Luxury Destination Wedding Planning Guide

If you’ve landed here, that probably means you’re about to start (or in the midst of!) planning a luxury destination wedding. Whether you have sights set on the coast of Italy, the countryside of France, or the heart of New York City, I’m here to help! As a luxury destination wedding videographer, I’ve helped countless couples plan the wedding of their dreams. So sit tight, grab a drink, and get ready to take some notes! This guide will walk you through the entire process of planning a destination wedding that will live up to the highest of standards. 

Luxury Destination Wedding Planning Guide

Choose a destination for your wedding 

The first step, of course, is to choose an official destination for your wedding. Do you want to experience somewhere warm and sunny like Positano in the summer or somewhere more cool and moody like Paris in the fall? Your destination will heavily impact the “theme” of your wedding, so be sure to factor that into your decision. Although there are countless options, here are a few that I would recommend! 

Barcelona, Spain

Ummm, who wouldn’t want to get married in Barcelona? We could all live out our Cheetah Girls dreams, with musicians serenading us while walking the streets of Barcelona. Okay, maybe that’s a little unrealistic, but we can dream! The hustle and bustle of the city, the glorious architecture and culture, the stunning rural countryside with mountainous views. Hell, they even have beachside resorts! Because it’s the number one tourist destination in Spain, there are international airports, train stations, and a seaport, so you’ll have absolutely no problem getting here. It hardly ever rains, and instead, it’s sunny and warm most days. You’ll have no problem falling in love with the city, and have plenty of things to do if you want to honeymoon here. With designer shopping, world-class sports facilities, and iconic art museums, the opportunities to entertain yourself are truly endless. You’ll have the time of your lives celebrating your love on the Spanish coast, I guarantee it!

For a glimpse of what your Barcelona wedding could look like, check out this gorgeous piece of architecture that they call a wedding venue

Italy

Positano

Imagine waking up in a cliffside village on the Almafi Coast, having brunch at your hotel, Le Sireunuse Positano, then taking a leisurely stroll down to the beach to spend your afternoon. That could be you the day before your destination wedding. Positano is known as Italy’s crown jewel for a reason, honey. If you’re looking for a luxurious Italian wedding destination away from the big crowds and busy streets, then you’ve found the one. 

For a glimpse of what your Positano wedding could look like, check out this stunning Italian villa, Villa Oliviero

Rome

For couples who want to be in the midst of the culture, art, and chaos (it’s giving Lizzie with Paolo on his Vespa), it sounds like Rome would be more your vibe. Being the capital of Italy, Rome is an insanely busy tourist spot during certain times of the year, so I would be mindful of that when planning your destination wedding. Just imagine all the historical sites we could see– the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, and countless others. Although Rome gets millions of visitors every year, the locals (many of whom still reside in the heart of Rome) make it a priority to maintain the city’s culture. 

For a glimpse of what your Rome wedding could look like, check out this fairytale venue, Carello Brancaccio, and tell me you’re not sold. 

France

Nice 

“You’re cordially invited to our destination wedding in the French freaking Riviera.” That invite would be an immediate yes for me! Nice, France, is, in fact, the capital of the French Riviera, renowned for its ocean views, sophisticated architecture, incredible weather, and rich history. After Paris, Nice has the most museums in France, so we could spend an entire day walking around the city, going in and out of museums and eating pastries the whole time. And if you want a completely different vibe, there are plenty of beautiful beaches we could visit and lounge around. And yes, I said “we.”  If you’re feeling really adventurous and boujee, we could take a quick train ride to Monaco and spend some time at the world-famous Formula One racetrack. Plus, there they have tons of casinos and, of course, the designer shopping strip, where we just might sight some celebrity yacht parties *insert eyeball emojis*

For a glimpse of what your Nice wedding could look like, check out this absolutely insane chateau, Chateau de la Chevre d’Or.

Paris

Again, if you’re a couple who prefers the metropolitan, big-city vibes, Paris will be right up your alley. The glitz, glamour, and grandeur of the infamous city will be sure to attract couples wanting the most luxurious of destination weddings. It’s not called the City of Love for nothing, baby! Between the romance in the air, the monumental architecture, and the high-fashion vibes, you can’t go wrong with Paris as your destination choice.

For a glimpse of what your Paris wedding could look like, check out the most famous hotel in Paris, the Ritz, and tell me it doesn’t scream “unforgettable.” 

United States

NYC

If you want to stay within the states and not deal with international travel, I totally get you. May I suggest to you: a modern, high-end New York City wedding? There are countless unique wedding venues in the Big Apple that I know you would absolutely love. If you’ve never been before, you have to spend a few extra days exploring everything that the city has to offer. 

To get a glimpse of what your NYC wedding could look like, check out the New York Public Library. Yes, even their library is iconic enough to host your luxury wedding. 

Monterey/Northern California

Now, we’re getting into more laid-back, relaxing destinations for your wedding. California is known for its beautiful weather, great people, and of course, countless sandy beaches. Monterey, CA, is technically on the state’s central coast, which means the weather is seriously beautiful all year round.  If you’re a marine life lover, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is a must-see, no matter what age you are. If you could care more or less about being near the beach, Northern California has even more sights to offer. There are so many stunning sights to see within a 2-hour drive – you can be at Big Sur with the redwoods and oceanside cliffs (check out this Intimate Big Sur Elopement!), Yosemite with its iconic rocky peaks, or Shasta Lake with its serene waters and peaceful atmosphere. Not to mention, you already know California is known for its vineyards! 

To get a glimpse of what your Northern California wedding could look like, check out the Black Oak Mountain Vineyards, where you get the best of both worlds in one luxury venue. 

Palm Springs

Palm Springs is still in California, about 2.5 hours from Los Angeles, but it will make you feel like you’re in a totally different place. Being in the desert, Palm Springs gets HOT in the summer, but the spring and summer are great places to visit. The town is also very close to Joshua Tree National Park, an epic desert destination to take a day trip with your people after the wedding. They have a variety of colorful, eclectic hotels as well as large, expansive estates, depending on what your luxury destination wedding vibe is. No matter where you get married, I personally vote that we end the night at the fun and fabulous Trixie Motel

To get a glimpse of what your Palm Springs wedding could look like, check out the infamous Frank Sinatra Estate that’s currently available to rent for events, dinner parties, and film productions. 

How many guests are you inviting?

Now that you’ve decided on a location, it’s time for you and your boo to get that guest list in order! Now, listen: do not feel obligated to invite old-fashioned Aunt Debby. Only invite people who you absolutely can’t imagine not being there. A great rule that I share with my couples is if you wouldn’t invite them to your home for dinner, they don’t need a place on the guest list of your destination wedding! Another thing to keep in mind is that not every single person that you invite will realistically be able to attend. According to Zola, an online wedding e-commerce and planning company, only 35% of destination wedding guests end up attending. 

Now, I’m not going to lie; putting together and finalizing a guest list, of all things, is not the most exhilarating part of wedding planning. But knowing your headcount well in advance is important before doing something like setting a budget. For example, the pricing of services like catering are determined by how many guests will be in attendance. So before you’re out here getting crazy and booking vendors, make sure you know who you’re paying for! 

When creating your guest list, I’m sure you’ll come across a few non-negotiable people. Your best friends, your siblings, and your parents are the most common people that most couples will adjust their date for. But before doing all that, why not just put all your people in a group chat and have a little pow-wow? Make sure everyone is on the same page, ask if anyone has any important dates in the next year or so, and then go from there. This perfectly leads us to our next point!

Choose a date

It’s time to lock it in and choose a date! As I mentioned before, the date of your luxury destination wedding will heavily depend on your location. Before getting too technical, decide if you want a spring/summer wedding or a fall/winter wedding. Choosing a general season first will make it much easier to choose a specific date. Make sure that the aesthetic you want for your wedding works for the season you’re choosing. This really comes down to florals; choosing florals that are in season will be much more affordable than choosing florals that are out of season. 

Aside from that, be sure to choose a date far enough out so your guests can plan & budget ahead to attend. As a general rule, make sure your people know your date with plenty of time to purchase flight tickets three months in advance for domestic flights and six months in advance for international destinations. Don’t worry, though; we’ll talk more about flights and airfare later on! 

Last but certainly not least: if you have dream wedding vendors, you can contact them and ask for their availability! We’re always so flattered when couples choose their date around when we’re available because it shows just how much they value our work. I’m sure you saw this coming, but you can contact me here to inquire about my availability. 

Consider hiring a destination wedding travel agent 

Location? Decided. Guests? Chosen. Date? Set. Now that you have these crucial aspects of wedding planning out of the way, it’s time I let you in on a little secret. Hiring a destination wedding travel agent will make your life a million times easier. Not to be confused with a destination wedding planner, a travel agent will do everything from booking the accommodation for both you and your guests to booking airfare to acting as a liaison between you and your venue… the list goes on. Especially if you’re choosing an international location, your travel agent will be an invaluable asset to your vendor team. They also have access to exclusive destination wedding packages that aren’t available to the public. Utilizing a destination travel agent is typically complimentary, so there’s no harm in checking out this option! 

Set a budget for your luxury destination wedding

Setting a budget in for your luxury destination wedding is important to establish early on in the planning process. Your budget will determine which vendors your book, your venue options, and who needs to get cut from the guest list! There are multiple different ways you can set a budget; you can make it as flexible or as strict as you’d like. You’re also free to customize your budget the deeper you get into wedding planning! The important part is to start off with a range that you and your partner feel comfortable with. For reference, here are vendor starting price estimates for a luxury destination wedding:

  • Photographer: $7,000 – $9,000
  • Videographer: $6,000 – $9,000
  • Wedding planner: $10,000 – $15,000
  • Officiant: $500
  • Venue: $12,000 – $15,000
  • Florist: $10,000 – $12,000
  • DJ/Entertainment/Live Band: $4,000 – $6,000
  • Food: Food & Beverage are sometimes included with certain venues. If not, you can expect to pay around $200 – $400 per plate.
  • Accommodations for the couple: $500 –  $1000/night 
  • Accommodations for guests: Many hotels offer hotel block discounts for guests. It’s up to you if you want to cover the cost of accommodation! If you’re booking something like an estate or chateau for your luxury destination wedding, then most of the time, the venue will have rooms for your guest to stay in, included in the price of the venue. 
  • Airfare: $400 – $1200/person   
  • Transportation: You can rent a car or utilize rideshare services at your destination. Car rental: $300/day 
  • Wedding attire: $5000

The wedding industry can sometimes be notorious for not being transparent about pricing, so some of these price points may come as a surprise to you! But, especially with your luxury destination, you’re hiring vendors for a lot more than you would a normal, local wedding. You’re booking them more than one day back home, travel is sometimes included, AND you’re trusting someone (usually from your home country) to travel to a different country, which a lot of people can’t do. It’s important you hire people that you enjoy, whose work you love, AND who you entrust to travel over multiple days to make it to your big day on time. Not just on time, either, but focused and ready to serve you like you’re the only people on the planet! And trust me, *that* takes a lot of skill.

Pro Tip: Consider booking a luxury destination wedding experience that is all-inclusive. This wraps the cost of food, beverage, venue, and hotel all into one, and you get to create a fully immersive experience for your guests that gives them an authentic experience wherever they’re staying! Some of these places even include events like “Chef’s Table” style dinners, wine tours, and travel to and from the airport. Definitely worth looking into!

Do you really need a luxury wedding videographer?

I firmly believe that if you’re planning a luxury wedding, you need luxury vendors, period. Your vendor team is composed of experts that will take your abstract ideas and turn them into a work of art. I can’t speak for other vendors, but I can speak on behalf of wedding videographers. I’m not here to make a decision for you, but I am here to inform you of the facts – Like the fact that wedding videography is the number one regret of newlywed couples, that they either didn’t invest in at all or that they didn’t invest properly in. Don’t be a statistic, honey! 

With almost 50% of my couples having destination weddings, I know how important it is to have someone you can trust not only with the video but for every step in between. I’ve been traveling for my job since 2017, and I know how much of a headache travel can be, especially internationally. I’ve experienced so much in these different places that I can recommend locations I have personally been to or feel confident in doing a little bit of digging about. And if I’m not able to, you bet I’ll connect you with an expert who can! Plus, if you’re spending all of this time, money, and energy into planning a destination wedding, you’re going to want as much documentation as possible. From your welcome party to your vows to the epic after-party (that you might not remember on your own if all goes well), you’ll want to look back on highlights from every part of your day. 

Diving deeper, let’s take a look at the correlation between luxury wedding photographers and videographers. If you are choosing to invest in a high-quality, luxury photographer for your destination wedding, you’re going to receive deliverables that reflect that investment. So, what happens when you receive these beautiful, artful images, but your wedding video looks like it was thrown together in the iPhone video editor? You’re going to be disappointed. 

In addition to making sure the vibes last, there is a high level of trust that comes with hiring someone to document your luxury destination wedding, and trusting someone with your memories and family heirlooms is a big task. Wedding videography is not only imagery but sound and movement and preserving those things forever. Being able to hear a loved one’s voice after they pass, honor them, and share their memory with your family for generations is a priceless gift. Having someone by your side that is going to take care of and honor those moments is a key part of getting the best experience from your wedding videographer. Trusting someone to take care of you, deal with the stakes of traveling, and do an expert job of capturing and crafting your wedding memories is what you’re really investing in when hiring your videographer. And your investment will absolutely match the experience you have.

At the end of the day, when the food is eaten, the flowers have wilted, and everyone has gone home, the only things you have to relive the experience are pictures and videos, and the weekend is going to go by so fast. Hiring a luxury wedding videographer is an integral part of making sure your heirloom memories are captured beautifully and expertly in a way that is authentic to you and your story. Hiring someone on your wedding day requires a  huge amount of trust, and with live events, you want to make sure that person is going knock it out of the park. 

How to find the best luxury wedding vendors

Now that you’ve decided I’m going to be your luxury wedding videographer (just kidding! Unless…), I can help you build the rest of your vendor team.  I have experience with some of the best vendors out there who I feel confident recommending. These vendors have been featured in Vogue, People Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, etc., and are colleagues and friends I trust to knock it out of the park – so much so that I would trust them with my own wedding!

With any wedding vendor that you are considering, be sure to thoroughly check out their website and make sure their values align with yours. Have a conversation with them via email to sus them out and get a feel for what their vibe is! Once you’re at the point of inquiring, most vendors will ask to set up a consult call before having you make any commitments. And if they don’t, don’t be afraid to ask! Read through their client testimonials to see what other couples have to say about them.

With vendors like designers, florists, photographers, videographers, stationers, etc., it’s important to make sure that you (the couple) like their art and can see your day through their proverbial lens. This is imperative because that is how they create their art, and no one wants to be hired and then asked to change everything about how they design, shoot, edit, or create. There’s much less friction in the planning process when the couple and the vendor are collaborative, and either party doesn’t feel like they’re pulling teeth trying to get on the same page.

Send out save the dates/invitations/set up a wedding website

Whew! Now that we’ve got your luxury vendors all sorted out, it’s time to move on to the next step. Informing your guests about where the party is going down should be your next priority!  Modern couples have been shifting towards utilizing a wedding website (like Zola or With Joy) to make it easier for everyone involved. In fact, my brother is hosting his destination wedding in Mexico, and he had their travel agent set up all the necessary information for them online. This makes the process so simple because we (their guests) can just log in and book our accommodations through the site! You can very easily link the website that your travel agent uses in your wedding website (take a shot every time you read the word “website”). 

If you’re sending out Save the Dates (use those engagement photos, people!), you can include a QR code that leads to your wedding website (shot!) on the back, so it doesn’t ruin the aesthetic for wedding day details shots. An even better option is including a business card-sized card in the envelope as a totally separate little entity. 

Purchase airfare tickets

Your destination wedding travel agent will take care of airfare for you, so you won’t have to worry about keeping an eye on prices. A lot of packages that they have access to have flights already included, so you could potentially skip this step altogether! Nonetheless,  be sure to check and confirm that travel insurance is included with any package that you book. Chat with your agent about your preferences of when you’re arriving and departing, and take jetlag into account.

Research local marriage laws

This is another aspect of planning that a destination wedding travel agent will have a wealth of knowledge about. International marriage laws can be much different and require a lot more attention to detail than laws within the states. Of course, the laws do differ from state to state, so do your research and make sure you’re prepared. But if you’re getting married internationally, many couples choose to get married at home to make the paperwork easier legally. For example, in Italy, you can hold a symbolic (AKA not legalized) wedding ceremony with no limitations or restrictions on where it can be held. Any other ceremony has strict religious regulations that you simply cannot get past. 

If you don’t have a destination wedding travel agent, your wedding planner should be able to help you do some research, too! And, of course, I can help you out wherever you need as well. 

Are your passports up-to-date?

Of course, this only applies if you’re flying internationally, but a very important thing to remember! Check your passports and make sure they’re not going to expire anytime soon. It’s suggested to renew your passport around 10 months before the expiry date. If you don’t have a passport yet, you better get on that ASAP! It usually takes 6-9 weeks for processing and delivery. Also, leave a note on your wedding website to remind your guests to renew theirs if need be. 

Get your wedding attire

If you haven’t already, it’s time to start looking for your wedding attire. It’s suggested that you order your wedding attire between 8-10 months before your wedding date. If you’re wearing a dress, give yourself plenty of time to get any necessary alterations done well in advance. If you’re wearing a tux, you do have a little more wiggle room with the timeline. But please do not wait until the last minute! It’s better to be safe than sorry – which means stick with no sooner than 6 months out. And make sure any purchasing or rental options are made available to your wedding party around the same time as well to allow them plenty of time to get fitted. 

Keep in touch with all your vendors

If you have a destination wedding planner, most of your vendors will be going through them and not you. I’m all about staying on top of your sh*t, but this is another point where it’s important to hire people you trust. The vendors you trust will do a great job and will make it a point to serve you and contact you, so you don’t have a million consultations. It’s important to make sure you’re staying on top of any action items your vendors need from you, but hiring vendors that are clear about meetings and deadlines will make your life way easier, so you can sit back and actually enjoy your beautiful engagement season! 

One last thing about your vendors: I know how much you want to be in the loop about your big day. It’s totally natural and normal! But trust me when I say that trusting your vendors to execute your vision (without micromanaging) will go such a long way. Giving them the space to do what they do best (and yes, this includes giving them creative freedom) will actually make your day better. But if you wholeheartedly trust your vendors, this shouldn’t be an issue!

Stay sane 

Last but MOST important – don’t let this process stress you out. If you’ve hired a kickass team of vendors, you shouldn’t have to worry about a damn thing! Make sure to take time and space to enjoy your engagement season and this phase of your relationship. It’s okay not to be in wedding planning mode 24/7! Schedule date nights, spa days, and baecations as much as you can leading up to your destination wedding. I’ll be there to support you every step of the way!! Your wedding date will be here before you know it. Your entire vendor team will come together and make your day perfect! 

If you haven’t already done so, you can make ME a part of your vendor team by filling out my contact form. I’ll get back to you as soon as possible! In the meantime, I hope this guide was beneficial for you, and I’d love to hear what you think. Feel free to DM me on Instagram at any time!

Kind words from my past couples

“Like many couples, we waffled on hiring a videographer because we were already over budget. But in the last couple of weeks leading up to our wedding, we just knew we’d regret it if we didn’t. Another videographer whose style we loved referred us to Alex, which is always a very good sign. Alex is so busy, but we got *super* lucky that he was still available on our day. Hiring Alex was was one of the best wedding decisions we made!

Alex really took the time to get to know us and our story. He was quick to respond to our request, and we immediately hit it off over the phone-he is so warm, genuine, and fun. He worked within our budget to put together a custom package and just made things as easy as possible for us.

When it comes to your wedding day, beyond vendors being good at their jobs–you want people around you who are going to make the day as relaxing, smooth, and seamless as possible. Alex was fully present, brought such good vibes to our wedding day, and was my bridal party’s personal hype man all day long.

We LOVE the first edit he put together for us–it so perfectly captures the emotions and the beauty of our wedding. People always under-appreciate how important audio is, but Alex has a background in sound design, and the audio/music on our video is *chef’s kiss.* We are so excited to see the rest. Hire Alex, you won’t regret it!!” – BRITTENY

“I cannot say enough wonderful things about working with Alex!

Quick efficient, talented -I could go on for days! I was floored when not even 12 hours after our reception, we received the most beautiful teaser film! You can tell that Alex puts his heart and soul into each film he produces.

Alex was so easy to work with throughout the whole process. From booking, to meeting, to wedding day, Alex was responsive, professional, willing to answer all of my silly questions, and he is a ton of fun to work with! My whole family loved having him and his second shooter at my home wedding.

Run- do not walk to book him for your wedding! You will be so glad you did!!” – BRITTNEY

Luxury Destination Wedding Planning Guide

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