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Expert Tips for Planning a Destination Wedding

We talk to celebrity wedding designer David Beahm about all things destination weddings—the hotels, the locations, and why you should never attempt to do it all yourself.

Whether it’s barefoot beach wedding in Hawaii, an island fête in Bali, or a ceremony among vineyards in Tuscany, many brides-to-be dream of having a destination wedding. And who can blame ‘em? There’s just something about tying the knot in a far-flung locale that spells fairytale romance. But turning that dream into reality can be a long and daunting — not to mention, expensive— process. For tips on throwing a next-level destination wedding, and the underrated locations every bride should have on her radar, we caught up with celebrity wedding designer David Beahm, who has designed hundreds of luxury weddings all over the world. Watch our conversation with him here, or read on for his top five destination wedding tips.

You don’t need to travel internationally to find over-the-top luxury

“Every bride wants luxury, but an international travel might not be the answer for every wedding party—especially if not all guests have valid passports. Instead, I like to suggest domestic locations with plenty of beauty and charm. Places like Newport Rhode Island, where you can rent mansions on the ocean, or Charleston, South Carolina, which has gorgeous old antebellum architecture. For something more formal, I’d recommend The Plaza Hotel in New York City, The Breakers in Palm Beach or Meadowood in Napa Valley.”

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Don’t overlook more rustic-chic settings

“Many Americans dismiss ranches as potential wedding venues, but you can take your guests quite comfortably and elegantly to amazing properties like Brush Creek Ranch and The Ranch at Rock Creek. These are beautiful and yet, relaxed spots that offer a whole range of activities from fishing to horseback riding and skeet shooting."

RELATED: The Dreamiest Honeymoon Destinations

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Italy and France are perennially hot

“Italy is practically built for weddings. You can buy out whole villas and villages, which sounds lavish but can also be surprisingly affordable depending on your size. Sicily is a treasure trove of wonderfulness, Puglia is always beautiful, and Venice, because of its rising water levels, is a beauty that might not be around forever. Some of my favorite hotels in the area include Monteverdi Tuscany, Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc and the Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat on the Cote d’Azur — all timeless and totally stunning spots."

RELATED: Your Dream Italian Wedding

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You’ll need an expert to get it right

“For a smaller wedding, you can work with a local property to make it happen. But for larger weddings in more popular locations, there are logistical challenges that are best seen by professionals. Many brides don’t realize that every country has different rules. For instance, in the UK, you can’t get married outside—by law, you have to get married under a structure. These are the kinds of things that you learn after years and years of doing this job."

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It’s your guests’ vacation, too

“Give your guests time to breathe. One mistake that brides tend to make is overfilling the schedule with activities. You want your guests to feel like it’s a vacation in addition to being a special occasion. This means giving them the time to do and see the things they want to."

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