10 unbelievably easy destination wedding planning tips you NEED to know.
Updated: Apr 22
Couples who choose to ring their marriage bells - in a location special to them – instead of a traditional wedding close to home - is a destination wedding. Usually, it is another country and ideal for adventure-loving couples with wanderlust running through their veins.
So, you’ve devised a cheeky plan to celebrate your nuptials in Vietnam –fabulous! It’s a beguiling country filled with beauty, tropical weather, and charming people - and very easy on the wallet.
Here are my top 10 tips for planning your unique, personal and “utterly you” Vietnam wedding celebration.
1. This one is BIG and if you don’t do anything else – do this:
Before you choose your exact wedding date (sure you’ll already have some dates in mind) – before you choose your venue – before you send out the “save the dates” – take a trip to Vietnam to personally handpick your team on the ground. (Ooooh – holiday wedding planning did I hear you say?)
If you cannot make the trip – let your fingers do the walking on the interweb – research your wedding squad – and connect electronically. Interview them. Decide if they are people you can rely on. Build trust.
Planning your wedding party in a foreign locale is a marvellous way to incorporate a holiday and a wedding. The ticket to a hassle-free holiday and wedding day is to have the right professionals – ones you are completely confident about - bringing your dreams to life.
There’s nothing worse than deciding on your wedding date and your venue to find the following people aren’t available:
Wedding planner. Wedding and event planners in Vietnam are worth their body weight in gold. Relative to what they’d cost at home – they can be the difference between a frazzled couple involved in too much pre-wedding detail and not much pre-wedding celebrating – or a relaxed couple, celebrating with friends and family – without a care in the world. All this for a fraction of the cost. They have the local knowledge – can help you bring your vision to life – keep you on track - and keep things within your budget when you get sidetracked by something bright and shiny. Your destination wedding should be as seamless as possible and a great planner will achieve it for you.
Photographer. If you plan on using a pro it’s vital to do some early research and select 2 or 3 that float your boat.
The same applies to:
Wedding celebrant/marriage officiant (plug – hopefully me)
Hair and makeup artists
Any other humans who are essential to your celebration
This one is the golden egg. If you can only take one piece of advice – take number 1 - visiting and selecting your support people could be the difference between wedding day blues and wedding day bliss.
2. Set your wedding date after you have your key people on the ground.
Phew! You’ve decided on your key people. No doubt your discussions have involved potential venues and wedding dates. You may have decided on your date and the venue during the process. While you are chatting with potential partners – you will have shared your ideas and budget – and all of them will have different ideas and suggestions about where your wedding party would be most ideal. This is why I recommend getting to know the people you want to take or you before you choose the venue and narrow down the date. They’ll have great advice – for free – and once you secure the venue – in conjunction with your support squad – you’ll almost there.
3. Don’t fall in love with the venue until you fall in love with the staff
Like any country – some venues have fantastic wedding and event teams – attached to the most idyllic venues imaginable. Others tick the perfect location box – but the team does not quite cut the cake. If you have decided to go it alone – without a wedding planner – choose your venue after you have spoken at length with the people who will be taking care of you. Your wedding holiday should be filled with fun and relaxation – because you have the professionals taking care of the rest.
4. Set your budget and stick to it. Establish what is essential and what is “nice to have”. Don’t get too caught up in the “nice to have.”
The average cost of a destination wedding in Vietnam in 2020 is around $USD 8,500 for 40 people. Please don’t have a breakdown - this is an average. Many couples have less than 10 guests. In general, I’d say about twenty to thirty is the average.
Because every marriage party is a celebration of you as a couple – absolutely every wedding is different. I see a lot of couples spending a lot more on their weddings – as well as many spending a lot less. With the vast array of venues on offer and professionals on the ground in Vietnam - they can find a suitable venue that can satisfy your nuptial dreams – within your nuptial budget. (Refer to #1 regarding wedding and event planners).
It’s easy to get sidetracked by bright and shiny things that might be nice on the day – but were they in your mind’s eye when you spoke about your dream wedding?
Some couples are now ditching the sparkly things and using those funds instead for things like – welcome parties – guest dinners in traditional restaurants – or springing a night's accommodation for everyone – so that on your wedding day – everyone already knows everyone else.
Weddings in 2020 are all about “creating a reflection of you as a couple” – “your personality and your style”. High on that list is prioritizing food and drink – making sure everyone is well feed and well lubricated. Think wisely about how to get the best bang for your wedding buck.
5. Understand your Vietnam wedding legalities
Without taking the shine off your sparkler – it’s highly unlikely your marriage in Vietnam will be legal in Vietnam or at home. The good news is – you can complete the necessary paperwork to legalise your wedding at home before you come or once you get back. It’s the perfect excuse for another party with guests who couldn’t come to Vietnam. Here’s more information about the legalities of a wedding in Vietnam.
6. Weather in Vietnam
Vietnam is an extremely popular wedding destination because of its tropical climate. In Hoi An/Danang and Central Vietnam – the best months of the year to get married is March and April. You can have weddings from February through September before the rainy season arrives – but it’s most comfortable in March and April.
Nha Trang and Phu Quoc can host weddings year-round – and folks looking to wed over the rainy season in the Centre can head to those beautiful locations.
Just remember – it’s likely to be warm – hot even – it’s the tropics! When considering your ceremony attire – no heavy fabrics. You’ll be icky and sweaty and it won’t be fun. Expect it to be hot and dress for it. Advise your guests too.
7. If you are inviting guests – give them as much notice as possible
Many couples pre-plan their wedding dates with their guests. Usually, it’s a small group and the entire adventure is an experience they plan as a holiday and a celebration. Even if you have co-ordinated your holiday wedding with your invitees it’s always a great courtesy to give them as much notice as you can when you have finalized the date.
If you send a large “traditional” invitation list – expect around 40% to RSVP in the affirmative. That’s my experience. So if you are worried about what other people might think about you celebrating your nuptials in Vietnam (and you shouldn’t) – sending them an invitation is a nice way to help them feel included.
Be warned – I’ve had couples try this approach – and everyone RSVP’d in the affirmative!
How you approach your invitation list is entirely up to you – as is every single detail about your wedding party – but give everyone ideally twelve-months notice so they can arrange their lives – to stand with you – witnessing and joyously celebrating a new chapter in your lives.
8.Give guests a clear expectation of what will is happening and if there will be any further investment involved once they arrive in Vietnam.
If you are a creative sort, there are loads of free or cheap “do it yourself” wedding websites.
You can create one that is all about your destination wedding celebration – and include everything your guests need to know about your wedding. They minimize answering the same questions about your wedding multiple times.
Other couples create chat groups on social media -after electronically sharing the wedding party agenda.
You might include:
Airport and transfer information
Things to do
If it is a party scheduled over several days – activities and free time and a schedule
Expectations about social media and posting pictures
It’s also polite to be clear if your guests are required to make further financial outlays during your celebration – after all – they’ve travelled to celebrate with you – and if you have activities planned your guests will be asked to pay for – this should be clear to avoid any red faces later on.
Your wedding planner can help you with a lot of this information – and can help arrange accommodation and other events for your guests.
9. Have your wedding ceremony and wedding vows polished off and finished before you arrive for your wedding holiday.
This one is close to my heart. Your wedding holiday should be just that – a wedding holiday. Once you hop on the plane bound for your exotic holiday – it’s time to relax and be confident all the planning is in hand and the ceremony and wedding vows are perfect. All that is left to do is the short wedding rehearsal. If you are enjoying a mojito by the swimming pool with your friends and your phone pings with a list of “reminders” about finalizing your ceremony or writing your vows – it isn’t conducive to relaxation and celebration. A great wedding celebrant will advise you to have the ceremony and vows made magical at least 2 weeks before you arrive in Vietnam. Here’s some advice about writing your wedding vows.
10. On your wedding day – hand your phone to a trusted friend.
I see this at every single wedding. Then the couples lament: “you were right” when we next chat.
It’s the day – it’s the time – it’s all happening.
Your phone is pinging away with messages from Uncle Harry who’s lost his room key – or a friend who has argued with their significant other.
Seriously – your wedding day is going to zoom by in the blink of an eye. The next day you will wake up and it will all be over.
Do you want to think “crap, I was on my phone all day and didn’t enjoy it.” Trust me – hand it over to someone you trust to vet the stuff you need to know about and the stuff you don’t. Your job is to be pampered – champered – “I do’d” – and partied!
Enjoy the entire experience. It is a moment in time never to be repeated.
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