Destination Wedding Countdown Calendar

Planning a destination wedding requires a whole separate timeline. Here, learn how to get everything done for your wedding with time to spare.

Stay on track with this month-by-month guide (click to expand):

  • Set a budget. Factor in the number of guests and determine how much you can afford to spend.
  • Decide on a place. Consider your wedding style and choose a first, second and third choice. Consider travel time and distance.
  • Research resorts in your country/location of choice and compare what each offers. Shop for packages and consider all-inclusive packages. Compare prices and inclusiveness as well as recommendations, ratings and references.
  • Research airfare and each resort’s room rates.
  • Look into the marriage legalities in the locations you’re considering.
  • Notify family and friends of decision to marry away; select a date.
  • Decide on your wedding attendants.
  • After selecting a resort, make travel arrangements for a visit.
  • Have the location’s on-site wedding coordinator give you a list of preferred local vendors such as the photographer, florist and band.

  • Visit the resort and meet with the on-site wedding coordinator and local vendors. Look into a group discount on room rates.
  • Begin your search for your honeymoon location if you will not be honeymooning at your wedding destination. If you’re getting married during a peak holiday season such as Christmas, you may need to book your honeymoon 9 months in advance.
  • Start gown shopping and begin registering for gifts.
  • Put together your guest list.
  • Set up your wedding website. Start with your wedding date and location, adding travel info and other relevant logistics as you go.

  • Send out save-the-dates to give your guests plenty of time to make travel arrangements.
  • Get a rough head count; reserve a block of rooms.
  • Contact your officiant. For most religious ceremonies, you may be required to attend pre-wedding counseling. Civil ceremonies may require permission to be married in the location.
  • Review and finalize pros’ contracts.
  • Buy travel and wedding insurance.
  • Reserve a block of rooms at two hotels in different price ranges and direct your invitees to your wedding website for the details.
  • If your wedding will take place in another country contact a travel agent to see if you can reserve a block of seats with an airline. Many carriers offer discounts to passengers with groups over ten.
  • Book your own honeymoon/travel plans.
  • Select and order your gown and bridesmaid dresses.
  • Make final selections for your flowers, decor, menu and cake.
  • Select music for the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception.
  • Make arrangements for any transportation at the location such as a shuttle for guests to and from the airport.

  • Make sure website is updated with most recent information.
  • Write welcome letter to guests and itinerary of events to include in gift bag. Have both printed and ready to take with you or ship to resort.
  • Order brochures of local activities along with area maps to include in the gift bag.
  • Review documentation for a legal ceremony with your coordinator.

  • Set up a seating chart, get all RSVPs from guests.
  • Test a spray tan if you plan on gettiing one for the wedding. 

  • Confirm travel reservations; release any rooms not needed. 
  • Finalize details with wedding coordinator and local vendors. 
  • Determine an order of events schedule with your coordinator. 
  • Finalize ceremony details: write vows, finalize music. 
  • Ask guests to RSVP for group activities via e-mail. 
  • Ship gift bag items, printed materials (programs etc.) to site. 

  • Finalize guest headcount and confirm group activities. 
  • Ensure all paperwork is in order (passports, documents needed for marriage license, wedding and travel insurance policies). 
  • Print your wedding programs to take with you. 
  • Confirm your honeymoon reservation and any speacial requests. 
  • Address any wedding announcements, stamp and arrange for mailing on your wedding day. 

  • Finalize the seating plan; give caterer your final guest list count. 
  • Pack what you need for the wedding and honeymoon; pick up tuxes. 
  • Put together an emergency kit (spot remover, band-aids, asprin, etc).
  • Determine photo schedule and shot list for your photographer.
  • Confirm final meeting with vendors for when you arrive. 

  • Go over final details with coordinator; update website. 
  • Contact the wedding party and make sure they know how to reach you. 

  • Arrive at location and meet with on-site coordinator, officiant, and vendors to review final details