Choosing the perfect venue is probably the hardest decision, especially if you wont get to see it until the big day! First decide on the setting, deserted beach, bustling city, snow capped mountain. Once you have narrowed it down look at as many photos as possible, previous weddings are best rather than staged images and ask lots of questions. Is it private? What is access like(steps, steep hill)? Is it safe for young children(steep drops)? How long is the hire for? What are the catering options(BBQ, set menu, buffet)What are the restrictions if any on dancing or music?
The most popular months are May to October for the Med, but year round if your going further afield, consider going slightly out of season if you wish to save money as lots of venues offer discounts during quieter months. Are there any bank holidays or public festivities you need to consider that could affect your wedding day or holiday? (lots of islands/cities close down for major holidays)
You need to check with the countries embassy for a list of legal requirements for your wedding. Ensure you follow the requirements carefully as some countries are quite strict. Plan well and leave enough time to apply for Apostille stamps or translations. However documents are time sensitive so ensure don’t apply for your certificate of no impediment or affidavit too early. Embassies can be quite hard to deal with so if you have a wedding planner let them do this for you, otherwise you’ll need to exercise lots of patience.
I would recommending working with a competent travel agency with experience of group bookings. This way you can simply send out your save the date cards with their details and allow each guest to contact them directly to find suitable accommodation to match their budget and needs. Make sure you tell the agent if you want guests staying in your hotel OR NOT!
Wedding planner or not
If you know your venue well, have lots of local contacts and are very organised then I would say go for it and plan your own wedding!
However I would exercise caution, dealing with a foreign country, language and currency, it can be much harder than you expect. So if you are in any doubt then hire someone with local experience and who has visited the venue. Your wedding planner will be your eyes and ears and will be responsible for creating your vision. You need to feel comfortable and have good communication with this person they will be your confidant, shoulder to cry on, therapist and fairy god mother all rolled into one!
Don’t despair! there is no reason at all why you cannot have your dream dress just because your getting married abroad. For hot climates consider the material and breathability of your dress, for a beach wedding leave the stilettos at home and go for something flat, perhaps a diamond encrusted flip flop! In winter you can go to town with a fur stole and “blinged” out boots
I’ve seen everything from huge princess gowns to short “Audrey Hepburn” style dresses and yes even a Bikini!. Anything goes. The key is finding the perfect bridal shop that will understand your needs and advise correctly.
The details – décor, flowers
I always tell my brides to accept that there may be some limitations on the finer details of their wedding depending on the destination. For example its not easy to colour match flowers to dresses to table clothes. Instead consider what you can control, add personal touches by way of home made favours to match the theme of your wedding, your own vows and readings to add to the ceremony, personalised music to play for your entrance at the wedding. Personalised tables plans and name card, embellishments for your bouquet and hair, we even had one bride record a song for the first dance. The groom had never heard her sing so it brought tears to his eyes and made an incredible memory of the day
By Lisa Burton