What You Need to Know About Planning a Destination Wedding or Honeymoon

When you live in land-locked South Dakota, beaches are an even dreamier place to get married or take a honeymoon! If you’re considering either, this blog post is full of hints and ideas.

Hiring a travel agent for this trip of a lifetime has huge benefits including decreasing your stress level and knowing the ins-and-outs of each location and venue. They know local guides, tips and tricks when traveling the area, weather patterns, local customs, recommended activities, attractions and how to tip for your resort. Hitch has some tips for destination wedding decorating too. Getting advice from experts can be priceless.

Taylor and Justine, travel agents from Travel Leaders in Brookings, recommend these things. This advice is so valuable.


  1. Consider a travel agent so they can help you pick your perfect destination. No matter your style or budget, there’s a destination for every couple! Keep in mind a Travel Leaders wedding specialist has the insider tips and training that will help make your wedding day incredible. Plus, many times travel agents offer programs where the Bride & Groom can receive money back on their wedding package, or free anniversary nights at the resort of their choice.
  2. Consider your guests budget and ages. For example your niece and nephew are not allowed to be present at your Sandals wedding. Prices will be different depending on when and where you go, but you can estimate that each guest will probably spend between $1,000.00 – $2,000.00 to attend your destination wedding.
  3. Change your last name AFTER your destination wedding/honeymoon. Your name on your passport or driver’s license must match your airline ticket.
  4. Follow the law. Different destinations have different regulations. Did you know that you need a blood test in Mexico in order to get married?
  5. Plan in advance. Destination weddings take more time to plan. Make sure and reserve your resort at least 8-10 months in advance. We would recommend your guests book at least 6-8 months in advance.
  6. Protect your investment with travel insurance! There is a wide variety of coverage available. Make sure and speak with your travel agent in order to find the perfect insurance for you and your family.

You can find Travel Leaders on Facebook as well. Ahhhh…makes me want to book my next international trip right now. (If you know anything about me, I’ve left the country every-other year since 2003, which means 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011….so 2015 is my year to travel!)


Here a few helpful beach wedding hints from Hitch Design Studio, also in Brookings:

  1. Timing is everything when getting married by the ocean. You don’t want your guests getting heatstroke in the midday sun, but staging the ceremony too late means you risk dusk’s long shadows and biting bugs. Hands down, the best time for your marriage ceremony is late afternoon, about 90 minutes before sunset. Beach-goers who aren’t part of your wedding will have mostly cleared out, and the sunset photos will be breathtaking souvenirs.
  2. Remember to rent chairs set up for older guests — or for all guests.
  3. Some sites have permanent wedding archways, but if yours doesn’t, think twice before you decide to put one up. A strong gust of wind could spell disaster and one upset bride.
  4. Give guests a heads-up that the ceremony will be on the sand so they wear flat shoes instead of heels. You could mention on your invitation or welcome kit that guests could bring light wraps if there will be chilly sea breezes. Or provide a basket full of flip-flops for the ceremony and/or dance.
  5. Check in with your wedding coordinator on-site. Typically, they recommend contacting them 8 weeks before your wedding so you get your full attention, otherwise they will be busy with other weddings. If there is no wedding coordinator on-site for your location, Hitch can accommodate your wedding planning plans with decorations that can be easily packed or shipped!
  6. Decorations you could easily pack or ship for a destination wedding include paper lanterns, strings of lights, paper pom balls, cute banners made of fabric, paper flowers, etc. You could use fresh flowers from your location, so there’s even less to pack!
  7. Check on local ordinances and make sure to file for permits. You don’t want to discover last-minute that you’re not allowed to be at your selected wedding location.
  8. Beaches are breezy, so keep decor simple and well-secured. If your beach is very windy, skip the veil or wear a short one that won’t end up in your groom’s face (or yours).
  9. A beautiful, sunny day is your dream…but just in case…have an indoor backup plan.
  10. If bugs are a problem on your beach, set out baskets of insect repellent for your guests.
  11. Consider having ceremony programs that double as fans! (Hitch can design one for you if you’d like.) Put information about wedding time, names of wedding party, and an order of events for the evening, like dinner and dancing. Hitch can also design cute invitations and save the dates for your destination wedding!
  12. The tides. Crashing waves are romantic, but you don’t want to end up with a soaked hem on your dress. Check the tide charts to see if your location will be dry at the time of your ceremony. Your wedding coordinator or travel agent can recommend times for you also.
  13. The noise. Waves can also make hearing the vows difficult. Speak up so all guests can hear you.
  14. String instruments don’t mix well with water and sand. Just a tip when choosing music for your ceremony.
  15. Maybe someone could Skype your wedding so guests back in the U.S. can watch too! Ask about international/wifi details or recording your ceremony from a videographer to post online shortly after your wedding — and an edited version for a keepsake.
  16. More decoration ideas for your aisle might be: seashells, tropical flowers, driftwood, coconuts or rocks. (Can you tell that Hitch likes to style all parts of weddings?)
  17. Are you planning a trash-your-dress photo session in the water/sand? Plan for getting that dress home in whatever state it’s in.
  18. Some BONUS BONUS tips from this Brides.com article, which include:
    1. What do pack in your carry-on in case your luggage gets lost
    2. Make a rain plan
    3. Drink lots of water
    4. Hire a golf cart to bring guests to your ceremony location


You’ve worked hard for this amazing honeymoon you’re about to go on! For months and months, you and your fiancé planned an amazing wedding day to celebrate your love, but in that planning, sometimes you lose sight of being a couple. Going on a honeymoon is the perfect medicine. Did you know that “honeymoon” got its name because in the Middle Ages, the bride and groom drank mead, a fermented drink made with honey (the symbol of fertility, health and life) for one full cycle of the moon.

  • Remember to arrange for a house sitter while you’re away. You’ll have a home full of gifts and money — and probably more being mailed to your doorstep in the days following your wedding. A house sitter can take care of pets, plants, grab your mail, and keep an extra eye on your home.
  • Leave a written schedule of your trip, including contact numbers, to the person(s) taking care of your home and your family in case of emergency.
  • Proper wedding etiquette says it’s the groom’s (and/or his family’s) responsibility to pay for the honeymoon. Although rules are made to be broken a bent these days, it is etiquette. Some couples are getting around that by starting a gift registry specifically for honeymoon funds. 
  • Hitch can also design the pieces in your “Welcome Kits” that you pre-place in everyone’s hotel room. What a great way to welcome exhausted, yet excited guests than with a map of the resort, some waters, beach towels, sunscreen, lip balm, treats, fresh fruit and other fun stuff all in a wicker basket or fun travel bag.
  • Plan your trip together as a couple, plan ahead, and set a budget. Book a travel agent as early as possible, so you can nail down details like date, location, transportation, accommodations, and length of stay. You’ll want plenty of time to apply for a passport too.
  • Limit the time on your phones and laptops while you’re on vacation. Enjoy a real retreat from the world.

This year might be YOUR year to travel as well. Contact Hitch or Travel Leaders with any specific questions about planning a destination wedding or details on planning a honeymoon.

Take a look at our Destination Wedding board on Pinterest!

By: Renee Halgerson, Co-owner/Designer, Hitch Design Studio

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