5 Steps to a Stress Free Destination Wedding

A beautiful beach.  The warm sunshine.  You and the person you love most in the world saying your vows in front of your closest friends and family.  Destination weddings are more popular than ever and for good reason.  The average cost of a wedding in Oklahoma in 2019 was $16,500.  Of all the destination weddings I have planned very few have came close to that number and they were able to roll an amazing honeymoon into that as well!  Not to mention the ease of planning and amount of stress lifted off of not only the wedding couple but everyone involved.  There will be no need for Aunt Jan to spend the day before cooking the rehearsal dinner.  You won’t have to beg your niece to serve cake or your cousins to clean up after.  It’s all handled for you by a well trained staff that is dedicated you making your day the best day ever. Now that you know the wedding day will be stress free, let’s look at a few tips to make the planning process stress free as well.  

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Step 1-  Hire a travel agent that specializes in destination weddings.

Of course I’m biased but hear me out.  Not every travel agent handles destination weddings and certainly not every one handles them in the volume that a specialist does. I plan up to 15 destination weddings a year.  I set this limit so I know all of my brides get the attention and service they deserve from me.  On the flip side, 15 is no small number and by doing so many actual weddings each year, in addition to the training for each destination and resort, I stay up to date on the latest trends, best wedding perks and have strong relationships with the wedding staff.  Planning a destination wedding goes far beyond picking a pretty resort and my goal is to help you have the wedding of your dreams and get you the best price while I’m at it.  

Step 2- Plan early!

Planning your destination wedding at least a year in advance is ideal.  Of course if you just can’t wait to seal the deal, I understand (and it’s totally doable) but let me tell you why 12-18 months is best.  First of all you get your choice of resort and date.  Some of our preferred resorts only do one wedding per day!  Now that is great come wedding day because you have the full attention of the entire wedding team however, this means you may not get your first pick in date.  Another one of our preferred resort chains has an unbelievable all-inclusive wedding package at a fantastic rate for large groups.  This has saved my couples thousands of dollars vs. doing it å la carte.  However this package has to be booked at least 365 days in advance.  The biggest reason to book early is for your guests sake.  They often need to secure vacation time and budget accordingly.  By booking early, they have plenty of time to pay off their trip.  

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Step 3- Put some deep thought into your guest list. 

This is a really big one.  Think of the people you MUST have by your side to say “I do”.  Will they be able to addend a destination wedding?  If they answer is no then you may want to reconsider.  For my husband this was his grandma.  We knew she couldn’t travel and for us that was a deal breaker.  Sure I had dreamed of a destination wedding but having her there was more important so thats what we did and I have no regrets.  

There will be people you just KNOW will come that won’t and people you think won’t come, will come.  Believe me it happens at every single wedding.  So whatever you do, don’t invite that annoying guy from the office just to be nice.  If he comes your stuck with him at a resort for a week! HAHA!  

Another way the guest list comes into play is budget.  Some resorts reward you for bringing more people. The more the merrier!  While others cap your free wedding perks at 10 and you pay a fee for each additional guest.  This is something to take into consideration and discuss throughly with your travel agent when deciding on a resort and wedding package. 


Step 4- Poll your guests on their budget.  

I recommend my couples ask their closest friends and family what they can afford to spend to attend the wedding.  I know this can be an awkward conversation to have but remember step 3.  You don’t want to pick a resort that no one can afford.  Remind them you are asking them to spend their vacation with you.  The numbers you get will no doubt vary widely but it gives us a good starting point.  This not only will help me narrow down the best destination and resort for you but also save you a lot of headache when Aunt Jan is grilling you on why you chose Hawaii instead of Cancun.   


Step 5- Patience is a virtue.  

Destination weddings are a completely different experience from a wedding here in the states.  Instead of shooting out of the gate to lock down all of your favorite vendors before another bride snags them, you will pick your ceremony and reception location and maybe look at decor packages when you book, and then you wait.  Most details aren’t finalized or even discussed until 60 or 90 days prior to the wedding. The reason for this is the guest count plays a huge part in the budget and perks you may qualify for.  This can be stressful for some couples but I promise it always works out.  Just have patience and trust your wedding team.  

As you can see there are a lot of perks involved with a destination wedding and also a lot of things to think about.  If you are considering a destination wedding I would love to help you!  Please contact me at (918) 470-9778 or kassey@thejoyoftravel.net .  

Kassey Weaver

Destination Wedding and Romance Specialist 
The Joy of Travel