Planning a destination wedding is a little different than planning a traditional wedding. There are so many guides out there to plan a wedding or to plan a destination wedding, but this one was written by a destination wedding bride turned destination wedding specialist. It's your go-to guide and includes everything you will need to plan your trip and wedding and when you should do it all. Enjoy!

Download your copy of our FREE wedding checklist to check off as you go along here. 

9-12+ Months Out

  • Figure out your entire budget: the total cost of your wedding, including all the vendors and your travel, too. What is the total amount you're willing to spend on everything wedding-related? 
  • Create your guest list. And for destination weddings that means splitting it into two. The first list is going to be the list of everyone you're going to invite. The second list will be a pared down version of that with everyone you're very confident will actually come. 
  • Pick a date. Start off with what date ranges work best for you (and your guests that are important for you to come). Do yourself a favor and don't actually ask people unless they're someone you will actually move your wedding for in order for them to come. People will expect you to change your date if you're asking for their opinion for any reason. 
  • Pick a hotel or a venue if you're going off-resort. Definitely use a Travel Agent who specializes in destination weddings for help with this. Secure your hotel with a room block and a deposit. If your hotel is not also your venue, secure your wedding date at your venue with a deposit. 
  • If you haven't already, create a wedding Pinterest board. 
  • Start looking to book your vendors: photographer, videographer, hair and makeup artists, officiant
  • If you're not already one of our brides with a custom wedding website, now is the time to create one with all the information about your wedding and travel details for your guests. 
  • Send out Save-the-Dates if you're doing save the dates. Be sure to include a link to your wedding website! 
  • Create a preliminary wedding weekend itinerary and day-of timeline. 
  • Check your passports. Depending on where you're traveling to, you will most likely need at least 6 months on it before it expires after your return date. 

3 Months

  • Write your vows.
  • Double check your room block release date and get ready to release your block. Check with any guests that you thought were definitely coming that haven't booked to see if they still intend to book. 
  • Write a welcome letter, draft your wedding weekend itinerary cards, etc. Whatever you're planning to include either with your travel documents or in your welcome bags to let your guests know the schedule for the weekend and the Big Day.
  • Finalize the welcome dinner, departure brunch, excursions, etc. 
  • If you haven't booked your flights by now, book them! 
  • Do your seating chart. 
  • Pay off your hotel balance. 
  • Finalize your timeline and confirm it with your photographer, videographer, hair and makeup artists and officiant. Make sure all the vendors are not only confirmed for the date, but also what time they will show up and how many hours they will stay. 

1-2 Months

  • Your dress should be in and you should be getting your fittings and alterations done. 
  • Make sure all your guests have paid in full and booked their flights and sent everything to your Travel Agent to schedule their airport transfers. 
  • Shop for your vacation! Get plenty of bathing suits and cover ups because you'll be wearing tons of those! 
  • If you're an off-resort Punta Cana bride, Send your final forms to your venue and schedule your final Skype. 

2 Weeks

  • Get your dress.
  • Confirm all travel details. 
  • If you're an off-resort Punta Cana bride, confirm your tasting date with your venue. 

6-9 Months

  • Pin, Pin, Pin! Pin those wedding ideas and really narrow down what your wedding vision is. 
  • Order a wedding dress. 
  • Look at and consider ordering bridesmaid dresses. You can wait until 4-6 months out for bridesmaid dresses, too. 
  • Shop for your accessories: veil, garter, jewelry, shoes, etc. 
  • Create your wedding registries. 
  • Start looking at flights. Sign up for websites like Airfare Watchdog to get alerts for when there are good deals on flights. 
  • Make sure to book your own room at the hotel. 
  • Start looking at where you might want to honeymoon. I definitely recommend that everyone switch resorts a little after the wedding. You will feel like it's a brand new vacation and really like it's a honeymoon. 

4-6 Months

  • Send your invitations. My advice is not to include an RSVP card to be returned, but rather to tell your guests to go ahead and book their rooms or put down their $100 refundable deposits on their rooms as their RSVP. A majority of guests will not return their RSVP cards. It's frustrating and a waste of money. But booking a room means they're serious about coming and will give you a real head count. 
  • Start finalizing details for the wedding weekend: welcome dinner, departure brunch, excursions, etc. 
  • Order wedding bands.
  • If you're an off-resort bride in Punta Cana, you want to schedule a Skype session with your planner, schedule your tasting (usually 2-3 days before your wedding), and start finalizing those decor and detail forms. 
  • Order Groom's attire and Groomsmen's attire. 
  • If bridesmaid dresses weren't ordered before, order them now. 
  • Your Maid of Honor should be planning your Bridal Shower and Bachelorette parties. 
  • Order what you need for your Welcome Bags. 
  • Wedding favors. 
  • Bridal party gifts. 
  • Bride and bridal party getting ready outfits. 

1 Week

  • Start packing. Check out our Destination Wedding Packing Blog Post for more on what to pack. 
  • Package the cash you will need to bring. Put everything in separate envelopes by vendor, so you're ready to hand them out.
  • Make sure you have your travel documents and passports all in one place and ready to go. 

Upon Arrival

  • Do your tasting and finalize your menu. 
  • Unpack your bags. Put everything you need for the Big Day in one location/bag. 
  • Put any cash and valuables in your in-room safe. 

Day Before

  • RELAX! You deserve it after all the hard work you did! 

Wedding Day

  • Make sure the Best Man gets the rings. 
  • Assign someone to be in charge of the timeline (usually the Maid of Honor) and payments. Give that person all the envelopes you've clearly marked with the vendor's name. 
  • Make sure you have plenty of small towels - to wipe down sweat - and lip gloss - to refresh your lips for photos. 
  • BE IN THE MOMENT! And enjoy it all! Congratulations - this is what all the hard work was for! 

At the end of the day, if you and your man are husband and wife, then the day was a great success! My best advice to future brides: don't stress, relax, and enjoy the day and the moment because it all goes by so fast, it's all worth it in the end, and most of all: IT ALL WORKS OUT! Just breathe. You're marrying the love of your life! 

For questions, feel free to email us Punta Cana brides: Sharon (sharon@barefootbridal.com) & Carol (carol@barefootbridal.com) and check out our bios