When to start planning a destination wedding, elopement or vow renewal

When should you start planning your destination wedding, elopement or vow renewal?

This is not a straight forward question to answer; no two events are the same.  Every couple is different and so what works for one couple won’t necessarily work for another.

We have planned shrine weddings in less than a month and an intricate elopement in less than a week.  That said, while it is possible to do elopements and vow renewals at the virtual drop-of-a-proverbial hat, for health reasons we strongly suggest the following guidelines:

  • Vow Renewals – at least two weeks to one month at the latest
  • Elopements – 4 ~ 6 months (less if choosing a no-frills package)
  • Weddings – preferably a year

When to start planning Destination Vow Renewals

These are perhaps the easiest events to organize, especially if you opt for a tried and tested package, eg Garden Vow Renewal.  We tend to plan these in about a two to three month period on average.  

However, it is important to note if choosing a public garden, that they are controlled by the local government and therefore any booking cannot be confirmed until one month before the ceremony day. That said, the vendors (kimono and photographer) like to get at least two months notice, in order to block off their schedules.

Should you want something a bit more personal or bespoke, it may require a bit of research. In this case the earlier the better; at least three to four months would be nice!  🙂

If a short notice vow renewal can’t be helped, so be it.  However, naturally, to speed things along, when you do make contact, go ahead and identify a few different dates and times, when you make first contact, to reduce back-and-forth emails and to increase your chances of booking the venue and vendors.  

Anything that can be done to simplify email correspondence will be a great help.  

Please don’t be one of those people who requests a vow renewal at two weeks notice then fail to respond to the planners for a week.  If that happens they have every right to turn you down!

When to start planning destination Elopements

The general rule of thumb here is six months; eight if the planners need to research new venues and vendors; one year if you want to get married during cherry blossom season. This is especially true if travel is involved beyond Tokyo i.e. anything that involves bullet trains and hotel stays.

If you are choosing our no-frills package, Tokyo Garden Elopement, then this planning is no different from our Garden Vow Renewal Package. However, if you are choosing one of the more elaborate packages, this will require more time.

The general rule of thumb is six to eight months. During this period we will be in touch several times, to talk about:

  • the timeline of the day
  • hair and makeup options
  • kimonos and fitting (if required)
  • special requirements for the ceremony and photo-shoot
  • dinner reservations (if required)

All the above take time and back-and-forth communications with multiple players, so the more time available the better it will be for everybody. This is as true for set packages as it is for bespoke plans.

When to start a planning Destination Wedding

Most weddings take at least a year to plan, comfortably; 8 months if you like to live dangerously. But we like to play it safe! Weddings involve many different actors and elements, e.g:

  • selecting the venue and vendors
  • compiling and cutting the guest list
  • sending out and tracking invitations,
  • choosing menus
  • keeping track of dietary requirements
  • deciding on ceremony elements and reception entertainment
  • sorting accommodation for you and your guests
  • arranging travel to and from accommodation to the venues and back again – especially important if it is your guests first time in Japan
  • keeping track of budget, making cuts and additions

This list only scratches the surface of what it takes to plan a full wedding. Needless to say, they are very complex events to plan!

Therefore the rule of thumb here is at least a year.

An important note here is that while many private venues and vendors can block off their calendars a year or more in advance, some won’t start turning their attention to the planning aspects until at least three months before the wedding. This is especially true of venues in busy resort areas, which experience seasonal ebbs and flows.

As wedding planners, however, we will stay in touch with you for the whole duration of the planning, taking you step by step through the process, with regular Skype calls and planning sessions.

And we will give you monthly tasks which you can complete, with the aid of our online wedding planning software – Aisle Planner.

Just bear in mind that communication with venues can sometimes be a bit slow, especially outside the final three months…

Contact Us!

If you are ready to start planning or thinking about your special day here in Japan, head over to our contact page and drop us a line. We will be glad to talk with you! 😀