14 Years with 14 Tips for the Best Destination Wedding Ever

We are celebrating 14 years of Mango Muse Events and I can hardly believe it.

Time sure flies!

Yes, everyone says it. But it’s said because it’s true. Time just seems to speed up as you go along in life.

And while older can feel, well, older…

With age, comes experience and wisdom.

And that certainly applies to Mango Muse Events.

It’s amazing how much we’ve learned, grown and changed over the years. When I think back to our humble beginnings, I’m so proud of where we started and where we are today.

Mango Muse Events, destination wedding planner of 14 years shown over time
(Photo credit: VAS Photography, Jerry Yoon Photographers)

From the first wedding, to the last, it’s been a blast!

And the great thing is all of that time and experience only benefits our clients, their weddings, their experience and their memories.

Because each and every one of them gets 14+ years of design and ideas, logistics and schedules, destination locations, venues and vendors, problems and solutions.

So, to celebrate our 14 years, I’m sharing 14 tips to help you create the best destination wedding EVER.

I’ve been around the block and these are things that I’ve found to be tried and true.

Where it doesn’t matter what kind of wedding you’re having, or where, or the specifics of your destination wedding.

These are tips that will help you create YOUR wedding, while also making it the best destination wedding ever.

And these tips stand the test of time. 14 years to be exact (wink).

14 Wedding Tips For Your Best Destination Ever

Tip #1: Be true to you

In my book, this is the number one rule in weddings. Period.

And I say weddings, because this doesn’t just apply to destination weddings.

It applies to ALL weddings.

Big, small, tiny, huge. Traditional, non-traditional. Cultural, spiritual, religious, themed. Heterosexual, LGBTQ+, 2nd weddings, mature weddings. It doesn’t matter!

The key to planning your wedding is always about staying true to who you are, both individually and together as a couple.

Because it informs the vision, the budget, the location, the venue and all the many decisions along the way.

It helps you avoid mistakes, saves time and makes decisions actually easier. And it makes your wedding way more unique and meaningful.

It sounds silly, but it’s really easy to forget yourselves once you start planning. It’s really easy to get caught up in what’s trendy or what you should do or what’s expected of you.

And when you start doing things for the wrong reasons, it never feels good in the end.

And it’s not a great use of your time or money.

So stay true who you are. Always.

Even if it seems weird. Doing it your way will always result in the best wedding.

Tip #2: Hire your destination wedding planner before you choose your location (or venue)

Many couples will hire a destination wedding planner, which is great! But many times when they hire one isn’t the best time. Or the most useful.

The absolute best time to hire your destination wedding planner is BEFORE you have a wedding date.

So, BEFORE you have a wedding venue. And even BEFORE you have chosen a destination location.

Because unless you know exactly where you want to get married, utilizing your wedding planner’s knowledge to help you with those big decisions can be wedding changing.

Seriously. Wedding changing!

Because choosing the right location and then the right venue will have huge ramifications for everything else.

It makes such a difference when the location and the venue are a good fit vs. just an ok one.

Everything turns out better.

And having your destination wedding planner help you with those big decisions will not only make it easier and more streamlined, but you’ll end up with a better fit.

Which will make everything else fit a better too.

Couple kissing on the beach at a destination wedding in Anguilla
(Photo credit: Savanah Willow)

Tip #3: Choose your wedding party wisely

Choosing a wedding party can come with a lot of guilt and unsurety. Lots of times people are chosen for the wrong reasons.

But, this isn’t about obligation, it’s about relationships.

It’s about who you want by your side.

Who has always been by your side.

And this doesn’t always mean the length of relationship, but it does mean the depth of relationship.

Your wedding party should be the people you have a deep and meaningful relationship with.

And yes, relationships can change over time.

But who you’re choosing are people who will stand the test of time.

And because your choice is based on a relationship, it doesn’t matter who you choose.

Age, gender, quantity, doesn’t matter.

Who you choose to be in your wedding party is based on your relationships.

And if you decide to choose no one because that feels best, that’s perfectly great too.

Just choose a wedding party you’ll still be happy about 5, 10, 20, 50 years down the road.

Tip #4: Talk to your parents early

As people are getting married later in life, parents aren’t always super involved anymore when it comes to their children’s weddings. And many times couples pay for their wedding themselves.

But parents do still play a role. And parents do still have opinions. Sometimes very strong ones.

So you want to have a chat with them at the beginning before the major planning begins.

And you want to do this early because it sets the right expectations.

You can learn what’s important to them and explain what you want and what’s important to you. And then you can come to an understanding.

This will help make it clear how planning will work. Especially when it comes to things like the guest list and traditions.

So that once you’re actually planning, nothing will come as a surprise.

You’ll reduce the amount of angst, hurt feelings, fights and pushy ideas because you talked about how it would work beforehand.

You already know what’s important to them and have expressed what’s important to you.

So most things will be understood and anything else that comes up will be easier to handle.

Tip #5: Create a wedding budget range

One of the best ways to work with a budget is to have a budget range, not a set number.

Because it’s more flexible.

It gives you room to make adjustments and move up and down depending on the item in question.

Because it’s too hard to know in the beginning what your options will be, what you’re going to care about and what you’re going to like.

And what things will change while you’re planning.

Because it happens. A LOT.

So as you’re assessing things, having a budget range allows you to make decisions based on value, not price.

Because if you really think about it, that’s what you want.

It’s not about choosing the cheapest or most expensive thing.

It’s about spending your money in a way that feels good. Spending your money in a way that feels like you’re getting a good value.

And when it comes to destination weddings, it’s especially true given that the location will play a big part in both pricing and options.

Tip #6: Collaborate with your vendors

Hiring your wedding vendors is a big subject in the wedding world. Because it’s a big task.

Who to hire, how to hire, when to hire.

But I think a big piece of this which many couples don’t fully appreciate is the collaboration.

Wedding vendors don’t just do a job.

They’re professionals specializing in a certain skill set.

That could be photography or florals or music or food.

And the best destination weddings utilize their professionals and work with them to create something awesome together.

It’s not just dictating what you want or the pro just doing what they want.

It’s about coming together to create something unique and special.

When you want to work with your vendors as opposed to just hiring them for a job, the relationship has to be deeper.

And when the relationship is deeper, the result is more fine tuned, more personal and more unique.

So when you’re looking for your vendor team, look for collaborators.

Look for people you want to work with. Not just as a transaction.

And then collaborate with them! Get their thoughts on your ideas.

Have your inspiration as a start, but give them the leeway to create within that.

It will always result in a much better experience and end product.

Tall flowering Hawthorne branch centerpieces and a beautiful tablescape for a Calistoga Ranch destination wedding by destination wedding planner Mango Muse Events
(Photo credit: Emik Nikora)

Tip #7: Communicate!

As in any good relationship, communication is the key.

Nobody knows what’s going in on your head just like you don’t know what’s going on in someone else’s. Everyone has different definitions of things, assumptions and expectations.

The more you communicate, the clearer the picture will be for everyone.

And I’m not just talking about working with your vendors.

I’m talking about guests, your wedding party, your family and yes, your partner too!

Sharing what you’re thinking and how you’re feeling with those who need to know, will result in better discussions, better decisions and finding compromises if needed.

There will be less confusion, less guessing, less assumptions, and less mistakes.

And communicating what is happening, when and how only makes it easier for anyone who needs to plan accordingly.

While there is such a thing as too much information, in general, the more you share, the better informed people are.

And the better informed people are (whomever those people are), the better they can respond, plan and make decisions.

And of course it results in better relationships! Which means whomever you’re working with, whether professionally or personally, will be happier too.

Tip #8: Find a balance

Most couples I talk to and work with think about their guests first. It’s the most important part of their wedding.

Their destination wedding is really more about the guests, honoring them, celebrating them and creating a fun experience.

The wedding is really secondary to creating a great experience for their guests.

Which I find so sweet, thoughtful and loving.

But it’s also important to think about yourselves and remember the wedding you want.

While the goal is to make sure your guests are taken care of, you also need to be true to who you are (back to Tip #1).

Which means not all your decisions will be about your guests.

And not all your decisions will make your guests happy or be what they would choose.

And that’s ok! It doesn’t need to be.

It’s about finding a balance.

A balance between thinking about your guests and also thinking about what you want.

What you’re looking for is the crossover, that middle ground that satisfies both.

The way to take care of your guests, while still doing things your way.

There is almost always a crossover, sometimes you just need to be creative to find it.

But when you do, it really works out for everyone and satisfies all the important people and pieces.

Bride and her father walking down the aisle at a standing ceremony in Yosemite
(Photo credit: Mary Meck Weddings)

Tip #9: Create opportunities for guests to mingle

When you have a destination wedding, one of the great perks is time. You get more time.

But you have to use that time wisely.

If you want all the people you love to meet each other, you have to make it easy for them to mingle.

Because let’s be honest, it’s really easy to just hang out with the people you already know.

People will always gravitate to the people they know. It’s just natural.

And not everyone is good at mingling or feels comfortable doing it.

So you have to create opportunities for people to mingle.

In other words, find ways to make it easy for people to talk to someone new.

That could be pairing people up for an activity or game. That could be creating fun name tags or facts. It could be assigning seats.

There are lots of ways to do this, but make a point of creating these opportunities and being thoughtful about it.

You want a low barrier of entry, where it doesn’t require your guests to be the one who instigates it. But it’s easy for them to go along with it.

When you create these opportunities, it’s not only fun but really gets your guests to interact.

And they will make new friends! Which is also fun and gives them more people they can talk to over the weekend.

And the more friendly your guests are with each other, the more you’ll build a little community as opposed to just a bunch of separate guests.

It’s really a beautiful thing.

Tip #10: Share yourselves with your guests

If you’re sticking to Tip #1, then you’re being true to who you are. Which means the decisions you’re making reflect your personalities and relationship.

Which means just by purely being at the destination wedding, guests will feel you throughout the weekend.

But I challenge you to share more of yourselves with your guests.

Because no matter how much you think people know about you, there’s always things they don’t know.

And as a guest, part of the fun of a wedding, is learning more about the couple.

Because you might know only one of them. You might not know them as a couple. Or you might not know them as a couple deeply.

So learning interesting stories, fun facts and little tid bits is always enjoyable.

And bonus! It infuses your wedding with more of your special sauce, i.e. what makes your relationship special.

And it also creates conversation between your guests.

Both of these are great things and creates such good feeling and atmosphere.

Your guests are at your destination wedding for you, so bring them into your relationship.

You don’t have to overshare or get too intimate. Keep it fun, light and interesting.

But doing so will allow your guests to share in the specialness that is your union.

Customized crossword created for a welcome dinner activity at a destination wedding in Stanley
(Photo credit: Christine Marie Photo)

Tip #11: Don’t stress over every decision

When you’re in the moment of making a wedding decision, it can feel a like a lot.

You don’t want to make the wrong choice. You don’t want to spend too much or too little.

And you’re thinking about whether it will look nice or be nice.

But, here’s the thing… no one will ever know what your options were.

And if no one knows what they were, they can’t judge you or think something else would have been nicer.

Which means, don’t stress!

Don’t stress over what you could have gotten. Or option a vs. option b.

Look at the information and then make a decision that’s right for you.

And then, here’s the important part, move on!

It’s not worth your time to stress over every decision. If you do, you’ll give yourself a migraine and some serious white hair!

Get informed and make a call, but don’t linger. Your brain really can’t take it.

And honestly, it’s not good for you. Trust your decision and then move your focus to the next thing.

Tip #12: It’s not always about money

When it comes to weddings, the subject of budget and money is always close behind. Because money is associated with how nice a wedding will be.

The more you spend, the nicer the wedding.

And yes, while the more money you have, the more you can do and create, not everything is about money.

Creating a great experience isn’t always about spending a lot.

It’s how you construct your wedding day and your wedding weekend. It’s what you decide to include and what you put effort into.

Just take Tip #9 and Tip #10 for example. You don’t have spend a lot to make those two things happen. In fact you could probably do it for less than $20. It will just take a little work.

But doing it will really add to the experience.

Throwing money at something is many times the go to solution for people.

But, it’s important to remember that’s not always the case.

And in some instances, it’s actually a detriment to creating the wedding you want.

Because “fancy” isn’t always the right move.

Be creative, be open and be willing to do a little work to make something meaningful.

Now I’m not saying to DIY everything, because that’s not a good idea either!

But taking the time to create something personal makes it meaningful. The thought and love you put into it will come through and be felt and appreciated by guests.

Personal handwritten note escort cards for a fall French chateau wedding in Loire Valley France by Destination wedding planner Mango Muse Events
(Photo credit: Julia Winkler)

Tip #13: Plan a multi-day wedding

Talk to any couple who has had a wedding recently and they’ll all tell you the same thing… It went by fast. And they wished they had more time to talk to everyone.

There is never enough time when all you have is 6 hours (or 5 or 7) on your wedding day. Because much of that time is caught up in the ceremony or dinner or scheduled moments.

There isn’t actually much time at all to be with your guests.

There isn’t enough time to actually have a conversation with every person at a wedding. You’re lucky if you can say hi to each person.

The truth is that you will never have enough quality time with each person unless you plan beyond your wedding day.

And planning a multi-day wedding, gives you that time.

It gives you multiple days and multiple gatherings to actually spend real time with people having real conversations.

Where you don’t feel rushed. Where you can sit down and catch up with old friends. And where you can also spend time with those you don’t know as well.

And this is what guests want too! Time with you.

So making time for these conversations and moments makes the experience richer for everyone.

And if you think about it, when else are you going to have all these people you love in one place?

Probably never again.

Having a multi-day destination wedding capitalizes on your celebration and gives you the time you need to create so many amazing memories.

Tip #14: Plan for some you time

As we just discussed, the wedding will go by really fast. And when you’re doing a multi-day destination wedding, it’s not just one day, but many.

And that can take a lot of energy.

Because you are the hosts and you’ll be active and with people a lot of the time.

So unless you’re a pure extrovert, you’ll need some down time.

This could be alone time to just chill out. Or time with just the two of you. Or both.

Don’t just go go go!

You’ll be more energized and happy if you also remember to take care of yourself.

So plan for some you time every day. And plan for some alone time together every day.

You know yourself best, so give yourself the time you need to recharge. Whether that’s a few minutes, an hour or the afternoon.

You could take a nap, enjoy a coffee, read a book or get a massage.

Do what you need to do to feel at your best.

Because it will be a much happier experience if you’re at your best.

And don’t forget that you’ll also want to take some time off before the wedding to prep and after the wedding to decompress.

This will also make for a much happier experience and get you in the mood and excited for what’s to come (the wedding and your marriage!).

Quiet moment shared between the newlyweds at their Tilden Park wedding at the Brazilian room in Berkeley by destination wedding planner Mango Muse Events
(Photo credit: CMSours Photography)

As we celebrate 14 years, I want to thank you for being a part of the Mango Muse Events family.

I am so grateful to have you here.

And I want you to have the best destination wedding ever! So I hope you’ll use these tips from our 14 years of experience.

And of course, if you want our help, just reach out here.

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