Destination weddings can be an absolute dream (just check out our destination real weddings!) but planning a wedding abroad can be a bit daunting as well. As with all wedding decisions, it’s essential to do your homework when it comes to planning your wedding abroad – think about the weather, the time of the year (peak season and local holidays can mean accommodation is more expensive and restaurants and suppliers are busier), research airlines and flight times, the distance to and from the airport (give yourself enough time to get there and acclimatise) and even things like baggage restrictions if you plan on bringing a ton of stuff with you.
And of course hiring a wedding planner should be top of the to-do list. A good wedding planner is an absolute must – your wedding planner will be able to help you tackle absolutely everything. They know the country, culture, language and the way weddings work over there (including any little added benefits) and have invaluable advice, particularly when it comes to the likes of paperwork if you’re hoping to have your ceremony abroad as well. And with Skype and FaceTime, it’s just as easy to keep in touch with your wedding planer and make decisions as it is at home. We spoke to wedding planners Ketti from Infinity Wedding & Events in Italy and Petra from I Do Knot in Malta who had the following useful tips and advice for couples planning a wedding abroad…
Weddings Abroad Suppliers & Services
Ketti from Infinity Wedding & Events – View Profile
1. Hire a reliable wedding planner. Planning a wedding abroad is amazing but it can be a bit more complicated than organising a wedding in the country you live in due to the distance and language barriers. So let a professional help you with this amazing journey, you will enjoy it a lot more if you are assisted professionally every step of the way.
2. When it comes to the wedding location, do not trust advertisements and pictures online too much. We all have a look at Facebook and various social media profiles when it comes to considering a venue for a wedding. But often a well kept image on the social channels doesn’t correspond to reality, because it is very easy to communicate only the good qualities online. Let your on site planner tell you how a venue REALLY is, with its pros and cons. And this point takes us to tip 3.
3. Plan a visit to the country you wish to get married in some months before your wedding. Meeting your planner, visiting a selection of venues, tasting food, all these activities will allow you to ‘stay in touch’ with the planning process and let you appreciate the choices you are making.
4. If you’re having a legally binding ceremony, check with your wedding planner which documents you need. He or she will explain everything and guide you through this process, so you can be sure to produce all the required paperwork.
5. Finally, never forget that you are creating the experience of a lifetime. A wedding abroad is such an amazing occasion for you and your families and friends and a chance to live unforgettable moments that you will cherish forever: it’s not ‘only’ about the wedding day, it’s a trip you all take together in a wonderful country where you can relax and enjoy quality time together. So never forget that you are creating something magnificent!
Petra from I Do Knot Malta – View Profile
1. Pick a local expert planner – a local expert who is familiar with the destination and even more importantly, based there, will help alleviate stress and save you time (and money) when you start the planning process. You should ensure that you contact a number of wedding planners and ask for proposals and ideas. When you start going into more detail, ask for a Skype call and prepare any questions or thoughts to put forward and discuss in real time. A wedding is a very personal event and you will know whether you ‘click’ with the planner from the initial stages.
2. Although this is not really necessary, it is very much recommended to visit the actual destination you pick for your wedding day if you have the budget to do so. Nowadays destination weddings can be easily planned via emails and Skype calls but being able to fit in a couple of days just to travel to the destination, meet your planner and see the different settings and venues in person would make all the difference. It’s one thing seeing them in pictures, but it could take a completely different direction seeing them in real life.
3. Whether you are getting married at home or abroad, setting a budget is always important. Destination weddings are sometimes preferred because you can get away with inviting less people to the wedding with the excuse that “you’re getting married abroad and want to keep it intimate”. Additionally a budget will instantly give your destination wedding planner an indication of what venues and services can be offered. The planner will also come in handy when it comes to price negotiations as they normally have a core group of vendors they often work with and would have preferential prices already in hand.
4. Another reason you may consider to keep costs low is to go for a mid-week wedding. This normally will provide you with better deals from local vendors due to the fact that mid-week weddings are fillers to local vendors. Weekends are the first to be booked up by locals wanting to get married, in some countries like Malta for example, local weddings can be booked 2 to 3 years in advance. Plus it doesn’t really matter which day you get married in as you and your guests are on holiday anyway!
5. There are certain things you should consider when picking out your dress. If you have opted for a beach wedding, a more casual, flowing gown will be easier to manage. Also if you opt for a church wedding, make sure the dress respects the dress code accordingly (this could simply mean adding a light shawl that you would use only during your religious ceremony). Weather is another important factor to take into consideration – although the ceremony would probably start later in the day, you need to ensure that you are comfortable at any time of the day especially in the heat. In terms of travelling, NEVER pack your dress in your suitcase in case your luggage is lost in transit. Inform the shop assistant where you buy your dress that you need it packed for travel and they will provide you with a travel-friendly bag so you can carry it with you as extra hand luggage.
6. The paperwork – Every country has its own requirements and this is where a planner will definitely come in handy. Make sure you ask your questions about what is required in preparation for a religious or civil wedding accordingly as this might influence the country you decide on. Some countries are definitely easier to get married in than others and this is especially valid in English-speaking countries where you wouldn’t need a translator to translate your documents before submission and you may not require a translator for the ceremony.
7. Destination weddings can be great fun as they enable you to experience a new location with your loved ones. Part of the fun comes from embracing aspects of lifestyle, culture and food typical to this location. I love to suggest different settings to my foreign couples and try to steer away from venues that can be easily found at home, because why bother going away for your wedding and have an exact replica of a wedding you would have at home?
8. Do it Your Way! When you break the news to your immediate family or friends that you are considering going away for your wedding, you might get different reactions. Ultimately you have to remember that this is YOUR day and if going away is what the two of you would like, then go for it! The last thing you want is to look back and regret that you didn’t pursue the idea of a destination wedding or opted for a traditional wedding at home because it seemed ‘easier’ and more accepted.
PSST! Once you do decide on your destination wedding make sure to send a Save the Date – this will give guests plenty of time to arrange holidays and get booking! Check out some pretty options here!
Main Photo from Melissa & Ralph’s real wedding by Algarve Weddings by Rebecca
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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.