I cannot believe my wedding is less than 8 months away! The months are truly flying by and although planning a wedding during COVID-19 has been EXTRA stressful, I’m truly enjoying every second of it. Planning a destination wedding requires a bit more work than planning a wedding in your city. I’ve learned a ton in the past few months on how to stay organized/sane and here are my top hacks (so far) for planning a destination wedding.
Hire a local wedding planner
Although I was born and raised in Guatemala, I grew up in Guatemala City not Antigua Guatemala. When looking for a planner, I wanted someone who knew all the ins and outs of Antigua Guatemala, as well as the local laws, restrictions, and regulations. Hiring a local wedding planner will not only allow you to get the best advice on your dream wedding at your destination of choice, but it will also allow you to access better pricing. I’ve saved thousands of dollars simply because my wedding planner is from Antigua Guatemala and is able to negotiate for me as a local.
When hiring a wedding planner, I definitely recommend meeting them in person or having a lengthy conversation prior to hiring them in order to make sure your working styles align. There are some wedding planners who only work with certain vendors, other who are more flexible and depending on your vision and budget, you want to make sure you are 100% comfortable with your planner.
Take at least one wedding planning trip
Every country has a different working style, and they are usually much different than what we are used to in the US. It seems like everyone outside of the United States is much more relaxed and flexible with deadlines. I definitely recommend taking at least one trip to your destination prior to the wedding in order to meet with your vendors in person and get sh*t done! I was able to accomplish so much more in one weekend at Antigua Guatemala, than in the months prior where we just e-mailed back and forth.
Avoid high transaction fees with Xoom
Most vendors require anywhere from a 20% up to a 50% deposit when you officially book them, so you’ll be sending quite a lot of money in different transactions throughout your wedding planning journey. I completely trust my wedding planner, and the way we work is that I send her money for the deposits, she gathers the receipts and sends them back to me, she also updates her budget tracker and sends me updated versions. I’ve saved so much money by using Xoom.com by PayPal instead of sending wire transfers. This service is super simple to set up, it works in a variety of countries, and most importantly, the money arrives within hours!
Keep a budget tracker (even if your planner has one as well)
I’m a big fan of checks and balances, and although I trust my wedding planner completely, I like to keep my own budget tracker to make sure that our numbers align and we aren’t forgetting anything. Trust me, once you see your entire wedding budget, you will not want any surprises. I created a handy spreadsheet that I update every time I purchase something or send money for a deposit. The spreadsheet also provides an overview of how much money we still owe, and it’s super helpful when we are budgeting how much we need to save every month! I’m very proud of my spreadsheet, so I created a downloadable template you can access here.
Share travel information with your guests in advance
Planning travel right now takes a bit more time and thought, especially if your guests have never been to the city you’re having your wedding in. I started sharing travel information with my guests 11 months prior to the wedding and it’s been super helpful for them to not only space out travel costs, but also for them to start planning the outfits they will be needing.
This is the information your wedding website should have to help your guests plan their trips,
- Exact airport information
- Visa information
- Covid-19 Info – you will need to constantly update this as regulations evolve
- Weather information
- Transportation – find trusted vendors in a variety of price ranges, so your guests can easily book their transportation from the airport to their hotels/wedding venue
- Hotel suggestions/room blocks
- Suggestions for activities in the area, as well as recommended restaurants/bars
- Agenda for the weekend and dress code information for the different events
Keep yourself motivated with a bridal subscription box
Planning is stressful, and sometimes you will not want to deal with updating your budget tracker, or taking meetings with your planner/vendors, but I’ve found that my monthly bridal subscription boxes keep me motivated and excited! There’s just something about receiving a box full of wedding-themed surprises every month that’ll keep you wanting to check off all the items on your wedding to do list. I’m currently subscribed to Miss to Mrs & The Ring Boxes – I’m on my first boxes so I do not have a favorite yet, but will keep y’all posted + trying to get a coupon code for you guys.
Happy Wedding Planning, babes!