Destination weddings are becoming more and more popular (barring travel restrictions, of course). My favorite weddings to work on are intimate destination weddings, as they feel personal and special in a way that more traditional-style weddings don’t. So let me help you navigate the entire destination wedding invitation situation.
First of all, it’s important to establish what makes a wedding a destination wedding. It has to do with where you and your partner live, and where most of your guests live. If over 50% of your guests are flying on a plane, and neither of the engaged parties lives there – it’s probably a destination wedding.
Some people claim a destination wedding has to be in a different country, which I feel is fairly valid as well. If your wedding is overseas, it’ll likely fit those 2 criteria listed above anyway.
A lot of people don’t consider flying to Akron a destination wedding – but it definitely can be. In my opinion, the destination portion has more to do with the planning aspects than the actual “destination” of it all.
Planning a destination is tough because you’re not physically there. So you will have to meet vendors in person when you travel to the wedding location, or meet them virtually. In general, it’s a good idea to physically tour venues before booking, but I do believe that most vendors can be booked virtually outside of that. It’s ideal to get a tasting with your caterer, but not always required.
If you’re planning a destination wedding, a wedding planner who’s local to the area will be your greatest asset. That way you don’t have to travel to the location as often for meetings, and they can recommend vendors that work well in the area. It’s helpful to splurge on a more involved planning package that includes the planner covering some physical meetings and walkthroughs for you.
But what about your guests? How do you give them all the info that they need for the wedding? That’s where your destination wedding invites come in handy!
Destination wedding invites tend to be a little more involved than more local wedding invitations. This is because guests need a lot more information in order to travel to your wedding successfully. Often, destination weddings also include additional events, such as a welcome reception or brunch, that guests need information about.
Let’s start at the beginning with destination wedding Save the Dates!
Typically, Save the Date cards are mailed anywhere from 6-9 months before a wedding. With a destination wedding, however, you want to send the Save the Dates as early as possible. It’s honestly never too early to send these, but I recommend 9-12 months, and on the longer end if people have to travel internationally.
A fun aspect of Save the Dates for destination weddings is the wording! Instead of “Save the Date”, a lot of couples opt for fun wording like “Pack your bags!”, “Come away with us”, or “See you in Espana!”.
Destination wedding Save the Dates should follow traditional wording and layout generally, but it’s extra vital that your website is on them, as guests will want to explore more travel and accommodation information. So getting your website set up early should be a priority.
For weddings in the USA, we typically list the location as city, state, so “San Diego, California” for instance. If your wedding is international, you should list the city and country – so something like “Paris, France”. It’s helpful to list where people would fly to, but you can include those instructions on your website as well.
The last thing on Save the Dates is that you might want to indicate how long the wedding festivities will continue. “Save the Weekend” is a good idea – or just to include a range of dates instead of a specific date. This will show guests when wedding events will happen so they can plan their travel to be present at as many of them as possible!
There’s nothing really different about wedding invitation wording for destination weddings. It’s basically the same wording that you’ll use for a non-destination wedding too! Read all about Wedding Invitation Wording Etiquette.
As with the Save the Dates, your website will be really important, so you’ll want to highlight that on a details or website-specific insert card. Usually, accommodations and transportation are listed on the website, but with a destination wedding invitation, it can be useful to spell some of that out on specific insert cards.
Typically, if a wedding is international, you’ll list what airports people need to fly to, if there are public transport options to the venue (train, rail, etc.), or if they’ll need to plan on renting a car to get there, or if you’re providing any transportation.
You can also include an itinerary card or schedule of events card. This will show guests if there are events other than the day of the wedding, so they can prepare accordingly.
Destination wedding RSVP cards aren’t very different than regular ones as well! Follow your standard protocol. One thing of note is that RSVP cards are the only piece of the wedding invitation suite where guests have a chance to send information back to you – so use this to collect song requests, recipes, wedding advice, anything fun! For my wedding, we included a Mad Lib on our RSVP cards and they were so much fun to read through.
You’ll likely want your final guest count to come in earlier than usual for a destination wedding, so make sure to set your reply by date a little earlier than the standard.
Doing replies online can be a good idea for destination weddings if you have people coming from lots of different countries or areas! On some of the wedding websites, you can allow them to RSVP for different events and send email updates if anything changes, which is useful in some cases.
That brings us to timing! This is something that is a little different for destination weddings than local ones. If your guests need to book flights and hotels, then they’ll want a little extra time to do this. So I recommend sending your invitations on the earlier end – around 12 weeks before the wedding as opposed to the normal “8-10 weeks” recommended timeline.
In general, if you have enough information on your website and have sent a Save the Date, people will have already started looking at travel arrangements, but if you didn’t include “extra” events or any important information on the Save the Date or website, then it’s especially important to get those invitations out early. Otherwise, guests may book travel but not plan to attend things like your Brunch or Welcome Reception!
The Reply By date can be 1 month after your mailing date, so that will still give you 2 months with the final guest information to create seating charts and share that information with your vendors.
If you are not having a true destination wedding, however, then you don’t need to send invitations this early! It can in fact be a bad thing to send them too early (if you’ve sent a Save the Date card) as people will think they’ll get to it later and then will forget to send in their replies.
The really fun part of destination wedding invitations is that you can design something really unique to the destination! Some of my favorite destination wedding ideas are below.
Italy is my favorite spot for a destination wedding, and I’ve made tons of Italian wedding invitations before! It’s really fun to incorporate a watercolor of your venue, or even fun drawings or paintings of notable landmarks, like on this itinerary for a Florence wedding!
We incorporated a real olive sprig with a wax seal to close this wedding invitation from a Lake Como wedding.
For destination wedding invitations, you can incorporate a map to give guests an idea of where everything will be located, as well as highlighting fun tourist destinations.
I also love playing off the themes of the location. For my destination wedding in San Diego, we used blues and yellows as a nod to the sun and moon, but also the sand and sea on the beaches.
An envelope liner with a venue painting is a really unique pop for a destination wedding! It shows your guests what to expect from the area immediately upon opening the invitation!
What are themes and vibes of the destination location that guests can expect to see? This bright orange and holographic Save the Date was a perfect precursor to this destination wedding in Spain.
An itinerary is really helpful for your guests to understand what to expect for the length of their stay in this destination. It also helps them know when they should book travel!
Lastly, I really appreciated this client giving her guests extra travel instructions. If your destination wedding is in a unique location, or outside of a main city, your guests will definitely appreciate the help. Tell them if they can take a train or need to rent a car, for instance, and how far they’ll need to travel. Bonus points if you give them multiple options to arrive in your wedding location! Every guest has their own travel preferences, after all.
We hope this article has given you some things to consider with your destination wedding invitations! Shop our wedding invitations below, or submit a request for a custom suite.
Hi, I'm Laney!
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I make wedding invitations and I teach artists how to work smarter, make money, and run a business that works for you.