Part Four: Destination Wedding Planning Timelines [Between "90 Days After You Save the Date" and "60 Days Before Take Off"]


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Part Four: Destination Wedding Planning Timelines [Between “90 Days After You Save the Date” and “60 Days Before Take Off”]

November 23, 2022

The Destination Wedding Planning That Will Drive You Crazy!

Also, for a 5 page checklist & 100+ pages of other details, we made this for you:

Okay, okay. If you stumbled here by accident, let me catch you up. This is PART FOUR of a FIVE PART SERIES all about Destination Wedding Planning Timelines!! This is not the place to start! Here is a recap:

Part One: Choosing a Resort and Travel Agent You Love

Part Two: What you need to know about MONEY. Setting Your Destination Wedding Budget

Part Three: You have 90 Days for your guests to place a deposit

This post was originally published in 2018 but has been updated in 2023.

Part Four: You are Here. You have already chosen a resort and travel agent. You have already signed a contract and sent invites to your family and friends. The 90 day deposit deadline has passed, and you are just WAITING until the resort is ready to take your wedding seriously (real talk – they don’t really start planning with you until 3 months before. It is just how they work).

Part Five will be released next Friday and is all about the 60 days before you actually LEAVE for your wedding. But this section, is all about the “in between” of Part Three and Part Five. [EDITED to include the link for part five]

destination wedding photographer

Your FIRST “Must Do’s”

If you have chosen a resort and travel agent, and secured both with a contract, there are TWO main things that you absolutely need to do. I have gone into a little more detail in past blog posts which are linked but here is a recap:

You MUST order your dress. Especially if you are expecting to order it from a bridal store. Dresses can take up to 12 MONTHS to come in. And then you need to factor in time for alterations. Do not procrastinate this step!!

You MUST book your photographer. Some photographers book 12 months in advance and if you do have someone in mind, you might actually want to double check they are available before you even save the date. There are a few general things to consider, so especially for this point – please head to the linked article! I talk about outside vendor fees if you want to hire someone local to your destination, bringing someone from home or choosing the resort photographer!

Okay, these are my top two! Honestly, if you are pretty easy going about your dress and photographer, there may be no rush for you and that is okay too. I know online dress shopping is becoming more popular and the resort photography company will probably have someone available to shoot your wedding if you wait until closer to the date. Your call and no judgement but the farther in advance you start, the more options you will have!

Don’t Panic

There really is NOT a lot you have to do in this time period so the first think I want to say is DON’T PANIC. I checked in with one of my brides the other day to see how everything was going and she said “It is going… lol. I don’t think there is a ton to do but I am some how still stressing about it “. She is definitely not alone. That is WHY I check in so often with my couples. I felt the EXACT same way. We have been trained to think there is a ton to do so it can be stressful to feel like you are not getting anything done.

I always say – with Destination Weddings, you can literally just show up and everything will be beautiful. You can also plan every single detail and it will be beautiful. It is up to you!

Let’s Talk Colours!

You may have done this already when you did your invitations, but in case you haven’t let’s talk about this! So how do you chose your wedding colours? I am sure there are other strategies for this – heck, you could google top wedding colours for 2019 if you want to. Maybe you have had a favourite colour since you were 6 years old – cool. If you are not sure though, here is what I suggest doing.

For twenty minutes, go on pinterest and create a new board (best homework ever right?). Search random wedding topics – maybe wedding colours, beach weddings, destination weddings, ceremony setups – what ever you want just have a mix in there! For twenty mins (or more) pin every single thing that you like that catches your eye. Don’t overthink it – you can pin a farm wedding one second and a new york ballroom the next. It doesn’t matter. Pin every single thing you like!

Okay, now your done. Hopefulllllly, you notice that 80% of your photos are really very similar in terms of colour/style/vibe. And yes the other 20% are gorgeous and would make great weddings. But now you can go through your board and get rid of anything that doesn’t really fit.

What’s the Vibe?

Hopefully now: you have one to three colours that have really proven to be favourites. Awesome! Don’t overthink it, it doesn’t mean that every single thing has to be those colours. It really doesn’t. In my opinion, the overall vibe will be more important than the colours.

In 2018, I saw a big trend toward choosing a “word” for your wedding and while I think this is good advice, it can feel like way to much pressure to sum up your wedding into one word. I think you need at least three words. It is a wedding, not a conference – you want a vibe, not a theme.

Here are a few examples to give you an idea. Maybe you want your wedding to be whimsical, boho and romantic. You can probably picture that wedding right? I can picture the beach, flower crowns, a single musician playing a guitar at the ceremony. Now think of a wedding you would describe as fun, vibrant, exciting. I can picture bright tropical flowers, maybe a rooftop reception that ends with fireworks – drinks are flowing!

Hopefully, with your board, three (or more, we aren’t strict here) words come to mind. If not, show our board to your bridal party and see what they say. Do these three words match what you had in mind for your wedding? Now you can fine tune it until it feels just right because most of your future decisions will be coming down to your colours and the vibe.

Destination wedding set up

Things You MAY Want to do in this Time (seriously: this is my most no pressure post ever)

Okay, I am about halfway through writing this and I realize how much I have to say. Below are a few different categories that you can start to think about and a couple quick notes. If you are one of my couples you already know how much more in depth I can go. If not, and you don’t have a travel agent or wedding planner, feel free to contact me to see we are the right fit 🙂

Look at what your package includes and decide if you want to take advantage of what is already included or if you want something different. Where you decide to splurge and save will really come down to your priorities so it is okay if you don’t agree with me on the below options! Note: USUALLY, the resort will not credit you if you chose not to use products or services included in the package you choose.

This really is a “thinking” stage so although the below categories are decisions you DO need to make – don’t feel pressure to decide right away. Any time in between the 90 days after and 60 days before mark is good 🙂

Your Wedding Week Timeline

Okay, I talk all about the perfect balance of planning out your week enough to keep guests entertained but not annoyed here so let me just summarize: I find 1-2 events other than the actual wedding is enough. I do recommend having some sort of welcome event – whether that is just meeting for cocktails at the lobby so guests can mingle and recognize other faces throughout the week.

If you are planning something more formal or even a group excursion, you are going to want to start planning this a little bit earlier. General etiquette dictated: if you invite someone to an event or excursion, you are paying. That being said, more and more couples are throwing together an optional excursion for guests to sign up for – if they want to – which  works too! Just make sure it is CLEAR the guest is expected to pay so there is no misunderstanding.

DJ or Band?

Lots of times – your package may include a sound system or maybe even a DJ. One of my couples recently chose to hire an outside local band though and honestly, it was incredible. Are you and your fiancé music people? Nothing adds to the ambiance more than a live band so it might be worth the upgrade! Are you wanting your reception to be more of a giant party with a DJ? You might consider hiring a local musician or trio to play for the ceremony.

On that note: you should also start making a list of “must have” songs and “must NOT have” songs for the wedding! Other songs to think about for the ceremony would be: A Bridal Party Entrance Song, A Bride Processional Song, A Song To Sign the Papers to (probably only required if you are having a legal wedding – otherwise the signing doesn’t take very long), and a Recessional (my fave is You Make My Dreams Come True – just saying).

And for the reception? You will want something for your grand entrance, your first dance, parent dances, the cake cutting, the garter toss/bouquet toss, and maybe even something to close out the night with! You may not have all of these reception moments but for the ones you do have, you may want a song 🙂

I recommend saving all of these songs onto your iPhone or other music device to bring down with you so you know you have the correct versions! If you LOVE music, you should probably also make a beach tunes playlist, getting ready songs, whatever you fancy! There is no such thing as too many play lists.

You Have Your Guest List – Now What To Do With It?

Do you want to make a seating chart for the reception? After the deposit deadline, you usually have a pretty good idea at who is coming! Although you definitely don’t have to, especially if you are imagining a more informal affair, but I know sometimes you may want a fancy seating chart (they are gorgeous after all!) or sometimes you have some family drama that makes a seating plan look like a pretty good idea (also normal).

Are you planning on ordering welcome bags or wedding favours?? You may want to order a few extra in case you have some last minute joiners but you are probably safe to start ordering these! Once assembled, you will have a better idea if you need to get an extra suitcase or if you want to just ship it directly to the resort (check with your wedding coordinator if this is allowed first!). PS: A few of my favourite things for welcome bags are here.

wedding ceremony

Ceremony Time

Now, let’s move to the ceremony. Clearly, I am doing this is no specific order. Have you chosen your bridal party already? Think about how you want both sides to walk down the aisle and who will escort each member of the wedding couple down. Are you having a first look? Some couples are even choosing to walk down TOGETHER. Things are getting crazy you guys, I am excited to be a part of it.

For the actual ceremony: are there any special readings or religious traditions you want included? Are you doing a unity ceremony (think a sand ceremony or something similar)? Do either of you have any children you want included? During this timeframe, you should start shopping for your wedding bands!! 

Your Vows

Are you planning on saying traditional vows or writing your own? If you don’t want traditional but the thought of writing your own vows makes you sweat, you NEED to check out this company: Wedding Words. Seriously the owner, Katelyn Stanis, is amazing so whether you hire her to write personalized vows or take her digital class, it does not disappoint! She can help you plan out your whole ceremony as well! I can’t stress this enough – I know you all love planning the reception, but the ceremony really is the most important part. It is what makes you MARRIED after all.

PS: Have someone in the bridal party nervous about their speech? She helps with that as well. They may not know this service even exists!! I know I wish I had known!!


Hopefully the resort has provided you enough information for options and inspiration when it comes to the decor (both ceremony and reception decor!). If not, you can start to send a few photos to the resort to get a quote. From there, decide which decor you want to bring from home and what you want to purchase from the resort. In general, the resort will be more expensive but more convenient – they usually have everything you can imagine as well! they stay up to date on trends – trust me!

60 Days Before The Big Day!

The countdown is on! 60 days before is when the resort really starts to work with you. Right now you are in the inspiration time and your primary goal should be to try not to go crazy. Don’t be afraid to MAKE DECISIONS either! Please don’t stay in indecisive mode forever okay??

Stay tuned for next week when I talk about packing your bags and finalizing everything with the resort.

I would love to hear from you! Please feel free to contact me anytime ❤️ Would you like to work with me? Head to my about page to learn more about me. Or, take a peek at my services menu.

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