It’s your dream. A distinctive and fun beach wedding, you say your vows with your toes in the sand surrounded by your closest family and friends.

And what better place to do it than the sunny seaside of The Bahamas. You have more than 40 populated islands and countless beaches to choose from – you’re sure to find your perfect spot. (I’m from The Bahamas and know it well, by the way, so I’ll be happy to help you in your search.) It will be your destination wedding in paradise.

A beach wedding might be relatively simple. The venue is free. The guest list for destination weddings in The Bahamas is usually fairly small. And set up is generally minimal, unless you hold the reception on the beach too.

But there are some things to consider to ensure that your big day goes off without a hitch. Here are five secrets to help make your Bahamas wedding go smoothly – let’s make it a truly special day.

1. Pick Your Beach Carefully

You have a surprising large amount of options when it comes to a beach wedding. And with dozens, if not hundreds, of potential spots for your wedding, you want to make sure you pick the right one.

Do you want to be right on the sand? Would you prefer a spot in grassy area just off the beach… or perhaps on the grounds of a beachfront hotel? If you’re having a reception, is the beach you pick close by… even walking distance? Is it a quiet location with a bit of privacy? Is it photogenic – for those all-important wedding photos?

There are many things to consider when picking a beach for your destination wedding in The Bahamas. So do your research. Check online forums, Facebook groups, and Instagram for beach wedding locations and photos posted by brides and wedding planners. You should also reach out to a wedding planner in The Bahamas to get suggestions for a venue.

2. Send Out Your Invitations Early – and Be Specific

A destination wedding usually features a much smaller guest list than if you got married at home. With work and family responsibilities and the cost of travel and accommodations, some people just won’t be able to make it. And that’s why you chose a beach wedding, right? To keep it simple.

Be sure to send out your invitations early. Give people plenty of time to book flights and hotels – they’ll probably save money and thank you for it. And it’ll give them time to accommodate your wedding with their schedule.

Also, when sending out your invitations, tell your guest exactly where the wedding will be, so their hotel can be nearby. You could even include or suggest hotels. Oh, and it’s always a good idea to mention the attire. You could have a tropical theme – flip flops and tropical shirts okay… or go totally formal.

3. Use a Wedding Planner with Local Knowledge and Contacts

A wedding planner can make sure the beach you choose is appropriate. For example, there might be construction of a hotel in one spot – you won’t be able to get that scoop online. Or perhaps a certain beach gets very crowded and noisy on weekends. As a wedding planner in The Bahamas I make it my business to keep an eye on the status of popular beach wedding locations.

Also, by having trusted local contacts who do their jobs, like photographers, officiants to actually perform the ceremony, caterers, and entertainers, a professional wedding planner can ensure that you don’t have to worry about any of those details – you focus on your wedding vows! A wedding planner can also make sure your wedding is legal – and get you the necessary documents to take back home.

4. Plan Out the Ceremony – and What Happens Before and After

It could be tempting when people have weddings in The Bahamas to just wing it. The vibe at a beach wedding is naturally informal. But you won’t want people to be confused about where they should be and when, if photos are being take before or after the ceremony, and where the reception is and how to get there. If transportation has been organized – make sure everybody knows how to catch the shuttle.

I’m not saying you have to babysit your guests but do keep in mind they’re in an unfamiliar country so try to make it easy for them. A wedding planner who can outline and plan the “flow” of your wedding is key.

5. Have a Backup Plan

This is not the ideal scenario by any means. But being outdoors, weather can be a factor in the success of your beach wedding. If it’s a really breezy day, or it’s raining… it will be time to move the ceremony indoors somewhere. Weather conditions can change quickly, so it’s important that you have a backup plan in place from the beginning so you can smoothly get yourself and the guests to the new location without too much effort.

You don’t want this to happen on your wedding day, but it’s best to be prepared.