Weddings abroad are just brilliant. All your guests are on holiday, they’re relaxed and even more up for a party. Plus the locations are gorgeous, and it’s more likely that the sun will be shining. If you have decided that you want to get married abroad but are wondering how to plan a destination wedding then read on. It may take a little longer to plan everything, but it can totally be done without hiring a wedding planner. We hope you find these tips useful…
#1 – Pick your destination wisely
It may feel overwhelming to start thinking about how to plan a destination wedding, but the obvious first step is to find the perfect venue in the perfect country, and secure your date early.
If you already know which country you are thinking you will most likely want to contact a number of venues in the area. Be thorough with your initial approach and make sure you ask all the important questions. Firstly, what is their availability? Then you’ll need to know details on capacity, lodgings, catering, drinks, and exactly what is included in the price. You should find they will have thorough digital brochures for you, but it’s a great idea to have a call with the preferred venues as soon as you can to go through your list of questions..
Think about the best time of year for that particular destination: for example Italy in August can be too hot, and you don’t want to be a sweaty bride!
#2 – Think about your guests
Think about travel for not only yourselves but also your guests. If there are train or coach journeys required, will your older guests be comfortable?
When looking at how to plan a destination wedding you will also need to think about where your guests are going to stay. If there are rooms on site – brilliant! If not, check out nearby hotels or apartments that can be accessed easily from the venue.
You’ll need to consider how people are getting to and from the venue; it may be you need to book coaches from the local town, so get those booked early.
Notify your guests as early as you can about your plans – destination weddings require a little more planning for everyone!
#3 – Create detailed wedding invites
There’s no getting around it – when you start looking into how to plan a destination wedding, there are going to be a lot of questions.
Creating a wedding website is a really good way to share information – there are loads of options out there and they have handy templates for you to follow. This means that you can include details of flights and hotel options in one handy place. You can even include extra information like what else there is to do in the area, in case people are going to extend their trip after your wedding.
The website will also help you track your RSVPs, and they can even track your guest’s food choices; so it’s much easier for you to manage your guestlist.
#4 – Check local marriage regulations
This one is important!
You cannot consider how to plan a destination wedding without checking the rules in your chosen location around the legality of the wedding. Every country has different requirements and you may need to supply a lot of paperwork to get this part done.
Lots of European countries will not allow you to marry legally there; but it’s no biggie! You just need to book in with your local registry office to register your marriage there legally first. This can be done with ease, and means that you don’t need to worry about legal paperwork when you are in the sunshine.
Whilst we’re here, make sure both your passports are valid too!
#5 – Go visit
Now for the fun part – you will need to visit your chosen venue at least once before your big day.
Firstly, you should visit around the time you are confirming the venue. This is the best way to fully understand your venue and it’s beauty, and to truly get a feel for it. Soak up the nature or historical buildings and decide where you want different elements to happen. For example, could your ceremony happen in the orchard or outside some ruins?
It’s also the best way to meet the owners and ask them more questions. If possible, try to organise a food and drink tasting whilst you are on this trip so you can start to choose the best options for your big day.
If you are able to get out there a second time, this is the best way to meet suppliers and discuss each element with them. If not, try to arrive in the area 5 days before your wedding so you can meet everyone then, and check that all is on track.
Another great activity to do when you visit is to start thinking about your photography. If there are beautiful grounds or majestic backdrops then make a note of them to talk through with your photographer. I’ve been lucky enough to shoot weddings throughout Spain, Italy and France in gorgeous castles and villas so take a look through my portfolio for some inspiration.
#6 – Work to a solid budget
When figuring out how to plan a destination wedding, a solid budget is essential.
You’ll need to factor in all the normal elements like venue hire, catering, photographer etc, but there will be a lot of extras such as travel, accommodation, taxis – for both the pre visits and the wedding itself.
#7 – Use local suppliers
For some elements it’s a good idea to go local when choosing your suppliers, so do your research! Ask your venue for recommendations of local florists, beauticians, and caterers. Meet them in advance when you are out for your visits.
When thinking about how to plan a destination wedding you may want to bring in certain suppliers with you. This could be a DJ that you know and trust. It could also be your photographer and videographer; people that you have previously met, perhaps done an engagement shoot with, so you know you are in safe hands.
#8 – Plan other events
The beauty of a destination wedding is that your guests are going to be with you for longer than just the day of your wedding. Think about planning something for the evening before – a group dinner in the nearest town perhaps. Then the day after – can you host a lunch or BBQ somewhere in the grounds of the venue? Talk to your venue about this from the start of the journey too.
You can then provide a wedding itinerary for your guests via the website.This will keep everyone informed and also will keep people on schedule!
#9 – Don’t be afraid to ask for help
There’s no denying that there’s a lot of organising and decision making to be done when working through how to plan a destination wedding, but we say don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Think about your friends, family members and bridal party – who would be happy to help you with certain tasks? And who would you trust? Be confident to delegate out different roles to help make your planning journey that bit easier.
Feel more inspired about how to plan a destination wedding?
Hopefully this has given you some handy tips for your dream destination wedding and shown that it’s not essential to hire a wedding planner. I would love to chat to you about capturing the beauty of your day. Drop me a line to tell me all about it!
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