How to Organise a Wedding Abroad

Rea Shaw destination wedding wedding abroad

Thinking of planning a wedding abroad? Asking yourself where do we start? When do we start planning, and how much will it cost?  
I have some top tips for you to consider before you start delving in deep, in hope to   
make sure you are well covered for all those burning questions you need answering.
First things first, deciding where you want to get married, it maybe a meaningful location where your partner popped the question or it maybe somewhere you love spending time on your holidays.
Pick your Timing
Think about the time of year you want your wedding to be, consider what the weather will be like and also ask yourself, will it be in peak holiday time for tourists. It may be cheaper to plan your wedding out of peak season and when it is not the country's hottest time of the year. 
Consider informing your guests well in advance, they will need to sort out travel arrangements and accommodation to attend the wedding with minimal stress involved. It is highly likely they have not been to your chosen location before, so it would be really helpful to supply them with as much information as possible, like the local amenities, recommend hotels, and taxi company's. Setting up a wedding website is great way of having all the details and information in one place for them to check in whenever they need to.
Hire a Pro
You may find this will be well worth your money in the long run, hiring a professional who specialises in destination weddings may save you a lot of stress whilst planning. Sometimes decisions will need to be made, and without you being there in person may cause issues, where as if a pro is on hand, they will take care of it for you.
Visit in Advance
You will most definitely want to see the venue before booking your wedding day there. It is not advisable to of had a great holiday there and then book your wedding a year later without seeing it again, a lot can change in that time. So make sure to visit a few times before committing to also get familiar with the area and the people.
Choose your Vendors in Person
When you go for your pre-wedding visit, it is a good idea to arrange meetings with several suppliers who can help you with your day. Meeting them in person will help put you at ease, and know who you are dealing with. Ask your venue for recommendations too, as they may have worked with them before to give you a better idea what they are like.
If you choose to take vendors with you, expect to pay their travel and accommodation expenses.
Research Marriage Requirements
The legal side of tying the knot can be complicated as it may differ from country to country, so make sure to do your research and find out the facts properly well ahead of time. One of our real brides highlights this point later with their own experience.
Whether your destination wedding is on a sandy beach or in a tropical rainforest, use the setting to your advantage. The beauty of the location will speak for itself, work with the natural elements you have been given. For example, if your getting married in Italy you could use olive branches and grapes to decorate, saving you money in the long run.
Embrace the local specialities for guests to dine with to give them the full experience. Again considering your surroundings and what is in season, let the caterer advise you.
Dress Code
Consider finding a wedding dress that is made from lightweight, breathable material if getting married in a very hot climate. The last thing you want, is to feel uncomfortable in the heat.
A top tip is to carry your dress on the plane with you when travelling, that way you are avoiding disappointment if they lost your suitcase! Make sure the venue has someone who can press it for you on arrival.
Be Decisive
Not to stress you out, as I'm sure you wouldn't ever consider a destination wedding if you didn't think you could take it on! You are going to have to be twice as organised as a 'normal couple' getting this wedding to happen the way you want. As long as you follow all the tips and do your research you will undoubtedly have the best wedding. As long as you don't let the thought of the distance stress you out you will be absolutely fine.
I asked two real brides what their experience of planning a wedding abroad was like to give you a helpful insight if this something you are considering for yourselves. They give helpful tips and useful advice on what you may want to consider before you start the process.
2018 Bride Lauren shares her experience with us..
I asked Lauren, why did you decide on a destination wedding?
We chose to get married abroad after I had always had it set in my mind that I wanted a destination wedding following a wedding I had been to in France. I loved everything about it and knew I wanted something similar, I just didnt know where.
Then when we booked a holiday to Croatia (not expecting anything except a cheap holiday) I absolutely fell in love with the island we were staying on. It was beautiful and I knew then that this is where I wanted to get married.
I didn't want something typical so a hotel wedding was out, although it was through the hotel that our wedding was organised as they owned the private villa that we chose for the reception.
Lauren, what have you learned from your experience from having a destination wedding?
Having a destination wedding is quite a lot more challenging than having a UK wedding, simply as you don't have instant access to all the different suppliers and locations (if searching for a location)
We found that using a wedding planner was ideal and made everything very easy for us. She gave us options on everything so that we didn't feel as though we just had to go along with one set package.
Also with regards to choosing a location, we already knew where we wanted as we had been there before but for the actual ceremony we chose a special viewpoint on the island that we hadn't actually visited. It wasn't until we took a pre-wedding trip to tie up loose ends that we realised we didn't actually like the viewpoint and changed our ceremony location to the botanical gardens. Based on this, I would say it's so important to take a wedding planning trip to the location even if you have been before as there may be things you don't quite remember the same.
Any key points that you think other couples should be aware of?
Paperwork!! So if you do get a wedding planner they will be able to talk you through the process and let you know exactly what you need and by when. Some places you have to be legally married in the UK first, and some places you have to spend a certain number of days in the country prior to the legal ceremony but luckily for us neither of those applied.
The paperwork deadlines were quite complex though and we actually misjudged how long having some of the documents signed for would take and almost missed our deadlines so this is something you really need to be on top of and it can be quite stressful.

Also, something to be aware of is the reception location and how you want the set up to be, you will have to be honest with your wedding planner or plan in plenty of  time for set up. The only thing I would change is being present for the set up, as it wasn't quite how I wanted it when I left it to the planners.
Be careful with what you want for the setup also, as you will more than likely have to carry a lot of things over with you in suitcases. Whatever you can source over there or hire through a wedding planner is best.
Another thing I must stress is to have all finances in place before the wedding. We had some outstanding payments, plus we booked some last minute things the week of the wedding so the day after our wedding we spent a couple of hours with finance to sort it out and it all got a bit messy because of language barrier. Bring all tour documents, emails and payment confirmations just in case there is a mix up (which in our case there was).

What were all the plus points about it?
The plus points is literally choosing any destination you want. For us we found our abroad wedding to be quite cheap (although we did keep it intimate) but I imagine some of the more renowned wedding locations can be costly.
Something we loved about our wedding was that it wasn't just the wedding day. We had a few days with our guests before and after the wedding day which was like one big holiday together and was a lot of fun. On this point though I will say we arrived 5 days before our wedding and I was hopeful for sunbathing, relaxation etc but in reality this didnt happen. We had to spend the day with planners to complete paperwork, we also had to ensure we were around for our guests at all times as we had people arriving everyday so it wasn't as relaxing as I expected.

Lauren's final note was,
' If I could do it all over again I would still choose exactly the same.'
2019 Bride Nikki also shares her experience with us..
2019 Bride Nikki got married in Mauritius on an exclusive small island with 12 people in attendance our immediate family and best friends. 

So Nikki tell us why did you decide to get married abroad?

We decided to get married abroad as we wanted a small and intimate wedding with our family and close friends. Also, we love our holidays so it just seemed fitting and we didn’t think we would ever get a chance to have both of our families on holiday with each other again so it seemed like the perfect idea! We also thought if we did it this way we could then have a wedding reception once we were home so we could celebrate with everyone who did not come abroad with us. This way, we had the best of both worlds and I also got to wear my dress again! 

What have you learned from your experience from having a destination wedding?

Not to stress about the little things. The wedding coordinator’s organise weddings every day so they know what they are doing, put your trust in them and everything will turn out perfectly.

Any key points that you think other couples should be aware of?

Enjoy it as much as you can as time really does fly, enjoy every minute of wedding planning as it is over before you know it. Also, try not to take on too much, if friends or family offer help and you feel as though you are struggling, take their advice and help as you will feel the benefit and it will make you feel better. 

And of course, what are all the plus points?

The weather and it is also a lovely time to have all of your family on holiday together in one place for a long period of time. It is also less stressful!

Click here to read more about Nikki's Wedding Day.


I think you will all agree there are some great tips and advice from both our real brides here, their experience speaks for itself. If you have anything you would like to add and would love to join in the conversation, please leave your comments below.



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