Wedding Planning, some people think of it as a dream job, and even though it can be one of the most rewarding jobs in the world, it is hard. Some couples love it, and some couples find it as a source of great stress and pressure, because from an early age you are told it is one of the most important days of your life.
Couples choose to get married abroad as a foreign or international couple for a multitude and endless amount of reasons. It is cheaper, easier, faster, they want to elope to avoid the stress, elope to avoid expense, a large wedding, losing control, or having scores of extended family and friends they do not want coming. Weddings have a habit of spiralling out of control in all areas, and it is easy to lose control of your day, and your day to start to control you.
Some people are simply not cut out for large weddings. Myself personally have never been into the big white wedding dress, I wanted just my partner and myself, and not spend my life savings on a single day that seemed to be more about making sure everyone else was enjoying themselves than about the simple celebration and union of 2 souls. But I tell some of my girlfriends my view and they look at me like I have 2 heads and am slightly insane. And that is one of the wonderful magical things about a wedding, no two weddings are they same, and they are as unique as they couple that is at the centre of them.
So when you are planning a wedding, especially if you are looking at getting married abroad you need to know where to start. It is in some ways easier if you are having a wedding in your home country as you know what to do, where to go, or who to ask, and it is all in your native tongue. But a destination wedding? And with the whole world to choose from as your location? It is as daunting as it is exciting...
When pushed to try and share our expertise what are the 4 things that we need to consider when planning a destination wedding....
And we thought that they were;
Vision (country, time of the year, big event or small elopement)
Budget (how much can you afford, how much are you prepared to spend, which expenditures are a must, and which are a possibly maybe, and which are a nice to have but not that fussed)
Time Line (have you checked how far in advance you need to book the venue, how old the documents need to be for the license, when you can book the flight tickets, whether you can hold certain things without payment until all is confirmed)
Planning (when you need to start doing, contacting, confirming and submitting)
When we are little, no matter in what culture or religion if we are gay or straight, we are all taught that we will one day get married, we will all dress up and we will celebrate the wedding surrounded by all of our friends and families and then we will run off and live happily every after, maybe with horses and unicorns ;-) Noone ever shows the planning and investigation!
As we follow our lives in the modern day world that we live in we realise that this is not the case for everyone, nor does everyone want that and there are certain times when we just need the paperwork doing, and doing quick. And that's OK... any way that you get married is OK. Always remember - your marriage and wedding day is for you and your partner, no-one else.
So we need to know what is your vision for the ceremony.. big, little, loud and proud or subtle and sublime. In your home country or a destination wedding. On a beach or up a mountain, you can even get married underwater in Dubai! The options are endless and when we can marry where ever we want in the world, theres a lot to narrow down!
Even though at the beginning of the planning process you don't need to immediately choose the venue, colours and send out the invites.. Take your time and get your priorities in order. And this is I would advise firstly narrow down if you want a warm wedding or a winter wedding, as straight away that puts you in a certain hemisphere! Or if a special date is the most important thing to you and your partner.
Or if geography is important as you want as many friends and family there as possible, and if this is the case maybe not plan a wedding in school term time in Sydney if you live in the uk!
The vision is something that can be amended, adapted and changed, maybe what you thought was the vision actually isn't the vision, but until you sit down and actually think about it in a practical logistical sense with your partner you will not know.
If you wanted to marry in Cinderellas castle in Disney World Orlando, but you also want 250 of your close family and friends there, that, quite honestly isn't going to happen, unless you own a transatlantic airline so you can get 250 people there cheaply and know Walt Disney.
But let's think about it a little clearer, what is it that you wanted to get from the castle, was it the fun option? A fairytale castle? Having 250 people with you? A wedding in the sunshine?
Once we break this down, maybe we can see that marrying in the stunning function rooms at Tivoli Park in Copenhagen is an option, you have the rides, the characters and the fun atmosphere and it isn't so far from UK and Europe, making easier for your 250 guests.
Having the vision really helps you to see, as a couple, what is important to you, what do you want from the day.
I remember when my partner and I got engaged, we had never spoken about a wedding until we got engaged so it was quite eye opening. I wanted something quick and fuss free in Las Vegas (maybe with Elvis involved and a casino!). My partner wanted a big romantic white wedding. Which filled me with utter terror and panic.
So we decided on a destination wedding abroad, with just a small group of 10 people. I wanted to marry in November (I have no idea why, I just had it in my head!), but wanted a warm beach wedding, so we investigated where was nice in November in the world and went from there. I started looking at Fiji as have always wanted to visit, but our respective older parents said the journey was too long and they could not travel that far so we compromised with a shorter flight, as my vision combined with my husbands was
- Parents, Siblings and best friend had to be able to afford it and travel
- November wedding
- Hot and Sunny
- Wedding dress & wedding suit
- All inclusive
So that is what we found, but we had to make a list between us, cross reference and compromise. And I had the perfect day, no disagreements with my spouse to be as he was not also getting his dream day. All because we discussed the vision.
But we can all have our dreams of our dream wedding, one thing that we have to consider with this, to bring it all back down to earth is to sit down and think of our budget. I know, I know, that no-one wants to cut out the dream things that they had in their minds since their childhood. I wanted doves, I was certain that I was going to have doves.. guess what in then end I didn't have doves the budget didn't allow, and guess what, I still had the best day!
If we are deciding to have a destination wedding, then we initially have to think of the basic legality of the wedding, these costs are non disputable and are 100% necessary. Then, as we are not at home we have to think about the travel and accommodation costs, are we paying for the guests (if not, can the guests afford it or are we setting everything out of the realms of possibility?) where your dream wedding on a beach in Turkey may turn into an elopement on the beach on The Island of Fano! Both wonderful and amazing weddings, and that takes us back to the vision, is the beach more important than the family and friends.
And then when setting a budget, one thing that you have to always remember are the small details. These need to be considered at the beginning, because if not and if left out you could be left with a huge bill to be paid on your departure..
Think, food, drink, flowers, photographer, gifts, table decorations, all the usual, but then if you are away then you also have to consider coffees, champagne at breakfast, sightseeing tickets, souvenirs, all those little things that can sometimes be forgotten but you want to get for your guests for thanking them for coming.
If you are eloping, the budget will obviously be smaller, but you will probably want to treat yourselves, a special dinner, maybe a taxi instead of the metro, maybe a last minute upgrade at the hotel. When creating your budget, be open, honest and realistic. No one wants to stress about money on their big day!
So now we have the vision and the budget down we can start to think of the timing. When do we start this journey. We all know that big wedding venues in UK and USA are booked up for years in advance, so for that you will need a good 2 years to 18 months.
For elopement style wedding countries such as Denmark you can make your application 4 months ahead of the ceremony date, whilst in Gibraltar you can book up to one year in advance. For a wonderful Italian vineyard ceremony you should certainly make your initial contact the year before. The second thing that you have to think about are the legal aspects and what are the time constraints for that.
A full wedding in Denmark or Gibraltar will only cost you €745 and they are both incredible. We do advise that if you spend money on only 1 thing it is a wedding photographer, as you think you will remember the day and every minute, but it is all very emotional and overwhelming.
So you have your venue, then you have your legal timeline, you need to ensure that you can get a photographer on the date and a florist. Then you need to think about the celebration, whether its just for you two or for 25 people, that is important then day needs to be planned to ensure that everybody knows where they need to be and when.
All of these things seem logical and straightforward there are lots of apps on the market that can help you with pre-recorded forms to complete you can set alerts and reminders and these can really help you, lets not pretend that we all have our lives going on at the same time as we are planning a wedding.
If, however you have chosen a destination wedding, then you may want to use a wedding agency to help you. There are many things to be considered, travel, legal documents, language issues, different traditions to be considered, liaising with hotel/venue staff, transport, reservations and an agency can take the stress out of putting all the pieces of the jigsaw together, last minute changes they will have a network of suppliers and vendors that they can call on, if needed at the last minute.
So just when we think that we have all this planning thing down to pat! Let me highlight a couple of things that are common mistakes..
Timelines, You have to ensure that you know how long you need for the legal aspects of the wedding and the wedding venue, these are the two options that have to be co-ordinated at the same time so both are done and available.
Travel, Make sure that you know what visas are need for you and your guests at destination wedding location, how long they need to be applied for and that the validity is for the date of the ceremony.
Costs, Set a limit, don't exceed it, think of everything that you need before you go so you don't end up buying things at your destination and payment hugely inflated prices.
YOU, think of yourselves, throughout the process, don't get lost in the planning and the arrangements, it is your day, you chose the location and at times you should be selfish and arrange the day how you want it.
Trust, find someone that you can trust to help you, be it a wedding planner, a contact at the wedding venue, someone that you can trust to provide you with the right contact and vendors and suppliers.
Destination, if you can, travel to the destination before the wedding. This may be hard if you have chosen a long way. At least arrive before your guests so you have time to check everything and ensure that everything is ready.
Culture, Potential language barriers, varying local customs, preferences and cost. Research research research research... don't get caught short.
Destination weddings are wonderful and can make many dreams come true, whether its because you are an international couple and you are searching for a quick simple process or if you want a glorious event in Warmer/cooler climates then do not discount a destination wedding, they can happen and they are wonderful.
We are happy to provide advice and a free no obligation documents list of which documents you will require to get married in Denmark or Get married in Gibraltar – just contact us on any of the methods below.
Have a look at our awesome YouTube channel for short information Vlogs on how easy it is to elope and get married abroad!