Destination Wedding Checklist

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You've almost made it.

After wading through tons of wedding planning ideas and making initial decisions, you're now only three months from the moment when you say "I do."

But those last three months can make or break how well your wedding turns out.

For the most part, destination wedding planning looks a lot like any other wedding. Besides just a few minor differences like researching the legal requirements in the area you want to be married in, the first several months are nearly identical to other types of weddings in what you have to accomplish (i.e. picking a location, dress shopping, figuring out decor ideas, etc.).

However, the last three months' worth of work often requires you to add extra steps to your planning process, just because of the nature of destination weddings. Seem overwhelming? Don't worry -- that's where this post comes in.

In order to help you out, here's a nifty wedding checklist for you to use as you enter this final phase of planning!

3 Months Ahead of Time --

-- Address and mail your wedding invitations. For a destination wedding, the earlier you do this, the better. You want to give guests ample time (at least 4 weeks) to respond and figure out their final travel plans.

Make sure your passports are up-to-date.

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-- Make sure your passports are up-to-date. If you've yet to do this, consider shelling out the extra cash to expedite the process.

-- Verify your travel/housing arrangements. Finalize any remaining plans on your travel list.

-- Work on attire arrangements. Make sure groomsmen and bridesmaids know what to wear, and that you and your groom are scheduled for fittings for your dress and tux. Discuss with your dressmaker the best way to transport your dress to the ceremony location. Also, pick any accessories you have yet to choose (like shoes, clutches, shawls, etc.).

-- Order your rings. Sometimes this step comes earlier in a destination wedding checklist, so if it did, check on the status of your rings.

Order your rings.

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-- Experiment with makeup and hair. Even if you plan on doing your own makeup, it's a good idea to have a professional do a test run on you so you can make note of any products/styles you prefer. If you've already booked a makeup artist, see if he/she can do this for you, but if he/she is at your destination location and not near you, you'll have to use a local artist instead and tell your makeup artist what you'd like over email.

-- Make plans for on-scene activities. Want to throw a meetup for your guests when they arrive? Want to give them a list of cool activities and events to do at the destination? Now's the time to start researching and planning these events. Talk to your venue's coordinator to see what they can do for you here to reduce your stress and responsibility.

-- Confirm any final selections with your vendors as needed. Make sure anything you don't want to transport to the wedding location yourself (like decorations) can be shipped ahead of time. Any selection that's not able to be decided this early should be bumped to next month's checklist.

-- Optional: Begin a draft of your wedding vows.

2 Months Ahead of Time --

-- Start putting together guests' welcome bags and favors. Order any items you'll need to use to complete these tasks, assemble what you can, and discuss with your venue and/or hotel contact about how best to get the bags into guests' rooms.

Start putting together guests' welcome bags and favors.

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-- Purchase attendant/thank-you gifts. Don't forget everyone who's been helping you out! Get their gifts and wrap them now so you don't forget about it later.

-- Make a decision on program design. If you're doing this yourself or if you hired someone, choose what you want your programs to look like and have your order placed with plenty of time for delivery (to you or to the wedding location) before the big day.

-- Finalize guest events and your wedding registry information, and send out the information. You can post this on your wedding website or email everyone in a batch. Make sure you're clear on how to handle any gifts your guests may purchase you.

-- Make a list of songs for your DJ. Include a "don't play" list if you're worried you're going to hear something you hate.

-- Prepare a packing checklist for your wedding and honeymoon. A checklist within a wedding checklist? Yep, it's pretty important.

Prepare a packing checklist for your wedding and honeymoon.

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-- Optional: Book your makeup and hair artist (if you haven't already).

1 Month Ahead of Time --

-- Finish all outstanding projects. This includes things like programs and gift bags for your guests.

-- Organize final delivery/shipping of all accessories. Make sure all your wedding decorations, programs, favors, etc. on your wedding checklist are delivered to your destination wedding location, or designate who will be bringing these to the location and setting them up.

-- Check on RSVPs. Follow up with anyone who hasn't answered yet.

Check on RSVPs.

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-- Have your final dress fitting. You should also check in with your bridesmaids, groomsmen, and groom to make sure their attire is also taken care of.

-- Confirm all final arrangements with your venue and vendors. Make sure you're all on the same page and each one knows exactly what you want! This is especially important if many of your vendors are local to the area, but you haven't met in person yet. Book meetings with them all so you can finalize things in-person the few days before the wedding.

-- Purchase any last-minute items (especially travel) that may have slipped through the cracks. For example, it may be cheaper for you to pre-purchase baggage fees than paying at the airport, and you might find better transportation deals to and from the airport to your wedding location if you book now.

-- Optional: Finalize wedding vows.

2 Weeks Ahead of Time --

-- Pick up your rings. Have them cleaned and packed away safely.

-- Confirm final numbers. Send these to your vendors and venue.

-- Plan your seating chart. 

Plan your seating chart.

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1 Week Ahead of Time --

-- Start packing. Make sure your personal items for the trip are ready to go as well as any of your wedding items like decorations and favors (if they weren't shipped beforehand).

-- Attend any final meetings/fittings. This includes getting a hair trim and color (you can get a manicure and pedicure now or save for a few days before the wedding).

Attend any final meetings/fittings.

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-- Print out your travel plans and vendor/venue information. Go over your itinerary and make sure it's in order, as well as that all contracts with your vendors and venue have been signed and any final payments are ready to be processed.

-- Deal with any overseas-related concerns. For example, if you'll need your passport, make sure you have it packed along with all other legal documents needed. Also, check with your cell phone provider to make sure you have purchased a travel plan and won't be charged huge amounts for using data. Finally, make sure that you have any converters that will be required for power and electricity outlets.

-- Optional: Obtain your marriage license. This may need to be done when you get to your wedding location.

The Few Days Before the Wedding --

-- Meet with your wedding planner. Finalize details, or if you don't have a destination wedding planner, make sure you meet with all your vendors to go over the final schedule and plans. This is especially important in regards to your local photographer, hairstylist, and makeup artist.

Meet with your wedding planner

-- Hang up your wedding dress. If it needs to be cleaned or steamed, make arrangements.

-- Meet with local officials/officiants. Your marriage license may need to be approved in person; make sure to take along your legal documents.

-- Deliver all wedding accessories to the appropriate people. Give the guests' gift bags, decorations, programs, etc. to whoever's in charge of getting them where they need to be.

-- RELAX. Enjoy the moments leading up to your "I do" and have fun exploring the destination you chose!


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Your Turn...

Hopefully, this wedding checklist was thorough enough for your stress to be alleviated! A lot of final decisions here will help make your destination wedding a smooth and enjoyable success.

What are you most looking forward to in these last three months?