How to plan your destination wedding


Congratulations! You are engaged!

What next? You think to yourself "Where do I start planning? What do I do first?"

Don't worry at all that's why we are here today, to help you answer those questions and walk you through your first steps of planning your dream wedding.

As an experienced professional Greek destination wedding planner, I will take you by the hand and help you with your first steps of your planning journey.

Save this post or even share with your other engaged friends as it is one of the most searched for topic on Google amongst newly engaged couples.

Grab a pen and paper to hold some notes if you need to. Let's start...

How do I start planning my wedding?

It is essential for you and your fiance to have good communication skills and to be able to have a sit down together and discuss everything about your wedding day.

Ask yourselves these questions:

  • When do we want to have our wedding? (In 6 months, 1 year or 2 years?)

  • Where do we want to have our wedding? Do we want to get married in our country/hometown or do we fancy a destination wedding?

  • If you wish for a sun kissed sunset destination wedding ask yourselves which location shall we pick? Tip it can be either a place you have had holidays at before or you both really dream of going to.

  • How much money do we want to spend on our special day?

  • What style do you want your wedding to have? Make sure it matches your budget allowance.

  • What services will we need? What professionals will we need to hire? The list of suppliers you might need is: ceremony venue, wedding venue, wedding planner, photographer, videographer, make-up artist, hairstylist, baker, stationary, florist, decor, DJ, live band, transportation.

  • And the all important question: How many guests will we have at our wedding? Who will we invite to our very special day?

  • What ceremony would we have? A legal civil wedding, a legal church wedding or a symbolic wedding?

Start the research

Once you have answered all the above questions you are pretty much set with a clearer picture of what your wedding day would look like.

Having your vision in mind, it is very important that you start searching the internet or your local area for your ceremony/wedding venues. Be specific in what you are searching for. Make sure the venues tick all your requirements list. You can read more about what to ask your venues here. You will need to market search for all the suppliers you are wanting to hire. Collect their details, their offers and compare them. See and decide which supplier you feel happy with and hire them.

Buy or download a printable wedding planner

A good thing to have at this time of your planning process, where you are collecting all your information and offers, is to have all your wedding planning information in one place. You can buy or you can download a personalized printable wedding planner PDF and put it in a binder. It will help you be in full control of your planning journey. We happen to have one for you. It's the one and only destination downloadable/ printable wedding planner out there that is ideal for planning a wedding in Greece and not only. I'm sure it can be very helpful for other destinations too. Find out more about it here.

Book your Venues & Suppliers

You've done your research, compared prices, compared offers and you have found the venue/supplier that offers you the best value for your money, you like their work and you are happy to proceed with their bookings.

Each venue/supplier will ask you for the following information: Wedding date, Wedding time, Number of guests and which package you have chosen.

Now, upon each booking you will be asked a small % of that venue's/supplier's total fee as a deposit to secure your booking with them and as you get closer to the wedding day you will be requested to pay the balances.

Write your guest list & send out your invitations

So now that you have an official wedding date booked and all the suppliers you need, you have to tackle the guest list. St down with your fiance and write down your VIP list for you and then a list of your friends and distant family members that you would wish to invite. Do not fall in the trap of you "need to" invite everyone! No this is your special day, you need to make sure that you invite the people that will be genuinely happy to share your happiness on your big day. Once you have your list it is time to send out your Save the date cards & RSVP's. If you are planning a destination wedding you will want to send these out at least 1 year in advance to give your guests the time to plan and arrange their holiday days for the same time as your wedding. Your actual invitations should be sent out around 6 months prior to your wedding date. Your RSVP's should be returned to you or answered the latest 2 months before your wedding date. TIP make sure to ask your guests on their RSVP's any dietary requirements or any food allergies, this will help you further down the line while deciding your reception menu and will save you tons of time in going back to each and every guest individually to ask them about it.

Create your budget management sheet

So far you have everything booked and know pretty much how much everything will cost you. I recommend you create an excel budget sheet and list all your expenses on it, how much you estimated for each service, how much it actually costs, how much was your paid deposit and when is the balance do and how much it is. If you've got your printable wedding planner all these steps and grids are included in it.

Create your Pinterest mood board

This is where the fun and most creative part of the planning starts. Pinterest is THE best visualization mood board/ tool ever! It helps you create and decide your wedding day's style, theme, color scheme and vibe you want to have on your special day. It's a great tool because it also helps you share your vision of your special day with your planner, florist and decorator.

Get all the information you need about your legal wedding ceremony

Having decided you want to have a legal wedding, it's very important earlier on in your wedding planning journey t have figured out exactly what you need to have and what to do to get get your marriage legalized.

You will need to contact your registry offices and ask them what their procedures are, how long it takes and what paper work is required from you?

You will also need to ask on how you can apply for your change of name after the wedding? You might want to consider changing your name in your banks and other billing societies that are in your maiden name, so this is the time to look into all of this and be well prepared.

If you are planning a destination wedding make sure you contact the local registry office of the ceremony/wedding venue's location, to ask them what paper work is required from you, what is the timeline you need to have the papers issued and ready by, by when do they need to have this documents in their hands and how far before the wedding do they need you to be at the location? For example there are some Greek destinations that require your presence at the wedding location 2 weeks before your wedding date, so keep that in mind.

Buy your wedding attire

The wedding dress search begins and not only. Now is the time to search, book wedding dress fittings take your bridal party to them enjoy every moment of it. Also it is the time where you shop for your wedding party's attire, bridesmaids dresses, groom's suit, groomsmen suits, flower girl dresses, shoes and most importantly after the wedding dress and groom's suit are your wedding rings.

The best by far most memorable time of your life while planning your wedding is when you actually go out shopping.

Schedule your beauty treatments

Yes, seriously! Create a calendar with all your beauty treatments that you need to get done way in advance. Beauty treatments include: hair and make-up trials, hair coloring, skin treatment, teeth whitening or braces if you wish, pampering sessions such as mani & pedi, back massage, spa days with your girls, you name it! You only get to be a princess once so make the most of it.

Create your order of the day

You are almost set with your wedding planning to do list. You are a few months away from your big day therefore it the right time to draft or schedule your "Order of your wedding day". What is the order of the day, well it's basically your wedding day time-line/program. Here is an example: 9 am breakfast, 10:30 all my bridesmaids come to my house/room/suite wearing their robes, 11 am hair & make-up artist come to my hotel, 11:30 am Photographer/ videographer arrives for the preparation shots... etc.

Once you have created this for your wedding day make sure to share it with all your hired suppliers so they know what time you want each one of them and where.

Create your table seating plan

This might take you a bit to map out and make sure you have grouped people in a nice way avoiding any unpleasant arguments on the tables during your first meal as a married couple.

TIP this becomes easier if you group your guests roughly according to common interests with other guests that are on that table, if you group them according to family status or friends or people you know.

Create a wedding calendar

What is a wedding calendar? It's basically a google calendar that you can create and add on it all the important events you have coming up. This will help you stay in control of all your booked appointments, all your payments due dates and any other very important information you need to be reminded of.

Finalize everything before the big day

Run through all the details of your wedding day. Make sure you have not forgotten something to buy or someone to pay. Send out your final food and drink option, final guest list and guest management sheet to your venue, send out your final "Order of the Day" to ALL your suppliers. Pick up your wedding dress, bridesmaids dresses etc. Send song list to the DJ, pack all your wedding things in one place so you don't end up on the day searching for everything you need. Finish all the paper work need for your wedding.

These are the basic steps you need to be taking in order to have a stress free, under control wedding planning journey. Now you might need to add something to the above or take away it doesn't matter. Every wedding just as every couple is unique, you personalize it in the best way it suits you, your personality as a couple and what is best for your needs.

Download your free time-line check list here to help you stay on track of when you need everything done!

I wish you a lifetime of happiness and happy planning!

If you like this article or if you found it handy please feel free to share it.

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