Tips For Planning A Destination Wedding

3 weeks after it took place we’re still digesting everything that happened at our destination wedding in Thailand. The moving readings, heartfelt poems, tear-jerking speeches.

Cancelled flights, doctor’s visits, fire hazards..

Yep not everything went quite to plan as we would have liked but we’ve been assured our guests have lots of good memories as well as funny stories from the trip.

But before I dive into some of the stories of what went down I thought I would share some pointers on what I learnt during the planning process for anyone considering a destination wedding for themselves.

Our wedding set up at The Sarojin
The benefit of having a destination wedding – getting to say I Do somewhere this stunning

Consider Creating A Website

At the start of our wedding planning process we created a free website on WordPress (it’s handy being a blogger!) to help people plan their trips. We only had a small group but as they were dispersed across the globe it was easier to put details such as dress code and timings for the day as well as info on things to see and do in Khao Lak all on one website.

Help Guests Plan Their Trip

Our wedding venue was pretty pricey and adults-only so it didn’t make sense for us to suggest that everyone stay there. Instead we chose a hotel in a central location for ourselves to be based and then suggested a range of accommodation nearby for people to choose from. In our case, our families decided to stay in the same hotel as us, with most of our friends booking a cheaper place just down the road. With hindsight we would have listed less options than we did so it was easier for people to make a choice.

Tips for planning a destination wedding
Boy was it a long walk down that aisle!

Try To Please Everyone And You’ll Please No one

Picking the hotel where most of our guests (and ourselves) would stay turned out to be one of the hardest parts for me. Aside from the fact that I’m very picky I struggled with choosing something I thought might please everyone. At the stage of making our booking we didn’t know who exactly would be attending the wedding so I was trying to find something that suited all ages, budgets and tastes and this is virtually impossible to do! In the end I went for somewhere that had an ace kid’s club – and then no one with kids came! Again with hindsight I would have picked something that suited Justin and I a little better –somewhere smaller and more boutiquey – as, in the end, this would have suited those who attended more. We just didn’t know it at the time.

Destination wedding at The Sarojin
Wedding day – the boys play in the pool while the girls get ready

Hire (The Right Kind Of) Help

We worked with an Aussie destination wedding company to book and plan our wedding at The Sarojin as I had found The Sarojin wedding co-ordinator hard to communicate with when trying to book the wedding directly myself. ( They didn’t reply to my emails and it was difficult to communicate via the phone.) The benefits of doing it this way is that the planner works as an intermediary between you and the venue and can also suggest trusted suppliers in the area. Ours provided a great British DJ and Aussie hair and make up artist who we may not have come across on our own.

I would recommend you thoroughly research your wedding planners before booking them though, in particular, ask about the way they work. We turned out to be not so compatible with ours because they work mostly on paper and via mail and Justin and I were rarely in the country at the same time during our wedding planning so would have liked to have worked online only.

Tips for planning a destination wedding
So one of these ended up in a tree & nearly burnt down the whole wedding!

We also chose not to have a wedding planner on site with us because we were able to meet with the resort co-ordinator several times before the wedding and believed we would be able to handle things ourselves. However, we had a lot of things go wrong on the day and I think it would have been better for us not to have had an external wedding planner at all (as I would have followed up with all the arrangements directly myself) or we should have gone with someone full service who would have been there on the day to deflect the problems Justin and I had to deal with.

Personalise It

Justin and I brought a number of items out to Thailand in order to personalise our wedding. As I hadn’t seen the venue in advance this was my way of feeling slightly more in control of the styling and of introducing an element of ourselves into proceedings. I purchased items like table runners (because: sequins!), candle holders, place cards, favours, mr & mrs chair signs and a cake topper online in advance and we also bought out a globe, vintage suitcase, Instax Mini Camera (in white: natch) and props to act as a wishing well. It was nice to see these familiar things on the day but they were also some of the elements that the venue forgot to put out so I would advise you assign a friend to check up on these type of things if you don’t have a wedding planner to do so.

Tips for planning a destination wedding
Bits from home & an Instax camera were all the props we needed

It’s Not Necessarily Cheaper

In truth Justin and I would not have chosen a destination wedding if it weren’t for the fact we are from 2 different continents – I personally think it was far more hard work than doing the one day at home would have been, but maybe that’s just me! I think some couples are attracted to a wedding overseas as it’s a cheaper option and it can be if you keep your numbers to an absolute minimum. In our case we spent the same amount as the average Aussie wedding but I do think we got more bang for our buck. The bar bill would definitely have cost more in Sydney! We also didn’t have to spend much dressing our venue as the setting and decorations by The Sarojin really wowed on their own.

Tips for planning a destination wedding
We loved how the tree offered privacy

One thing to remember is that even though the price of your destination wedding package may seem less on paper compared to a wedding at home you still need to add on certain elements – like the wedding dress, bridal party outfits, cake, flowers, DJ, hair and make up etc – and it seems the world over these are expensive items. (We call it the wedding tax – prices double when you mention the W word!)

You might also have to pay for certain parts of your package to be upgraded – i.e we had to pay for extra cake tiers, additional bouquets, even equipment for the DJ. Also bear in mind transport costs if you’re getting married somewhere a bit remote. We had to pay transport fees for suppliers like our DJ, photographer and hair and make up artist as they came in from Phuket – an hour away from our wedding venue. If you’re getting married someone really low-key you may have to fly people like your photographer out with you. (We would have flown someone from Oz if we hadn’t found a Phuket-based photographer we loved.)

Tips for planning a destination wedding
We paid extra to add 2 more tiers to our cake. I found the Love cake topper on Etsy

Not Everyone Will Make It

This might sound like a stupid point but it was probably one of the elements we found hardest about planning our wedding. We put a lot of time and effort into picking a time and place we thought would work for most of our friends and family but of course there are many factors that will affect whether your guests can travel or not. Things we hadn’t even considered cropped up that meant we didn’t have the full wedding party we’d always pictured and it wasn’t until we were in the thick of wedding planning that I realised how naïve I was to think otherwise.

I do recommend couples seriously consider how important it is to have certain people at their wedding before making any arrangements. As much as your guests get a holiday it is a lot to ask of them. We’re very grateful to the crazy kids who travelled to Thailand for us.

Tips for planning a destination wedding
Getting this many people to Thailand is no small feat. We’re very grateful.

Is it legal?

Depending on where you’re getting married you might have to fill a few paperwork requirements in order for the wedding to be legal. Justin and I looked into getting a legal marriage in Thailand but it would have involved visiting our respective embassies in Bangkok and filling out forms I didn’t have the energy for! That’s why we had a simple ceremony on Sydney Harbour the week we got back instead – no translation necessary. Both my sisters had destinations weddings that were legal though – your wedding co-ordinator can help you with the requirements.

Destination wedding Thailand
Our Thai ceremony was symbolic but very personal with handwritten poems and readings

You’ll Need Another Holiday To Get Over It!

We had a fantastic 10 days in Thailand with our guests but boy was it tiring. Admittedly our scenario was a little different as a lot of our guests were meeting for the first time and were people we hadn’t seen for a while so we wanted to spend time with each of them, get them all mingling and make sure they were acclimatizing to Thailand. As they were coming from different places and staying at different hotels we had a spreadsheet listing the arrival date and time of each guest and had a somewhat military plan in order to greet them all. We also planned some informal welcome drinks, a mini bucks and hens and a goodbye meal after the wedding. So yeah it was brilliant but not like your usual holiday. Can we have a second honeymoon please?!

This really sums up our Thai wedding experience - so lovely, but a little bit wrong!!
This really sums up our Thai wedding experience – so lovely, but a little bit flawed!!

Have/are you planning a destination wedding? Do any of these points sound familiar?

All images were taken by our wonderful wedding photographer Darin from Darin Images who I found after scouring countless blogs online. Find more of the fantastic photos she took of our wedding here and here

About the author

I’m Jayne, a travel blogger, content creator and mum to a 4-year-old son. I’ve been blogging since 2010, travelled to 65 countries and share travel guides and tips to help you plan stylish, stress-free trips.

13 thoughts on “Tips For Planning A Destination Wedding”

  1. Congratulations Jayne! You looked beautiful.
    I can’t imagine how hard it must be to plan a wedding overseas. I’m planning mine close to home and nearly every vendor is a friend and it’s still so time consuming.
    You raised a fair point about whether guests will be able to make it. I’ve been invited to a destination wedding later this year and weighing up whether we can afford to go with how much we want to be there is really tough.

    • It def is a big commitment for guests and I think it gives the host couple an extra pressure of wanting people to have an amazing time because you dragged them so far haha. I hope your wedding planning is coming along well though, it must be lovely to work with friends on something so special.

  2. Planning weddings sounds stressful at the best of times, let alone when it’s overseas, but it sounds like you did a great job! I can’t wait to see the rest of your wedding album!!

    • Ah thanks Danielle, we can’t wait to see it too. The day is such a blur that I think we’re going to be surprised by some of the things captured and hopefully reminded of lots of lovely parts too.

  3. Sounds amazing Jayne, I love the Instax idea. Must’ve been so difficult trying to sort everything out with people from three countries. The photos looked incredible though and loved your dress. Looking forward to reading more about it :).

  4. Congratulations! I have a sneaky suspicion that your gorgeous photos will make all those stresses evaporate. Love the pics so far. The spot where you got married looks incredible. X

  5. Congratulations! The wedding aisle looks stunning! Excited to see more posts about Maldives and the wedding (I’m catching up with your blog and have a couple lined up to read!)

    • Thanks Kirsten. We’re excitedly waiting on the professional pics to come through so we can share more. Got a lot of drafts on the topic 🙂


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