The last few years have seen lots of Irish couples jet off for a new life abroad – some for an adventure, others to pursue opportunities they just didn’t have at home. But with the majority of friends and family still back here in Ireland, when it comes to tying the knot, lots of couples have their heart set on a wedding at home.
While planning a wedding from a different country would have seemed like a mammoth task a few years ago with time differences and the like, technology and new online platforms have made it SO much easier. Irish venues and suppliers are now well used to dealing with couples that are planning a wedding in Ireland from abroad and pull out at the stops to ensure it’s a stress free experience. We’ve enlisted the help of Liam from Castle Oaks Country House Hotel, Virginia from Ballinacurra House and Jacinta from The Lodge at Ashford Castle who have some brilliant tips for couples living abroad…
Liam from Castle Oaks Country House Hotel, Limerick – View Profile
Organising your wedding should be an enjoyable process, free of stress and worry about how it will all work out on the day. This should be the case even when you are planning your Big Day from abroad! There are some simple tips and guidelines that, if followed, will take all the stress out of the planning and, indeed, once you have chosen the best team you can, the planning process will become a relaxed and enjoyable experience for you both. The most important thing I can say to any couple living abroad is give yourself plenty of time! It will take a little bit longer to plan the perfect wedding day from a distance.
1. Technology has advanced so much in the last 10 years, making the task of wedding planning so much easier. You will find everything that you need and want to know by googling it! Prioritise! Start with the most important items first.
2. Use forums and review sites to see if the suppliers you are considering have a good rating. BUT always trust your own judgement and instincts! Websites like weddingsonline are a fantastic source of reputable suppliers and real wedding stories. And Youtube is particularly helpful when you are choosing entertainers and would like to see them perform first.
3. I find Skype to be an amazing tool when working with couples who are living abroad. I have become a dab hand at ‘Skype viewings’ and ‘Skype consultations’. It makes life a lot easier for you when you choose a venue or supplier than can facilitate this for you. As a wedding professional with over 18 years experience, I would encourage you to take into account the time difference and choose a venue/supplier that will be available to speak to you outside of the 9-5, Monday to Friday, working week.
5. Email is a fantastic way of keeping in contact and sharing information with all your suppliers for everything from quick, spur of the moment questions to far more serious items like contracts, accommodation lists and menus.
6. Weddings are an exciting time for all your family and friends, and they are only too happy to help! Choose a small ‘Wedding Team’ from members of your family or friends. Ask them to engage with your selected shortlist of suppliers and give you their honest opinions. BUT again, trust your own judgement and instincts. Give your ‘home team’ a list of your questions to ask each supplier. Try not to involve too many people as it is more difficult to make final decisions when there are too many opinions to consider!
7. Finally, try to make at least one trip home either at the early stages of planning or midway through the process. It’s good to meet everyone involved in person and you will be able to iron out any issues that aren’t to your satisfaction in plenty of time! Congratulations, enjoy and the very best of luck!
Virginia from Ballinacurra House, Cork – View Profile
At Ballinacurra service is a huge part of the experience. We believe that from the moment a guest arrives at the property, staff should know their names and welcome them with 5 star service. This has become a huge talking point for guests when they are leaving because it really personalises the experience for them. This is very important for guests that are travelling from abroad because often they are not as familiar with the local area and sometimes are even speaking a different language. So it is essential for us to make them feel at home.
The biggest service promise we make is actually to the couple. When you book at Ballinacurra you are assigned a planning expert specifically for your wedding. Orela or Mary from the planning team will guide you and help you to fast-track all elements of your wedding planning. Detailed planning documents and budgets are prepared right from the beginning and this really helps the couple to stay on track both mentally and financially. Couples should be able to show up on the day without a stress or a worry. The only way this can happen is with this expert planning support. Every detail is covered and every option is discussed well in advance so that the couple can be in the moment, enjoying every second of the day.
Technology plays a big part as well. We use drone footage to showcase the property to clients from abroad so that they can see every inch of the property, without having to actually be here. The planning system that we have developed over the years is so well tuned now that very often a few Skype calls or telephone calls can quickly streamline the important stuff, allowing both the planning team and the couple to use their time more efficiently and smartly.
Another area that can really help couples is our preferred suppliers. Again, we like to help the couple to short circuit all the hours they can lose trying to source suppliers. We have always had a policy of only working with the best suppliers in the industry and that are priced fairly. So tapping into our key suppliers can save the couple a huge amount of time and stress. We get a good feel for the style they are going for and then we can advise on the best suppliers to execute their dreams.
Jacinta from The Lodge at Ashford Castle, Mayo – View Profile
Here at The Lodge we have a number of couples that are living abroad and planning their wedding here at home and it can be so difficult so we try to do anything we can to make it a little easier.
1. The first thing we would suggest is having someone based at home that you can rely on to visit venues. We usually find that parents or siblings, especially mothers and sisters are very good for this. Supply them with a list of general questions that you would like answered in the initial visit and it will give you a good idea when comparing venues.
2. From there we like to do phone calls with the couple, the time difference can be difficult but we are very flexible with our hours to try to suit the couple.
3. Facetime or Skype can be a great tool – when explaining about the venue, the couple can actually see it and envision what their day would be like at our venue. We have previously conducted an entire showaround over Facetime and it worked very well for that couple in particular who had never been to the venue before.
4. Also very helpful in this instance is to supply the couple with images of previous wedding set-ups so they can see the room and what it would look like on their day, sometimes the explanation just isn’t enough and a picture speaks a thousand words!
5. For a couple organising the wedding from abroad it can be difficult to find suppliers for the day so we would supply them with a list of suppliers that are based in the area, have been to The Lodge before and we have found to be excellent. It gives the couple a point to start from and also the peace of mind that the hotel stands behind these particular suppliers.
6. The final thing we would say to our couples that are abroad is to rely on us as much as they need to! We have organised many weddings and are here for any advice or support you may need. It might not even have anything to do with the hotel but we have plenty of experience and are here to help wherever we can! All questions are welcome and constant contact will give you more and more confidence as time goes on.
Main photo: Invitation by Splash Graphics
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Pamela enjoys writing about all things decor (she loves buying it too) and has a not so secret addiction to stationery.