How to Ensure Your Destination Wedding Tells a Meaningful Story

How to Ensure Your Destination Wedding Tells a Meaningful Story: 5 Pro Tips

As someone who’s been immersed in the world of planning destination weddings for two decades, there’s no question that stunning locations make for incredible affairs—but I find the most memorable destination weddings are those that dive deeper than setting and work to tell a story through both aesthetics and experiences. But, with complicated overseas logistics and the difficulty of travel and time differences, how, exactly, do you ensure your far-away celebration shares the magic of your love story accurately and effectively?

Today, I wanted to offer up five easy-to-implement tips for planning a destination wedding that tells a meaningful story. Let’s dive in…

1. Use your wedding stationery to set the right tone

The most memorable celebrations are those that share a cohesive story across every single guest touch-point—from the moment friends and family are alerted about your wedding to the thank-you they’ll receive long after the affair is over. Think about the story you want to share—and work with your destination wedding planner and stationer to ensure small details that share that story are worked into your save the dates, invitations, wedding signage, and thank-you cards. (Think: a custom monogram, a family crest, touchable textures or symbolic colors that nod to your cultural heritage or the location of your wedding.) You want your guests’ very first experience of your event—your save the date—to be an accurate and meaningful peek at what they can expect when they arrive; just as you want your wedding signage to set the the tone for the event they’re about to enter, and your thank-you cards to feel like a consistent, cohesive way to wrap up the entire experience.

2. Think outside of the typical framed photos

While framed photos of the two of you throughout your event act as an easy, effective way to share your story—there are also far more creative options for sharing your love story with your wedding guests. A few of my favorites? 

  • Consider  incorporating “fun facts” about you as a couple on your cocktail napkins. Include things like: the story of how you met, your favorite memory together, the moment each knew the other was the person for them, funny pet peeves each has about the other, the story of your engagement, etc. 
  • Create a signature cocktail that has meaning behind it (perhaps it includes a fruit that’s native to the location of your first overseas trip together, or ingredients that tie back to your heritage) and share that meaning via a few sentences on the bar menus.
  • Include a timeline of your love story—along with important dates and meaningful milestones—on the back of your ceremony programs. Not having ceremony programs? No problem! Share your love-story timeline via illustrated signage placed in chronological order throughout the entrance to your ceremony or reception, with each sign telling the story of a significant date in your relationship—starting with the moment you met and ending with the wedding day guests are about to experience.

3. Select meaningful wedding favors

Skip the magnets, coffee mugs, and champagne flutes and, instead, opt for something that truly shares a piece of your love story with your guests. Think through things you love about the location of your destination wedding. For the Amalfi Coast, it might be local Italian ceramics. For Costa Rica, it might be local coffee beans from a roaster the two of you frequented on your first trip there. For Paris, perhaps the two of you fell in love with madeleine cookies from a local patisserie. Rather than just sharing “swag” that has your wedding date and names engraved on it (that will likely find its way to a junk drawer or back of a cupboard the moment your guests arrive back home), share an actual experience with your guests that helps them understand you as a couple and the reason you chose the locale of your destination wedding.

4. Don’t neglect your ceremony script

While aesthetics are one way to communicate your love story throughout your destination wedding—the most impactful way to share your story can often simply be through words. Even the most stunning celebrations fall flat without a moving ceremony. The key to an emotional ceremony oftens lies in the words and stories that are shared. Speeches at the reception are obviously a key part of your wedding—but don’t think friends and family can’t also participate in the ceremony itself. I always love when important family members perform readings in a wedding ceremony—think about having a parent or sibling join you at the altar for a moment to read a bible passage, lyric, or quote from literature you love. I also recommend working with whomever is performing your ceremony to ensure the script will feel personal, warm, and meaningful—and to ensure that it includes some key pieces of your love story that guests might otherwise not have known.

5. Work with a seasoned destination wedding planner to come up with creative ways to share your story

Regardless of how organized and on-top-of-it you may be—when you’re getting married in a far-away locale, there’s no substitute for the expertise and experience of a seasoned, on-the-ground professional. The best part about working with a full-service destination wedding planner is that all you have to do is dream—sweating the small stuff and laboring over logistics falls on the planner’s shoulders, not yours. A great destination wedding planner will be able to tap into “gems” in your love story and come up with one-of-a-kind ways to share those tid-bits with your wedding guests through meaningful aesthetics and immersive event experiences. From sourcing the best local band to play music that has meaning to you—to managing language barriers and working with local artisans to customize design details that share key pieces of your love story with your guests—there’s no substitute for the connections, creativity, and ability to execute a destination wedding planner brings to the table.

Ready for some seriously stunning inspiration as you plan a destination wedding that shares your story? Join me as we lose ourselves in these striking images from the Ritz-Carlton Mandapa in Bali.

Until next time, happy planning!

Photography Credits:
Stepan Vrzala |

Contact Exalt Africa Weddings for more details or to discuss your upcoming wedding.