7 Tips for Finding the Perfect Destination Wedding Planner

With their help, you'll be able to stay organized and stress free.
Beth Ann Mayer - The Knot Contributor.
Beth Ann Mayer
Beth Ann Mayer - The Knot Contributor.
Beth Ann Mayer
The Knot Contributor
  • Beth Ann writes articles for The Knot Worldwide, including venues, honeymoons and planning advice.
  • Beth Ann is a lifestyle freelance writer, with bylines on healthline.com and parents.com.
  • Prior to freelancing, Beth Ann was a writer and editor for Long Island Pulse Magazine.
Updated Nov 04, 2021

Above all else, your wedding planning experience should be fun. If you're having a destination wedding, you might have some added logistics to navigate, such as language barriers and virtual meetings with vendors. A destination wedding planner can be a wonderful way to keep wedding planning fun and exciting.

Although your venue likely has a coordinator, a wedding planner can provide even more customization. "A wedding coordinator is not the [couple's] VIP concierge planner," says Jessica Ghazal, owner and founder of JG Eventi.

Destination wedding planners can help couples with everything from event design to finding the perfect florist and videographer. All the while, they serve as trusted confidants, keeping you stress-free even as your wedding date inches closer and closer.

Finding someone who's the perfect fit will make your planning process easier and give you the peace of mind you deserve. Ghazal offers seven tips for finding the perfect destination wedding planner.

1. Think about what you want.

Ghazal says destination wedding planners often have an array of options.

Some will offer full-service wedding planning. Couples who choose this option will get a soup-to-nuts planning experience. The planner will help them start the planning process and be there every step of the way. They'll anticipate the couple's needs (such as what should go on the wedding website to help guests navigate travel) and educate them on options (like whether certain venue upgrades are worth it).

The planner will often be there the entire wedding weekend, including for the rehearsal dinner and post-wedding brunch, ensuring everything goes exactly as planned.

However, not everyone is looking for so much heavy lifting. Some couples want to be more hands-on when planning their own wedding. They may want a planner who really focuses on one aspect of the event, like creating a cohesive and wow-worthy event design or assisting with language barriers in a far-flung location.

Remember: The final pricing will depend on how much you're leaning on your destination wedding planner, so you'll want to establish a budget first.

2. Do your research.

After setting a wedding date, you can begin researching vendors, including your destination wedding planner. This is an essential early step in the process. Social media pages, websites like The Knot Marketplace and a wedding planner's website serve as digital portfolios. Scroll through photos to see if the event design fits your style, and check reviews for details on whether the planner is timely, organized and compassionate.

Friends and family can also offer recommendations. For example, if you're having a beach wedding in the Caribbean and your coworker did too, ask if they can recommend a planner.

3. Conduct an interview.

Once you've narrowed down your search, it's time to start interviewing prospective candidates.

Ghazal suggests meeting with destination wedding planners as a couple to make sure you both have peace of mind with the person you choose. "Both people in a couple can feed off each other with questions, and you want to know you'll both be comfortable," she says.

Ghazal recommends asking the following questions:

  • Are you available on my wedding date?
  • How many years of experience do you have?
  • How many weddings have you planned in this locale?
  • What planning services do you offer, and what are your pricing levels for them?
  • Can I see examples of other weddings you've designed?
  • How do you like to communicate?
  • How much time will you dedicate to my wedding on a daily, weekly or monthly basis?
  • What do you include as part of this package? What do you consider an upgrade or add-on service?
  • How long will you be with us on the big day, and what will you be doing?
  • Will you travel with me to the destination before my wedding day to meet with vendors in person? If so, do I need to pay extra for this service?
  • Will you help plan and attend my rehearsal dinner and post-wedding brunch?

4. Consider experience in a locale.

When you don't live in a specific destination, you may want a wedding planner who knows the ins and out of the area. This way, if you need to send someone on a last-minute run for clear umbrellas, the wedding planner will know exactly where to go. They'll also understand the venue and have experience working with the wedding coordinator, which can help the day go more smoothly.

But Ghazal says lack of experience with a particular location or wedding venue doesn't have to be a deal-breaker if you love the planner's style.

"I haven't done a wedding in Italy, but I can handle a destination wedding in general," Ghazal says. "[A couple] may love that we're in the same neighborhood, and we can fly together to the destination before the wedding day."

5. Think about language barriers.

Communication with wedding vendors is an essential part of ensuring your big day is everything you envision. But if you're getting married in a foreign country, you may work with vendors who aren't fluent in English.

"Having a planner who speaks the language on-site can help break down language barriers," Ghazal says.

If you anticipate a barrier, talk to prospective planners about whether they are fluent in your locale's native language. Not only can this help everything run smoothly day-of, but it can also make it easier to communicate with vendors leading up to your wedding day.

6. Find a planner you connect with emotionally.

Destination weddings, as exciting and beautiful as they are, take you away from the creature comforts of home. You won't be sleeping in your childhood bedroom the night before, and you may have to take a long flight across the ocean to get there.

Ghazal says wedding planners are more than just people who liaise between you and your florist or put together a stellar, Instagrammable installation.

"We're there to be the mediators, your therapist and your cheerleaders, and we're also manning the setup site with your team," she says.
She recommends finding someone you could see as a trusted confidant throughout every aspect of planning.

7. Go with your gut.

Sometimes, saying "yes" to a planner can be even harder than choosing your wedding dress. If two planners check all of your boxes, it can feel like a tough call. In these situations, Ghazal suggests trusting your instincts.

"If you've done your research and due diligence, at the end of the day, [you just have to trust your gut]," she says.

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