I’m Emily Charlotte, owner and primary planner at Weddings by Emily Charlotte. I am lucky enough to plan beautiful weddings in both the UK (where I call home!) and in Italy, so I’m familiar with the ‘home or away?’ destination wedding dilemma that brides and grooms-to-be regularly face.
It’s a tough decision, so how do you know which is the right option for you…home, or away? Consider these five key points before you decide.
1. Are You A ‘Hands-on’ Couple?
Every bride, or groom-to-be, is partial to a little control freak moment every now and again, and to be honest, that’s expected! You’re only going to do this once, so you want it to be perfect, right?
However, some couples like to be more hands-on, than others. A destination wedding may mean you have to relinquish some control; to some, this is a blessing in disguise, to others, it will fill them with horror!
When getting married at home, wedding planning can feel a lot easier to navigate; you can pop over to the venue as and when you want (within reason of course!), you may have suppliers in mind already and it’s unlikely there will be any language barrier. You can take a very hands-on approach if you so wish.
Compare this to a wedding abroad, unless you have an unlimited budget and no problems getting time off work, it’s likely that you will only be able to visit your chosen wedding once or twice before the big day which can make the whole thing seem a little more daunting.
A wedding planner is pretty much a necessity and there will be reliance on that planner for just about everything – supplier recommendations, assisting with language and cultural differences and of course, helping you to visualise everything coming together.
If you’re the type of couple who want to be fully immersed in the planning and have the freedom to visit the venue and communicate with suppliers as you wish, then perhaps a wedding at home may be for you.
If however, you’re happy to pass your wedding planning woes onto a professional who can assist, then a destination wedding is absolutely worth your consideration.
2. The (Not So Simple) Guest List
Your guest list opinion may strongly influence where you decide to have your wedding as there are several things to think about; predominantly, will all or the majority of your friends and family (including elderly relatives) be able to make the trip abroad, and if not, are you okay with that?
If the answer is no, then a wedding at home may be preferable. If a wedding abroad is your dream, and you’re willing to accept a few people may not be able to make the financial or time commitment then go for it!
Whether you get married at home or abroad a 100% RSVP rate is unlikely, but it is something to consider as a destination wedding is a little more to ask of your loved ones.
One thing to note – never make the mistake of inviting all those people that you don’t really want to invite because ‘they won’t come if it’s abroad’. From experience, most probably will and then you’re left with budget challenges, to say the least!
3. Check Into The Legalities
If you’re getting married at home then your options for the ceremony should be fairly straightforward; and the chances are you can have a legal wedding either at your chosen wedding venue or very close by.
By comparison, there may be restrictions in your chosen destination that limit whether you can have a legally recognised wedding either in the country or more specifically within the grounds of your chosen venue.
Rules may differ from your home country, and will vary based on the type of ceremony that you want, so make sure you do your research on this before committing to anything and consider how flexible you are (or aren’t!) with regards to your ceremony just in case you need to fit around any local restrictions.
4. Consider The Length Of Your Celebrations
One of the biggest plus points to a destination wedding is the fact you get to have a mini-holiday with your best friends and family! Many couples who get married abroad also host a pre-wedding welcome cocktail evening, or casual dinner. This is the perfect opportunity for your guests to get to know one another a little before the main day.
If your budget allows, then you can also consider hosting a post-wedding lunch or BBQ around the pool to help everyone recover from the night before!
Of course, it’s also possible to do this with a wedding at home, but with a destination wedding you know you’ve got everyone’s undivided attention for at least a couple of nights – so if you want to make the most of that then a wedding abroad is a great option.
5. Are You Doing It For The Right Reasons?
This is perhaps the most important thought: WHY are you considering a wedding abroad?
Is it because you love your chosen destination? Have a specific vision for your wedding? Have special memories there? Want to celebrate with your friends and family for as long as possible?
If yes to any of the above, then these are the right reasons to think about getting married abroad – it’s what you want, and ultimately that is what your wedding is about.
There are of course other reasons why you might consider getting married abroad…
To avoid guest list politics at home? Because it’s a cheaper alternative? Just to do something different?
These maybe aren’t the right reasons to consider a destination wedding. Much of the wedding planning process works the same way whether you’re at home or away, you’ll still have guest list dilemmas with a destination wedding and usually, the only reason a wedding abroad may be more cost effective is that the guest list tends to be smaller.
Above everything, the deciding factor really should be what is right for the two of you? Usually, when you stick to this principle, everything else falls into place as it should.