Saying 'I Do' Abroad: Our Guide for planning the perfect destination wedding!
Whether you choose to say Si, Shi or Oui - planning a destination wedding can be a challenging adventure. From finding the right hair and makeup artist to transporting your guests, we take a look at some of the biggest pit-falls of planning a wedding abroad - and how to avoid them!
Choosing the perfect place for your Destination Wedding!
First of all, choose a destination abroad that means something to you and your partner. For my husband John & I, it was the place we fell in love. For others it's a way to celebrate their family heritage; one of my friends chose to have her wedding at Cameron House on Loch Lomond in Scotland. A beautiful and emotional tribute to her mum who had recently passed away.
If it's sun your after, other brides and grooms opt for breathtaking venues that are going to give them the best chance for good weather! My friend Tash chose the idyllic white island of Formentera, Ibiza where the boutique venue Gecko Beach was small enough to give her exclusivity with a stunning backdrop. Read more about Tasha's Destination Wedding here!
Whatever your reasons, picking a wedding destination that's special to you will give your guests a great incentive to save up and make the trip for your big day.
Logistics, Logistics, Logistics
So you've picked your destination and are on the hunt for the perfect venue! If it's somewhere you've travelled to before, then you might already have a setting in mind. While if it's somewhere new you're planning to say your i-do's (especially if you're booking it online) you might want to consider the following tips before making your choice;
- Legality: Some venues/countries do not allow foreign couples to marry there legally. Make sure you're clued up on your options prior to booking. (Find out more on the UK government website here)
- Accessibility: Is it easy for guests to reach? Is there a local taxi rank? If not, how is adding extra transport/accommodation going to affect your budget?
- Time-constraints: Do you have access to the venue beforehand for decorations/last minute plans? Does the venue require everyone to be gone by a certain time/or for outdoor music to end before midnight?
- Functionality: Does it have space to accommodate your guests and all your ideas? If you're planning a photo session make sure there are some scenic spots or arrange to have them done elsewhere.
- Most of all - do you love it? It's easy to get carried away walking around a beautiful venue, but take some time to weigh up all the pros and cons before you commit. Your day will be more all the more stress-free if you've anticipated some of the drawbacks.
Let the Wedding Planning Begin!
Finally, it's time to start the planning. Now while the internet is a wonderful thing, there are some things it won't be able to help you with when planning your Destination Wedding. Menu tasting, for example, is best left to humans! Allowing yourself the opportunity to visit your wedding destination before the big day is going to help you in so many ways.
Five benefits of a 'Wedding Reccy'
- You can get to meet the local suppliers. For whatever reason, building a face-to-face connection with someone will help you make personal decisions. From choosing wedding flowers or deciding which DJ to book, you'll get a better feel for what suits you as a couple.
- Some time for just the two of you. Once your guests start to arrive, it'll be all-hands-on-deck! So having some time at your destination for just you and your partner will allow you to prioritise what's really important to you both on the day.
- Its a chance to choose the best room for your hair and makeup. As all brides know, how you look on your big day is extremely important. Try to find a room with good natural light & plenty of space for you to get glammed up with your Gemma Sutton artist (Shameless plug alert!)
- You can trial the local transport. If your venue is hard to get to or reliant on public transport, you can advise your guests before to pre-book taxi's or allow extra time on their journey's.
- Feeling familiar with your destination wedding will make it feel like home. Being somewhere that makes you feel comfortable can really help you relax and tackle any pre-wedding nerves. (Read more about wedding nerves and how to handle them here)
Of course, the advantages of pre-visiting your venue are endless (you can never be too prepared). However, if you are short on time, write a list of your priorities and what you want to achieve on the trip. This will help you stay focused and avoid any panics when you get home.
Entertaining your guests
Finally, don't forget about your guests. If you're lucky enough to have friends and family who can travel to be with you on your special day, show them how much you appreciate their efforts. Karen & Tom who got married in Loch Lomond, treated us all to a Whisky Tour as a thank you for travelling at Christmas. Tash & David in Formentera hosted a welcome BBQ with a free bar the night before their wedding.
Working on a plan?
Your guests have no doubt gone to great efforts to be there because they love you both. However, it never goes unnoticed when the bride and groom show their gratitude. If you're working on a plan, try designing a leaflet to recap any useful information for your travelling guests. I did something similar which included our top restaurant tips and a rundown of the wedding day. I even put in some advice I thought would be useful for those travelling with children. The leaflets were posted out a week before the wedding and our guests were so grateful for the gesture. It even reduced the work for me when we got there as everyone had all the important info to hand.
Do's and Don'ts....
There are plenty, too much to go into here so we dedicated a full post to this - you can find that here in "The Do's and Don'ts onDestinations Wedding Hair and Makeup.....
Take a breath and enjoy......
Above all, don't expect everything to run perfectly. As with a wedding at home, things will go wrong on the day that you cannot help. The wonderful thing about getting married abroad is the holiday-vibe that relaxes all your guests. So if there are any mishaps, just sit back and relax.... Ces't La Vie!