Destination weddings can make for a truly wonderful affair! With more and more couples choosing to tie the knot abroad, speaking from personal experience, guest blogger Aideen McCanny shares her top 10 tips for saying “I do” abroad!
1) Location, location, location
The destination of your wedding determines so many factors such as the mood of your big day, travel, time and budget. It should reflect your personality as a couple. My husband and I choose a rural village in the south of France. We held both our ceremony and reception in a rustic garden, complete with lashing of bunting, wild flowers and a vintage vibe. One of the comments shared by many of our guests was that our wedding was so us! Make sure your chosen venue speaks volumes of you as a couple.
2) Timing is key
The best weather in foreign destinations often correlates with tourist season which means you’ll need to book the venue and reserve accommodation well in advance. Remember to send save the dates to guests as soon as the date is set. A destination wedding requires planning from your guests too. When we told our family and friends we were planning a destination wedding, we made the process as simple as possible by providing them with information on flights, any travel arrangements and accommodation details.
3) Take a trip
If the venue is new to you, try to pay it a visit. Meeting staff, seeing the venue and working out logistics such as distance from the airport will help put your mind at ease. You can even book hair and make-up trials when you are there and arrange a consultation with your florist. We planned our wedding in just six months and so a visit to our venue wasn’t possible. In this case, ensure you get plenty of up-to-date photos, testimonials from other brides and grooms and set out exactly what you expect from your venue. Ensure each vendor draws up a contract outlying every detail including payment terms.
4) Research local marriage requirements
The legality of tying the knot outside of the UK can be complicated. Many countries have residency requirements, such as 24 hours in Turkey. In our case, residency in France is 40 days which simply wasn’t possible for us. We were happy to take care of the legal side of things at home and still had a ceremony with all our family and friends in France.
5) Hire a wedding planner
Language barrier and time zone differences can be an issue so you may need to place your trust in the hands of a wedding planner to take care of the finer details. The key here is communication… and Pinterest! I’m sure many of you brides don’t need me to tell you about the powers of Pinterest in planning your wedding! For me, I couldn’t have got married without it. I sent photos of exactly what I wanted for flowers, cake, decor and even hair and make-up so there were no unexpected surprises on the day!
6) Book a photographer you trust
No doubt you’ll want photos that truly capture the essence of your special day. Bringing your photographer with you is a great idea. You avoid the language barrier, can get to know each other before you go through doing a pre-wedding shoot and the process of selecting your images and your album is a lot more straightforward. If wedding photos are important to you, meet your photographer in advance. If this isn’t possible, ask tons of questions, look through examples of work and set up a Skype call. This is a great way to determine how you feel about your photographer. I offer this advice from experience. Unfortunately we didn’t meet our photographer until the evening before the wedding and there were instant personality conflicts, shall we say! A quick Skype call before booking would have showed this! Sure, we got some great shots but I feel that with a different photographer they could have been amazing! Also, if your photographer offers the option to create your wedding album, take it! We decided we’d do our own and needless to say nine months later we still haven’t.
7) Forewarn your party
Before you ask your wedding party to fulfil certain duties, warn them of your decision to wed abroad. It won’t come as a shock and they’ll already have decided if they will be attending. Don’t be surprised or upset if not all of your family and friends can attend. Remember, it’s a big ask of people to travel abroad for a wedding.
8) Dress the part
Factors including climate are a key part in determining what you and your guests will wear. Getting married on a beach might not be the ideal location to show off a heavily embellished tulle tired ballgown. I choose an elegant, flowing Grecian style Anoushka G gown, which kept me cool when the sun shone. Don’t be afraid to break the rules! My leading ladies wore short floral dresses paired with Vivienne Westwood shoes which maybe isn’t a look I would have chosen for a ceremony at home, but which was very fitting for our location. Also, don’t forget about the men! Three-piece black tuxs might not be ideal in the basking sun!
9) Don’t invite to be polite
If the reason you are planning destination nuptials is because you want a small wedding, don’t feel pressured to invite hundreds of people out of politeness!
10) Stay cool!
A lot of planning will be out of your control so keep a cool head at all times. Keep in constant contact with your vendors and be clear about what you want from the offset. This is the recipe for a truly memorable day!