5 Tips I Wish I Knew Before Planning a Destination Wedding

Planning a wedding on your own is tough. Planning a wedding on your own when you live halfway around the world and speak a different language is even more difficult. 

Taylor and I are getting married on the island of Santorini, Greece. We decided that it was a brilliant idea for me to plan our wedding on my own in order to save money so that is what I’m doing! We have had a long engagement, thankfully for planning purposes, and it has been an interesting two-year process. 

I did my research before planning and used websites like The Knot, Wedding Wire and Trip Advisor to help with wedding checklists and all those other helpful resources. Those websites are wonderful, and I definitely recommend them in your planning process. Below are some tips I wish someone or some website had told me beforehand that would have saved me hours of stress.

1. Venues and vendors will say credit cards are not a payment option

This is B.S. Everyone from my venue down to the last vendor I secured said that I had to pay them via bank transfer. Not a chance. Ladies, or gentlemen, please do yourselves a favor and push back! I countered on each vendor, some multiple times and ended up being able to use a credit card for all our payments. Granted, there is usually a fee, typically 4% for an American Express and 2% for Visa, Discover or Mastercard but I like to think of it as my insurance fee. If you know anything about credit card companies, especially American Express, they will help you if anything goes wrong. Also, I suggest getting a credit card with a good point system because earning those points will help to lessen the blow of the 4% upcharge.

2. Plan a trip to see your venue options

Before you book a venue, I cannot stress enough that you should see it in person. I booked appointments with two venues in Santorini when we went to visit and one venue was completely different in person than it was in photos. It also said the capacity was one number on the website but in person we could easily see that the capacity was only feasible if our guests stood for the entire ceremony! This was a venue with great reviews and incredible options, but we found out in person that it was far from what we were looking for. Why wouldn’t you want an excuse to go on another fun trip? 

3. Schedule food tasting appointments on your site visit

When you go see your venue in person schedule a food tasting or tastings with potential vendors while you are there. Even if the venue or vendor tells you the menu is seasonal or will change by the date of your wedding you will want a heads up on the taste and quality. We thought so many food options sounded delicious prior to our tastings.  In reality, they were not what we expected and we changed several of our selections. While no guest may remember exactly what they ate at your wedding, they may remember if it was appealing or not. If you love food as much as I do, you will remember this tip. Many destination wedding couples don’t taste the food until the week of the wedding so this will put your mind at ease later in the planning process.

4. A “Sense of Urgency” may not be the norm, depending on your wedding location

I am half Greek so I know that the Greeks can sometimes be a bit laid-back on the islands. Even with this prior knowledge I was not prepared when it took an average of two to three weeks to get an email response from our venue and all the vendors I reached out to. Granted, I was planning a wedding that was two years out, but still, growing up in America where it has become the norm to respond instantly or within hours, this gave me anxiety. I am not saying it is a good thing that we are this way in America, only that this is what I am used to. If you are of a similar mindset when it comes to response times then brace yourself. 

5. Over communicate with your guests 

Put yourself in your guests’ shoes. When you are planning an international trip think about how much time you spend researching best ways to travel there, things to do, how to get around while you are there and where to stay, just to name a few. You will need to put on your travel agent hat and do this for your guests. Put everything on your wedding website, even the airlines that fly to that destination and the small hopper type airline companies for the more remote destinations. Spend time finding a transportation company if you don’t recommend renting a car, suggest other places to visit, things to do, tours to take etc. Your guests will appreciate it and you will spend less time answering the same questions over and over again. 

There are plenty more tips to planning a destination wedding but these have proven to be the most useful for my planning process. Happy planning!

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