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  • Writer's pictureNicole Lawrence

How Long Does it Take? The Ultimate Destination Wedding Timeline Planning Guide

Updated: Dec 17, 2023

Newlyweds sharing a passionate kiss on the beach, with guests cheering in the background, celebrating their love.

Picture this: You, your partner, and a breathtaking destination for your wedding. But, before you dive into that tropical paradise, let's tackle a crucial question: "How far in advance should I book and plan my destination wedding?" I've written this article to guide you through it.

If you're dreaming of saying "I do" at a stunning destination wedding, you've come to the right place. I've been helping couples like you plan their dream weddings and family events in paradise for over 11 years, and I'm here to share some advice on how far in advance to book and plan your destination wedding.

So, roll up your sleeves, and let's dive into this exciting journey together!

Engaged couple discussing wedding plans using a laptop, surrounded by notes and a cozy home environment.

Step 1 – Secure the wedding date and time (12–18 months in advance)


Open planner with a handwritten note 'TODAY is the perfect day to be HAPPY' over a calendar, symbolizing the joy and optimism in choosing a wedding date.

Choosing the perfect date and time for your destination wedding is the first big step. And trust me, it's not as easy as picking a date for a local wedding when you can pop into venues on a Saturday afternoon.

That's where a destination wedding specialist like yours truly comes in handy. We'll help you find the ideal wedding venue that suits your style and budget so you don't waste time scrolling through endless options.

Not securing your date and time is one of the top mistakes I see wedding couples make when trying to plan a destination wedding.


Step 2 – Get a group contract set up (As soon as the venue is selected)

Person meticulously filling out a group contract, with a planner and laptop on the desk, symbolizing the detailed planning involved in securing group rates for a destination wedding.

Once you've nailed down your wedding date and time, it's time to secure a group contract. This contract ensures that all your guests have a room at the same rate, making everyone's stay seamless and enjoyable.

As a destination wedding specialist, I personally work with a travel supplier (vs. booking directly with the resort) to set up the group contract, as it simplifies the process and ensures you get the best deals.


Step 3 – Send out Save the Date invites (Give guests as much time as possible, at least 6 months, preferably a full year)

Chic 'Save the Date' card on a white surface with a pen, cup of coffee, and soft floral accents, ready to announce a couple's upcoming wedding.


With the wedding date and group block secured, it's time to spread the excitement by sending out Save the Date invitations.

Make sure your invites include all the essential details, and if you're working with a destination wedding travel specialist, we can set up a wedding website where your guests can easily reserve their rooms.

Plus, when your guests book with the group, you can earn some fantastic perks like free rooms and upgrades.

Step 4 – Pre-wedding planning (6-9 months before the wedding)

Wedding planning notebook laid out with lists of venue wants and tours to schedule, accompanied by a clipboard, pens, and fresh greenery, illustrating organized pre-wedding preparation.

Now comes the in-between phase, where you've got some time before the big day. Here are some tips to make the most of it:

  • Consider a pre-wedding planning trip to your chosen destination, taking advantage of any discounted rates.

  • Research fun group activities like a catamaran cruise to entertain your guests.

  • Remind your guests to RSVP by reserving their rooms with a low deposit.

  • If you're hiring a photographer/videographer not on the resort's preferred list, plan for the outside vendor fee or consider having someone from the U.S. attend as a guest to avoid it.


Step 5 - Start planning the wedding (Between 4-6 months from the wedding)


Even if your resort isn't ready to dive into the nitty-gritty details just yet, start planning by creating a Pinterest board with your wedding inspirations for decor, colors, and flowers.

When the time comes, you'll be crystal clear about your preferences. Other planning decisions include menu selections, photography packages, and music for the reception.


Step 6 – Final Payments and Transfers (60 – 75 days before travel)


Approximately two months before the big day, it's time to make final payments for room reservations.

Don't forget to gather your guests' flight details so transportation can be coordinated smoothly.

Double-check those itineraries to ensure they match their room dates, as discrepancies can arise if you wait until the last minute.

If you work with a destination wedding specialist like me, this task will be on my plate. ;)


Step 7 – Tips, reminders, and travel documents, oh my! (2 weeks before travel)


As the wedding day draws near, send out travel documents via email about two weeks before the trip. Ask your guests to review them thoroughly and notify you of any questions or discrepancies.

Provide them with tips and reminders for stress-free travel, including details on online check-in, shuttle services, gratuities, and emergency contacts. Again, this is something I can easily take off your plate.


Phew, we've covered it all! Planning a destination wedding may seem daunting, but with this timeline and the guidance of a destination wedding specialist, you'll be well-prepared to create the wedding of your dreams in paradise.

Joyful wedding party lifting the bride in celebration outdoors, with groomsmen and bridesmaids in coordinated attire.

Your love story deserves a destination as unique as your bond. With the right timeline and expert guidance, your dream wedding is well within reach as long as you follow the guide I've provided in my article.  

Now, it's time to take the next step. If you're ready to turn those dreams into plans and want a little help with putting your destination wedding together, schedule a complimentary consultation with me today. I have a few openings left this month! 


I can't wait to be a part of your journey to 'happily ever after'! Just use this link to schedule now! Let's craft the wedding of your dreams together.


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