A Guide to Getting Married Abroad :: Bewildered Bride
November 11, 2017

A Guide to Getting Married Abroad

By Lucy Bennett of The Boutique Wedding Co. 

So for years you’ve been dreaming about getting married abroad. A destination wedding that’ll be unique, stylish, romantic and fun. Incorporating all of the things you love most in this world. Your closest family & friends, your favourite location, decorated to perfection with wonderful music, delicious food and drinks and the making of unforgettable memories!

It’s guaranteed that most people you invite will be over the moon and see this as a great opportunity for a once in a lifetime holiday with amazing family & friends! For some others, many questions will come to mind: how much will it cost, how much time off work will they need. If they have children, are the kids invited and does the wedding fall within the school holidays? Then there is researching the flights, hotels and what to wear!  So many things to consider in their already busy, busy lives!

So, how to make this all happen easily, stress free and without upsetting your beloved guests? Just follow this guide from The Boutique Wedding Co. and bring your dream of a perfect destination wedding to life!! Ensuring an amazing, unforgettable experience for you and your guests.

Plan Ahead

Getting Married Abroad

There is no question about it, planning ahead when you are getting married abroad is the best advice you can receive. Wedding venues, photographers and accommodation can all get booked up 12-18 months in advance. There’s passport arrangements to make, holiday time from work, booking flights and all of the suppliers are just a few things you’ll need to handle well in advance of your big day. Send your save-the-dates out as soon as you confirm your wedding date, possibly 12-10 months in advance and ensure your invitations go out at least 6 months prior.

Review Your Guest List Early

You must make a head count before deciding on your venue and location. You might think only a few people can make it and then be happily surprised that everyone wants to share your special day with you. The numbers will affect the decisions you make, including which venue you will chose and your wedding planner will not be able to cost up anything for you with out some estimated numbers.

Hire a Wedding Planner

I know what your thinking, of course I would tell you to hire a planner but really I only have your best interests at heart! Planning a wedding on home ground is complicated enough, planning a wedding from abroad is even more so! Do you have between 100-200 hours to spend planning your wedding in your chosen destination? Well if not you certainly need to consider employing a professional who knows the lay of the land, has established relationships with wedding venues and suppliers and can speak the language. A wedding planner will manage all of the elements of your wedding you wish, involving you as much as you choose. They will save you time, money and stress.

Choosing Your Wedding Location

Getting Married Abroad

Your wedding location will determine not only the style and look (rustic romance, bohemian beachy, boutique sophistication), but also the travel, time and budget required for your wedding abroad. Select a wedding location and a venue that you feel reflects you, overflowing with character, natural beauty and plenty of outside space for your celebration and it should always have a Plan B for potential bad weather. The venue should be representative of the area as well as being about what you love, your style, your interests and passions. Think about the time of year you are getting married and check the average weather for that period. You don’t want to plan a Caribbean Wedding for Hurricane Season and likewise a wedding mid August in Spain could be unbearably hot, especially for your older guests!

Visit Your Destination Prior to Your Wedding Day

If you are planning your wedding yourself take at least one planning trip and ideally two or three to your chosen destination. If you do decide to hire a wedding planner, a Skype or Telephone meeting with them will be your first port of call. Once you have hired them as your Planner they will be able to show you a selection of venues that suit your style, introduce you too florists, photographers, beauticians, caterers etc.… They will supply you with all the information you will need for your wedding and it’s likely you will need less planning trips too, saving you money on extra flights and accommodation!

Take Good Care of Your Guests

Your nearest and dearest friends and family are more than happy to join your abroad for your wedding adventure, but don’t forget in your pre-wedding excitement that a destination wedding guests spend an average of £500 to £1,500 per person. There are a few things you can arrange to help with budgets and show them the huge appreciation you have for them joining you. Ask your wedding planner to research arranging group rates for flights and rooms, list information for getting to and from the nearest airport to your wedding venue. You could also deliver welcome gift bags to your guest’s rooms full of essentials for the holiday. Consider hosting an extra event, such as a welcome Bar B Q by the Pool, a next-day brunch or group trip to see some local interests. Some couples will forego a gift list for a destination wedding, understanding that the presence of the guests is a gift in itself!

The Legalities of getting Married Abroad

Getting Married Abroad

Every destination has a different set of legalities for getting married abroad and the amount of time required to be in the country before you’re legally able to marry, ensure you are clear on what these are.  We would always recommend getting “officially” married in your country of residence prior to your wedding abroad and hire an Officient at your destination wedding to carryout a blessing ceremony for you. This will save you time, hassle and money. No one need know that your destination wedding is not the ‘Legal’ one; you can still exchange rings and vows with your loved ones around you. It will still feel like the real thing and I am more than sure you will still shed a tear!!

Consider a Wedding out of Season

If travelling abroad, why not consider your wedding a little earlier or later on in the year? The mid season falls directly before and after the High Season and could save you and your guest’s money. Seasonality affects the pricing of venues, flights and accommodation. Although you cannot 100% guarantee the weather will be perfect in the shoulder season, it should still be good in comparison to the UK!

Take Some Time and Space for You

Don’t lose sight of what you have come away to do, this is your wedding week and finding time for the two of you to be alone is really important! A destination wedding may mean your closest family and friends surround you for a week or more. Which is wonderful and fun, but it could also become tiring if you don’t take some time out for you. Ensure you and your new husband plan to enjoy each other’s company alone and take some honeymoon time in privacy.  Where possible ensure your accommodation is separate from the rest of the party, perhaps a room on a separate floor or even a private house or villa. Make this area out of bounds to the rest of the wedding party. Some of our Wedding Villas even have their own private terraces and swimming pools…you cant really get anymore romantic than that!

Getting Married Abroad

Plan for the Weather

Yes, we understand that you are getting married abroad but please don’t get caught out! Coordinate with your wedding planner to formulate a bad weather plan Whether that’s moving the ceremony inside or providing every guest with an umbrella, a plan B is essential. In a hot climate it is also essential to consider the effects of the sun and heat. Ensure you provide enough shaded areas for people to relax and enjoy your wedding, provide plenty of water and refreshments to keep your guests well hydrated, ice lolly’s and pink lemonade should stop them over heating! Perhaps provide fans, hats, and parasols or construct shade sails around the venue.

Dress for Your Wedding Abroad

This really applies to both the Bride and groom and their Wedding Parties. You really must consider the potential weather when planning your wedding dress and deciding the wedding attire of your wedding party. In 35C heat, a heavy satin gown will become super hot and uncomfortable. Likewise black tuxedos for the groomsmen or even full dark suits with waistcoats would just be mean! If you’re exchanging vows outside, you may want to reconsider a long train that will easily get grass-stained. Or four-inch heels that will stick in the ground. The key really is to dress for the weather and the location.

Make a Holiday of it

This is a once in a lifetime experience, so make a holiday of it! With our wedding venues, many couples book for a week or more, inviting along all or most of their guests for this time. Turning a day of celebration into a weeklong holiday will more than likely suit everyone! Many of our clients choose to have two or three days of events. Making sure their wedding experience lasts for longer! And who can blame them! We usually organise for our clients a welcome dinner the night before the wedding, followed by the wedding day celebrations, the day after the wedding we will put on a Bar B Q and pool party or huge paella, perhaps with a DJ too. For those who are staying a little longer we often arrange trips and tours to local interests and sights, really making the most of their Wedding Holiday adventure!

Lucy Bennett- Wedding Planner & Designer 

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