Best Advice: When Should Plan Your Stunning Wedding Abroad?

Lisbon Photoshoot, Portugal | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings

Planning a wedding is super exciting! But what about planning a wedding abroad? The decision to have a destination wedding adds extra stuff to think about. One of the crucial questions couples face is how early you should book a wedding abroad. The answer isn’t a one-size-fits-all, as several factors come into play. 

Generally, it’s a good idea to start planning and booking your destination wedding at least 12 to 18 months in advance. This allows you enough time to secure your preferred venue, accommodations, and vendors. Also, give your guests plenty of notice to make travel arrangements. However, if you’re planning a wedding during peak season or at a popular destination, you might want to start even earlier to ensure you get your desired dates and services. 

In this guide, we’ll discuss why timing matters, look at some factors to consider and tips to help you decide.

Quinta A Lendária, Venue | Barreiro, Portugal | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings

Understanding the Importance of Timing

Timing is super important when it comes to planning your wedding abroad. Unlike regular weddings, destination weddings involve a lot of stuff like travel plans, accommodations, and dealing with different rules and customs. If you don’t plan, you might end up with fewer choices, spending more money, and getting stressed out. So, it’s crucial to make a timeline that gives you enough time to get everything ready and be able to change plans if needed.

Factors Influencing Your Booking Timeline

Season and Location

When deciding when to plan your wedding abroad, consider the time of year and how popular the location is. The time of year you choose can affect how easy it is to find a venue and the price. If you pick a famous place or a busy time, it might get booked up fast. You need to decide if you want to get married when the weather is nice, usually during busy times, or when there are fewer people around, which can save you some money.

Venue Availability

Finding a place to get married can be tricky, especially if it’s a popular spot. The best places often fill up fast, especially during busy times. So, it’s smart to start looking for venues early. Reach out to them as soon as you can to lock in your date. Some places might even need you to book a year or more ahead of time.

Quinta Cascata dos Sonhos, Venue | Almargem do Bispo, Portugal | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings

Destination Accessibility

It’s important to think about how easy it is for you and your guests to travel. First, check if there are enough flights. Think about any local events or holidays when it might be harder to travel. See if there are good ways to get around once you’re there, like taxis or buses. Check if you need special permission to enter the country. Give your guests plenty of notice, especially if they need to travel a long way or get visas. Also, check if there are any warnings about places that might not be safe to visit.

Local Events and Holidays

It’s good to check out what’s going on during the time you want to get married. These could be holidays or big events. If you pick a day when there’s a big event, it might be harder to find a place to have your wedding, and prices might go up. Plus, places might be really crowded, which could make things tricky for you and your guests. But, if you time it right, you could add some extra fun to your wedding by joining in on the local celebrations!

Quinta Pinhal das Confreirias, Venue | Almargem do Bispo, Portugal | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings

Legal Requirements

When you get married abroad, there’s usually a bunch of paperwork and rules you need to follow. It’s important to check out what you need to do as soon as you can. This gives you plenty of time to get all the documents you need and any special permissions you might require.

Vendor Coordination

When you’re planning your wedding abroad, you need to find people like photographers, florists, and caterers to make your day perfect. It’s important to start looking for them as soon as you know your wedding date. This way, you can make sure they’re available and you get the ones you really want. Waiting too long might mean they’re already booked up, and that’s no fun!

Bride Preparation, Portugal | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings

Guest Considerations

When you invite people to your wedding abroad, you need to think about their schedules and how much money they have to spend on travel. It’s nice to give them plenty of time to plan, so try to send out your invites about six to twelve months before the big day. This way, they can figure out if they can come and make any travel arrangements they need to.

Budget and Financial Planning

Think about how much money you have to spend on your wedding. You’ll want to find a balance between how much you want to spend and how fancy you want your wedding to be. Remember, there’s more to it than just booking the place and the travel. You’ll also need to think about where you and your guests will stay, how you’ll get around, and things like food and fun stuff to do. Make sure to keep in mind that prices might change, and there could be extra costs that pop up along the way. So, it’s smart to plan ahead and budget carefully for your dream destination wedding.

Bride Preparation, Portugal | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings

Ideal Booking Timeline

Considering the topics we talked about, here’s a simple timeline to help you plan your destination wedding:

12-18 Months Before the Wedding

Firstly, think about where you want to have your wedding. Look at different places and see which ones fit your budget, and style, and are easy for your guests to get to. Next, go visit the places you like the most. Whether it’s in person or virtually, talk to the people who work there about your plans.

Once you’ve found the perfect venue, make sure to book it for your wedding day. You’ll need to sign a contract and pay a deposit. After that, start looking for vendors, like photographers, food caterers, and musicians. Check if they’re available on your wedding day and how much they cost.

8-12 Months Before the Wedding

Make sure you sign contracts with your chosen vendors and double-check all the details. Let your guests know about your wedding date and where it’s happening by sending save-the-date cards or emails. Sort out where your guests will stay by booking hotel rooms or rental places for them, and give them all the info they need to book.

6-8 Months Before the Wedding

Choose and buy your wedding dress, bridesmaid dresses, groom’s suits, and any other accessories. Planning fun things to do before the wedding, like trips or activities, so you and your guests can have a good time together.

Bride Preparation, Portugal | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings
Groom Preparation, Portugal | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings

3-6 Months Before the Wedding

Check with your venue and vendors to confirm how many guests will be joining the celebration, what food will be served, and when everything will happen. Don’t forget to gather all the needed documents like passports, visas, and marriage licenses. Make things easy for your guests by sending out fancy wedding invites along with RSVP cards. Don’t forget to include extra details about where to stay and how to get there. It’s the final step before the wedding adventure begins!

1-3 Months Before the Wedding

It’s time to make sure everything is set for you and your guests to travel smoothly. Double-check your flight bookings, transportation arrangements, and where everyone will stay. Next, plan out the schedule for the wedding weekend, listing all the fun things you’ll do together. Finally, start packing your bags, remembering to bring all your clothes and personal stuff you’ll need for the trip.

1-2 Weeks Before the Wedding

Before you head off to your destination wedding, make sure everything is good to go by checking with your vendors and the venue. Also, don’t forget to finish your packing with all important documents, and any special decorations you want to bring along.

Sesimbra, Portugal | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings

On the Wedding Day

Now, it’s time to relax and have fun on your big day! Enjoy every single moment and make beautiful memories with your loved ones. 

By following this timeline, you’ll have plenty of time to plan your dream wedding abroad without feeling rushed or stressed.

Planning a wedding abroad is an exciting and rewarding experience, but it requires lots of thinking and planning, especially when it comes to timing. By researching your destination, booking early, and remaining flexible, you can increase your chances of hosting the destination wedding of your dreams. Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how far in advance you should book a wedding abroad. So, if you know when to do things and follow a good schedule, you can have an amazing wedding without any worries.

Bride Preparation, Portugal | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings

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Pedro Cruz

Wedding photographer and videographer from Lisbon, Portugal. Here is Pedro Cruz's short bio.

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