become a married couple.


Once you have made up your minds on what venue you love, we will arrange for them to send you a contract which you will need to sign and return with the required deposit.

Note... Your booking will not be confirmed until the venue has your signed contract and deposit !

The contract will include a cost breakdown, and a payment schedule. This will let you know exactly what you are getting, how much it costs, and when the payments are due.

Before signing and returning their contract, you need to check it over carefully, make sure they have the right dates and all the other information is correct as your deposit is usually non returnable

Note... We as planners are quite happy to check these contracts out before you sign them


Most couples choose to have a symbolic ceremony in a destination country.

However, for the couples choosing a civil or religious ceremony they tend to worry about the paperwork, the translations and deadlines.

But we are experts at this and will take you through everything step by step, making the whole process seem easy. Each country has it own rules and this could be a factor that helps you decide on location for your wedding. For example… in Spain there is no option for a legal wedding unless you are residents. This means you would have to have the legal ceremony done in your own country and then a symbolic ceremony at your wedding celebrations in front of your guests.

The options of having an outdoor ceremony and reception are limitless as so many places offer even civil ceremonies outside now.

Imagine a beautifully restored chateau, a castle ruin, a stunning villa set in lush gardens, an agriturismo within a vineyard, a gorgeous beach, a modernised Masseria in the stunning countryside producing its own food and wine!!


Now comes the exciting part (my favourite bit!) this is when you start deciding on your wedding decor and themes. Check out themes, styles, color palettes, and creative ideas that you love to find inspiration.

Then put together a mood board which will help you focus on the decor and style and the flowers and ambiance that you are drawn too.


Your chosen suppliers are the key element for the success of your wedding. As your planners, we will offer a list of reliable professionals who we think will share your personal vision and can bring your dream day to life.  There will be a good selection of these suppliers to choose from as we have built up a great list from all of our years of working alongside them.

However, we are quite happy to work with suppliers chosen by you if that is what you choose to do.

From selecting the photographer to choosing the catering, every detail will contribute to creating a memorable experience for you and your guests.


How are you and your guests going to get to your wedding? Flying is obviously the most popular choice and as we are certified travel agents too, if you choose to, we can arrange all flights and transfers easily with atol protection.

We always suggest to our couples that they leave the travel arrangements to each guest as most people nowadays are used to travelling and are quite self sufficient. So for your own sanity and well being, do not to get involved with arranging this for them!!

And then, of course there is accommodation to think about... Many stunning destination wedding venues include accommodation and hiring of their venue for exclusive use for 3/4 days or even a week.

This is a great way to enjoy precious time with all your family and friends and really gives everyone a chance to catch up and unwind. need to be clear from the beginning of your planning what you as a couple are going to provide for your guests. Such as...

Will you be including transport and accommodation?

Will you suggest the best options for your guests or will you leave this entirely up to them?

We suggest giving guests an idea on what is available or even block booking out accommodation if an exclusive hire villa is not your choice of venue.

This requires organisation and dedication as it is very time consuming, so you can choose to sort this out yourselves and add it to your lists of tasks or you can hand it over to us to handle.

Which brings us to the next topic of...


In the process of wedding planning, you’ll need to inform your guests of many important details. Not only will they need to know the wedding date, time and venue, but they may require accommodation details, directions, gift ideas, and much more.

A wedding website is an excellent way of sharing this information and it is also a much more sustainable way too!

Before wedding websites came along, the only way of getting details of your destination wedding out to your guests was to send a detailed invitation suite containing an array of inserts such as a rsvp cards, menu choices, full itineraries, accommodation suggestions and local area information.

Creating a wedding website is the modern solution to this. Making it easy to share information with your guests, and add and edit details whenever you like.

Your guests can find out whatever they need to know about your big day instantly, and even send their RSVP on the website. They can let you know menu choices, special dietary or other requirements they have and they will be able to keep updated with any extra information you add as you receive it.

There are plenty of free wedding websites you can find online such as

And many more


As soon as you have set a date send out your save the date cards as early as possible. Your friends and family that want to attend will need time to work out their finances, book flights, book time off work etc.


The invitations and stationery set the tone for your wedding. Research different design options, paper choices, and printing techniques. Include all the important details, such as the date, venue, and dress code, to your guests. When your guests receive the invitation it needs to give them a glimpse of the kind of wedding to expect and create excitement for your big day.


For invitations and stationery, there are so many eco-friendly options available! Plantable seed papers are so unique (your guests plant your invitations after they've received them to grow a little garden) - they use post-consumer recycled cotton as the base to break down and are environmentally safe.

Other paper lines include recycled hemp or denim and can be printed with soy-based inks.

There are so many options and companies available online and on social media, so do lots of research and find a company that fits with you best.

A few examples of eco friendly companies are


Early on in your planning process, find out all the documentation you’ll need for your travel and wedding.

This may include passports, birth certificates, other travel documents and any legal papers you’ll need for the wedding (depending on the type of ceremony you decide on)

Get a folder for all the copies of everything you’ll need and keep it safe.


For destination weddings taking place anywhere in 30 countries in Europe from mid 2025 you and all your guests from the UK and guests from any other country on the visa exempt list (this information is available on the link below) will need to apply for an ETIAS travel authorisation before entering. This visa has to be applied for in advance by visiting

To inform your guests of this crucial information, you could include it on your wedding websites, or include the information in your invitations.

Note... The ETIAS is for short term stays, entitling the document holder to stay in the European countries requiring the document for up to 90 days within any 180 day period. The ETIAS document is valid for three years from the date it was issued.



We recommend that you carry your precious wedding dress, suits and any other crucial items as hand luggage and we recommend your bridesmaids do the same.

If you want to transport your precious gown in something special, we highly recommend a wedding dress box from

These boxes come in many sizes, many finishes and acid free tissue paper to wrap your dress in and are all hand made in the UK.

In many cases, depending on your chosen airline, you can bring the dress as an extra carry-on as long the airline has been notified in advance.

There may be some things you want at the wedding, such as pre-printed place cards or decor so instead of taking this in your luggage it maybe cheaper and easier to ship this all out to your venue or wedding planner. This must always be prearranged and agreed with the venue before hand!

Note… There is no need to buy centrepieces and other decor and bring it all with you as everything you desire can be hired in from the local suppliers, which means less luggage and less stress for you. This way also means you will be sustaining the local economy too and your wedding will be that little bit more environmentally friendly.


Always, always, always take out suitable travel insurance and make sure your wedding insurance is specific to cover destination weddings.


Our last and most important tip is to relax, take a deep breath, have fun and just enjoy the whole process.

Time goes by so quickly and the memories of the excitement of wedding planning will be ones you remember forever and will make your wedding day feel even happier knowing that you both helped make it happen.

Now imagine, the twinkle of fairy lights, the flicker of candles, the sound of traditional music playing for your ceremony.

Then visualise you and your guests enjoying your reception, outside in the warm evening air, watching the sunsets, chatting, chilled and relaxed.

You will be savouring the most delicious food and wine before taking to a dance floor, lit by hundreds of hanging lights and a sky full of stars and dancing the night away.

It will be a wonderful time full of love and laughter where you will spend every minute creating magical memories to cherish forever.

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