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Ask David | Destination Weddings

We've had our fair share of destination weddings over the years. From Paris, to England, to the Bahamas, to Aspen, to Mexico, to Sea Island, Georgia, destination weddings give everyone a good excuse to have a nice trip. Oh, and you can get married while you're at it! 

Enjoy the journey as much as the destination~Marshall Sylver

Custom Rehearsal Dinner dress by David Peck Client, Maddy Schulz: Sea Island, Georgia)

(David Peck Client, Maddy Schulz: Sea Island, Georgia)

Custom wedding dress David Peck Client, Katelynn Hoss: Texas Countryside

(David Peck Client, Katelynn Hoss: Texas Countryside)

Planning a wedding is most certainly a journey, from everything to the color palate, florals, venue, and dress. This time in your life is sure to take you on a wild ride. But, rather than stressing about the perfect day try to enjoy each moment.

Custom wedding dress by David Peck, Valarie Garate: Tuscany, Italy

(David Peck Client, Valarie Garate: Tuscany, Italy)


Custom wedding dress by David Peck. Caroline Hutcheson Wedding in Galveston Texas

(David Peck Client, Caroline Hutcheson: Galveston)

Over the years destination weddings have grown increasingly popular. Maybe it's due to a change of scenery or keeping the wedding intimate. Either way, it's a great way to celebrate your nuptials. 

Custom Wedding Dress by David Peck for Kristen Berg wedding in London England

(David Peck Client, Kristin Berg: Private Estate, England)

Custom wedding dress for Jeannette Pazda for her wedding in Riviera Maya, Mexico

(David Peck Client, Jeanette Pazda: Riviera Maya, Mexico)

Destination weddings are perfect for the travel lovers, the adventurous couples, the opportunists, and for those who like intimate weddings. Lots of times couples choose todo a destination wedding because they have a special connection to a particular place. They choose to celebrate their love in a place they love and also share that love with their guests. It could be the culture or the people or just the overall vibe of the destination that you love.

Custom Mother of the Bride outfit for Kallie O'Malley for her daughter's wedding at Weddings at Windy Knoll, Round Top, Texas

(David Peck Client, Kalli O'Malley: Roundtop, Texas)


Spaghetti in a large bowl in Capri Italy. Picture courtesy of Eyeswoon
(Photo Courtesy of Eyeswoon)

We asked two of our favorite Wedding Planners Rebecca Martens from Belle Events and Natalie Dawley from Two Be Wed questions about destination weddings and this is what these ladies had to say.

First up is Rebecca! Scroll through to the end for my video interview with Natalie. 

What's the typical budget for a destination wedding?

Rebecca: It depends! We have done smaller weddings that have a smaller budget and weddings for 600 that have a large budget!

Budgets for destination and budgets for local all vary!


Do you charge a flat fee, or do you take a percent of the budget? Are rates affected by guest list size or destination?

Rebecca: We charge a flat fee. The guest list and location do not dictate our pricing.

Where are some popular destinations people like to get married?

Rebecca: We see a lot of Houstonians looking to Colorado, California, and Mexico!



What do couples need to include on the invitation for a destination wedding?

Rebecca: Your formal wedding invitation should have the same details no matter the location. There is old school etiquette for how a wedding invitation should be worded! An insert card with the couple’s website address is going to be the best resource for detailed travel information. That will then answer all the questions that guests may have from attire to local transportation to the accommodations.  However, if you have the budget to do a large invitation suite to include all these details, you absolutely can! But websites are so helpful for all of the little details!

What’s the best way to travel with a wedding dress?

Rebecca: Buy her a ticket and sit her in the seat next you!


Are couples expected to pay for wedding party’s travel and accommodations?

Rebecca: The simple answer is no, you do not need to pay for your wedding party to come to your wedding.  But as a courtesy, when asking your wedding party to join your big day, you should alert them to the location and be understanding if they do not have the budget to be there. After all being in a wedding party is not cheap, from bachelor/ette trips, to attire, to gifts, to hotel rooms for the weekend, you really should be very appreciative of the efforts of your wedding party!

What would be the first step to start planning a destination wedding?

Rebecca: Hire a planner! And then make your guest list – guest list determines everything. If you have a huge budget and then invite 600 guests, suddenly your huge budget is very small and then that budget will dictate your venue, menu, band, floral, and so on.  So many times, couples book the venue only to find out that they are limited with their guest-list or that the per person cost is well above and beyond the food and beverage minimum.

Don’t put the cart before the horse, hire a planner!


What is a good season to get married and when are peak seasons?

Rebecca: In Houston, peak season is October/November and springtime! A “good time” is anytime you’re in love and want to get married!  Just try to think through the weather and do your homework before you decide to get married outdoors in August in 100% humidity in Houston.  

Same goes for destination, every location will have different peak seasons. You get great deals in tropical locations during “off-season”. But beware, “off-season” is usually rainy season!


How do you find vendors for destination weddings at the location?

Rebecca: Networking. I attend wedding conferences and familiarization trips in order to meet local experts and build relationships so that when I do plan destination trips, I have the same support and network there that I do at home.

How far in advance do you need to start planning a destination wedding?

Rebecca: Ideally with all weddings, 10-12 months allows ample time to plan and plenty of time to enjoy the process. We have planned a wedding in as little as 3 weeks, and we loved the challenge… but that’s not the best way to find the process fun or stress-free!

How much time should you give your guests to plan? When do you send save the dates?

Rebecca: If you are a true destination wedding, 9-12 months is the standard etiquette.  If you are local and inviting guests that may need to make travel arrangements 6 months is ideal for the Save the Date.


Should couples and family visit the location in advance?

Rebecca: Yes! If it is possible to travel to the destination with your planner and going over the wedding weekend plans, this is the best way to manage everyone’s expectations!


What is wedding insurance and why should you have it?

Rebecca: Wedding insurance protects you when something unexpected happens that keeps you from being able to have your wedding or an accident happens during your wedding. Very much like car insurance, travel insurance or health insurance, a small payment ahead of time may protect you largely in the long run.  We recommend our couples reach out to their homeowners insurance providers and add what’s called a TULIP to their plan!


What documents do you need before you travel?

Rebecca: Passport if you are out of country! Your vendors may need permits at the destination in which they are providing their services, another plug to hire a planner so that you do not need to worry! And this isn’t just for out of country weddings, there are locations in the US that you need a permit to work as a planner, photographer, videographer, DJ, florist, etc...

What percentage of your guests can you expect to attend?

Rebecca: Let’s see, pre-COVID 70% would come. During COVID, no one could come. Coming out of COVID 100% will come because there are no trips planned, no non-profit events, no football games, etc.  I’m being silly, but currently we have seen a rise in attendance because there is not as much competition. However, we are thinking 2022 is going to be very social… so choose wisely!

How much planning is in the bride’s control?

Rebecca: Some brides are pilots, some are co-pilots with planners and mom, and some are just passengers along for the ride. Every bride we work with determines her own level of involvement. But in regard to weather, travel restrictions, natural disasters… pandemics -- if 2020 taught us anything, it’s that none of us are in control. We are all just managing!


What can you (and can't you) bring with you?

Rebecca: Same travel restrictions for flying apply in all scenarios.  Most destination locations have everything we need, but you should absolutely do your research.  If you want Tiny Boxwood cookies in your welcome bags… they don’t sell those in Cabo!

What should couples consider before having a destination wedding?

Rebecca: Who do you want at your wedding? Can they get there easily? Do you have a budget that realistically aligns with what you and your friends/family can afford?

Do you always have to have a plan B for weather related issues?

Rebecca: 1,000% have a plan B for weather.

Who officiates?

Rebecca: Depends on the country! Lots of couples will get married legally before they go to their destination wedding location, especially if they do not have the time and flexibility to arrive early enough to apply for a wedding license. Make sure you research and don’t assume that you can show up and someone will marry you! The rules are different in every state and country!


How many people do you invite to a destination wedding?

Rebecca: You can invite as many guests as your venue and budget can accommodate! Your guest list is typically more concentrated with closer friends and family for a destination wedding which usually results in a higher turnout than a local wedding. Meaning that more of the people you invited will attend because those people are usually the closest people to you.

What makes a good destination wedding?

Rebecca: The couple being surrounded by people they love makes for the best wedding.  Brides will sometimes come to me concerned with wanting people to dance and have a good time.  Guests will follow the lead of the hosts.  If the parents and couple are having a blast and dancing, typically the guests will do the same! You can provide great music, great food, and a great view but it’s the company that truly makes the experience unforgettable! 

How has COVID-19 effected destination weddings?

Rebecca: We were shut down! Mandates made destinations somewhat impossible.  We had two planners on the Belle team scheduled to have their own personal destination weddings, one was a Cabo wedding and the other in California. Both weddings were affected.  One of the Belles kept her date and moved her party from Cabo to Houston. The other Belle postponed a year, and we are crossing our fingers and toes for Cali in September!  Things are getting better, and mandates are being lifted!

We are back to planning destination weddings with the vaccinations being more widespread.  We have weddings in Palm Springs, Charleston, Rosemary Beach, Grand Cayman, and a few Texas hill country weddings all on the horizon!

How do COVID tests work when traveling or doing a destination wedding?

Rebecca: We have paid for private health companies to administer tests for our weddings guests when requested by the client. Different countries have different protocols for testing right now.  You have to do your research before making any plans.  The resorts at the destination locations have been very helpful in guiding us and the clients on local restrictions because they want us to be there! 

Natalie Dawley from Two Be Wed Interview

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