Beginner’s Guide To Getting Married Abroad
Getting married abroad gives you the scope to make your wedding day truly magical, allowing you to fully immerse in celebrations with your family and friends whilst creating memories of a lifetime.
There are countless reasons to choose a Destination Wedding and some epic locations to say ‘I Do’ including beachfront wonders, authentic architecture and dramatic sea view terraces, so it’s no wonder more and more UK couples are reaching for their passport to enjoy their big day.
How to get married abroad
Once you make the decision you’d both like to hop on a plane and say your vows, the time to start planning your destination wedding begins but where do you start, what should you consider and what do you really need to know?
Get your creative head on, create Pinterest boards, start following inspirational Instagram accounts and check out recent Real Wedding Blogs. The more research you can do in your initial planning stages allows you to narrow down your ideal wedding preferences, simplifying your overall decision process.
Decide Where to say ‘I Do’?
Location is quite rightly one of the most important and first decisions in your destination planning journey. There really is a whole world to discover, with an abundance of countries ideal for dream destination weddings.
Take a look at your inspirational image preferences and understand the key points that you want your wedding to feature. Here’s our quick reference guide to deciphering which popular wedding destinations could suit you best;
- Beachfront Mexico, Ibiza
- Dramatic Sea view Terraces Santorini
- Adventure Morocco, Gibraltar
- Historic Character French Chateau
- Food lovers Italy, Morocco
- Relaxed Vibe with perfect sunsets Ibiza
- Private Countryside Villa Tuscany, France, Spain, Greece
- Exotic Paradise Bali, Hawaii
- Picturesque Waterside Lake Como
Understand the Legalities
Many UK couples opt for symbolic ceremonies or blessings during their destination wedding, completing the legal formalities of marriage at home prior, this ensures your marriage is legally recognised in the UK. It is likely you will still be required to submit documentation and each country or location will have their own procedures.
It is possible for you to get married abroad but keep in mind that individual locations have their own regulations regarding civil or religious ceremonies, some will have residency requirements, religious formalities and require official government issued documents, for in depth specific information you can check with GOV.UK.
Consider your Guests
This is your special day and yes, you should have the day you have your heart set on but you need to seriously consider your guestlist and who you must have present. If you really want every one of your school friends present, your extended family and elderly Grandparents, sending out invites which involves long- haul flights and thousands of pounds for them to have to fork out may not have you receiving the high number of invite acceptances you ideally want.
Of course, there’s the option to choose a destination closer to home or go ahead with the exotic destination wedding you dream of with a more intimate affair and then celebrate with additional family and friends afterwards, that way you can indulge them with your romantic stories of how you said ‘I Do’ and everyone can congratulate you both at the beginning of your marriage.
When a date has been set, send out your invites ASAP, guests will likely have to book a chunk of time off work, save money and make plans around your special day, the more time they have in advance the better.
Choose the Date
Deciding when to get married takes consideration from a variety of factors, when planning your destination weddings the priority is most likely going to sit with the seasonal forecast to ensure you can enjoy the gorgeous backdrops on offer.
Other top points to keep in mind when choosing your desired wedding date should include;
- Finances. Selecting a date which is just out of the destinations typical ‘Wedding season’ could save on your budget.
- Destination events/ holidays. Do your research, certain religious or celebratory events could change or alter your plans, be aware popular events in your chosen area could result in guest flights and accommodation becoming booked far in advance.
- Job/work commitments. Will you be able to get suitable time off work
- Key guest commitments. Choosing your sisters baby due date or best friends 30th is probably not wise
Do you need a Wedding Planner?
The wedding guru’s, the experts and the one’s in the know, an experienced quality wedding planner is a brilliant idea when you decide on a destination wedding. By selecting a planner which is either local to your chosen destination or boasts experience in this location can give you the knowledge, suppliers and contacts which take your wedding to the next level.
A destination wedding can require more logistical planning then staying local to your home town and there are more considerations to take into account. Firstly, there’s the language barrier, now if you are bi-lingual congratulations but if the country you decide to host your wedding is not your first language, a wedding planner can really excel, they know the culture, they know the formalities, they can direct with paperwork for legalities and be your guiding hand.
During your planning don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice, you will most likely need help and guidance for your dream vision to turn into a reality. Some wedding venues have dedicated wedding planners or co-ordinators on hand, ensure you utilise their expertise.
How are you and your guests going to get to your wedding? Flying is obviously the most popular choice and many airlines offer group flight bookings with advantages including discounts or extras.
And, then of course there’s accommodation. Many stunning destination wedding venues include accommodation and hiring out the venue for exclusive-use across a long weekend or week to enjoy with all of your family and friends is an excellent choice.
You need to be clear from the beginning of your planning what you as a couple are going to provide for your guests, will you be including transport and accommodation, will you suggest the best options for your guests or will you leave this entirely up to them?
We suggest at least giving guests an idea on what is available or block booking out accommodation. This requires organisation and dedication, you can opt to be the lead or let your wedding planner take over, after all they may be a bit stronger at getting decisions out of awkward family members!
Let’s talk budget, destination weddings can cost less than a UK wedding and your money may stretch a little further but they can also cost considerably more especially when you start adding in travel, logistics and accommodation costs. How much does a destination wedding cost? As much as you want it to cost. Keep organised and have a clear maximum budget that both you and your partner are aware of.
The way you structure your destination wedding budget will be different to a UK wedding, obviously there is added extras such as travel but sometimes the way you spend you money can be prioritised to suit your desired outcome. For example, wedding ceremony terraces with incredible backdrops do not need to be completely filled with fancy floristry, the venue does the talking for you, so this is an area you may be able to cut back on.
Plan a Visit
Visiting the destination of your choice prior to your wedding celebrations is ideal, if this is not feasable especially for long-haul destinations, view virtual tours, videos, real wedding blogs, set up skype calls with suppliers such as photographers and venue owners or wedding planners. Knowing a friendly face before you arrive will make you feel much more relaxed.
If you decide to plan a visit, be organised and plan meetings prior to arriving. This is your chance to get everything sorted and in place and for you to soak up the beautiful atmosphere where you will become husband and wife.
- Exchange rates, when booking suppliers and venues abroad be clear in what currency you will be paying. If you pay a small deposit at the beginning, consider that when you pay the balance closer to your wedding that exchange rates may change, and if this doesn’t go in your favour you could end up paying more than you originally anticipated.
- What you buy must be transported– that Cinderella bridal gown must get to your venue, somehow!
- Whether you opt for a Destination wedding or a traditional wedding in your home town, it is likely you will never please everyone but remember this is your day and the start of your married life together.