As a team of Seattle wedding planners with many years of experience under our belts, we have seen everything under the sun: the good, the bad, the messy, the chaotic. . . and all the things in between. We’ve seen just how bogged down couples can get with the stress of planning a wedding, especially when it comes to destination weddings. It’s enough work to plan a wedding in your own city, let alone across the country (or the world)! Throughout our time working with hundreds of couples and carefully designing one unique celebration after another, we’ve learned so much about what it takes to plan a truly seamless, unforgettable destination wedding in Seattle—so today we wanted to share our top tips to take with you into your wedding planning journey. We hope that the wisdom we’ve gained through our lived experiences can help you create your perfect celebration, and that our expertise can support you throughout the process! 

10 Planning Tips for Your Seattle Destination Wedding

Photo: Lauren Cross Photography

1. Make a weekend out of it

If you’re traveling to Seattle for your destination wedding from another state, or even another country, the best way to uplevel your experience is to extend it into a multi-day celebration! You and your loved ones will be spending the time, effort, and money to travel to Seattle anyway—so why not make the most of it if you’re able to? We know that destination weddings tend to come with a lot more work than local weddings, simply for the fact that you’re planning an intricate event in a place you’re probably not able to visit on a consistent basis; somewhere far away, with a different wedding market, with different venues, vendors, costs. . . it’s a lot. So if you’ll be putting all that time into planning your celebration, then you deserve to spend even more time enjoying that celebration once it arrives!

Instead of forcing yourselves (and your vendors, and your guests) to squeeze everything into one 12-15 hour timeframe, consider planning a full weekend celebration, or even just adding in an extra few hours of festivities before/after the official wedding day. Weddings are so incredibly special in that you get to spend quality time with a group of all the people you love most in your lives, and it’s likely one of the (if not the) only time you’ll all be in one place together. You have all most likely taken time off of work and rearranged your schedules to be with one another, which is no small task! Take advantage of this time and plan a celebration that allows you to slow down, be present with your guests, and create lifelong memories together. Give them the experience of a lifetime that they’ll never forget, and that will end up being one of those stories you tell over & over at family gatherings from now on. 

Below are a few of our favorite ways to extend your destination wedding festivities:

—Host a welcome dinner the night before your wedding, once everyone has arrived

—Host an extended rehearsal the night before your wedding with some sort of cocktail hour/additional time to mingle

—Host a farewell brunch the day that your guests are leaving (who wouldn’t love being sent off with a stomach full of delicious brunch bites?)

—Have one full day either before or after your wedding, dedicated to exploring Seattle with your guests + planning out memorable activities

—Have your guests stay in the same hotel as you, so that you can maximize the time you have with them

—Heck, make a week out of it, if that aligns with the dream celebration you’re envisioning and your budget/schedule allow!

2. Be intentional with your budget

Finances are typically one of the more difficult, stressful aspects of planning a destination wedding, and for good reason: money can be scary, friends! We know that planning an intricate wedding celebration while also trying to make sure you can pay your bills, buy your groceries, and set aside money for your future can be a LOT—the overwhelm is real, and it’s okay to be feeling that. Especially at the beginning of the planning process, when it’s all still shiny and new! And exciting! And. . . oh wait: it all costs money. We believe that it is absolutely possible to have a wedding day you adore, and have a healthy budget that you’re comfortable with at the same time. Trust us: you don’t have to spend your life savings in order to have an incredible day! There’s no pressure to hire vendors you can’t afford just so you can follow a certain trend, or make your wedding “look” a certain way; in fact, your wedding will be so much less stressful when you and your partner are confident, clear, and agreement on what you’re willing to spend.

As far as planning out your budget, we recommend getting your priorities straight as soon as possible to ensure that you’re on the same page. If you have a massive budget but you each want completely different things out of your wedding and can’t seem to agree on what’s most important to you, then what good will those dollar signs do you? No matter how big or small your ideal budget is, set aside some time at the beginning of the planning process to discuss what matters most to each of you, and what might not be as important.

Say, for example, you really value hiring a photographer you adore, and your partner’s main priority is finding a wildly talented florist—but neither of you really care too much about the aesthetics of your stationery. When you know what you each value most, and what may be lower on the list, you can put more of your money toward those more important aspects + be okay with spending less on the rest! You’ll also be able to make clearer, easier decisions because you’re confident in what you’re looking for.

It can also be incredibly beneficial to hire a planner who knows their stuff when it comes to money and budgeting in the wedding industry, as it may all feel super foreign and confusing to you. Having at third-party perspective who can look at things objectively is a game changer when it comes to sticking to a budget you feel good about + still having the party of your dreams.

3. Hire a local Seattle wedding planner

Photo: Tetiana Photography

We may be slightly biased on this one, being that we are a team of Seattle wedding planners ourselves—but even if we were a team of photographers, florists, or caterers, we would still be recommending that you invest in a professional planner! 

Like we mentioned at the beginning of this article, we’ve seen so many couples get beaten down by the wedding planning process, leaving them exhausted, frazzled, and maybe even looking forward to the wedding being over by the end of it all. This may be a hot take (kidding), but, well, we think you deserve to enjoy every moment of your wedding day—NOT counting down the minutes until it’s done with! Your planner should be there to make sure you have FUN with it. They should be the ones worrying about staying organized the entire time, so that you don’t feel like you have to be. And let me tell you, friend: when that weight is lifted off your shoulders, it creates so much more space for you to feel grounded, joyful, and wholeheartedly excited to marry your love!

Our mission as a Seattle wedding planning team is to help you bring your celebration to life in a fun and approachable way through strategic, experience-backed planning and design. We are a team of reliable and stylish individuals who make it our mission to create the day you’ve been dreaming of. We are intentional with each wedding design we offer because we want your wedding to feel like YOU, and that, after all is said and done, all you have to worry about is getting married to the love of your love.

If you’re wondering when exactly you should hire your planner, we tell our clients during initial consult calls that they should choose a planner who they feel comfortable working with for the next year or so! This ensures that we have plenty of time to listen to your vision, collaborate with you and contribute our expertise + ideas, and guide you every step of the process, all the way until you walk up to the altar and say your last goodbye at the end of the night. You won’t have to worry about missing anything along the way, because we’ve got you covered.

4. Work with a team you trust wholeheartedly

Photo: Kristen Marie Parker

It’s important to us that we work with clients who not only love the work we do and feel that we align with their vision, but who also trust us with every fiber of their being. Helping couples make their dream wedding a reality is the biggest honor of our lives, and is something we do not take lightly; we’ll be just as thoughtful and intentional with your day as you are. And the rest of your vendors should be no different! These aren’t just people you’re hiring to do a quick job; they’re people you’re relying on to make your dreams a reality so that you can look back on your wedding experience with love, gratitude, and fond memories. . . for the rest of your lives.

When you go about searching for vendors, we recommend taking your time to inquire with multiple people who you’re considering to make sure you end up finding the best fit. The last thing you want is to hire somebody who you realize you don’t really trust with your vision, and then it’s too late to back out of your contract without losing a significant chunk of change! As your planners, we are also more than happy to refer you to our network of trusted vendors who we know will be an incredible fit for your day.

And we know that hiring vendors for a destination wedding can be somewhat complex: do you hire somebody local to your area and pay them to travel with you? Do you hire a local who’s familiar with where you’re getting married? A combination of both? 

While one option may be better than another in certain scenarios (i.e. if you have a lower budget and can’t pay travel fees), overall we recommend just making sure that every vendor you hire is someone you trust with your vision, your ideas, and your love story. Oh, and your money! Certain vendors will require closer working relationships than others; for example, you may find yourself connecting on a deep level with your photographer and planner as you spend quite a bit of one-on-one time with them. You may not have quite the same level of relationship with your stationery artist, or your DJ—whether you do or you don’t, it’s totally okay! It’s up to you to decide what type of person and what type of working relationship will best align with your wedding experience + vision; as long as you can put your trust in your vendor team, you’ll be golden.

It’s also a good idea to book your vendors as far in advance as you’re able to (and as far in advance as they’ll take on bookings), to ensure you have ample time to collaborate and get clear on your vision. This is especially key when it comes to destination weddings, since you’ll likely have far more logistics to plan out ahead of time, and will need their knowledge + expertise to help you do so.

5. Organize room blocks at a local Seattle hotel

One thing we ALWAYS recommend for destination weddings: hotel room blocks for your and your guests! If you’re unfamiliar with what a room block is, essentially it’s a set of hotel rooms that you’ve booked ahead of time for your group—in this case, for the two of you and your wedding guests. Sometimes couples will book a block for only them and their wedding party, while others will book a block for their entire guest list (usually that’s only for smaller weddings!); typically, blocks will start at 10 rooms. This is an awesome way to spend as much quality time with your guests as you can, and turn your celebration into an extended getaway!

Hotel blocks are fantastic for securing rooms for everyone beforehand to ensure everyone has a bed to sleep in, as well as for securing the best rates possible! Hotels will often offer couples discounts on room blocks for their wedding, especially if they’re booking a large number of rooms. We recommend hiring a planner who can help you coordinate room blocks so that the responsibility doesn’t fall solely on your shoulders—we’re experienced with this and have done it many times, so we know what we’re doing! 

A few hotels we’re obsessed with in Seattle (that also happen to double as spectacular wedding venues):

The Four Seasons

Lotte Hotel

The Edgewater Hotel

Fairmont Olympic Hotel

6. Don’t forget about transportation

With all the excitement and emotions around planning your wedding, it’s easy to forget some of the smaller (but still important) stuff—like transportation! Imagine finally getting to your wedding day, only to realize you and your wedding party have no way to get from your hotel to your venue. . . whoops. Make sure to hire a local planner that will help you coordinate transportation, as they’re likely more familiar with options that will best suit your day than you would be: limos vs. shuttles vs. vans, carpooling vs. not carpooling, where to park, etc. Having well-coordinated transportation will play a big role in ensuring your timeline runs smoothly + everybody is where they need to be, when they need to be there!

7. Visit your venue if you’re able to

Photo: Kristen Marie Parker

This one can be difficult if you’re planning a destination wedding somewhere far from where you live. Visiting your venue in person before your wedding is SO helpful if you’re able to, whether you take a trip while you’re still searching for the perfect setting, or you see it for the first time a few months before your ceremony. If you’re not able to take a trip to see your venue until your wedding arrives, the next best thing is working with a planner who can be on-site for you and coordinate everything from the perspective of somebody who has seen, felt, and experienced the space. This is key to making sure your day flows and that every element blends together well + fits organically into the atmosphere of your venue!

8. Incorporate touches from home into your celebration

Photo: Meg Layman Photography

Getting married far away from home can be incredibly exciting, but it might also make you miss home, especially if you have any friends or family members that can’t attend due to the trip or the distance. If you’d like to still feel those ties to your hometown, or wherever you and your partner live, you can absolutely find ways to incorporate your unique story + where you’re from into your celebration. This could look like inviting loved ones who can’t attend, to record a video to play during your reception, or livestreaming your ceremony for them to watch. It could also look like incorporating cultural or spiritual traditions/rituals that are meaningful to you, or adding little touches of home into your details/decor. There are endless ways to incorporate meaningful details into your day to tie together all the most important aspects of your life, even if you’re far away from your physical home.

9. Have someone assigned to setup & cleanup

The absolute LAST thing you’ll want to be thinking about when your wedding arrives is setting + cleaning everything up. Especially if you’ve just traveled and are probably pretty exhausted from all the planning and build-up to the big day. Either make sure you have a planner who will coordinate this for you, or assign a few of your loved ones to the setup and cleanup of the day so you don’t have to worry about it. Call me crazy but. . . we actually love the organized, chaotic nature of set up, when all of the vendors are working together and towards the same goal - to create a special event for our couples. We always come out exhausted and fulfilled after a successful event, honored that we got to be a part of a special day, and we’d so much rather take on that task than have you expected to do it yourselves!

10. Expect the unexpected when creating your intinerary

And finally, always expect the unexpected when it comes to your destination wedding. As much time and energy you put into carefully planning out your itinerary and your day-of timeline, there are just some things you can never predict—and that’s okay! That’s also why it’s crucial to work with an experienced planner who’s been through it all, and who knows how to help you adapt as needed. Flights get delayed, the sun isn’t always shining (especially here in Seattle), somebody’s always bound to be running late. . . and that’s just how weddings go. Having a team of experts on your side will make sure your day is flawless no matter what unpredictable scenarios come our way!

Photo: Meg Layman Photography

Seattle Destination Wedding Planner

That wraps it up, friends! We hope that this article has provided you some valuable insight into planning your Seattle destination wedding, and that you feel confident heading into this exciting new season of your lives together. We would absolutely love to be your point person for all things wedding so that you don’t have to worry about a thing—leave all the nitty gritty details to us. Get to know us more here, and reach out to us here if you feel like we’d be a great fit for your day!

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