Guidelines To Planning A Destination Wedding During COVID

We’ve been talking about virtual weddings recently and all the reasons why a virtual wedding is a good idea. And there are many!

But, virtual weddings aren’t the only wedding options available to you if you want to get married now.

And being destination wedding planners, the question we keep getting asked is, can you have a destination wedding during COVID?

Yes, you can… but, unlike a virtual wedding, there are risks. And with those risks come restrictions.

Alfresco wedding reception dinner with bistro lights at Autocamp Yosemite by destination wedding planner Mango Muse Events
(Photo credit: Mary Meck Weddings)

Things are different now and having any in person wedding during COVID will operate differently.

As such, your expectations will need to adjust. And your destination wedding will need to adjust as well.

Because above all, safety is SO important.

Not just for you, but your guests, your vendor team and the community at large.

Destination weddings are inherently riskier than any “normal” wedding due to both the gathering and the travel required. So, you’ll need to be extra cautious and smart in your planning.

And take into account all the potential risks in order to reduce them as much as possible.

To help, here are some guidelines to keep in mind while planning a destination wedding during COVID.

Helpful Guidelines To Planning A Destination Wedding During COVID

Because destination weddings come with risk, we’re going to talk through a few different items to help minimize that risk. Please know that you will need to take your personal situation into account as well beyond these guidelines.

So, let’s start with the biggie…


Bride and groom walking in the forest at their woodland wedding in Ben Lomond near Santa Cruz by destination wedding planner Mango Muse Events
(Photo credit: Bethany Carlson)

Your location or where you’re going to get married is the first big thing you’ll need to put a lot of thought into. Because where you choose will have big effects on both your guests and the community.

So, first, I wouldn’t ask anyone to fly anywhere.

Even if it’s domestic. And even if it’s only a hour long flight.

It’s riskier to fly than to drive.

So, your destination wedding location should be somewhere you can drive to relatively easily.

Meaning you can get there within a day.

So, a cross country trek is not a good idea. But, coming to the Bay Area from Los Angeles is doable.

Why you ask? Because it doesn’t require an overnight stay somewhere or for you to stop beyond getting gas and food. Which reduces risk.

Now if you would be the only ones flying, that is something you can maybe consider. Because then the risk falls only on you.

But, you’ll want to make sure you’re aware of not only the travel restrictions in the place you live, but also the place you’re going to. Mandatory quarantines may be required which you’ll have to take into account.

But mandatory or not, you should voluntarily quarantine for 14 days before your wedding so that you aren’t the ones putting people at risk.

You also need to be aware of the COVID restrictions in both locations (where you’re coming from and going to).

You want to make sure you’re abiding by their guidelines, in both places.

Which by the way, can change! We’ll be talking about that more shortly, but for now, make sure your plans are in line with what’s allowed.

Lastly, you also want to be conscious of how the community in the destination location feels about tourists.

Just because places are opening up, doesn’t mean they want you to come. Not all destinations have the medical resources to handle a surge.

Not to mention that they may not have had a lot of infections to begin with and thus, don’t want any introduced.

Do a little research and see how the local community feels about tourists and be respectful of those feelings.


Wedding guests enjoying an outdoor reception dinner at the Los Altos History Museum by destination wedding planner Mango Muse Events
(Photo credit: Bethany Carlson)

Your guests are going to be the second big thing you’ll need to put a lot of thought into.

First, you’ll want to limit your in person guest list.

You’ll want to keep your wedding small. As small as you can.

The smaller your guest count, the less risk.

I would suggest 30 people or less. Definitely no more than 50. But, once again, the smaller the wedding, the better.

Keep in mind that if this feels limiting, you can also incorporate a virtual wedding into your destination wedding. You can share your ceremony and/or the majority of your wedding with your virtual guests.

An intimate woodland micro wedding in Loire valley France by destination wedding planner Mango Muse Events
(Photo credit: Julia Winkler)

Outside of guest size, you’re also going to need to have great communication. Perhaps more so than ever, your guests will need to know and understand not only what you’re planning, but how things will be.

I would suggest you talk to your guests individually and see how they feel about attending.

You want to make sure they feel comfortable coming or feel comfortable saying no.

And you will likely get some nos. Everyone’s risk tolerance is different and they may not want to attend.

This is another reason why keeping the guest list small is helpful. Because then the people invited are those you are closest to and those you can easily have a honest conversation with.

And then once you know who will be in attendance, you’ll need to communicate the guidelines and rules to keep everyone safe.

You’ll definitely need a wedding website to detail out all the information and instructions they need to follow. And that starts with…


Bride and groom walking at their resort in St. Croix a destination wedding in the Caribbean by Destination wedding planner Mango Muse Events
(Photo credit: McAllister Photography)

As your guests will be traveling you’ll need to figure out where everyone is going to stay.

While your guests may have different price points and different risk tolerance, I’d recommend you strategically pick a hotel that’s the safest option.

So, what type of hotel is the safest?

A hotel that doesn’t require the use of an elevator. Or even stairs if possible. Also, outdoor access to your room is better than indoor.

So, a one (or two) story hotel that spans a larger distance is going to be what you’re ideally looking for. In other words, not a high rise.

As this relates to location, you’ll most likely not be looking at a big metropolitan city, but a smaller location with more outdoor space.

In addition, you’ll want to look into the health and safety practices of the hotel you choose.

Make sure they’re taking the appropriate precautions needed to protect your guests. Think procedures like empty periods between stays, removal of shared items and constant cleaning of high touch areas.

Choosing the safest hotel for your guests, will put them more at ease and you as well.


Similarly to your hotel choice you’ll want to take great care in your venue choice.

Outdoor venues are going to be your best option because they’re the safest.

You’ll want to keep this is in mind as well when you’re looking at locations in case a location you like only has indoor venue options.

In addition, make sure you have enough space to space guests out so that everyone can social distance.

And like hotels, you’ll want to find out what the venue’s health and safety practices are. A professional venue will have already thought through and put into practice a system that promotes safety.

Which leads me to your vendors…

This is the time to choose and work with true professionals.

While you always want to work with a professional, this is absolutely not a time to gamble on an amateur.

You need a team who knows what they’re doing and has the experience to know what they need to adjust to ensure everyone’s safety. A team who will comprehensively think through all the logistics to reduce risk.

You’ll know they’re a professional because they’ve already started working on and putting into place a plan to make weddings safe given COVID.

And please hire a destination wedding planner! Don’t try to do it on your own. Tapping into their knowledge and expertise is going to be a lifesaver. Because…


Things are almost constantly changing with COVID.

So, even if you follow all of the above guidelines to a T, there is a chance rules and restrictions could change.

Infections could increase and gatherings may not be allowed. Locations or venues or hotels could shut back down.

There is unfortunately a lot of uncertainty.

So, it’s important that you understand that ahead of time, plan for it and are flexible if need be. You don’t want to be caught off guard if the month or week before your wedding, things change.

In addition, it’s important to understand the risk that you’re taking.

Once again, even if you do everything in your power to make your destination wedding safe, it will never be 100% safe.

Understand what that risk means and make sure you know what you’re getting into.

And be super clear with your guests on what they’re getting into as well. Because it’s real easy to forget to social distance when you’re drunk, happy and dancing.

Planning a destination wedding during COVID is definitely possible. But, it does come with risk.

Use these guidelines to help you minimize the risk. Because each decision can make a difference.

And you want to protect your people and those around you as much as you can.

If you’re looking to plan your destination wedding during COVID (or otherwise), contact us today. We can help guide you and make your planning that much easier.

2 replies
  1. ModelBride
    ModelBride says:

    Thanks for your post. I’m sure this will come in as a great guide to so many couples trying to plan their weddings at this crazy time. It seems things are changing daily, however, your blog offers some great insight.

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