If you’ve decided on St. Thomas for your destination wedding, great (Be sure to read 13 Things You Must Know About St. Thomas Weddings)!
And if you are planning on staying at a hotel during your St. Thomas vacation check out: The 4 Best Hotels in St. Thomas.
Take much of what’s written below with a grain of salt. The dates and order are a bit unrealistic and unlikely to happen. But below are targets to shoot for and items that you should check off at some point.
Most of our clients work with us to secure a venue and work on wedding design and decor.
9 to 12 Months Before your Wedding:
Decide what venue you want for your wedding…
Determine your wedding budget.
Your budget is often the biggest single factor in planning the rest of your wedding.
Narrow down your wedding date.
In St. Thomas, we have a “winter” and “summer”. We also have a “high season” and “low season”. In reality, our temperatures only vary about 5-7 degrees between summer and winter. And high vs. low season refers to the times we have the most and least travelers coming to St. Thomas. This can impact air and lodging costs and availability.
Choose a wedding planner.
In our humble opinion, a wedding planner is essential for planning a destination wedding. A wedding planner can help you choose and coordinate with all of your vendors, work with you on your theme and the overall design for your wedding. They can also assist with welcome bags, pre and post-wedding events and activities.
We work with several wedding planners but enjoy a special relationship with Blue Sky Ceremony. Amber is the best in the business and works tirelessly to make every detail perfect. If you have hired a wedding planner, please let us know and we will work seamlessly with your planner.
Visit St. Thomas!
While most of our couples choose a venue without ever visiting St. Thomas, it can’t hurt to come down and tour some of our wonderful villa and beach venues.
Put together a guest list.
Keep in mind that turnout for a destination wedding tends to be significantly lower than for a wedding near your home.
Decide on your wedding party.
It is good to get early commitments from friends and/or family that you’d like to have in your destination wedding party.
8 Months From your Wedding Date:
Pick a theme & color(s) for your wedding.
This is where your wedding planner earns her stripes! Your planner is not just supposed to be an order taker. They need to help with the design and styling of your wedding day.
Begin researching vendors.
Whether with a planner or on your own, you should begin reviewing and narrowing down your wedding vendors – photographer, flowers, cake, music, etc.
Again, your wedding planner has a preferred list of vendors, but for a full list of options, check out this St. Thomas Vendors List.
Buy a gown.
If you haven’t already. Time to get on Pinterest!
This can be done a little latter in the process typically, but it’s nice to give folks plenty of time to plan for your destination wedding.
Book your wedding venue!
For a beach wedding, there is far less time-pressure because the beaches are almost always available. Although you will need to consider time of day to account for lighting and potential crowds. Occasionally, the beaches host large local events.
Register for gifts.
No rush on these either, just want to make sure you aren’t waiting until the last minute. Interestingly, St. Thomas has some of the best jewelry shopping in the world. So some couples go shopping for rings when they arrive on St. Thomas.
Not only are the selections incredible, we are duty-free so the deals are there for the taking!
6 Months until your Wedding:
Choose an officiant.
If you are getting married in a church you may not have a choice of a minister. Not all wedding officiants are created equal. One of our favorites is Michael Motylinski. If you are interested in having a family or friend officiate your wedding, they can get ordained online with Wanderlust Bay Ministries.
Choose your wedding vendors.
If you are working with a wedding planner, this is being handled for you! But if you are flying solo, check out this list of Wedding Vendors in St. Thomas.
Research things to do in St. Thomas.
The Virgin Islands has so much to do for you and your guests! Boat trips, snorkeling, ziplines, fishing, beach parties and much more!
The British Virgin Islands are just a short boat trip away. If you think you might want to do a day trip to Soggy Dollar, Willy-T, or The Baths, you will need a passport!
The fact is, with so many activities and options here in St. Thomas take the time to see the offerings. You can decide whether you want to organize group activities or just provide several options for your guests while here.
Research accommodations for guests and reserve a block of rooms.
If you are staying in a villa, you may have enough room for your entire group. If you are staying at a resort or have guests staying at resorts, you will want to speak with the various resorts to reserve a block.
There are also hundreds of villa options for your guests. VRBO and HomeAway offer incredible deals and options on studios up to 10 bedroom estates. We can assist with finding accommodations for your guests near your resort or villa.
Select attendant attire.
Book your flights.
Again, in terms of timing, this is being very conservative as flights are easy to come by for St. Thomas. But if you or your guests are traveling great distances, it’s never too early to book.
Destination wedding invitations we love!
4 Months and counting…:
Hurry! The day is fast approaching!
Finalize florals, décor, rentals and cake.
The reality is that you can finalize many of these details a couple months before your wedding, it’s always best to cross as many things off your list as possible.
Launch your wedding website.
So many to choose from. One suggestion is The Knot. For a destination wedding, your website is valuable real estate. Your wedding group will rely on the information far more heavily than a local wedding.
2 Months and the big day is right around the corner:
File your marriage license application. (For a step-by-step guide for getting your marriage license in St. Thomas see How to Get Married in St. Thomas).
Prepare a schedule of group events.
Add to your website and have a schedule printed to give to guests in their welcome bag or email them out.
Plan the welcome party and rehearsal dinner.
Confirm the hair-and-makeup trial and day-of-appointments.
Schedule dress fittings.
Go over photo list with your photographer.
When you hire a wedding photographer in St. Thomas, you can rest assured, they know how to shoot amazing pictures at all of our venues. But make sure you have a list of “must-have” shots that the photographer is aware of. For inspiration, The MangoWorks, has plenty of inspirational shots to consider.
Ship any decor or favors down to planner.
Your wedding planner can receive packages and hold them until you arrive. No sense in stuffing your suitcase. 🙂
The nice thing about St. Thomas, Virgin Islands is that we are a US Territory. The USPS ships to the island at the regular rates. UPS and FedEx charge international rates.
1 Month from your wedding. OMG! Too much to do!:
Wedding Ceremony Wording
Work with your officiant or minister to create your wedding ceremony script. If you want to write your own vows, now’s the time to decide! Also, if you want a unity ceremony order the kit and either have it shipped to you or arrange with your wedding planner to have it arrive at your destination.
If you are providing welcome bags, wedding party favors and/or gifts, finalize, order and ship to St. Thomas. In St. Thomas, rum balls, liquor, hot sauce, local crafts are excellent options if you want to include island-inspired gifts.
The welcome bags can be delivered to your guests’ accommodations or can be delivered to your family and friends as they arrive in St. Thomas at the airport.
Create a timeline with your planner.
This is one of the last calls you will have with your planner before meeting her in person.
Nail down the playlist with the DJ.
Plan your packing and wardrobe.
Wedding dresses are usually given priority placement on the plane. A flight attendant will find a safe spot for the dress, probably in first class.
You land in St. Thomas:
- Have a drink! Or, head to a beach and float in the water for an hour or two. You made it to paradise!
- Meet with your planner and officiant to review the timeline, event spaces and ceremony.
- Arrange for your gown to be steamed.
- Your planner should be on speed dial. Although she will be running around frantically and handling a million details behind the scenes.
- You should assign a family member or friend to be your slave. They can run errands, track down stuff and answer phone calls from all of your guests.
- Hair, makeup.
All done — start your happily ever after in paradise!