7 Expert Tips for Planning a Tropical Destination Wedding

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Photo by Kane and Social

For beach bums, surfing enthusiasts or those who just enjoy the feel of squeaky, white sand between their toes, nothing sounds more romantic than getting married under a palm-tree-filled sky, serenaded by the crashing waves. But preparing for a destination wedding can be overwhelming, even with the help of a wedding planner. Mónica Lopez, a destination wedding photographer in Cancun, Mexico, has seen it all: the good, the bad and the bride with a face full of windswept hair. By following her seven tips, you can best prepare for a breathtaking yet relaxing destination wedding.

1. Think updo

Pictures of a windswept bride may look romantic in advertisements or fashion spreads, but the reality of the situation ends up looking a lot more like Cousin Itt with a face full of hair. For outdoor ceremonies, especially ones out on the beach, choose a hairstyle that, at minimum pulls your hair away from your face, with a braid or full updo being the safest bet.

2. Plan a spring or winter wedding

As 2017 forcefully reminded us, hurricane season can be fierce! Planning a wedding between June 1 and November 30 is playing chicken with Mother Nature…who happens to have the power to blow down your venue a week before your wedding. While rescheduling a wedding can be a nightmare, changing the date of a destination wedding mid-plan can be nearly impossible. Do yourself a favor and choose a wedding date outside of the danger zone.

3. Book your photographer immediately

As soon as you’ve settled on a wedding date, start emailing potential photographers. Mónica explained that April, July and November are the busy seasons for wedding photographers in tropical locations, and as such, they are typically booked for every weekend during those months at least a year in advance! If you’re planning a stunning ceremony during a cotton-candy-skied sunset over turquoise waters, the photography is going to be key. Don’t let your dream photographer pass you by!

4. Consider ceremony and reception venues outside your resort

While choosing an all-inclusive resort for the ceremony and reception is a quick and easy option, Mónica encouraged any brides-to-be to take the time to look at wedding venues just outside the resort, which can be just as beautiful (and at half the price). At a resort, you will be set away slightly from the beach-going crowds, but these ceremonies and receptions can often lack a sense of privacy. Villas and private locations just a short drive from the resort can be perfect options for those who want a more intimate feel.

5. Consider vendors before settling on a location

According to Mónica, external vendors are generally better than the on-site companies offered at resorts, but some of the resorts require a hefty vendor fee to bring in outside companies. Check into the vendor policies with your onsite coordinator or travel agent before signing any contracts. She also encourages brides to get everything in writing in case questions arise down the road. Make sure you consider the pros and cons of a particular location as it relates to vendor fees and limitations before you settle on a venue.

6. Ask for help

Planning a wedding can be stressful, but planning a wedding in a location you’ve never visited, and the trip that comes along with it, is too much for one person to do alone. Make a list and let your mom or bride squad help you with making vendor calls, designing programs or buying travel items. And when all else fails, set aside the planning for a night and just enjoy a girls’ night out! 

SEE MORE: How to Create a Wedding Reception Timeline

7. Make a packing list

Your mind is going to be going about a million different directions in the days leading up to your big day, and you’re liable to forget things like your invitation suite for your photographer to capture in detail shots or your hairbrush. Start a packing list on your phone the moment you settle on the location and date, slowly adding items as you think of them. This way you won’t show up to Cancun without your swimsuit!

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