Planning a Wedding Abroad can be a daunting task for many reasons! But not to worry, it’s the perfect time for me to help out all you Brides and Grooms out there dreaming of some sunshine and to have your perfect wedding abroad. Here are my top tips:
Research Local Marriage Requirements
Tying the knot in a different country can be complicated. Many countries have “residency requirements”, which means you must reside in the country for a certain length of time before getting married and have many paperwork requirements (France for example). So be sure to check these legal requirements as far in advance as possible. If it’s too difficult for you to comply with this, then why not considering getting the legalities done at home and go abroad for a symbolic/blessing ceremony.
Get Help (in other words…DO Hire a Wedding Planner!)
I know, sounds cliché, right? But, it would be the best decision you ever made (and I’m not saying this because I am one!). A Destination Wedding Planner specializes in the area, is familiar with the legal requirements, has tried and tested the venues and he/she will source and negotiate reliable local suppliers. Maybe it is an extra investment to consider in your budget, but it well worth it; it will save you many hours of time and amount of stress! So get some much needed help to put your mind at ease.
Start Planning Early and Take Care of Your Guests
Destination weddings can be exciting but it is also a big commitment for your guests. Make sure you send out a Save-The-Dates well in advance to give them plenty of time to arrange their travel and accommodation. Most airlines and accommodation offer groups rates so it worth checking this and block some groups space in order for your guests to avail of special discounts. Think that your guests are making the effort to travel for your special day so it’s nice to have a venue within reach of major airport / transportation, venue with easy accessibility in case you have elderly or disabled guests travelling and also in a location where activities/visits can be done as your guests will certainly make it a mini-holiday at the same time (why not!). Organize a welcome dinner or cocktails the night before or even a brunch the next day for all guests or something special like a wine tasting or boat tour…Also, why not delivering welcome bags full of essentials in their rooms (example: bottle of water, sun cream, bug sprays, hangover kit…to name a few!), your guests will appreciate the kind gesture
Best way to ensure a smooth experience for your guests (who maybe have never been to your chosen wedding location or even travel outside their home country) is to create a Wedding Website full of information for them to access. There are plenty of free-tools which allow you to include the itinerary for the wedding day and pre-wedding activities, links to airlines and airports, ground transportation, accommodation options, things to do and see so your guests can have important information at the touch of a button. Alternatively, if some of your guests do not have internet access, you can always prepare a pack with all necessary information for them (map of town, number of doctors/emergency, visits to see, transportation, nearby supermarket, post office…) and detailed program of your scheduled event(s) etc.
All these little thoughtful things are what will make your wedding so memorable for your guests!
Photo credit: serendipitybydesign.com
Choose the Right Season/Date to Have your Wedding
Whilst it is all so delightful, a wedding abroad can be costly if you do not choose the right time to have it! Many venues have different prices according to the seasons (and sometimes according of the day of the week) so if you have a strict budget, be flexible with your date! Having a wedding in summer season will certainly be more expensive than having it lower season. You may also consider getting married midweek instead of weekend as some venues will have a minimum nights and/or number of guests requirements. It is important to check the regularities of the flights going to that chosen destination to ensure your families and guests can travel easily and have a minimal travel time from airport to venue.
Plan One (or Two) Site Inspection(s)
I would highly recommend it! Plan a visit in your chosen destination prior to booking your venue (where possible, of course!). All the lovely description and photos of your preferred venues have made you dreamy but at the end, it may not be what you envisioned! So best is to plan a visit with your Fiancé(e), it will give you a feel for the space and atmosphere of the venue, plus you can check out how accessible it is . If you don’t have time to fit suppliers’ meetings in your schedule, then book another visit to go and meet some potential suppliers and eventually do some menu tasting (yum!). If going abroad beforehand is not an option for you, then your wedding planner will gladly accept to check this out on your behalf.
Weather and Outdoor Ceremony…Be Warned!
You are probably dreaming of an outdoor wedding in a hot and sunny location, or on the beach…so my advice would be to book a ceremony after 4pm to avoid the heat, not only for you two standing in your wedding attires but also for your guests! Imagine having your granny at your wedding, for a certain length of time, outside in the sun at peak hours. Not ideal, right! So, there are little things you can plan ahead to ensure you and your guests have a wonderful outdoor ceremony: Consider the time of the ceremony, plan some essentials for your guests such as sun cream, bottle of water/cold drinks, fans, parasols/shades…
You can advise your guests that “it’s free choice of outfit” (forget the black tie /formal attires for your outdoor wedding!) and if you’re having a beach wedding, you can maybe opt for a “flip-flops station” before entering the ceremony area (having tons of sand in your shoes is not ideal!). Same for you, Brides & Grooms, whilst you may have always dreamed of this gorgeous fairy-tale satin gown and beautiful three pieces suit, you may want to think of a more relax, lighter and practical attire for you and your wedding party.
On the other hand, have a back-up plan in case the hot/sunny weather is not on your side this day! Oh yes, believe me, the weather is so unpredictable, even in the sunniest locations there are still possibility of showers, that having an indoor space just in case of rain, is a good idea.
Be Aware of Extras!
Research the area where you are getting married in, so you don’t get any surprises and get caught up with hidden charges! In some countries, you have an entertainment tax of a few hundred euros for playing music, which can vary by region. Some places will have a local stay tax of a few euros per person, per night. Or for example, if having the wedding cake-cutting in the gardens, by the swimming pool or on the beach, a venue may charge extra for the set-up. Some venues (for instance in some regions of France) may ask for the couple to avail of a Civil Insurance to host any event.
They might only be small charges but they can take your budget off track if you’re not careful! So again, the knowledge of a Wedding Planner would be very helpful, to ensure you have no hidden costs that come along the way.
If you are relaxed, your guests will be relaxed! Planning your wedding generally only happens once (hopefully!) so remember to take some time to relax and enjoy the planning process. Things might not go as planned, and if that happens, stay calm and carry on. The day of the wedding should be about you and your husband/wife to be. When you are in a foreign country, you take the risk that your expectations might not be met. Just get on with it; because it’s going to create memories that you will laugh about for years to come!
Need Help To Plan Your Dream Destination Wedding?
I hope you found some of the above tips and suggestions useful to help you plan your perfect destination wedding. Choosing the wedding location is always daunting as you’ll ever have one big day but if you would like to get help, then give me a call now on +353 85 866 0711 or contact me online here. Thanks, Edith.
After having worked in the Travel & Tourism industry for many years for renowned companies in France, Ireland and Australia and after gaining extensive experience in organising customers holidays, honeymoon and wedding packages abroad to perfection, I decided to combine my passion for weddings with my organisational skills, negotiation skills, creativity, dedication, attention to details and love for travelling to open my own business as a Destination Wedding Planner.