More and more couples are choosing the dreamy sea breezes and romantic settings of Los Cabos for their destination wedding. With the speed of life nowadays, it’s easy to see how the idea of an escape to more laid back and mindful environs is tremendously appealing, and planning a wedding in Cabo is a great choice!
Before you imagine this process to be a total “breeze,” remember that it will involve a foreign country, language barriers, and different regulations. Reality check time!
Check out this Cabo destination wedding timeline and checklist we put together, based on the many years and many hundreds of magnificent weddings we have curated.
12 – 16 Months Before Wedding Date
HIRE A PLANNER
Even our clients will tell you not to skip this step. You need a Spanish speaking expert who knows intimately the venues and vendors, as well as the logistics and paperwork. Find out why it’s essential to hire your planner before booking your venue here.
The majority of decisions you will make depend on budget; don’t forget to include travel expenses such as airfare and accommodations. Your wedding planner can help with estimates.
DATE VS WEATHER
Find out if the date you are hoping for is free from bad weather such as hurricanes. Find out when not to have a destination wedding in Cabo here. Your Cabo wedding planner will keep an eye on contingency plans no matter the time, just to be extra sure.
Check your passports to ensure the expiry date doesn’t put you in a bind at the last minute. You can get a tourist visa for up to 6 months when you arrive at Mexican Customs in the Los Cabos airport, SJD.
Most couples choose to conduct marriage legalities in their home state or province since the red tape in Mexico is quite extensive. They look at their Cabo destination wedding as a symbolic ceremony. Learn about the legalities of a destination wedding in Cabo here.
This list may change a bit over the next few months as you look at venues and receive rsvp’s, so start compiling it now. Find out how to create a destination wedding guest list here!
Work with your planner to find a venue that best fits your style, budget and number of guests. Your planner can let you know the policies of each venue so your guests can stay there or elsewhere.
Once you have either found your perfect venue or have made a short-list, it’s a good idea to conduct a site visit. Your planner can coordinate the itinerary, and you can see what you are getting, as well as do some menu tasting. Now is the time to also do a hair and makeup trial, your planner can make some recommendations. Check out our wedding day skin & haircare tips here. This is a great time also to view and secure the Bridal Suite. Here are the top ten questions to ask on a site visit.
9 – 11 Months Before Wedding Date
Recruit your wedding party and be sure their passports will be up to date on your travel dates.
CEREMONY & STYLE
If you haven’t already, work with your planner to determine your ceremony details and overall style. If you are lucky enough to be working with a planning, design and decor & floral house, your planner can also set aside all of your chosen items.
SAVE THE DATES
Because of the travel factor in destination weddings, you must send these out early. This will allow your guests ample time to make travel & accommodation arrangements, as well as ensure they have enough vacation days from work.
GUEST ROOM BLOCK
If you haven’t arranged this yet, do it now, and find out if your guests will need a code to obtain a preferred rate. If your guests aren’t obliged to stay at the same resort, your wedding planner can suggest a few alternatives that are nearby.
PLAN RELATED EVENTS
This will include events such as Welcome Parties, Rehearsal Dinners and Post-wedding Brunches.
These are easy to make and invaluable in communicating travel, accommodation, logistic, and gift details with guests. They can be done for little or no cost on such popular sites as The Knot, Wedding Wire, Wix or Square Space.
HIRE ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS
If you are planning these, do them now with a local photographer; it will be great to feature them on your wedding website.
Your planner has likely worked with you on this already, and now is the time to secure an officiant, photographer, videographer, DJ or band, cake maker, hairstylist/make up artist. Be sure you are using the best wedding planner in Cabo, who will be able to negotiate and secure contracts for you to sign.
If you are planning to create a gift registry, now is the time so you can include a link on your wedding website. Many destination wedding couples include elements such as private dinners or yacht excursions as gifts. Other couples recognize the financial sacrifice their guests have made to attend and forego gifting altogether.
Don’t wait until the last minute to purchase tickets; your peace of mind is worth it.
It’s a good idea to hold off on your dress choice until you are very familiar with your ceremony and reception spaces. Remember that you will be carrying your dress on an airplane, so puffy, elaborate gowns aren’t the best choice. Check out our top tips on buying a Cabo destination wedding dress.
Most Cabo destination wedding couples build their honeymoon onto the wedding events. Numerous activities are available, and your wedding planner can help you choose.
6 – 8 Months Before Wedding Date
BOOK SHOWER/BACHELORETTE/BACHELOR PARTY DATES
Secure these dates and venues now, while creating guest lists. Typically your MOH or a family member will do most of the footwork.
Order and send these out now so guests can engage with your website for all details, and also allow for plenty of rsvp time. Simply collecting mailing addresses is time-consuming!
The menus for the reception, welcome party, rehearsal dinner, day-after brunch and any other events should be secured now.
If you are lucky, your planner is part of a design house with decor and floral departments, and these choices will be streamlined. Your planner will also be following up on the cake for you.
ATTIRE FOR ALL
Time to ensure all attire for the groom, bridal party, and flower girl or ring bearers has been selected. Be sure to follow up with fittings if anything is being made or ordered.
WEDDING DAY TRANSPORTATION
Your wedding planner will help with this, in case you are using an off-site venue for the ceremony or there are any separate room blocks.
3 – 5 Months Before Wedding Date
RINGS & ACCESSORIES
Time to ensure your rings are purchased as well as accessories such as veils, wedding shoes and lingerie are in place.
GET AFTER GUESTS
Be sure your RSVP recording and meal choice systems are functioning. Also, remind guests to book flights and room reservations, providing them with a room block code if there is one.
THE SOUND OF MUSIC
Choose your music for the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception, and provide it to your DJ and/or musicians now. BTW, never, ever attempt to use your iPhone speakers and appoint your brother in law to act as DJ. The abysmal results will ruin your entire reception!
Ask your planner to assist in making arrangements for local transportation to and from the airport.
Begin compiling gift items, create and print a welcome letter and itinerary of events, with transportation information such as shuttling to the hotel from the airport. Once you arrive in Cabo, obtain brochures listing local activities along with area maps and include in the bags. You can also include locally made treats or small gifts such as hand fans or travel-sized essentials.
Now is the time to consider informal recreational activities for yourselves and guests. Cabo is a paradise for fun activities, from group snorkelling to diving, parasailing, beach horseback riding, zip-lining and many more. Check out our fun and down-to-earth Cabo activities for ideas and ask your planner to help organize.
UPDATE YOUR WEBSITE
Speaking of adding informal activities, be sure to update your website with new information so guests can plan and pack accordingly.
6 – 8 Weeks Before Wedding Date
WOW YOUR VOWS
Discuss any readings or other material you desire with your officiant. Now is also the time to write your vows if you plan on delivering them. Many people get writer’s block with this task, so check out our wedding vow writing tips here.
GET AFTER GUESTS, AGAIN
Be sure the attending guests have provided any meal choices. You may still have some guests who haven’t provided RSVP’s, so check up on them now. Finally, update your planner so she can update vendors and keep the budget on track.
Now is the time to choose any shoes, hair accessories or lingerie you plan to take.
Discuss this with your planner and be sure to advise them of who’s giving toasts and when.
Purchase gifts for your wedding party and the parents of your partner. Need some unbiased ideas for bridesmaids’ gifts? Many also get a gift for their fiancé now as well.
FLIGHT & HOTEL
Finalize and confirm these bookings.
Not for the bar! Create a shot list for your photographer and videographer. Your wedding planner can assist with suggestions and help here.
If your menu, beverage and catering details are not entirely in place, tend to this now.
If you plan on having these for guests at their tables, purchase, order or make them now.
3 – 5 Weeks Before Wedding Date
Now is the time to get after this activity. Specifics may vary somewhat by state or province, so you should have this researched and completed.
CARRY OR SHIP?
Determine if you will need to send any items such as decorations, wedding favours, welcome bags, & items ahead or if you can bring them in luggage. Your wedding planner can assist with shipping advice here but do ship soon if you plan to.
If you are engraving your rings, have this done and be sure to proofread them when finished – typos happen here too!
Now it time to have your final dress fitting. Take along your undergarments, shoes and accessories so you can assess the final effect.
GET AFTER GUESTS, YET AGAIN
You know the drill, don’t forget to update your planner so she can keep the budget on track. Release unneeded rooms from the hotel block, and find out where any guests staying offsite will be. Ask guests to RSVP for group activities via e-mail.
Either put a packing list together or begin compiling the items you plan to pack. Don’t forget about the other festivities from rehearsal dinners to brunch and honeymoon.
Find out from your wedding planner when final payments are due for accommodations, catering and other wedding vendors. Your wedding planning can advise on proper tipping etiquette.
Finalize the order of all events with your wedding planner.
VOWS & MUSIC
Now is the time to ensure your vows are done (and fabulous) and finalize your music playlist.
1 – 2 Weeks Before Wedding Date
Be sure to arrange a long-distance package with your phone carrier. Find out how your dialling extensions might change when calling your friends’ cell phones in Mexico. For information on calling Mexican cell phones, talk to your planner or visit: https://www.mexperience.com/mexico-simplifies-telephone-dialing-rules/.
Time to gather up your gown (INSERT HAPPY DANCE HERE!) and store in a dry, undisturbed spot.
FINAL GUEST CHECK
Be sure you have all flight numbers and arrival times for your family, wedding party, and guests. Confirm attendance for group activities.
Finalize your seating arrangements and have a chart/sign or place cards created. This can be a fun, creative touch reflecting your theme.
Put together a bridal emergency kit, or have your maid of honour take this on. We have a blog with a printable emergency kit created just for a Cabo wedding right here!
Double-check to make sure you have everything you need for both carry-on and checked luggage and boxes.
Be sure you have passports, flight information and any possible insurance policy documentation in your carry on luggage.
PRINT & PACK
If you haven’t done so already, print and pack your wedding programs if you are carrying them with you.
Pick up tux’s and distribute them to the wearers for travelling.
If you are mailing these out, address and stamp them for mailing out on your wedding day. Even better, ask a family member or friend who isn’t attending to take care of this.
SEATING PLAN & FOOD
Last check on the seating plan so you can advise the caterer or hotel of guest numbers.
Confirm any special arrangements for this now.
This would be a big deal if you weren’t using a Cabo wedding planner, but since you are, they will take care of this while you do other things!
You may be in desperate need of some pampering just now, take the time for yourself at one of the many spas in Los Cabos – your wedding planner can help.
4 – 5 Days Before Wedding Date
TRIPLE PACKING CHECK
Your final check for all carry on: rings, gifts, passports or anything else of value. Go over every item in your luggage, such as all wedding event attire, to be sure nothing has been missed.
WELCOME TO CABO!
You’ll want to show up a few days ahead of your guests, so you’re there to greet them.
Meet with your planner to run through all plans and any last-minute changes; do a walk-through your ceremony and reception areas. Update your website with any new details.
ARRANGE GIFT BAG DELIVERY
Be sure you have all your guest’s room numbers listed and provide gift bags for delivery to them.
Enjoy your favorite facial and body treatments and be sure you have your pedicure done to pop your style.
STEAM YOUR DRESS
Check to ensure your dress made the trip wrinkle-free. If not, have it steamed. If your hotel doesn’t have this service, check with your planner.
The Day Before
Be sure the wedding party all know exactly how to reach you.
Enjoy your last event as a single person! This is a great time to give out your wedding party gifts.
Get to bed as early as possible to ensure you are fresh as a daisy for the big day.
The Big Day
GET AN EARLY START
Arrange for a hotel wake up call as well as setting your phone alarm just to be safe. Take a moment to breathe and relax before your hair & makeup and other preparations begin.
Don’t forget to ensure rings are where they belong for the ceremony.
Be sure to greet everyone who has come and express your sincere appreciation to them. Learn the best ways to love your destination wedding guests here.
Think only of this incredible moment and allow yourself to fully experience the joy and lasting impact of this ancient ceremony. You deserve it.
Will every single detail unfold in precisely this order? Probably not – every couple and every set of circumstances is entirely unique, and timings will bounce around a bit. But just remember, every quirk (Tipsy Uncle Jim steps up for the first dance with the bride) will become a story – part of your forever story that starts now.
Check out our top ten destination wedding planning tips for even more help!