The First 5 Steps to Planning a Destination Wedding

What you need to know about hosting an affair away from home.

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Photo by Luca Trovato/Getty Images

If a destination wedding is your dream (because, let’s face it, pina coladas seem less fun in Cleveland), read on. We asked Calder Clark (calderclark.com), who plans destination weddings for brides in Charleston, SC and other locations, to gives us the top points you need to consider before sending out save-the-dates with mini umbrellas.

1. Start pricing flights. Where will the majority of your friends and family be flying from? Can they get there without changing planes three times? Check to make sure there are reasonably priced flights and itineraries that make sense (for example, if there are only morning flights or if the flights on Friday won’t get your cousins there in time for the rehearsal dinner).

2. Know the weather. Many coastal areas or islands have lower rates in the late summer and fall because… it’s hurricane season. Look at the average temperatures for the month you’re planning; know in advance if it’s the rainy season.

3. Get to know the area. Ask about minimum stays at the resort. If you have your heart set on the Tres Chic Resort but they require a tres-night stay, make sure there’s an alternate hotel for guests who aren’t planning a long trip. Ask early about vendors. In many resort locations, there is one florist, one wedding coordinator, a handful of caterers, maybe a DJ or two. Fewer options might sound like a dream—but if you’re picky, be prepared for limited choices.

4. Check the local calendar. Don’t plan your wedding during the Bougainvillea Festival or whatever else draws tourists and inflates prices. On the flip side: Do you want to get married during the off-season, when half the restaurants are closed and there’s nothing going on?

5. Remember how rich (or poor) your friends are. Will you be sad you picked Punta Cana when half of your just-out-of-college buddies can’t afford to come? Or can only stay for two nights instead of making it a weeklong party like you planned?