You’re engaged! Comhghairdeas! The days and weeks after you say “yes” to your person are some of the most exciting of your life. If you’re already dreaming of a destination wedding, then you have something truly special to look forward to. Not only will you get to share your special day with family and friends, you’ll also get to explore a new place, create lasting memories, and enjoy unique experiences together. But before you start packing your bags and booking flights, there are a few things you need to prioritise. Here are the first things to do after getting engaged when planning a destination wedding.
Celebrate! I know that you might feel you need to jump straight into wedding planning, but first, it’s important to soak up being engaged. Bask in the happiness of the moment just the two of you, then enjoy sharing the news with family and friends and seeing their reactions. Then, of course, there’s the social media announcements and another flood of well-wishes. And of course, you’ll want to throw some kind of engagement party or spontaneous celebration (or several). Pop the champagne, tell the proposal story over and over, show off your ring, and just enjoy every moment.
Compare your wedding visions. Before you make any big decisions, it’s important to spend some time talking about your dreams and expectations. Not everyone has the same idea of what their ideal wedding will look like. For example, is it intimate or expansive? Do you want a religious ceremony? What season do you imagine having it in? Do you have a location for your destination wedding in mind? Are there any practical considerations that absolutely must be taken into account? This is about big ideas rather than details like colour palettes or specific venues or details. Uncover the things that are most important to both of you and, if necessary, find a middle ground you can agree on.
Set a budget. Nobody enjoys talking about money, but setting a budget is always one of the first things to do after getting engaged. This is especially true for a destination wedding, as the cost of the trip itself will be a major factor and there are often hidden costs like currency conversions that can add up. All other decisions will flow from your budget, so unfortunately this isn’t something you can put off. If your parents are involved in paying for the wedding, be sure to include them in these conversations. Figure out your spending limits and priorities and then determine what sort of wedding you can have within this budget.
Choose your wedding destination. Once you’ve set your budget, it’s time to choose the perfect destination for your wedding. Are you envisioning a winter wedding in an Irish castle or a summer celebration along the shores of an Italian lake, for example? There are so many possibilities, especially when it comes to European destination weddings. Consider factors like cost, weather, availability of venues, as well as which destinations resonate with both of you. For example, it may be a place where you met, that you visited together, or somewhere you’ve never been but have always dreamed of. This is your chance to make those destination wedding dreams come true!
Hire a wedding planner. When you’re planning a destination wedding, it’s so important to have expert help! Not only will a professional destination wedding planner save you time and stress, they will be able to connect you to a network of trusted local service providers who can carry out your wedding vision to perfection. They will be on the ground to ensure everything runs smoothly and handle issues like legal requirements and vendor communication. And, when the big day comes, you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy every second of the trip with your guests instead of rushing around handling last-minute problems.
Book a trip to visit venues. Although a destination wedding planner will be able to advise on the best local venues and visit them on your behalf, it’s always best to see them in person if you can. Try to book a short getaway to your wedding destination so your planner can show you a few options. I love that magical moment when I know my couples have fallen in love with a venue!
Set the date. Once you’ve chosen your venue, it’s time to book it and set a date. Make sure to give yourself a good amount of lead time. This is not only to allow you plenty of time to plan your destination wedding, it will also allow your guests time to book travel and accommodation as well as time off work.
Save the date. With the venue booked and the budget set, you can finalise your guest list. It’s important to let guests know well ahead of time with a destination wedding, so try to send your Save the Date cards out as early as possible. In fact, if you’re still deciding on a venue, you could send these out with just the wedding location.
Of course, these are just the first things to do after getting engaged when you’re planning a destination wedding. There are many more to follow! However, if you get these right, you’ll be setting yourself up for a smooth planning process.
Slán go Fóill,