Destination Wedding Tips

Want to plan a destination wedding? Get insider tips from Starwood Resorts.

Planning a destination wedding doesn't have to be a lot of work. Just take it from Stuart Kotake, Associate Director of Catering for Starwood Resorts of Waikiki. When asked about destination wedding tips, he responded with many insightful wedding planning tips that every bridal couple should read. Check them out below.

1. Check Local Marriage Requirements

Prior to your wedding day, check the local area's marriage requirement laws. You'll want to pre-register for your marriage license with the state. For some places, like Hawaii, you'll need to visit the civil union office in person to get your license when you arrive on the island. The process moves more quickly with a pre-registration online confirmation number. Remember to have your registered officiant's name with you when pre-registering.

2. Plan for Rain or Shine

We wouldn't want it to rain on your parade, but in the event that it does, make sure your wedding venue has a backup location secured for you. We send photos and videos to our wedding couples during the wedding planning process to ensure they are comfortable with the additional event space and setup.

3. Share your Favorite "Picks" with your Guests

Did you select your destination wedding venue based on a past vacation or visit to the area? If so, you probably have great memories here. Create a couples favorite "picks" of things to do and see on the island or in the destination city of your choice. 

Create a list of places to eat, local things to do, experience that have special meaning to you as a couple. This is a great way to introduce the city or island to your wedding guests, and allows them to get to know you as a couple better through shared experiences.

4. Allow time for friends & family to meet outside of the wedding day

Weddings are about friends and family joining together in celebration. Start the socializing early by allowing time for guests to meet each other prior to the ceremony. In Hawaii, this could be a themed welcome dinner at the resort, casual drinks and dinner at a local restaurant or a sunset boat cruise offering signature cocktails and appetizers.

5. Bring personality to the plate (or in this case, cocktail glass)

We like to recommend the wedding couple create a signature cocktail based on their nicknames for one another. We use their favorite drinks as the base for the ingredients. For example, we had a couple that called their drinks, The Bubby (ginger beer, lime and Vodka) and The Missy (pink Mojito). The cocktail was served everywhere they celebrated - from the reception to the rehearsal dinner and post-party events. Wedding guests loved it so much, they started voting which was better (The Missy won).

6. Plan a date night during your stay

Plan to a date night with the one you love. Make sure everyone knows the couple will be away from every one during one evening. This is a great decompression from the hustle and bustle of the wedding activities and events. This also allows you, as a couple, to not get carried away in the details and take some time to savor the moment. So, our advice to you, turn the phones off and dissapear for few hours. 

7. Consider local florals to keep cost down

Bring color to life by using local florals in your wedding bouquet and your reception centerpieces. In Hawaii, tropical florals are the best pick when considering availability and price. Orchids aren't necessarily in the "tropical selections" and are generally imported, which can drive up your cost.

When florals are imported internationally (such as Peonies, Hydrangea, Roses or Lilies) make sure to work with a reputable florist who can guarantee delivery through argiculture customers. Better yet, use local florals to give your wedding a local flair and to keep floral costs down.

8. Hire a Coordinator for the Day

Ask anyone who has hosted a destination wedding and they will probably agree - consider hiring a wedding Coordinator for the day, or to assist with the long distance planning. In the end you will see the value of hiring a local expert and a day of contact to assist you through the process. There are experts and wedding professionals standing by at our Starwood Resorts ready to help you every step of the way.

9. Give Guests an Indegenious Experience

Nothing incorporates the island or destination city of your choice better than incorporating local ingredients and flavors into your cuisine. It truly is the best way to highlight the area, and it actually helps to keep your cost under control. Tip: In Hawaii for example, local products are less expensive than the mainland and international options. We'll consider this tip a win-win.

10. Take Advantage of Special Offers

We saved the best wedding tip for last. With Starwood hotels & resorts, you can choose from hundreds of wedding venues to compliment your style and you'll earn rewards for your wedding that you can use toward free honeymoon nights.

More specifically, a bridal couple can earn up to 100,000 Starpoints (1 Starpoint per $1USD of their wedding contract). These Starpoints can be redeemed for free honeymoon nights in places like Greece, Paris, Bora Bora or even Hawaii. Plus, get a free night stay and sparkling toast at your reception.

Check out this wedding offer from Starwood hotels & resorts.

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