So, after reading part one of our FAB Guide, you have decided to ditch the traditional, large family wedding plans for something a little more you, a little more romantic but miles and miles away in a foreign country in Europe. Great. Except now you are wondering where and how to start planning this dream destination wedding. Get out your paper and pen because we are going to make a start on this today.

Dream Destination Wedding

Where to get married

You’ve decided on continental Europe but can’t narrow it down any further than that because really, who can decide between the lavender fields of France or the olive gardens in Italy. Well, here are a few topics that we thought we should cover as each of them will be a deciding factor.

Legalities

When it comes to getting married in Europe, all countries will require you to comply with their local laws. We suggest you do your research on the legalities of getting married in each of the countries you are thinking about or else check back with us next week when we will be publishing our FAB Guide on the legalities of getting married in France, Italy, Ireland, Scotland, Greece, Spain and Portugal. When your research is complete, we think you will be able to quickly rule out the countries that don’t meet your needs if legally marrying abroad is your number one priority.

When

Late Spring and Autumn are probably the best times to plan a wedding in Europe for a number of reasons. On continental Europe, the weather will still be warm but with kids in school, you will get better deals on airfares and hotels. Cities and beaches also won’t be packed with tourists. For Scotland and Ireland in particular, the weather is unpredictable all year round but it’s safe to say that it rains a lot. Having said that, people don’t generally visit either Scotland or Ireland for the good weather so just count yourself fortunate if you get a dry day for your wedding! In terms of natural disasters, winter months have been causing problems between flooding and heavy snowfall so bear it in mind when booking.

Logistics

It’s important to consider the logistics involved in reaching your wedding destination. Is Ibiza, Florence or Nice a direct flight for you and your guests or will there be connecting flights? Do you really want to have to connect to another flight after an 8 hour journey? How much stress will it add knowing you aren’t going to be travelling light as it is? What about when you land, do you need to get a bus? A bus to a boat and then a taxi? It’s important to fully think through the travel involved so that you can plan accordingly. One suggestion would be to book a mini bus / coach from the airport to get you and your guests to your destination without fussing over rental cars or buying tickets in a foreign language. If you are going to hire a wedding planner, it might be a good idea to make sure they greet you and your guests on arrival.

Planning your Dream Destination Wedding

Guest List

You will need to evaluate your guest list early on as it will have a knock on effect on both your budget and the venue you choose to get married in. Realistically, our North American readers should only expect very close family and friends to travel across the Atlantic for your big day where as for our readers from Europe, your guest list will be slightly higher simply because there are more budget airline services to choose from. Whatever your personal situation, you should be able to sit down with your other half and put together a fairly reasonable list of who you would like to invite along with the probability that they will be able to attend.

Length of Engagement

If you have chosen a destination wedding and are hoping to send out invitations, then it’s only fair that you give you and your guests enough time to plan and organise a trip overseas. Six weeks notice isn’t enough time to book time off work, flights and accommodation and if they are travelling a distance, chances are they are going to want to make a holiday out of it. Give as much notice as possible (6 months is ideal) and send out save the date’s that include important information such as airport and hotel details.

Planning your Dream Destination Wedding

Budget

If parents are contributing towards the cost of your wedding, be up front with them from the beginning about your desire to marry abroad. Their own friends probably won’t make your small guest list and it’s best to get these awkward conversations out of the way before a single cent is spent on any aspect of the wedding day. It is also important that you let your bridal party know that your wedding is going to be some distance away before you ask them to be part of the wedding as they simply might not be able to afford it.

Setting a budget is just as important for a destination wedding as it is for a wedding at home – it will just be that it’s managed differently. Before allocating money towards the usual items such as the venue, food and photography costs – you should consider whether it’s financially viable to make at least one planning trip.

These days, destination couples are not expected to pay the airfares and accommodation costs for the bridal party or wedding guests but it is a lovely gesture if your budget can stretch that far. Additional items that you should include as part of the budget are transportation costs for guests (to and from the airport and again for the wedding ceremony), group ctivities that you have organised for all of your guests, and meals that are part of your wedding celebrations (such as the welcome dinner and farewell brunch).

It’s not uncommon for destination couples to let their guests know that their presence at the wedding is gift enough in itself. Again, it’s another very kind and generous gesture that you can make to show your appreciation.

Vendors

One of the best decisions you can make early on is hiring a wedding planner, especially if you don’t know the local area or indeed the language. When it comes to selecting other vendors through your planner, make sure that you receive a number of options and that you vet them carefully yourself. This is particularly important if you are using a local photographer. I’ve been told too many horror stories at this stage where the photographer / florist turned out to be unprofessional or a friend of the planner, looking to make a quick buck. There was even one story where the photographer was selling wedding pictures to guests outside the venue the evening of wedding. Disgraceful stuff. Of course, carefully vetting your wedding planner and their previous work will ensure that you avoid situations like above.

Dream Destination Wedding

Venue

Always a difficult one for sure! Similar to getting married at home, your budget, guest numbers and accommodation requirements will dictate the venue you eventually choose but for destination weddings, there is the added difficulty of not knowing what is available to you. By browsing Fly Away Bride and reading through our Real Fly Away Bride and Venue Spotlight features, you can become familiar with the various venue types and it won’t be long until you realise whether it’s restaurant settings or Château venues you are drawn to. Your wedding planner will then be able to show you the options that fit your requirements.

If you can afford to make a planning visit to check out your shortlist of venues first hand, then you really should. In a few weeks, we will be putting together a FAB Guide to help you make an informed wedding venue decision so watch this space.

Plan to Arrive Early

Very important. Arriving early will allow you to familiarise yourself with the local amenities and services available to you such as the dry cleaners, pharmacies, doctors and shops – you can never be too informed. It will also be your chance to reconfirm your wedding plans with your vendors and lets be honest, top up the tan for the big day!

Dream Destination Wedding

If you have any specific questions and need some direction, advice or recommendations for vendors in particular, be sure to pop us a mail. We’d be happy to help! If you’d like us to address a particular topic on Fly Away Bride, let us know. We will be continuing the FAB Guide series over the coming weeks and would love your input. Click on the images above to go to the original FAB features and we will see you back here tomorrow for another gorgeous Real Wedding!

11 Responses

  1. FRIDAY’S FAB 5 | Fly Away Bride

    […] followed up on our great post about a destination wedding versus a wedding at home with a guide to planning your dream destination wedding. The guide goes through things like what country to get married in, the legalities and budget. […]

    Reply
  2. Cris of Kiss My Tulle

    Great advice! Thanks for reminding people about the legalities of planning a destination wedding. It would suck to plan a fabulous wedding – and then not be allowed to GET married.

    Reply
  3. Georgia

    Thanks for the advice! Would be great to see a vendor guide country by country, or average cost of various parts of the wedding based on location. Trying to plan a wedding is hard work and often times it’s pretty unclear how much it’s going to set a couple back when the budget is not unlimited :)

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.