Some of the links contained in this post are affiliate links, meaning that at no cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

14 important questions to ask your destination wedding planner pinterest pin
The Lodge at Spruce Mountain Ranch

Do you have a destination wedding on your radar? If so, then you are probably already looking into venues, vendors and researching everything that comes with planning a wedding. Planning a wedding already takes a lot of coordination, but a destination wedding adds another layer to that.

That’s why working with a destination wedding planner can be so beneficial. A good planner will help you stay organized, find vendors that meet your needs, organize documents and spreadsheets, and so much more. As soon as you get engaged, you should be thinking about what questions to ask a wedding planner so you can find the one that is right for you.

Finding the right wedding planner, can be daunting. That’s why I’ve compiled these 10 important questions to ask your destination wedding planner. These questions will help you narrow down your search and find the destination wedding planner that is right for you!

Why you should consider a destination wedding

Destination weddings are more popular these days and it’s probably because we’re getting married later in life. According to The Knot, the 2021 average age of marriage in the United States was 34 years old. I was 31 when I got married in a destination wedding in Colorado back in 2018.

I feel like if I had married younger, I wouldn’t have been as established in my career and willing to pay for a destination wedding. In my 30s, I had been working for a while and had the means and desire to travel.

But besides the average age of marriage, people are planning destination weddings because they usually want a more intimate setting. It can be cheaper too because simply fewer people are likely to attend.

This gives you a little more cash to do exactly what YOU want to do, rather than using that cash to afford more plates at the reception. I loved having a small group of our closest family and friends traveling to Colorado just to share this moment with us.

According to Investopedia in this post about the pros and cons to planning a destination wedding, 19% of couples in 2021 had destination weddings (statistic from The Knot) and more are expected in the coming years.

When I first told my family that I wanted to get married in Colorado, they were confused. Most of my family and friends were in Florida. Why would I have them all fly out of state just for a wedding? Well, let’s look at the Pros and Cons of planning a destination wedding.

Pros to planning a Destination Wedding

  • Smaller Guest list – We had about 70 guests fly to Colorado to attend our wedding at Spruce Mountain Ranch. If we had done it in our home state of Florida, we likely would have had double that amount of guests attend. It made our wedding a more intimate event.
  • More freedom to spend the wedding budget the way you want to – Since we knew our guest list would be much smaller, we had more opportunity to spend the same amount of money on the wedding that we wanted. We were able to put more money towards the venue, décor, food etc.
  • Dream wedding venue – I always dreamed of having my wedding where we could be surrounded by mountains.
  • Make a vacation out of it – We took the opportunity to see more of Colorado with friends and family. Many of our friends came early or stayed later so that they could turn the whole event into a vacation. Most of our guests had never been to Colorado.

Cons to planning a Destination Wedding

  • They can take a lot more coordination – In addition to the wedding itself, you need to think about how guests will get to the venue, where will they stay, what can they do while there and what activities will you host for them.
  • It can be hard to stay within a budget – Yea, a destination wedding can be less expensive, but that doesn’t mean it will be. Things come up that you may not have thought about. This is why having the right questions to ask your destination wedding planner is so important.
  • Important Guests may not be able to attend – Your grandma may not be well enough to travel or your friend may be pregnant and unable to fly out to the wedding destination. Even if they say they can make it, stuff comes up and guests will end up not being able to attend. I had guests that I was 10000% sure would come and didn’t. My husband had a groomsman get sick and told us the day before the wedding that they were unable to come. Stuff happens, but as long as you know that, it will all be ok.

How to pay for a destination wedding

It wouldn’t be one of my posts if I didn’t mention a way to take advantage of the expenses that come with a destination wedding. The best decision we made was to take out new credit cards to pay for the wedding.

If you choose credit cards with good sign-up bonuses then you can easily get enough points to help pay for a honeymoon or a trip to celebrate your 1st wedding anniversary. This article from NerdWallet on the best credit cards for wedding expenses can help you decide on the right credit card for you.

Keep in mind your specific financial situation and always pay off your statement balance. Treat the credit card as if it was a debit card. I go into some more detail in this post on ways to save money for your next vacation.

11 Questions to ask your destination wedding planner

There are a ton of destination wedding planning packages out there, so finding the right one for you will take a lot of research. Some wedding venues include some sort of wedding coordinator, but I will tell you that these planners may not be what you need.

Most onsite wedding coordinators will assist with recommending vendors and coordinate when those vendors can set up at the venue. They’ll usually act more of a “day of” venue wedding coordinator. Meaning, they will help coordinate the day of logistics at the venue, but that’s about it.

There are occasions when you get an experienced coordinator, but these are the exception, not the rule. Most of those will recommend (and should) that you get your own destination wedding planner. You want someone that is picked by you and will look out for your best interests first.

My wedding venue required us to have a “professional” wedding planner, they did not offer an onsite wedding coordinator. So I opted to go for the minimum by only paying for a “day of” coordinator and in hindsight, it was not the best decision.

I didn’t know what to ask when I was interviewing wedding planners and because of this, I ended up not getting everything I wanted on the wedding day. Of course, you’re never going to have everything go smoothly, but there are ways to minimize the day of wedding stress.

How much do destination wedding planners charge?

This varies heavily on the number of services the wedding planner company will provide. A day of wedding planning cost me about $1,500 back in 2018. I saw them ranging from $750-$1,500. Full-service wedding planners were starting at $3,000, but the ones that offered the most services were closer to the $7,500 – $10,000 range.

ceremony site at spruce mountain ranch at my destination wedding
Spruce Mountain Ranch ceremony site

1. How long has the wedding planner been in business?

This one might seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. Wedding planning is a full-time job. You want to find a planner who is well-seasoned in this industry and has been in business for a while. That way you know they have the experience and the tools necessary to handle your wedding.

I’m all about helping new businesses and giving newbies chances. However, if someone is new in the industry ask them what qualifies them to be the one to plan your wedding. Just because they need to get their foot in the door doesn’t mean that you need to be the one to do it.

Destination Wedding Logistics

One of my biggest regrets from when I was choosing a destination wedding planner, was not getting more specific about what kind of logistics planning they offered. The day of the wedding was so stressful because I didn’t have anyone to help me make sure my guests boarded the bus on time or ensure that every single guest received their welcome bags.

Your destination wedding planner should be coordinating details with all vendors and provide you with a detailed itinerary for the day. They should be aware of every aspect of the day including all logistics. They should have a team and not be a one-person show.

2. Do they assist you in finding the wedding venue and hotel accommodations?

I did all the research on the wedding venues myself and had my mother-in-law visit them for me. The questions we didn’t know to ask were – How accessible is the location? Does the wedding venue require us to purchase separate event insurance? Are there parking issues? Will guests need to get vaccinations or identification documents? Are there any rules or regulations for the wedding ceremony location? What is the local climate? What are the accommodations’ amenities like?

These are questions that a good destination wedding planner would know to ask when looking at wedding venues. During the interview process ask them what questions and information they think are important when searching for a wedding venue. Ask them to be specific, it’s easy to just say “don’t worry about it, we’ve got you covered”.

3. Do they think it’s important for you to visit the venue in person?

You should absolutely visit the venue yourself in person. This will save you so much frustration down the line. Once you start to plan for décor and other logistics, pictures are just not enough. You need to have walked the room yourself so you can visualize. Take your own pictures and video. The mind can play tricks on you so be sure to have footage of the ceremony, reception, and dinner sites.

Depending on your wedding destination, this may be cost-prohibitive and that’s fine. This why you need to know how involved they will be and have the right questions to ask your destination wedding planner. Always ask them to go into specifics, if they seem standoffish then you know they’re not the right planner for you.

4. If you ship items, will they hold them for you?

A big thing that people don’t realize about a destination wedding is that it’s not as easy to transport important wedding items. You may think that you won’t need that much stuff, but you’ll soon realize that wedding favors, card holders, place cards, etc. have to get to the venue somehow. Some brides opt to pack these items in their luggage, but that adds another level of stress.

One of the questions to ask your destination wedding planner should be whether they can help you find a place to ship and store your items prior to your arrival. Some planners may be reluctant and may ask you to sign some liability forms, but that’s only so that they can protect themselves in case anything happens.

You may want to consider shipping your wedding dress – My wedding dress shop took care of this for me. It cost about $100 to have it sent over to Colorado about a week in advance. I had it shipped to my mother-in-law’s house, but if you don’t have that option your wedding planner may have some ideas for you.

5. Do they coordinate transportation?

One other of the important questions to ask your destination wedding planner is whether they will coordinate transportation. I remember asking my “day of” planner if this was a service they offered and they said “yes, we’ll take care of all that”, but when it came closer to the day they said they didn’t offer that service.

I had to ask one of my friends to help me make sure that all of the wedding guests were on the bus. Our wedding venue was on a remote ranch about 30 mins from the hotel. I didn’t want our guests to have to find their own transportation.

Make sure that you have specific services listed in writing when signing the contract with your destination wedding planner. Don’t take their word for it. If they are not willing to add it to the contract then they may not be the right planner for you.

6. Do they assist in finding and communicating with all vendors?

A destination wedding planner should be there to guide you throughout the entire process which includes finding the right vendors and coordinating with them. Ask them which vendors they have relationships with, so that you can do some research on them separately.

7. Do they assist with communication with your wedding guests?

In what ways do they recommend that you communicate with your wedding guests before and during the wedding? If you’re getting married out of the country, you can’t just call and text your guests unless you have an international sim card or phone plan. Does everyone have Whatsapp? Will there be wifi readily available?

What kind of information do they recommend that you provide your guests? If your guests are traveling internationally what kind of travel documentation will they need? These are things that you may not think about until it’s too late. A good destination wedding planner will have experience and can guide you.

8. Do they help plan the rehearsal dinner?

It may seem like the rehearsal dinner is a no-brainer compared to the wedding itself, but destination wedding rehearsal dinners can be a lot different. Some wedding venues may include a location for the rehearsal dinner, but mine did not. I did a lot of research on my own, but I would have loved some extra help and coordination from a destination wedding planner.

9. Do they coordinate all of the wedding events for the weekend?

You’ll want some help figuring out what to recommend and coordinating other events and meetups during your destination wedding weekend. Even if not all guests can attend, having some events available or things that you’re already doing that guests can join in on gives your guests a chance to experience the destination.

I would recommend making sure your guests know of fun activities available at your destination so that they don’t have to do their own research. It may sound tempting to just let them figure it out, but you’d be surprised how many guests don’t want to. Especially since they are coming for you, they want to know what you are doing and/or recommend that they do.

our destination wedding dinner at spruce mountain ranch
Our wedding at Spruce Mountain Ranch

In the whirlwind that is planning a destination wedding, it’s easy to overlook details. What might seem like small things can add up to big problems later on? Thinking through logistics and knowing the right questions to ask your destination wedding planner upfront will help you avoid issues or headaches down the road.

Working with a destination wedding planner from day one will increase your chances of success. A good consultant will understand your vision for the wedding and offer solutions for anything from vendors and venues to catering and accommodation options.

promotional graphic with a picture of a couple taking a selfie with a mountain background promoting readers to join the free facebook group "lazy budget travel tips"

Local customs and language

If you’ve chosen a destination out of the country, having someone with inside knowledge of the local culture can make the experience for you and your guests unique and fulfilling.

Another consideration is legality. In some countries, you may need to apply for citizenship before marrying, so you should check the legal requirements before you travel. It may make more sense to get legally married in your own country.

10. Are they familiar with the local customs and language?

If your destination wedding will be held in a foreign country, it will be essential to hire a wedding planner fluent in the local language. A wedding planner who speaks the local language can be really helpful with navigating the unfamiliar.

I was a bridesmaid in a wedding that was at Atlantis in the Bahamas and one of the most entertaining parts of the wedding was the cultural show that they surprised the wedding guests with. That’s something that you and your wedding guests will always remember and it will make having the wedding at that destination even more special.

Having a destination wedding planner that is familiar with the local wedding customs and entertainment will save you research time and coordination.

What about the food?

Yes, you want to be mindful of what your guests will eat, but make sure you try to incorporate local dishes in whichever way you can. A good destination wedding planner will have specific suggestions.

destination wedding guests at Atlantis
Attending a destination wedding at Atlantis

Specific style and identity

11. What’s their style?

Do you have a specific style of wedding in mind? If you’re having a destination wedding, then you definitely have a look in mind. You want to make sure that your destination wedding planner can understand and share the same vision. Get an idea of what their design tastes are.

Do they enjoy planning events inspired by the latest trends? Do they constantly scour Pinterest and Instagram for the latest ideas? Do they create weddings that are unique and special to the couple? If you want a destination wedding planner who will work with you and match your taste and budget, try hiring someone with a style identity you like.

12. Can you show me the previous weddings that you have planned?

The proof is in the pudding. You want to make sure that you hire a destination wedding planner who has the necessary experience and skills to plan your special day. They should be able to show you examples of past weddings that they have planned and provide details on the planning process.

13. What do they enjoy about being a wedding planner?

Again, this may seem obvious but you’d be surprised. Ask them what about this job they enjoy, are they passionate in their response? If their response doesn’t inspire you, then they may not be the right fit for you.

14. What’s the contract process?

Make sure you understand what is expected of you before signing a contract. Also, find out what the wedding planner requires for payments. Do they expect credit cards? Check? Cash? Make sure you can trust the person you are speaking with, and count on this feeling to be one of the most important factors in deciding which planner is the right fit for your wedding.

Ready to plan your destination wedding?

Now that you know what you need to know, you should be well on your way to finding the best destination wedding planner for you! Finding a destination wedding planner is a personal decision. Do what feels right to you, trust your gut, and ask questions.

Not only does your destination wedding planner need to be knowledgeable about the local laws and culture, but they should also fit into your personal style. An excellent wedding planner will be able to put you at ease and help you enjoy your special day.

As you are going through the planning process be sure to check these posts that will help your travel plans go smoothly like how to pack a carry on and what mistakes to avoid when booking flights.

I want you to have an amazing destination wedding. Not everything will be perfect, but just remember to have the right attitude and everything will work out. At the end of the day, you’re getting married and that’s what matters!

Similar Posts