You got engaged and you are thinking of getting married abroad, which is how you ended up reading this blog post? Congratulations! I assume you already have a destination in mind? I got married in the Algarve, Portugal in June 2017 and now I’m sharing my top tips/things to consider when choosing a destination wedding.
- The Weather
Once you pick your destination you need to decide on the best time to get married there. When we picked Portugal we knew we wanted a summer wedding hence why we chose June. The weather can however be very tricky. Few days leading up to the wedding the weather was perfect 25-27 degrees & the morning of the wedding I woke up to 42 degrees! Safe to say, we were very lucky we had a pool at our venue as the guests jumped in right after dinner.
Consider things like monsoon season, peak season (if you have few elderly guests the excessive heat might be an issue).
You need to have your budget in mind at all times. Just because it’s abroad and countries like Spain/Portugal/Canary Islands tend to be cheaper in general it’s very easy to go over budget as you think you can afford more and start adding extras left, right and center. I’d strongly advise to keep some funds towards the end for “unexpected expenses”.
Another thing to consider is whether the main guests you are inviting can afford to travel abroad and also if there are any elderly members of the family who are unable to travel due to age, medical reasons etc. Do you really want them to miss out on your big day?
- Hire a Wedding Planner
This is an absolute must, unless you know the place like the back of your hand. When you start organising a wedding only then you will realise how much detail actually goes into planning and what’s involved. While the wedding planner or the event coordinator at your venue might have excellent English that might not be the case with all the suppliers and that’s something that needs to be taken into account. Having a local onsite really puts your mind at ease.
- Visit The Venue
Once you pick a destination, date and a wedding planner you will need to decide on a venue. When getting married abroad you have a general idea of what you’d like i.e. beach wedding, boho wedding, BBQ etc. Your wedding planner will then do her research and present you with options that will potentially suit your needs. It is imperative that you will go and visit the venue before you book it. Unless you have 100% trust in your wedding planner and in human beings in general I would not book a venue blindly. My planner did tell me about couple of her clients that booked venues based solely on the photographs, however it is the biggest day of your life – Do you really want to be disappointed?
- Buy Insurance
This is something we personally didn’t do, however this was haunting me until the day we physically landed in Portugal. What if something went wrong? What if our plane was cancelled? What if the airline damaged my dress? What if the venue went bankrupt? What if you get pregnant and are unable to fly? (I also heard of a couple this happened to).
It is the vital part of a destination wedding and something 100% worth looking at regardless of the cost.
- Save The Dates
Once you picked the venue and the date you should immediately send out your save the dates. We have sent out our save the dates 9 months beforehand (if not more) and guests were able to book their flights according to their budget. Giving your guests plenty of notice will mean they will not double book the date and gives them flexibility and time to save.
- Written Communication
Every bit of communication between you and wedding planner or suppliers or anyone providing you with a service must have a written paper trail you can go back on if needed. You will be surprised how many things can be omitted, forgotten about or just go wrong. This is especially important when it comes to service quotes, contracts and agreements. I’d strongly advise to discuss the important parts via email rather than phone or Skype.
Cultural differences can play a big part on your choice of destination. While it’s great to have a funny, young waiter at the bar you’re drinking at in Torremolinos do you really want him to slack at the service during your wedding? One thing I can say about people in Portugal is they are very relaxed – Too relaxed for my liking. They have a very relaxed approach at life and nothing is urgent with them. That’s what frustrated me the most, for you – the bride it’s the most important day of your life, you don’t want to hear “I’ll do it when I have time”. It’s your day and you are paying for the service, therefore things should be done in a timely manner.
The next step during wedding planning is choosing your menu. Now, I am not going to lie – I made up completely my own menu and luckily the restaurant agreed to cater to it as Polish & Irish Weddings are quite different. Menu Tasting is very important as you want to ensure it will suit majority if not everyone’s taste therefore it needs to be quite simple yet elegant.
You don’t want people to leave hungry (and then get drunk on an empty stomach).
- The Dress
And finally, the most prized possession. The dress! How to transport the dress abroad? My advice is – whatever you do, do not let it leave your sight! All jokes aside, you can purchase what’s called a Wedding Dress Box – I bought mine on EBay for approximately €30.00. Majority of them come in the approved cabin luggage size and with a protective tissue paper (read the product description before purchase to ensure they are the correct size). Upon your last fitting ask the seamstress to fold it in a right way and place it in the box for you to avoid creases.
Also, very important – when choosing dress for wedding abroad make sure it is weather appropriate! You do not want to faint at your own wedding!
TIP: When you arrive to the hotel where possible hang the dress up immediately and keep in plastic, as hot destinations attract insects which can damage the dress.
If you have any more questions wedding related that I have not discussed above, feel free to contact me or leave a comment below!