Magnificent mountains, beautiful beaches, European cities – wherever your big day takes you, here’s how to plan your dream destination wedding
Wherever you plan on getting married, compare the costs of different venues and hotels as you would if you were tying the knot closer to home. Use weather forecasts and average recorded temperatures to check whether your idyllic wedding escape will be just as perfect when you’re due to be married, especially if you’re hoping for snow or unabated sunshine.
While a hop up the motorway is often expected when it comes to attending, getting married abroad means your guests will have to fork out for flights and might need to book time off work. Consider how easy it will be for guests to attend – short-haul locations will likely mean more of your guests are able to share your special day. If having all of your friends and family around you is essential, consider contributing to the travel costs, but make your expectations clear beforehand, advises Kimberley Greenslade from the Bahamas Tourist Board. “Agree which costs you will and won’t be covering before guest numbers are confirmed.”
As soon as you’ve got a wedding date set, send out your save the dates. Letting people know early means they can book flights and accommodation well in advance and benefit from early-bird deals. Research accommodation and transfer options as well as ideal flights, and let them know if they will need any visas or vaccinations. You’ll also need to check when you need to arrive at the destination, as some countries require a certain length of residency before you can marry there.
When you’ve booked your venue, find a wedding planner local to your destination. “An initial telephone conversation with your planner is the best way to put across your wish list,” says Kimberley. “Follow up with an email, too, so you have everything in writing.” Make sure you take advantage of their experience, expertise and relationships with local vendors – they should be able to help you find suppliers who are cheaper than UK alternatives.
To avoid the hassle of translations and obtaining all the required documents, why not legally marry in the UK first? You can then jet off with peace of mind to enjoy a beautiful blessing and reception abroad. Alternatively, check what paperwork is required, take it in your hand luggage and make sure you have spare copies to hand.
Book any extra suitcases you need in advance to avoid airport charges, remembering to save space for any wedding gifts, and keep all essentials like your rings and documents in your hand luggage. Speak to your airline and bridal boutique before you fly. They will often be able to provide you with a flight box for your wedding gown and allow you to take it on the plane as additional hand luggage.
Sunshine and crystal-clear skies make for a stunning setting, but also come with higher temperatures, so favour lighter materials for your gown, like chiffon. The climate will also affect hair and make-up choices – humid conditions can spell disaster for natural curls! Don’t forget to consider your guests, too: “When it’s hot, you may want to consider a short ceremony,” advises Kimberley. “And ensure there is at least some shade for the celebrations.”