As a photographer I often get asked to capture weddings happening all around the world, especially within Europe. With the idea of romantic elopements becoming more and more popular, destination weddings are on the increase and let’s face it, if you want an outdoor wedding you can’t count on the British weather.
Don’t be fooled into thinking destination weddings are automatically cheaper or easier to organise, they are still a big expense and there is a lot to think about especially with logistics. So here are a few of my tips for planning a destination wedding.
First up the legality, you cannot get legally married in every country. For example in France you, your partner or parents need to have lived within the town you wish to marry for at least 40 days prior to the wedding. Every Country has its own rules so be prepared to legally marry within the UK and save the romantic ceremony for your planned destination.
Choosing your venue can be difficult as it’s not just a case of hoping in the car and attending an open day. Do your research and rely heavily on recommendations and if you can, go for a visit beforehand. The same logic applies to a destination wedding as it does to finding a venue in the UK. What’s important to you as a couple? Is it being near the sea? Being able to have your wedding breakfast outside? A relaxed vineyard setting or a grander, bustling city backdrop.
I often recommend that destination couples look into getting a wedding planner, if you don’t speak the language translating your vision can be difficult and it can be daunting to part with your money without forming a relationship with a supplier. Many UK based wedding planners also plan destination weddings, they will have their preferred base of trusted suppliers and will be able to work around different time zones. They can take over the stresses on your behalf and be a reassuring pair of hands on the day.
Be prepared to let a bit of control go. Destination weddings can be very different to our own, fashions, traditions and styles are all different and many countries run to a much more laid timescale then we as Brits are used to. You would struggle to get a traditional sponge cake in Italy, David Austin roses in Greece and relaxed natural looking make-up in Cyprus. That isn’t how they do things so be prepared to work with the strengths of that country or fly out British suppliers. It is very common for photographers, hair and make-up artists, bands and planners to all fly out to a destination venue. I have also seen bakers, celebrants and stylists board planes in order to achieve the right look for a wedding.
Lastly think about your guests, whether you plan for an intimate small soiree or a large pool side party your guests are important. A destination wedding might be slightly cheaper on your purse strings but they are more expensive and demanding on your guests. School holidays, working schedules and high outgoings often mean your final guest list maybe smaller than originally intended. So don’t be upset when the no RSVPS start returning. Think about the location, time of year and day of the week. Is it possible for your guests to combine your wedding as part of a holiday? Attending a destination wedding as a guest can be daunting so make sure they are well informed with local hotels, activities and airports. If hiring a remote location consider providing transport on the day to make guest lives just that little bit easier. A little note if considering hiring a planner, they can arrange all this for you, so you can relax on the morning of your wedding. All you have to worry about making sure you are ready on time.
There is something magical about a destination wedding. The once in a lifetime feeling, the sunsets that bathe a setting in warm light and the sense of occasion from a wedding like no other. As a photographer I love the sense of adventure, the excitement on discovering the perfect backdrop for couple portraits and the variety that comes with an overseas wedding. Get in touch f you’re planning a destination wedding. I’d love to hear more.