How to Plan Your Destination Wedding Itinerary

Bride and bridesmaids standing at altar on the beach

Photo: Nathalie Triplett

A tropical beach, a desert retreat, a European city …

Wherever you plan your dream destination wedding, it’ll surely be amazing!

Maybe it’s a small party with a few guests. Or a massive celebration with your loved ones flying in to join you.

Either way, a destination wedding isn’t just about the big day…

It’s about the entire trip!

And the longer the trip, the more important it is to customize an itinerary so everyone can enjoy the wedding day and the days before and after. 

Here are five tips to help you plan your destination wedding itinerary, plus a sample itinerary for you to follow:

Schedule Events at the Right Pace

Bride in white dress standing with ten bridesmaids in light purple dressesPhoto: Bella Bridesmaids Columbia / Aly Greer McCroskey

When creating your destination wedding timeline, it’s important not to overschedule your guests. If you plan too many events back-to-back, they might be exhausted before you even say “I do!”

Spread events throughout each day so everyone has plenty of time to relax and unwind.

The trick is to give your guests flexibility. Let them know that all events are optional and they can attend all or none. 

You can even schedule multiple activities simultaneously to give them more choices about how they want to spend their weekend.

Just be sure to let your guests know there might be certain events or activities they must RSVP to in advance. These include catered events that require a head count and off-site tours or excursions with reservations.

Decide What Type of Events You Want to Hold

Do you want your wedding weekend to be chill?

Full of adventure?

A celebration of the destination?

A non-stop party?

Before creating your itinerary, consider what types of events you and your guests will enjoy the most. Also, think about what makes sense for the amount of time you have.  

For example, if you’re staying at an all-inclusive resort and want to enjoy relaxing moments on the property, you might want to arrange for:

• Mani/pedis at the spa
• Massages
• Yoga on the beach
• Poolside cabanas

    If you want to enjoy some more adventurous or physical activities, block out time for:

    • Paddleboarding
    • Boating excursions
    • Fishing
    • Hiking
    • Snorkeling
    • Surfing lessons

      Depending on your wedding location, you might want to celebrate the destination or embrace the local culture with:

      • Tours of nearby landmarks
      • Shuttle bus trips to local markets
      • Wine tasting at local vineyards
      • Museum trips

        If it’s a non-stop party you want, offer food and drinks at every turn. Schedule brunch each morning, followed by cocktails at the pool, then dinner, then a dance party or a night at a club. 

        Just remember:

        Even though your bridesmaids and groomsmen might be up for a non-stop weekend of dining, dancing, and drinking, some guests might not. It’s always best to plan more relaxing events for those who can’t keep up with your pace!

        Read How to Plan Your Wedding Day Timeline to help you strategically plan your special day!

        What Events Should You Schedule at a Destination Wedding?

        Bride in white dress standing with five bridesmaids in black dressesPhoto: Bella Bridesmaids Memphis / Coriss Watson

        The number of events and your schedule depends on how many days your guests will attend.

        If your guests are arriving the day before the wedding and leaving the day after, there are three main events to plan:

        The first day: A welcome party for all guests
        The big day: Wedding ceremony and reception
        The next day: Brunch or farewell activity

          Your welcome party will be the official kick-off to the weekend! It can be a sit-down dinner, a cocktail party, a wild dance party, or anything in between. Schedule this for the day you expect all of your guests to arrive.

          Plan a farewell activity (or two) for the day most of your guests plan to depart. 

          A morning brunch is perfect for those who plan to leave at checkout time and head home early. An afternoon gathering, such as snacks and beverages by the pool, is ideal for guests planning a later departure.

          If you invite people to spend three or more days, consider scheduling additional events. For example, include some of the relaxing, adventurous, or cultural options mentioned above. 

          It’s also a nice gesture to give everyone a welcome bag with your itinerary and some essential supplies they can use throughout the weekend. 

          If you’re getting married in Mexico, your welcome bags might include bottled water, flip-flops for the pool, sunscreen, and a mini bottle of tequila or two!

          Now, you might be wondering where the rehearsal dinner fits in.

          Traditionally, couples hold their ceremony rehearsal, followed by the rehearsal dinner, on the night before the big day. If you’re planning your welcome party for the night before the wedding, just schedule your rehearsal for one or two nights before!

          Let Guests Know the Event Schedule Ahead of Time

          While you might want all of your events and activities to be a big surprise, it’s better to let guests know what to expect ahead of time.


          So they can pack accordingly!

          Whether your welcome party will be a dressy cocktail party or a casual welcome dinner, mention it on your wedding invitations. 

          Include additional details on your wedding website or app so your guests can pack appropriate outfits.

          Don’t Let Your Pre-Wedding Events Overshadow the Wedding Itself

          Bride in white dress standing with seven bridesmaids in pink floral dressesPhoto: Bella Bridesmaids Dallas / Meraki Weddings

          There’s nothing we love more than planning a great party, but your welcome party shouldn’t be so over-the-top that it overshadows the wedding itself. 

          Your wedding reception should be the best event of the weekend! 

          When booking a space for your welcome party, choose one with a different vibe or feel than your wedding venue.  

          Another way to make the big day shine is to make it more formal while keeping the rest of your events more casual.

          Destination Wedding Weekend Sample Itinerary

          Destination wedding planning is so much fun! After all, it’s a chance to plan multiple parties where you can celebrate and create memories that will last a lifetime.

          Once you decide the time and location of all your events, putting together a wedding weekend itinerary is super easy! 

          Just include the time and location of each scheduled activity and any transportation options you’ve pre-arranged.

          Here’s an example of what your itinerary might look like for a five-day celebration: 

          Day 1: VIP Arrival

          3:00 PM: Hotel check-in for wedding party and parents
          6:00 PM: Ceremony rehearsal followed by rehearsal dinner at [location]

            Day 2: Wedding Guest Arrival

            8:00 AM: Yoga on the beach
            10:00 AM: Massages at the spa
            12:00 PM: Lunch by the pool
            6:00 PM: Welcome party for all guests at [location]

              Day 3: Free Time and Fun Time!

              8:00 AM: Shuttle buses depart for whale watching and fishing
              9:00 AM: Shuttle buses depart for hiking at [location]
              10:00 AM: Surfing lessons and paddleboard lessons on the beach
              11:00 AM: Shuttle buses depart for tours of the local vineyard or local markets
              6:00 PM: Dinner and drinks at [location]

                Day 4: Wedding Day!

                5:00 PM: Wedding ceremony at [location]
                6:00 PM: Cocktail hour with reception to follow at [location]

                  Day 5: Departure Day

                  11:00 AM: Farewell brunch at [location]
                  1:00 AM: Farewell snacks and beverages at [location]

                    Putting together a destination wedding weekend itinerary is super easy to do. And that’s true no matter where you decide to wed or how many people are on your guest list.

                    From your welcome party to your farewell brunch, a great itinerary will help keep you, your guests, and your wedding party on track throughout every moment of this once-in-a-lifetime trip.

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