Choosing a Destination Wedding Venue: Dos and Don’ts

November 25, 2021

Choosing a destination wedding venue can be a time consuming minefield of language barriers, time differences and virtual tours; I should know, I used to be a full time venue seeker! Now it’s my great pleasure to assist couples like you in their wedding planning adventure, and scouting high and low for the perfect venue is part of my wedding planning service.

I’m going to share with you 2 things you definitely should do when hunting for that hidden gem, and 2 things you probably shouldn’t. The seatbelt signs are on, so it’s time to get comfortable…

International Wedding planner Monica sits at a table with a travel magazine open beside her, arranging wedding stationery elements and colour palette swatches. This is her guide to choosing a destination wedding venue.

Do – Embrace your wedding vision and travel style

Are you the sort of couple that likes to reach for a travel book and hit all the tourist highlights, or do you prefer to explore freely and see where your trip takes you?

This is important to consider when choosing a destination wedding venue, as your travel style will probably speak to your wedding vision! If you love getting off the beaten track paired with immersive and authentic experiences, a wedding venue in a more unexpected location is probably going to be more your speed than one nearby a tourist hotspot! 

The search will probably be led by the setting you imagine yourself in; do you envision a cool city skyline, a rugged mountain backdrop, crashing waves…? Use this as your starting point and listen to what your imagination is telling you.

Don’t – Neglect the planning

Before you even start looking at choosing a destination wedding venue, you should have clarity around your budget and an idea of your guest numbers. Think too about how many days you’d like the celebrations to last; multi-day weddings marry perfectly with destination events! These details will help to narrow down your search, making the frankly incredible amount of options a lot more manageable.

Try also to keep in mind the vision for your wedding, considering its style, vibe and what your priorities are. Think about how the day will flow in the venue spaces and whether it works with the overall vision.  As with any big decision choosing your venue may involve some compromise, so knowing what you are and aren’t willing to sacrifice is key.

Do – Think about the bigger picture

When you find a possible venue for your wedding that you connect with, it’s easy to get swept off your feet and fall head over heels for it. My next tip is to always think about the bigger picture and consider some key factors that you may not instantly think of. Choosing a destination wedding venue means finding and choosing accommodation for you and your guests, planning how you’ll reach the venue and what you can do in the surrounding area.

It’s important to know whether the venue works on a ‘dry’ hire basis (all your suppliers must be brought in) or whether you can book a package, and what their flexibility around your supplier choice is. Some venues have recommended supplier lists or stipulations about which catering company you can use, for example. It’s also worth delving into how versatile the spaces within the venue are, whether your ceremony room will need to be ‘turned around’ for your reception, and what a Plan B might be if you’re banking on being outdoors and the weather lets you down!

Monica, smiling at the camera in a sunset. Your international destination wedding planner can make choosing a destination wedding venue easier!

Don’t – Underestimate the help of a wedding planner!

Choosing a destination wedding venue is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make for your adventure of a lifetime, so it’s worth investing in some expert help. Having the help of a wedding planner specialising in destination weddings can save you a lot of overwhelm and frustration, particularly when you’re battling with time differences and uncertainty around response times during wedding and holiday season. We can help you find those hidden gems that meet your specifications and vision, and bring you a shortlist of options which you can then go and visit! Read my destination wedding planning guide here.

There are two alternatives to hiring a wedding planner that you may have already thought of, which I want to explain with a little more clarity. To begin with, venue managers and event coordinators at your venue will not give you the same depth of service as an independent wedding planner. Sourcing suppliers outside of their recommended list, ensuring those suppliers nail the design brief and fit the wedding vision, and focusing on every detail with your overall dream in mind are not things that sit within their role. Only an external wedding planner and stylist will have the capacity to take care of these things.

You may also be considering choosing a travel agent led destination wedding package; it seems so simple and may be quite affordable! Be wary of choosing these over the bespoke, tailored service a wedding planner provides. In reality, the service is not personal and your package will likely have very little room for customisation. Working with a dedicated wedding planner who is invested in seeing your day not only succeed, but succeed in the most blissful way possible, is the ideal route to a destination wedding you’ll have wonderful memories of for a lifetime. If you’d like to chat more about this, contact me here.

choosing a destination wedding venue top tips

Bonus tip – Go on an adventure!

I highly recommend shortlisting max 5 venues you love and visiting them over a few days, turning your venue finding task into an adventure trip! Less is more when it comes to choosing a destination wedding venue; remember you only need one, so visit venues you really love the look of and that meet your capacity and budget requirements. Don’t put yourself through the trial of falling in love with a venue that doesn’t leave you the budget to bring your vision to life, or where you can’t fit all your loved ones!

Virtual tours are wonderful, but nothing compares to standing in the venue itself and soaking up the atmosphere. Think of finding the venue a bit like finding the perfect dress or hearing some magical ceremony music. It should give you goosebumps and butterflies, and you’ll know it when you see it! It’s very hard to experience this via a screen, so venue scouting trips are highly encouraged. If you book my wedding planning service I’ll be accompanying you on venue visits, so I can assist you with ensuring all questions are answered and help you visualise your day.

Venue scouting trips are a great opportunity to ask key questions to the venue staff, without any waiting times for responses! Some great things to ask are;

  • What’s included (and what isn’t!) for each price or package?
  • Can you host other events there, such as welcome meals, rehearsal dinners and post-wedding brunches and parties?
  • Will there be other weddings/events taking place on the same day?
  • Do they have a recommended supplier list and what flexibility do you have around this?
  • Is there a curfew and/or noise restrictions?

If you’re looking for some assistance choosing a destination wedding venue, my venue finding prowess is available as part of my full plan package OR as a standalone service upon request. Head to my services page to find out more and get in touch!

Photography by Ami Robertson and Gianmarco Amico