We're Elevate

What started as a side hustle for two creative, driven sisters has now become one of the Midwest’s premier event planning and design firms. At Elevate, we find pure, unbridled joy in celebrating all aspects of life - big moments, small gatherings and anything in between.

5 Tips for Planning a Destination Wedding

Thinking about a destination wedding? If so, we fully, 1,000% support you and salute you. Before we get into the nitty gritty, we’d be remiss in not telling you that destination wedding planning is our favorite kind of challenge. Just some food for thought if you’re on the hunt for a planning team. 🙂

Taking a trip with your family and friends to celebrate your love and commitment to your partner is a one of a kind experience. Our team has several unique experiences with destination weddings. One of us has had one, another is in the process of planning one, and more of us have helped plan them for clients. Safe to say, once we first dabbled in destination, we were hooked. 😉 It also means that we have firsthand knowledge on what it takes, and some tips to share with you to help make your planning process a little smoother because let’s face it, there are some (inevitable) logistical considerations that can make planning a little tricky.

Photographer: Jake Anderson

1. Take a trip to the location before you get married.

Although it is an additional expense, you will not be sorry that you visited your wedding location beforehand.  Pictures are helpful and if you really can’t afford it, you will be okay (and it could even be a fun surprise), but going ahead of time and knowing more about the resort, city, country, atmosphere, etc. that you will be traveling to will help ease anxiety.  If possible, take a trip before announcing the location so if for some reason the place doesn’t live up to your standards, you are able to make a change more easily. 

2. Remember the entire trip is an experience for everyone, with some of it involving your big day.

While you don’t have to do something with your guests every single day of your trip, it might be nice to plan something small before the wedding day when you know most guests will be there.  For example, meet up to have a few drinks, listen to some music, or do an activity / excursion.  It doesn’t have to be anything big or fancy, but is a nice addition to the wedding day to have something guest-focused as well. Here’s a quick snapshot of the week ahead for Kirstie’s upcoming wedding in Mexico. We’ll invite guests to these activities and they can choose to opt in or out – no pressure at all!

Monday & Tuesday – Bachelorette festivities

Wednesday – Horse back riding

Thursday – Hot air balloon ride and Welcome Event

Friday – WEDDING!

Saturday – Pool party

3. Set your RSVP date earlier than the traditional 1 month (and if possible send your invites out early too)

It’s traditional for non-destination weddings to have your final RSVP deadline be 1 month ahead of time, but for logistical and planning purposes, you need to know further in advance if you are traveling abroad. Our suggestion is closer to the 2 month mark, or a minimum of 6 weeks prior to the event.

4. Take time for trials and meetings

Whether this is at your pre-wedding trip or a couple days during your trip, take the time to meet with your planner, to express anything that you are worried about, details including music and flowers, and anything you feel isn’t clear.  Also, if you plan on using a hair or make up artist you don’t normally use, we highly encourage you to take the time to do a trial. You’ll be happy you did!

5. Relax and enjoy

The days leading up to a wedding can be stressful for a couple as you want everything to go perfectly.  Lean on the vendors you have chosen and trust that they will do everything they can to make your day special. And remember, hosting a destination wedding will come with some quirks (normal!) so lean into the experience just like your guests will do!

Photographer: Joseph Nance