Rules for Destination Wedding

The 30 golden rules for planning a destination wedding

Tips + Advice // by The QB Team

Planning a destination wedding? Here are 30 golden rules to follow to ensure things go off without a hitch (oh, yes, we just said that).

Related articles: Why you’ll love a small wedding and Planning your destination wedding just got easier

Destination wedding: Bride under a flowering tree



  1. DO consider out-of-town guests. If you’re having a destination wedding make sure you lock in your date as early as you can and then send save-the-date cards to your guests. Flights tend to be cheaper if booked well in advance, so give friends and family plenty of notice. To help keep costs down also avoid peak seasons such as school holidays.
  2. DO prep your guests. Give them as much information as you can, as early as you can. Organise accommodation and transportation to get them to the ceremony on time, to the reception and then back to where they’re staying.
  3. DO organise some fun activities that your travelling guests can enjoy during their stay. For a tropical wedding, think water sports, island hopping and beach barbeques. Also, let them know about any cultural or scenic attractions that may be nearby.
  4. DO hire local vendors as much as possible; it will be less expensive, and you’ll have a higher likelihood of getting what you want because they know the area.
  5. DO have a plan B in case of inclement weather. Unfortunately, Mother Nature does have a mind of her own so be ready with your backup plan – keep the party on the beach with a marquee or find a nearby indoor space where everything can take place if necessary.
  6. DO prepare for the wind. Secure anything that’s lightweight, like programmes, to ensure they don’t get blown away – perhaps try tying them to the chairs with ribbon or weighing them down with a beautiful seashell. If you envision a perfectly petal-lined aisle, wait until just before the guests arrive before tossing the petals.
  7. DO know the tide. If your ceremony is on the sand, make sure you know what time the tide is coming in – you don’t want to be moving chairs mid-service!
  8. DO incorporate stylish and sun-safe accessories into the wedding party’s outfits, such as hats or paper umbrellas.
  9. DO opt for a casual, beach-ready hairstyle. Hairstyles that need lots of hairspray can come unstuck in humid conditions so stick to a loose, casual up-do and accentuate with a fresh local flower to match your bouquet.
  10. DO stay hydrated. You’re in the tropics, and it’s hot hot hot. Think about setting up a table with ice water, lemonade or a signature cocktail that guests can enjoy while waiting for the ceremony.
  11. DO set up a shoe station. Don’t let your guests spend the day with sand in their shoes – provide guests with thongs so they can slip out of their shoes and onto the sand with ease.
  12. DO consider your makeup choices. To make sure it doesn’t slide off in the humidity wear sunscreen, primer, matte foundation and loose powder to set.
  13. DO switch off the air conditioning in your room about half an hour before the ceremony. This gives you time to adjust to the outside heat and humidity.
  14. DO speak up during the ceremony. It’s sometimes difficult to hear the bride and groom at an outdoor ceremony, so organise a microphone if necessary and do an audio check prior.
  15. DO keep it short and sweet. It’s going to be hot, so limit the number of readings during the ceremony, so you’re not standing in the heat too long.

Black and white image of bride in a destination dress from Grace Loves Lace



  1. DON’T forget to research the legalities associated with marriage licenses; legal requirements and the documentation required may be different depending on where you’re tying the knot.
  2. DON’T forget to get vaccinations if required before travelling.
  3. DON’T forget to check the weather forecast – what’s the average temperature at the time of year you want to get married? Rainfall? Humidity? A wedding in the middle of a tropical summer should be carefully considered unless of course, you’ve got adequate air conditioning.
  4. DON’T choose a dress that’s too heavy and doesn’t breathe. Instead, consider a lighter fabric or one that has fewer layers than a typical gown. Men should also avoid heavy fabrics, dark colours and three-piece suits.
  5. DON’T dress your wedding party in colours and fabrics that will show perspiration.
  6. DON’T forget to research accommodation options for any out-of-town guests. You can often score a good deal if you book many rooms at one place.
  7. DON’T forget to pack insect repellent, especially if you’re planning pre-wedding activities or an off-location photo shoot.
  8. DON’T forget to pack your frizz-free hair products. Humidity can play havoc with super sleek hairstyles so make sure you have the right products to control your craziness.
  9. DON’T think you can pull off a tropical wedding without enlisting the help of some professionals! Get hold of a top-notch wedding planner or event manager, often supplied by the venue where you’re holding your reception. Wedding planners have great relationships with local vendors and will be able to help you out with a whole list of things you probably haven’t even thought of yet.
  10. DON’T schedule your outdoor wedding to begin at midday – the hottest part of the day. Instead, opt for a late afternoon or early evening.
  11. DON’T think table decorations for a tropical wedding start and end with shells and starfish – location doesn’t have to determine theme! Be a bit more creative and theme your table settings to complement your wedding’s unique style, whatever it may be.
  12. DON’T just hire any photographer. Do your homework and find someone who has experience shooting tropical weddings, and who knows how to handle tropical weather conditions.
  13. DON’T attempt to do your hair and makeup. A big no-no in the tropics, where hair tends to have a mind of its own! Go pro and book a local hair stylist and makeup artist.
  14. DON’T wear high heels if you’re getting married on a beach. It’s a given, but just to be clear, it’s never a good idea. Instead, opt for flats or go barefoot – then slip into stilettos later on.
  15. DON’T forget to slip, slop, slap on that sunscreen. Not only on the day, but also in the days before the wedding.

Feeling inspired?! Check out our comprehensive QB wedding directory to find the perfect local experts, products and venues for you!