#1 What style of wedding would you like?
Firstly, you need to decide what sort of wedding you want. Do you want an intimate ceremony with only your nearest and dearest or do you want one massive party with as many people attending as possible. Usually, the only people who’ll travel to a destination weddings are the ones who really want to be there and that’s really all you want. Start by making a list of who you want there and who is likely to attend. Even if you suspect someone won’t come, still hand out a courtesy invitation as you may be pleasantly surprised.
#2 Should I opt for an all inclusive wedding?
All inclusive resorts will have their own wedding vendors and opting for these all inclusive type deals are straight forward, easy and the reception tends to be less expensive but the bride and groom are likely to have fewer choices about the finer details. What’s more, they usually have several ceremonies a day, one after the other, however many couples enjoy the simplicity of this type of event. At an all inclusive wedding, your guests will usually have a meal and drinks included in their room rate and this is often added to the overall reception cost but don’t assume that it is! Make sure you ask the right questions to avoid any unexpected wedding bills.
Other venues will allow you to choose your own vendors and will be able to help you with local contacts such as photographers and florists. These types of ceremonies require an awful lot more planning but could really pay off and would be more personalised to you. These venues are usually more exclusive and more expensive but it’s unlikely there’ll be other weddings taking place on the same day. If exclusivity is what you want, make sure you ask the right questions prior to booking because the last thing you want is to feel rushed out of the ceremony because they’re setting up for another wedding! Having said that, some venues have numerous ceremony halls and if another wedding is taking place, you wouldn’t even know about it so make sure you really do your research so your chosen venue is definitely the venue for you!
#3 Do I need a wedding planner?
Many resorts and wedding venues will already provide this service so it’s not absolutely necessary to hire an additional wedding planner however if you’re feeling overwhelmed from the get go and don’t even know which location to choose or how much is normal to spend on a wedding abroad then it might be an idea to pay a planner to provide additional support, especially in the early stages! However, if you know exactly where you’d like to get married, then chances are an additional wedding planner won’t be beneficial to you.
Be aware that many wedding planners have a list of venues and vendors who they work exclusively with and so you may not be getting the best deal. In addition to that, they often require a certain amount of your guests booking through them however if guests find and book a better deal elsewhere, you may be responsible to pay for the shortfall. Make sure you ask the right questions, read through your contract and see if you are limited to which venues and vendors you choose before agreeing to anything. You’ll also want to do your research on the company you choose, make sure you read ample reviews to get a good idea of the quality of service previous clients have received.
Another thing to be aware of is that some wedding planners work on behalf of travel agencies and you are required to book all your travel and accommodation through them. Most of your guests will be savvy enough to find better deals online and make their own reservations so try and avoid getting them to pay more through a third party as this is unlikely to go down well.
Whatever you do (especially if booking a planner online) do not hand over a deposit until you are absolutely satisfied they can offer you what you want and you have a contract in place that outlines the services they intend to offer.
#4 Where should we go?
When deciding which country you’d like to tie the knot in, make sure you consider the older and younger guests attending as they may struggle with long haul flights. What’s more, some guests will come for the full two weeks and others may only pop over for the weekend and so short haul flights eat up less of their quality time at the chosen location. There are some incredible short haul flights to Greece, Italy or Spain that are well worth looking into. Short haul travel will also increase the number of people attending your big day.
Our top tip would be to not assume your guests want cheap accommodation, it’s more likely that they won’t mind spending a bit more to have a truly amazing holiday so your best bet would be to search for great hotels at great prices. Make sure you read through hotel reviews and when you find a hotel you like, contact their event planning team to see what services they have to offer. Don’t be put off by their online prices because chances are you can negotiate which leads me onto our next commonly asked question …
#5 Should I negotiate?
Hell yes!! Recognize that you are bringing a large group of people to a location and therefore you have the power to negotiate with both travel companies and wedding venues. How much you can negotiate largely depends on the size of your wedding party and in this case, the larger the wedding party, the more you can negotiate.
#6 Should I expect to sign a venue contract?
Yes! Venue contracts will identify your estimated attendance so that the venue have something to work with and also have a good guarantee of income. Whoever signs the contract will be responsible should there be a shortfall in attendance so give it some thought and be realistic when providing the venue with the specific number of guests. Make sure you state a number that you can live with should worse come to worse and you’re left to foot the bill. You’re better off underestimating and adding people on once they confirm, the only problem with that is you can’t guarantee there will be spaces left so the earlier you start your wedding planning, the better!
#7 Is VAT included?
This widely depends on where you go but many European countries have introduced added VAT for each night your guests stay so make sure you and your guests are aware of this fee. VAT does not stop at venues though, the same can be said for each wedding vendor so make sure you fully understand whether or not VAT is included in the agreed price as this will help you to avoid any additional fees that can quickly add up to an astonishing sum!
#8 What about the legalities of marriage?
Whatever you do, don’t assume that because you were legally married in a foreign country that your marriage will be recognized in the UK. If your marriage documents are issued in a foreign country, you are responsible for making sure they are also recorded in the UK. Make sure you do your homework, ring around local registry offices and get advice on what needs to be done for your marriage to be recognized in the UK.
#9 Should I ship my wedding items over prior to my big day?
Shipping overseas is not a great idea when it comes to the important things that are needed for your wedding. Packages often get held up, misplaced or lost and no matter how amazing your chosen wedding venue is, things can still disappear! In most cases, it’s better to have your wedding items travel with you and to pay the airline baggage fees. You can rope your friends and family in and they can help to distribute your items and reduce fees however, there are things to be mindful of, for example, some countries ban items that are made in China being brought into the country for resale and so if you are bringing a large amount of wedding items into a country, you want to be careful that this can’t be misinterpreted otherwise the customs officer could confiscate your wedding dress and other precious items. Rest assured that most countries welcome budding brides and chances are, you’ll walk straight through with no problems at all but be prepared for the worst case scenario by packing receipts and being prepared to answer any questions that are thrown your way.
Remember, there is no right or wrong way to plan a destination wedding so choose the one that works for you. Some couples want everything done for them whilst others have their own dreams they want to fulfill. As you start the planning process, remember that all weddings are stressful whether you choose to get married abroad or not so try to adopt a positive attitude and know that it’ll all be alright in the end!