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Guide to Planning a Destination Wedding


Have you once thought of holding your wedding in a secluded island, in a castle or in a villa resort and immediately brush the idea off; thinking that it is quickly expensive and maybe none of your close family and friends will attend your wedding?

Photo by Studio Impressions. Wedding of Daphne & Sebastian.

Here’s the guide to help you evaluate if it is really impossible.

Before looking for a destination, start deciding whether you would like a religious/legal or a symbolic (i.e. non-legal and non-religious) ceremony to start with. This will help you decide on certain destinations, paperwork, pre-wedding rituals, traditions and thus let you organize your time accordingly.

If you are not familiar with the venue, you may want to consider a wedding planner who specializes in destination wedding. Going to a foreign country often means you do not speak the language, food is prepared differently and the local customs and traditions are different to those at home. Knowing what types of specialty food are available in a region, the wedding etiquette and even the intricacies of the local culture will add to the romance, uniqueness and authenticity of your destination wedding. If your wedding planner is based in Singapore, ensure that he/she has much experience in organising destination weddings in your venue or in the region, so he/she can advise you appropriately on such matters.

There are countless number of great beaches, villas, resorts, cliff tops, waterfalls; each one is so captivating and beautiful in its own way that it is hard to choose the perfect venue. But, once you have a wedding date, it will be easier to determine the venue based on the season.

Different venues offer different level of exclusivity to your wedding celebrations; do remember to ask about it. Ask the manager about which the weather and which part of the day is most suitable for your wedding. Also check on the ease of transportation; you will be better prepared to plan your reception and the guest list.

Do not judge a venue just by the pictures of the website alone, it can be really deceiving (notice that the sky is always clear and blue? Think Photoshop). If you can, plan a trip to visit to the venue and see for yourself. You can also search on the internet on pictures and videos of others who had held their wedding there. If you have a wedding planner, see if they have their own collection of pictures or videos from their site inspections.

You must remember a ‘unique’ wedding will have a whole range of costs and incidentals that you may not think of. Destination Wedding also means air or sea travel, accommodation and entertainment; you need to decide if you are paying for everything or your guest need to pay for some part of it.

As usual, don’t set a low budget and expect the ‘red carpet’ treatment. Everything comes with a cost.  Give a buffer in the budget to add a touch of the local flavors and traditions. If you have a wedding planner, they would be able to assist you on this.

If you can't decide between organizing activities for your guests during their stay is more important than the ratings and amenities of the wedding venue/accommodations, make a list of the most important criteria and your expectations. This will be extremely helpful in determining your group outings and choosing your perfect wedding venue and reception details.

Making reservations early will mean lower costs, less last minute stress and could make the a significant impact to your budget! This is especially so, when you are travelling via budget airlines.

Do plan to send out your wedding invitation or Save-The Date card about 4 to 6 months in advance.Your guests will have to take leave from work, book their travel and accommodation, so it would be considerate to inform them as early as possible. Give them as much information and time as you can to facilitate their planning.

Creating a wedding website will save you time to inform each guest every time new information is available. It is also an easy way for your guest to gather the information without call you all the time. Do take into consideration that if any of your guests special dietary needs or babies, try to anticipate early and make changes to meet their needs.

For some of your guests, it may be their first trip to the country or city of your wedding. Think of some group activities for your guests and list them on the wedding invites or on the wedding website and let the guests choose or rank their preferences.  This will make it easy for you to select/decide which group outings to organise. The group activities will also help your guests be more excited about attending your wedding.

Tuxedo and gowns rentals may not be readily available in some countries. It would be wiser to get your wedding attire at home and ship/carry them to your wedding destination. You can rely on the local hair stylists and make-up artists to make you and your bridesmaids look fabulous.

A fabulous wedding should be captured in photos and videos for you to remember the day by. So don’t forget to engage a wedding photographers and videographers. Your invited guests are there to enjoy your wedding, you may not want to ask them to be your photographer or videographer for the day.

If you are planning an outdoor wedding and want live music and entertainment, dancing, outdoor festivities, and other entertainment, always have a contingency plan ready in case of rain. This will avoid a total wash-out on your wedding day!

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