Planning a destination wedding can be a lot of work.
While you know that in the end, you'll be treated to an intimate celebration, in a special place, with (hopefully!) the sun shining and (preferably!) the wine/rum/local beers flowing, when you're in the planning and logistical stages, it can sometimes feel like maybe you should have just stayed at home.
But it doesn't have to be so tough! We've recruited an expert to help you on your way…
Emily of Weddings by Emily Charlotte is a luxury wedding planner and stylist, who specialises in celebrations in both Italy and the South of England.
She creates elegant, chic weddings for couples overseas, so knows all about the joys and woes involved in destination wedding planning. So, who better to lead you through the dos, and the don'ts to consider when getting married abroad.
Over to you Emily…
Top 10 Dos and Don’ts when Planning a Destination Wedding
1. DO think about why you want a destination wedding
You may know exactly where you envisage saying your vows (let’s be honest we’ve all thought about it!), but perhaps picking the perfect destination is a daunting task – you do have the whole world to choose from after all!
Start by asking yourself:
– Is there a country that’s special to you both?
– What type of venue do you imagine?
– How important to you is the weather?
– Do you want to elope, have a small and intimate wedding or ensure all your friends and family are there?
– Answering these questions with your fiancée will help to narrow down your choices and ensure you choose the ideal location for your destination wedding.
2. DON’T assume a destination wedding is a cheaper alternative
A common misconception is that getting married abroad is a cheaper alternative. This is not necessarily the case (sorry!).
As with any wedding, your total cost will depend on your preferences and the number of guests you would like.
Don’t be disheartened though, there is always something for every budget, just be realistic with your expectations.
3. DO send an early save the date
As exciting as they are, destination weddings are also be a big commitment for your guests.
Make sure you send out a Save The Date early on in the planning process (I know that at the moment it probably feels like an age until your big day) to ensure as many of your guests as possible can make the trip.
4. DON’T forget to do your research
It’s easy to get a little carried away with all the fun aspects of wedding planning– such as hours of Pinterest browsing (we’re all guilty), searching for the venue, choosing the catering and, of course, finding THE dress.
However, do not neglect your research and consider the following:
– What local laws should you be aware of?
– Can you have a legal wedding in the country of your choice?
– What paperwork is required and in what timeframes?
Whilst it might be a bit tedious now, it’s much better to find out these things early on then when you fly out to get married.
5. DO consider traditions, both home and away
There are a number of traditions associated with weddings; it’s important that you consider which of these (if any) you would like to factor into your wedding; does the fact that you’re getting married abroad affect any of these?
Equally, find out what traditions there are in your destination country, you may want to include some of these into your day to give it a unique and authentic difference.
For example, if you’re getting married in Italy, perhaps swap a traditional harpist for a mandolin player when you’re walking down the aisle.
6. DON’T underestimate the temperature
If you’re having a destination wedding the likelihood is you’re dreaming of a beautiful sunny day (especially if, like me, you’re from the UK – us Brits love to focus on the weather), and who can blame you?
Just don’t underestimate how hot your destination country will be in the height of day; consider having your ceremony after 4pm, anything earlier than this will be too hot for everyone; for you in your wedding dress, for your guests sitting out in full sunlight and for your groom in his suit.
Whilst on that note, suggest to your fiancée that he and his groomsmen switch the usual three-piece suit for linen instead.
7. DO Create a wedding website
One of the best things you can do for a destination wedding is create a wedding website; there are plenty of tools out there that will allow you to do this for free.
It’s is the perfect place for:
– Wedding details
– Accommodation suggestions
– Car hire companies
– Things to do in the area
– Local laws that your guests should be aware of
– Your gift list
This will save each of your guests asking you the same question and prevent you from feeling like a tour guide!
8. DON’T rule out suppliers at home
You may have a photographer whose work you have always loved but now you’re getting married abroad you couldn’t possibly use them for your wedding, right?
Wrong…you’d be surprised how many suppliers are willing to travel.
Of course, it wouldn’t be practical to take everyone over, and in some cases using local suppliers is just easier, but if you have your heart set on a particular supplier, and you’re willing to cover their travel costs, then you might find they’re more than happy to make the trip…all you need to do is ask.
9. DO hire a wedding planner
Okay so perhaps I’m a little biased, but this is where hiring a planner is really worth the investment.
Destination planners will specialize in a particular location, for me it’s Italy. This means we tend to be familiar with not just the area but also the paperwork required, have tried and tested venues and know which suppliers are reliable.
A planner will cost a similar amount to your other suppliers but will save you many hours of time and stress.
10. DON’T forget to have fun
This is your wedding day, no doubt you have thought about it many times over the years so now that it’s here, enjoy it.
The planning process is just as important as the day itself; make an occasion of key stages such as shopping for the wedding rings.
Without realising it you’ll be creating memories that you look back on just as fondly as you do your wedding day.
So many great tips!
The one about sending your Save the Dates out early is such an important one – I love the idea of taking some suppliers with you too, and as for hiring a planner, as Emily said, she might be biased, (but we're not!) and it really is such a good idea, it will save you so many headaches, especially if you're not too familiar with the region you're getting married in.
Thanks so much to Emily for sharing her wisdom. Visit Weddings by Emily Charlotte's website to see her beautiful events, and be sure to stop by and say hello to her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Check out our Step-by-Step Planning Guide for more great advice.