Working as House of Hannah, Lindsay and I have styled numerous destination weddings at this point, so today we’ve gotten together our top tips for styling your own wedding abroad, including lots of example images from our portfolio. We’ll assume that at this stage you’re either thinking of or have decided to go for a destination wedding. Maybe you’ve picked a location, or even a venue (if so, half the battle is won!) but have you thought about what you want your wedding to look like? You probably have chosen a destination wedding to create a more personal, intimate celebration and will want to put your stamp on the day: you’ll want to make it “you”.  Your destination of choice and season will also have an impact on the style of your wedding- Venice in winter has a totally different look and feel to Barcelona in the summer, as will a beach wedding as opposed to a chateau. And as a starting point this is perfect- it’s probably why you picked the location in the first place.

(Image 12) wildwood_wakashoot

Styling: House of Hannah | Photography: We Are Wildwood | More Credits: The Blue Lake Shoot on Fly Away Bride


The most important element for styling a destination wedding is to use your location’s natural beauty. Go back to the reason you wanted to marry abroad in the first place: was it the warm weather, the venue’s charm, the location’s beauty, or maybe all of the above? Think about what is possible: an outdoor reception table can need less effort to make it look pretty than an indoor one, as the setting is already beautiful. Then again, maybe you picked a chateau for its fabulous dining room. In this case there will be much of what you loved about it already in place. Don’t be afraid to ask your venue about factors that may not be automatically offered upfront. For example, on a trip to Italy to view venues earlier this year, we spoke to one about having a reception dinner outdoors. This was not something they had done before but they were actually very willing to consider it, and it turned out they had several beautiful areas that would make for a perfect outdoor meal.

(Image 2) Wildwood  (Image 1) Wildwood

Styling: House of Hannah | Photography: We Are Wildwood | As Featured on Fly Away Bride


What might at first seem inconsequential details already in place at your venue can actually turn out to be essential styling elements. Search out anything unique, and take note of outdoor and indoor elements you can use, for example tables, garden areas and decorations like fountains or stone sculptures. The table we used for the flower shot above was already at the venue, as well as the rose trellis which made an adorable photo backdrop. Pathways can also frame your shots so well, as below. Most of the time these areas will catch your photographer’s eye, but it’s good to be aware of the benefits when picking your venue.

Styling a Destination Wedding

Styling: House of Hannah | Photography: We Are Wildwood | As Featured on Fly Away Bride


When thinking about your colour scheme, natural tones found at your venue can be your starting point. For example the lovely light green of olive trees in Italy, lavender fields in France, the deep blue ocean of a beach ceremony or the turquoise of a poolside one. Check with your venue to see if flowers will be in bloom onsite around your date (sometimes the best way is to see images from an actual wedding that has taken place around the same time) – if so these can be used in photos. Your venue might even let you use some natural elements from the grounds in your table arrangements or decor, for example foraged olive or willow tree branches. A palette can be built around a single hue from the setting of your venue: for example to bring together the colour scheme below, we mimicked the blue of the lakeside setting in the invitations, the marbled cake, the plates and place cards.

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Styling & Stationery: House of Hannah | Photography: We Are Wildwood | As Featured on Fly Away Bride


Start to think about what you can bring or send over and what can planned out or done before you leave. Bring only styling elements that are easy to pack yet have the highest visual impact. Below are a few essentials styling elements and areas to consider:

Paper Goods

Paper goods for instance are easily transportable, and putting emphasis on these is a way to make sure your tables will turn out well. Place cards, menus, quotes, escort cards, cake and cocktail table signage signage can be pre-mailed to your venue. Stationery that is beautiful and matches well will put the finishing touch on your tables and are an easy win.

Head Table

The look of your reception tables can be pretty easily mapped out in advance. One way to increase visual impact with less groundwork is to concentrate styling efforts on your head table (or the middle part of your long table- wherever you will be sitting) and have this as the visual focus of your table layout. An amazing tablecloth or table runner can add a real bang and can be packed or posted to the venue in advance (image 15). Concentrating on one table will draw the viewer’s eye there, so have anything else you bring over go toward making this area incredible.

France Wedding Ryan Ray

Styling: House of Hannah | Photography: Ryan Ray

Decorative Tables

Elements such as your cake table and drinks station (whether this is a cocktail table, whiskey bar, or other decorative area such as a photograph or favour stand) can add visually to your reception area with very little work. Pretty straws or drink stirrers, coloured sugar for glass rims; these are easy to bring over; or think jazzing up your drinks with fresh fruit or edible flowers that could be provided by your venue. Fresh fruit can also add a zing of colour to detail shots with little effort (below). Think small things that really enhance the overall look. Pay attention to where your cake and drinks tables are placed: a little alcove, an interesting wall, double doors or hanging artwork can make the perfect backdrop, and build the table’s look around this.

We Are Wildwood The Blue Lake Shoot

Styling & Stationery: House of Hannah | Photography: We Are Wildwood

Ceremony Backdrop

The same goes for your ceremony backdrop: the venue might already have a suitable area suitable, but there’s nothing to stop you adding a personal touch- perhaps a ribbon or fabric backdrop (both light and easy to pack or post). Don’t underestimate the power of ribbon- bring lots as it adds a really lovely touch to bouquets, signage, chairs and more.


One final point on styling your destination wedding is to choose your photographer well. Be aware that certain photographers pay lots of attention to the decor and venue, whereas others may focus more on other aspects- for example capturing interaction between guests. This is not at all to say that one style is better or worse, only that if you put a lot of effort into the styling details, you probably would like them captured in as much detail as possible. You’ll want a photographer that will make the most of your styling efforts and really capture the beauty of your day.

We Are Wildwood The Blue Lake Shoot

Styling: House of Hannah | Photography: We Are Wildwood | More Credits: The Blue Lake Shoot on Fly Away Bride

9 Responses

  1. Ariana - Hey Wedding Lady

    Fantastic styling tips – I especially love your point about considering the surroundings when deciding on a theme and decor. That natural beauty is part of the reason to get married there, right?


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