Juan Diego Jimenez

Tried-and-true advice from a leading celebrity wedding planner.

Jordi Lippe-McGraw

Throwing a destination wedding certainly has a lot of allure. Heading off to an exotic location, embracing a new culture and having a one-of-a-kind ceremony are all reasons brides and grooms opt for a getaway to find wedded bliss. But, what about actually planning the big day from potentially thousands of miles away? Enter Mindy Weiss.

Mindy has planned her fair share of destination weddings, and also has pulled together the lavish (and secret) nuptials of some of Hollywood’s A-listers. She even planned Avril Lavigne and Chad Kroeger’s over-the-top affair in the French Riviera. After all these years she’s learned a thing or two about flawlessly pulling off a faraway fete. Here are her six tips for doing it:

Ask Yourself These Questions

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First things first, decide what type of wedding you want. Are you dreaming of a tropical affair, something beachy, by the mountains, or European? That's going to narrow it down. “It's also helpful to pick a wedding destination that you'd like to honeymoon at to cut down travel,” Mindy says. “Also consider if there is a destination you two have traveled together and experienced wonderful memories. If you've always dreamt of returning, it could be the perfect location for your wedding.”

Think About Your Guests

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“One of the most important things to keep in mind how far your guests will have to travel,” Mindy says. “How hard it is to get to your location, etc.?” Her rule of thumb: if you want a large destination wedding you'll want to pick a location that is easy to get to. For smaller weddings you can pick places that are more remote.

Related: Destination Weddings

Also, when guests go out of town they tend to get a bit needy, Mindy notes. “Make sure you have a very detailed itinerary so they know what events are planned,” she says. “That allows them to experience the surroundings on their own as well. Don't over plan—your guests will want some downtime, as this may be their only vacation of the year.”

Regardless, send out your Save The Dates early to allow for plenty of time for guests to plan their travel.

Check Out the Weather

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Although they say rain on your wedding day is good luck, it certainly doesn’t make for a happy bride and groom. And when it’s a destination you’re not totally familiar with, the weather can come as a shock. “Different parts of the world experience weather phenomenon at different times,” Mindy says. “Check your destination for hurricanes and large storms, and extremely hot temperatures.”

Look For a One-Stop Shop

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It’s hard to plan a wedding as it is; throw in a few hundred to thousands of miles and it can become incredibly stressful. “When planning a destination wedding, it can be very helpful to work with a venue that offers services in-house,” Mindy says. “Hotels in a destination are great spots because most offer catering, and it's convenient for your guests to stay at the location of your wedding.”

Stick With Destination Themed Décor and Food

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“The decor should compliment the destination,” she suggests. “I find the biggest mistake is when a couple brings a fancy hotel wedding onto the beach, or the beach inside a hotel. Remember where you are, and bring the love into the destination you have chosen by using the wonderful resources and designs of the area around you.”

This idea also holds true when deciding on food. "I love creating menus that highlight what's fresh and in season at the destination,” Mindy says. Honestly, who wants barbecue in Italy?

Budget For Shipping

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It’s easier to plan how much to spend on a wedding dress and catering, but it’s those unforeseen costs that catch many couples off guard. “Budget for shipping goods to the wedding destination, the cost of travel, and accommodations,” Mindy says. “And plan for the fact that some guests you’re expecting to come, might not be able to afford a trip at that time.”

Jordi Lippe-McGraw is a Contributing Digital Reporter with Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @WellTraveler.

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