Dream of getting married abroad but don’t know where to start? From invitation etiquette to packing that precious dress, Gerri Sweetland from Love and Lord answers all your questions.
Q. I want a destination wedding but am overwhelmed by options…
A. A wedding destination should suit your personalities. Write a list of your key requirements (countryside, views, beach, etc) to build a picture of your ideal location.
Wedding planners have years of experience so, even if you’re organising the day yourself, consider using a wedding planner to do a venue search. You’ll save considerable time and effort for a relatively small fee.
Q. I have a destination shortlist – how do I choose between them?
A. A beautiful view provides the backdrop for your photographs and a good venue should have a choice of outside areas for different parts of your day. Make sure there’s enough space for indoor seating in case you need a ‘plan b’.
Find out if guest rooms must be booked for a minimum number of nights and check there are no curfews on when and where the party is allowed to continue. Some venues have preferred suppliers, so make sure you are happy with those.
Finally, look for the ‘wow’ factor; it’s different for everyone, but you’ll know it when you see it.
Q. I’m worried about inviting guests because of the time, distance and cost.
A. Give as much consideration to your guests as possible. Find out if there are low cost airline and accommodation options, for example. If all the accommodation is expensive, consider subsidising the rooms. Send ‘save the date’ cards and inform guests of the location as soon as possible, creating a wedding website with links to accommodation, airlines and travel routes.
If the destination is hot, make sure your guests have water and shade and hold the ceremony later than you would in the UK; in Europe, for example, the afternoons are a more comfortable temperature
Q. What legal requirements do I need to be aware of?
A. Legal ceremonies abroad can involve red tape, so always seek the advice of a legal expert - some wedding planners can be hired to deal with paperwork and ceremony details.
Q. How can I safely pack my wedding dress?
A. Take your dress as hand luggage – you can buy hand luggage-sized boxes for this purpose. Speak to the airline in advance too; you don’t want to end up buying another seat for your dress. If there is someone you trust to receive and keep your dress safe until you arrive, shipping the dress to your wedding venue in advance is another option.
Q. How can I find the best hair and make-up people?
A. Word of mouth is best; ask staff at the venue for recommendations. A trial is ideal but if timings make that impossible ask for testimonials and photos from other brides. In case of language limitations, take along pictures of your ideal look - or enlist a local translator.
Q. How many times should we visit the location before the wedding?
A. I’d recommend at least twice; first to choose a venue and again once your plans are in place. Ideally, you should taste the menu, meet suppliers and have a hair and make-up trial. To organise the wedding yourself without visiting the venue is a huge leap of faith and could be nerve-wracking. I wouldn’t recommend it.
Q. When should we plan to arrive for the big day?
A. It depends on the ceremony. In Italy, for example, you have to attend a meeting at the comune (town hall) two days before the wedding.
If paperwork isn’t an issue, arrive at least a day before the guests to give yourselves time to settle in. If you’re organising the wedding, arrive earlier to check your arrangements are in place.
Q. How much planning should we do for our guests?
A. Avoid scheduling every minute, allowing guests some freedom to enjoy the location. You could organise afternoon and evening activities, then leave them to their own devices during the mornings. Make sure there are facilities, such as a swimming pool or gym, for them to enjoy.
For further information visit www.loveandlord.com or call 0207 1839944