Destination Wedding Planning Checklist: What Every Couple Needs to Know

French's Point Couple
Published July 22nd, 2020

A destination wedding feels like a vacation and a reunion, with a wedding at the heart of it all. If this sounds like the experience you are seeking, consider hosting a wedding in another city, state or even country. Keep reading for the ultimate destination wedding planning checklist!

Destination Wedding Planning Checklist

18 Months Before

Evaluate and break down your wedding budget (while prioritizing your necessities in case you need to cut costs along the way).

Put together an initial guest list, since it’s possible not everyone will be able to travel to your destination.

Research potential locations and venues for your big day – make it a date night, even!

Research vendors in your wedding location and request proposals, including options for a wedding planner, photography, flowers, food, transportation, music and so forth.

Start a wedding binder, online folder, or set up a wedding app or website, to compile all your research and details in one organized place.

Educate yourself about destination-specific marriage laws to ensure you’re not missing any requirements, or consider getting legally married in your hometown first and host the ceremony in your destination.

Based on the location you choose, decide on a season and a few possible dates.

If time and finances allow, schedule a scouting trip to tour your destination and meet with vendors. Many destination venues book up 12-18 months in advance.

Decide on your wedding party and VIP guests – be sure to choose people who can commit to traveling to your destination!

12 Months Before

Make your final decision on a venue, put down a deposit and reserve your date.

Get insurance for your engagement ring, if you don’t have it already.

9-12 Months Before

Collect and organize guest’s contact information and addresses for RSVPs.

Create and send your ‘Save the Dates’ so guests can start planning their travel arrangements.

Shop for your wedding dress!

Hire your wedding planner, caterer, bar service provider, and entertainment.

6-9 Months Before

Choose a wedding officiant.

Book a wedding photographer.

Make your final selection on flowers and decorations.

Book your hotel, in addition to a block of rooms for your guests.

Decide on your reception menu and wedding cake.

Place rental order with planner & caterers assistance.

Create a wedding registry.

Choose your style of bridesmaids dresses and have your bridal party order them.

Buy all wedding dress accessories, including veil or headpiece, jewelry and shoes.

4-6 Months Before

Confirm your passport is up to date, or obtain passports if you don’t already have them.

Book your travel (and encourage all guests to start booking, too!)

Get any required vaccinations or blood tests if needed.

Order your official invitations.

Purchase your wedding bands.

Arrange for all transportation, including airport and wedding day transfer.

Finalize any details for pre-wedding events including welcome cocktails, rehearsal dinner, and so forth.

Purchase wedding day attire.

Book a hair and makeup artist at your destination.

2-3 Months Before

Confirm all vendor details, such as flower arrangements and menus.

Mail wedding invitations.

Purchase wedding favors, as well as gifts for your bridal party and fiancé.

Schedule a hair and makeup trial.

1 Month Before

Assemble and arrange for delivery of welcome bags, decorations and favors.

Have your final gown fitting and make arrangements for your dress, whether you pick it up or have it delivered.

Finalize details for your ceremony.

Check-in with the hotel to ensure all guest reservations have been completed.

1-2 Weeks Before

Check-in with all vendors to ensure you’re on the same page and that nothing is outstanding.

Confirm all flight and hotel reservations.

Create a seating chart, place cards, ceremony programs and any other needed stationary.

Review list of RSVPs and update with important information, such as hotel names, arrival dates, phone numbers and so forth.

Make arrangements for family members and friends to take some items needed in their luggage to ensure nothing slips through the cracks.

When You Arrive at Your Destination

Apply for a marriage license, if needed.

Do a walkthrough of the ceremony and rehearsal sites.

Confirm any final details with your wedding coordinator and ceremony officiant.

Make arrangements for required blood tests if your destination requires them.

Assemble your welcome bags and have them handed out at check-in or delivered to guests’ rooms.

Do any final inspection details, such as food tastings.

Book a mani/pedi for the day prior to your ceremony.

Situate your dress so they are delivered to you in beautiful condition before the ceremony.

Destination Weddings on the Coast of Maine
Located in breathtaking midcoast Maine, French’s Point is a private, luxury year-round rental estate. Our oceanfront property is available to one group of guests at a time to ensure total privacy and uninterrupted time with loved ones, making your destination wedding weekend at French’s Point feels like a vacation and reunion all in one. With us, you can select your wedding planner, caterer, and vendors to customize the vision you have for your dream wedding. To learn more about hosting a destination wedding at French’s Point, please contact us today.

Photo by The Libbys –