"One of the World's Best Wedding Photographers", Nicholas splits his time between Australia and Paris. His photos have appeared in Harpers Bazaar, the New York Times and

Nicholas is the publisher of the School of Wedding Photography, a popular blog teaching wedding photographers around the world.

Planning a Destination Wedding? Four Things To Consider

Planning a Destination Wedding? Four Things To Consider

Planning a Destination Wedding? Four Things To Consider

Destination weddings seem to be rising in popularity these days, with couples jetting off to exotic destinations tie the knot and taking their families and friends with them.

If you are the kind of couple who went for a Celtic sapphire engagement ring rather than a traditional diamond solitaire, you probably also want to try something a bit different when it comes to your wedding day. A destination wedding is a great option for this: being a unique experience that neither you nor your guests are likely to forget!

Planning a destination wedding requires its own approach and has particular challenges. Read these top 4 tips for planning a destination wedding, to make sure it goes off without a hitch, and you can focus on what really matters: making that life-long commitment!

1. Know Your Destination

The location you choose for your destination wedding doesn’t necessarily need to be somewhere you have spent a great deal of time, but it is a good idea to at least visit it first. It is definitely possible to plan your wedding from overseas. However, having some knowledge of the location, and in particular the specific venue where you are planning on holding your wedding. You will want to make sure that you the destination has all the elements you need for your perfect wedding.

This will vary depending on the type and scale of wedding you want, but factors to consider include:

  • What kind of venues are available for the ceremony and reception? What is their capacity for guests?

  • What accommodation is available close to the venues you plan to use? Is there sufficient accommodation at a reasonable standard and in an appropriate price bracket? Depending on your chosen destination, you may risk the local accommodation options being too low quality (such as in places like Thailand and Bali) or too expensive for your guests (for example in the Caribbean or  the Maldives).

  • What is the availability of catering? Will you be able to have the type of food you want, to the standard you expect and for the number of people you are expecting? Smaller destinations like islands, as well as more remote destinations may not be able to provide the standard of catering you expect.

  • Will you be able to hire a local photographer or videographer, or will you need to fly your own in for the wedding? If so, do you have the budget for this?

  • What is the availability of other vendors and services such as musicians, flowers and entertainment?

Visiting the venue in person and talking to the event organisers face to face ahead of time will make all the difference in terms of your wedding turning out how you imagined. Plan to visit your destination in the early planning stages of your wedding in order to visit the venue, and meet with organisers, vendors and suppliers. You do not necessarily need to finalise all the details on this trip, but these initial meetings will let you discuss options, give your suppliers an idea of your expectations, and gather contacts which you can then work with remotely to confirm all the final details from back home.

2. Plan Well in Advance

As great as spontaneous, last minute weddings can be, if you want your loved ones to travel long distances to be part of your special day, you will need to give them some notice. Plan your wedding some time in advance and be sure to give your guests plenty of notice, including the details of the destination, so that they can arrange things such as booking flights and asking for time off work.

Send out save the date cards at least four months in advance of the wedding date and include details about the destination. It is a good idea to include a fact sheet with information such as how to get to the destination, accommodation options, visa and vaccination requirements, tour suggestions while they are in the country, and any other information they will need to know about travelling there.

In particular, when you are asking people to be part of your wedding, for example as bridesmaids or groomsmen, make sure that you make it clear from the start that it will be a destination wedding. Ask your wedding party to be involved as soon as you know you are planning the wedding, and tell them where the wedding will be, how long they will be expected to be overseas, and what this will mean practically. That way they can make an informed decision about whether they can realistically be involved, considering financial and logistical concerns.

3. Research Local Laws

It probably won’t surprise you to know that getting married overseas means that the legalities of marriage will be covered by the laws within that country. Make sure that you look into the relevant marriage laws well in advance in order to make sure your marriage is legal. For example, some countries require you to have been within the country for a minimum amount of time before the ceremony in order to be considered a “resident” and for the marriage to be legal. In many cases, this length of time is only a few days or a week, so it is not difficult to manage.

Get in touch with local authorities or seek advice from a lawyer either in that country, or one in your own country who has some knowledge of the destination.


Some questions to ask include:

- Do I need to be a resident on order to be legally married in the country? If so, what are the requirements to be considered a resident?

- Who needs to conduct the ceremony in order for it to be a legal marriage? What certification or status do they need to have?

- After the ceremony, do I need to register the marriage with local authorities? If so, where and how do I do this? What original documents will I need to bring (eg. Original birth certificate)

- Will the marriage from that country be considered legal in my own country? Will I need to do something to register the marriage in my country of residence?


The last one is a question for your lawyer at home, or for local authorities in your home country.


If you are not able to make this work with local laws, another alternative may be to hold your ceremony overseas as a “show wedding” to celebrate your marriage with friends and family, but to do the official paperwork at a courthouse back home either before or after the big ceremony.


4. Consider the Season

When planning a wedding in another country, it is important to consider the time of year and what impact that will have for your wedding, keeping in mind that seasons are not the same everywhere! When we think of places like beautiful tropical islands, we tend to picture them how they appear in the post cards: blue skies and endless sunshine. However, even the most idyllic spots have different weather at different times of the year. Tropical regions, for example, typically have a rainy season where heavy rain may be common for month at a time.

When setting a date for your destination wedding, keep the season in mind. This means not only considering the time of year with the best weather, but also researching peak tourist season. High season in some locations may mean huge volumes of visitors, meaning that venues and accommodation may be booked out, and everything will be more expensive. Shoulder season, such as April-May and September in the Mediterranean, can be a good choice as this is generally when you will find pleasant weather without the crushing crowds.

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