Puerto Vallarta Destination Wedding Guide: Setting The Date (Chapter 4)

Bridesmaids walking along the beach in Punta Mita, Nayarit, Mexico

Month-by-month wedding planning timelines for long and short engagements, along with insights into the best seasons for weddings in Puerto Vallarta.

In this article:

I. How long it takes to plan a destination wedding
II. The pros and cons of a long engagement (12 months) vs a short engagement (6 months)
III. Wedding planning timeline samples
IV. The best months to have a wedding in Puerto Vallarta
V. A look at a typical wedding schedule in Puerto Vallarta

Welcome to Chapter 4 of The 2024 Guide to Planning a Destination Wedding in Puerto Vallarta: “Setting The Date.” Choosing the perfect date for your wedding is a crucial decision that sets the tone for your entire celebration. In this chapter, we’ll explore the best timelines suitable for both long and short engagements, the best time of year to have a wedding in Puerto Vallarta, and examine a typical wedding schedule so you can plan with ease.


How long it takes to plan a destination wedding

Couples often embark on the planning process anywhere from a year to eighteen months before their desired wedding date, especially for destination weddings like those in Puerto Vallarta. This timeframe allows for thorough research, booking of venues, securing vendors, and ensuring all details align seamlessly. However, some couples may opt for a shorter timeline, successfully planning their wedding within six to nine months, particularly if they’re flexible with dates and willing to streamline decisions.


The pros and cons of a long engagement (12 months) vs a short engagement (6 months)

Choosing the right engagement duration is a pivotal decision for couples embarking on their journey towards marriage. Each option, whether a long engagement spanning 12 months or a shorter one lasting 6 months, presents distinct advantages and drawbacks.

Long Engagement (12 months):


  • Ample time for thorough planning: With a longer engagement period, couples have more time to carefully consider and plan every aspect of their wedding, from venue selection to guest list creation, ensuring that their vision is executed flawlessly.
  • Less stress: A longer timeframe allows for a more relaxed planning process, reducing the likelihood of feeling rushed or overwhelmed by deadlines.
  • Better vendor availability: Securing preferred vendors such as photographers, caterers, and florists becomes easier with a longer lead time, as they are more likely to have availability on the desired wedding date.
  • Financial planning: Couples can spread out wedding expenses over a longer period, making it easier to budget and save for the event without feeling financially strained.


  • Impatience: Some couples may find it challenging to wait a full year before tying the knot, leading to impatience or a desire to expedite the process.
  • Overthinking decisions: With more time on hand, there’s a risk of overanalyzing decisions and second-guessing choices, potentially causing unnecessary stress.
  • Changing priorities: Preferences and circumstances can evolve over a year, leading to potential changes in wedding plans or guest lists, requiring adjustments along the way.

Short Engagement (6 months):


  • Quick decision-making: A shorter engagement period necessitates efficient decision-making, allowing couples to make swift choices and move forward with their wedding plans.
  • Reduced anticipation: Some couples may prefer a shorter engagement to minimize the waiting period and quickly transition into married life.
  • Lower chance of second-guessing: With less time to dwell on decisions, there’s a lower likelihood of overthinking or changing one’s mind about wedding details.
  • Potential cost savings: Shorter engagements may result in fewer pre-wedding expenses, as there’s less time for additional planning or splurging on unnecessary elements.


  • Limited venue and vendor options: With a compressed timeline, couples may face challenges securing preferred venues and vendors, as popular choices may already be booked.
  • Increased stress: Planning a wedding in a shorter timeframe can be more stressful, requiring efficient coordination and potentially leading to feelings of pressure or anxiety.
  • Less time for personalization: Couples may have to forgo certain personalized touches or details due to time constraints, opting for more straightforward and readily available options.
  • Financial strain: A shorter engagement period may make it difficult for couples to save and budget effectively, potentially leading to financial strain as they rush to cover wedding expenses.


12-month wedding planning timeline

This 12-month timeline provides a general framework for couples to follow during their wedding planning process, allowing them to stay organized and on track for their special day. Adjustments can be made based on individual preferences, priorities, and circumstances. Download this template: 12-Month Wedding Planning Timeline

12-Month Engagement Timeline

Month 1-2:

Month 3-4:

Month 5-6:

Month 7-8:

  • Finalize menu and beverage selections.
  • Select and order wedding cake or desserts.
  • Plan ceremony details: vows, readings, music.
  • Arrange for marriage license.
  • Confirm wedding day timeline with vendors (see sample timelines below).
  • Begin seating chart.

Month 9-10:

  • Send out wedding invitations.
  • Finalize wedding dress/attire fittings.
  • Purchase wedding rings.
  • Plan bachelor/bachelorette parties.
  • Confirm honeymoon reservations and travel arrangements.

Month 11-12:

  • Finalize seating chart and escort cards.
  • Follow up with RSVPs.
  • Arrange final meetings with vendors to confirm details.
  • Create day-of timeline and distribute to vendors and wedding party.
  • Plan rehearsal dinner.
  • Confirm final payments with vendors.
  • Pack for honeymoon.
  • Relax and enjoy pre-wedding festivities!


A look at a typical day-of-wedding schedule

After photographing hundreds of weddings in Puerto Vallarta (and getting married here ourselves!), we have seen many wedding schedules. We always recommend clients schedule the wedding ceremony one hour before sunset to ensure good lighting for photos. Sunset times in Puerto Vallarta vary by season: from around 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM in winter (November to February) and from 7:30 PM to 8:30 PM in summer (June to August). Let’s take a look at a typical wedding schedule:

Getting Ready:

  • 12:00 PM: Bride’s hair and makeup.
  • 1:00 PM: Groom and groomsmen start getting ready.
  • 2:00 PM: Photographer and videographer arrive to capture getting-ready moments.


  • 3:00 PM: Bridal party and immediate family pre-ceremony photos.
  • 4:00 PM: Guests start arriving at the ceremony venue.
  • 4:30 PM: Ushers seat guests, and ceremony music begins.

Late Afternoon:

  • 5:00 PM: Ceremony begins.
  • 5:30 PM: Ceremony ends, and newlywed photoshoot with photographer.


  • 6:15 PM: Cocktail hour begins for guests at the reception venue.
  • 7:00 PM: Newlyweds and wedding party take post-ceremony photos.
  • 7:30 PM: Reception doors open, and guests find their seats.


  • 8:00 PM: Introduction of the newlyweds and start of dinner service.
  • 8:45 PM: Speeches and toasts by the best man, maid of honor, and parents.
  • 9:30 PM: First dance followed by parent dances.
  • 10:00 PM: Open the dance floor for guests.
  • 10:30 PM: Cutting of the cake and dessert service.
  • 11:30 PM: Bouquet and garter toss.
  • 12:00 AM: Last dance of the evening.
  • 12:30 AM: Bride and groom’s grand exit or transition to an after-party.


The best months to have a wedding in Puerto Vallarta

The best time to have a wedding in Puerto Vallarta depends on the following factors: weather, crowds, budget, and availability.

  • Weather: Puerto Vallarta has a tropical climate, with hot and humid summers and warm and dry winters. The hot and rainy season runs from June to October, with the heaviest rainfall occurring in September and October. If you prefer cooler and drier weather, the best time to plan your wedding in Puerto Vallarta is during the winter months from November to April, though with a higher price tag.
  • Crowds: Puerto Vallarta is a popular tourist destination, and the city can get crowded during peak travel season. If you prefer a quieter and more private wedding, you may want to avoid the busiest times of the year, such as Christmas, New Year’s, and Easter.
  • Budget: The cost of travel and accommodations in Puerto Vallarta can vary depending on the time of year. High season, which runs from November to April, tends to be more expensive than low season, which runs from May to October. If you’re on a tight budget, you may want to consider planning your wedding during the shoulder season in May or June. We don’t recommend having your wedding in low-season because it is just too hot.
  • Availability: Some wedding venues and vendors may be more in-demand during certain times of the year. If you have your heart set on a particular venue or vendor, it’s a good idea to check their availability and schedule your wedding accordingly.

*Tip: When planning your wedding in Puerto Vallarta, be mindful of holidays, local conventions, and sports events that could impact the availability and pricing of hotel rooms. One such event to consider is Semana Santa, or Holy Week, typically celebrated in April, during which many locals and tourists flock to the area for vacations. Additionally, major conventions and festivals like the Vallarta Pride in May and the International Gourmet Festival in November attract large crowds. Sporting events such as the International Sailfish and Marlin Fishing Tournament in November and the Banderas Bay Regatta in March also draw participants and spectators.

As you conclude your wedding planning journey for your special day in Puerto Vallarta, remember this: simplicity, organization, and authenticity are your greatest allies. In a world where the noise of expectations can overwhelm you, remember to stay grounded in what truly matters: the love between you and your partner.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How far in advance should I start planning my destination wedding in Puerto Vallarta?
    • Couples typically begin planning their Puerto Vallarta destination wedding anywhere from 6 months to 18 months in advance. This timeframe allows for thorough research, venue bookings, vendor arrangements, and ensuring all details align seamlessly.
  • What are the advantages of a longer engagement period for a wedding?
    • A longer engagement, spanning around 12-18 months, allows couples ample time for thorough planning, reducing stress, securing preferred vendors, and effective financial planning to spread out wedding expenses.
  • What are the drawbacks of a shorter engagement period for a wedding?
    • Couples opting for a shorter engagement, around 6 months, may face challenges such as limited venue and vendor options, increased stress, less time for personalization, and potential financial strain due to rushed planning.
  • What are the best months for a wedding in Puerto Vallarta?
    • The best time for a wedding in Puerto Vallarta depends on factors like weather, crowds, budget, and availability. Generally, the winter months (November to April) offer cooler and drier weather but come with a higher price tag, while shoulder seasons like May or June may offer a balance of affordability and pleasant weather.
  • What should I consider when scheduling my Puerto Vallarta wedding to avoid conflicts?
    • When scheduling your wedding in Puerto Vallarta, consider local holidays, conventions, sports events, and festivals that could impact venue availability and hotel pricing. Events like Semana Santa (Holy Week) in April or Vallarta Pride in May attract large crowds, potentially affecting your wedding plans.
  • What’s the ideal time to schedule a wedding ceremony in Puerto Vallarta for optimal lighting?
    • It’s recommended to schedule the wedding ceremony one hour before sunset to ensure good lighting for photos. Sunset times in Puerto Vallarta vary by season, with winter (November to February) having earlier sunsets compared to summer (June to August).
  • What is a typical wedding schedule for a ceremony in Puerto Vallarta?
    • A typical wedding schedule in Puerto Vallarta starts with getting ready in the early afternoon, followed by pre-ceremony photos, the ceremony itself in the late afternoon, a cocktail hour, reception dinner, speeches, dances, and concluding with the last dance or transition to an after-party.
Taylor Wade headshot


Hi, I'm Taylor, the Creative Director at Chas Studios. I co-founded a matchmaking company at the age of 16 and have since amassed two decades of experience in the dating and relationship industry. My deep understanding spans critical areas, from the spiritual growth potential within relationships to navigating finances with your partner. In 2017, just two weeks after relocating to Mexico City, I met and fell head over heels for Diego, who was working in the fashion and editorial world at the time. We subsequently moved to Puerto Vallarta and launched Chas Studios, a photography and film house specializing in weddings and events. We also married in Puerto Vallarta in 2023 allowing us to offer our local knowledge and experience to our readers. 

Are you looking for a wedding photographer for your destination wedding in Mexico?

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