Destination Wedding Checklist:

An Easy Destination Wedding Check List Will Keep You On Track

You've finally done it. You're getting married! Now what? A good destination wedding checklist will have you walking down that isle (or beach) before you knnow it.

It doesn't have to be overwhelming. As a matter of fact it can be FUN! Planning a destination wedding isn't much different than a traditional wedding. You do have the option of being much less formal and non traditional. But you don't have to.

Generally, to plan a destination wedding you will need up to 1 year to use the most sought after vendors and locations. There are so many choices though, that you can have an incredible wedding on short notice as well. This wedding planning checklist can be accomplished in short order with a little perseverance.

You can begin by checking into hotels, flights and car rentals. This site offers the most airlines and hotels in one spot.

Ron Dahlquist
destination wedding checklist

6-12 months before your Hawaii wedding

  • Choose a wedding budget. Do you want a simple private beach wedding or a lavish 5 star resort with 300 guests. (Of course there is a lot in between)
  • After deciding on a date and island (they are all very different) announce your wedding to your family and friends. Be sure to speak in private with those you feel you can't have a wedding without. Special arrangements may need to be made.
  • Choose a wedding site and reception location. Keep in mind the number of guests and formality that you desire. You can subscribe to the Hawaii Bride & Groom magazine for lots of local ideas.
  • Choose your hotel or resort that will offer you and your guests everything you need.
  • If you plan on using a wedding planner or destination wedding travel agent, this is the time to start speaking with them. You want to make sure that you speak with several to make sure your style and budget mesh. If you choose to use a resort, often they have a wedding coordinator on staff.
  • Look into marriage license requirements to be sure there are no surprises. Hawaii is a very easy state to get married in.
  • If you are having a Catholic ceremony you will need to check with your local parish priest to get the paperwork started. This can be a lengthy process.
  • Make a guest list and send "save the date" cards. This will give everyone a heads up to know the plans and start preparing themselves.
  • If you want a traditional wedding dress, find it now. Be sure to consider the length if you will be having an outdoor wedding.
  • Begin to think about the groom's and wedding party's attire.
  • Obtain all legal documents including, if necessary, passports, divorce certificates, visas, identification, birth certificates, notarized declarations of never having been married.
  • If you plan to honeymoon on another island, make arrangements now.
  • Reserve tents, tables, chairs, for an outdoor wedding. Realize you will not be able to secure an awning for a beach wedding without some flooring also.
  • Refer to your wedding planning guide often to keep on track.
  • Refer to your destination wedding checklist

4-6 months before your Hawaii wedding

  • Finalize all flight information and tickets.
  • Begin searching for florist, musicians, photographer, videographer, and officiant. You may also want to find a hairstylist, makeup artist, manicurist, and masseur. You can often find ones that are willing to come to you as you are getting ready.
  • Find a baker for your cake. Be sure to discuss if this will be an outside wedding and the type of frosting that would be appropriate for humid weather.
  • Finalize your wedding ceremony and reception details. Arrange for signed contracts to be sent to you from all vendors.
  • Order wedding invitations and send them out.
  • Buy wedding rings locally or arrange with a Hawaiian jeweler for traditional rings and jewelry to be made/purchased.
  • Purchase your plane tickets or arrange with a destination wedding travel agent for services. They can make arrangements for all your guests and keep you in the loop.
  • Create and distribute a wedding website or newsletter to share wedding and travel information.
  • Finalize groom's and wedding party's attire.
  • Register for a traditional gift registry or a honeymoon gift registry.
  • Make sure you have your passport ordered if you are going to travel out of the country for your honeymoon (although you won't need it for travel to another island) or if you are going on a cruise line. Not all of them are registered in the U.S. and you may be required to have a passport.
  • Refer to your destination wedding checklist

2-4 months before your Hawaiian wedding

  • Mail your wedding invitations with a R.S.V.P.
  • Begin choosing or writing your wedding vows. Check with your officiant. Most will allow personal vows.
  • Shop for shoes and other accessories.
  • Make sure the wedding party and other important people have made their travel arrangements.
  • Begin to think about activities pre/post wedding that your guests would enjoy. Include a variety with cost and activity level being considered. If you want some input on things to do, you could ask your guests for suggestions.
  • Refer to your destination wedding checklist

1-2 months before your Hawaiian wedding

  • Order wedding favors and gifts. Also begin planning welcome bags for your guests including water, sunscreen, snacks, a detailed itinerary, and possibly paper fans with your wedding program printed on the back for a hot outdoor wedding.
  • Make reservations for any activities that you've decided on.
  • Make reservations for travel accommodations to/from airport and wedding if needed.
  • Refer to your destination wedding checklist

2 weeks before your Hawaii wedding

  • Confirm all details with vendors. You did get it in writing, right? If not, now is the time.
  • Assemble favors and or welcome bags. Some items can be purchased there.
  • Arrange with the airline for your dress to travel. You may be able to hang it in the front in a locker with a phone call to the airline.
  • Buy any travel books you want to take with you.
  • Make sure you have extra film or digital memory cards.
  • Refer to your destination wedding check list

After you arrive

  • Apply for your marriage license.
  • Meet with your wedding planner, officiant and any other vendors who want your input before the wedding.
  • Check out the wedding location. Make sure you know how to get there, how long it will take and that it is everything you hoped it would be.
  • Distribute welcome bags to your guest's rooms. If your maid of honor is there early (good idea) she can help.
  • Take a deep breath.
  • Refer to your destination wedding checklist

Your wedding day

  • Relax and enjoy each other, your friends and family!
  • Refer to your destination wedding planning check list

After you return home

  • Have a reception to celebrate with friends and family who weren't able to make it to the wedding.

Refer to this wedding planning checklist often to keep you up to speed and help you to keep track of it all.

Enjoy your day in paradise!

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