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Trying to plan your perfect wedding can feel rather overwhelming. It might start with location, location, location - but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Here are some of the things you need to think about before you book your dream day.
Should we get married at home or abroad?
Do you see yourself getting married with a glorious wedding in your home town, or are you after a foreign adventure?
This should be one of the first questions you consider.
The day is all about you, of course, but you also need to factor in how your guest (or guests) who live furthest away will be able to join your celebration. This is often overlooked in the early stages of wedding planning, only for you to realise down the line just how important this is to you when it happens. Our top advice here is to make sure you choose a destination your guests can get to. (At least the ones you really want to be there.) And read our DESTINATION WEDDING SURVIVAL GUIDE
How do we plan the perfect guest list?
This one’s completely up to you – only you will know how your loved ones will respond when they find out whether or not they’ve made the cut.
Deciding on your ‘must haves’ as soon as possible is always going to be a good thing though.
This will give you more time to have some difficult conversations with those who are going to miss out. It may sound intuitive, but make sure that you don’t over invite – just in case no one drops out and there isn’t enough space!
Also, if you are choosing an exotic or off-the-beaten track location, talk to your 'must-have' guests firsts to ensure they will be able to make it. (And if it's a thumbs up from everyone essential, you'll probably find this is also a great way to filter out anyone on the 'awkward' list (like your parents' friends/colleagues), who likely won't care enough to take a long-haul flight and spend $100's on attending your 'long haul' wedding.
We definitely want to get hitched abroad. What’s next?
Once you've settled on your destination, that’s then one (very important) decision off the list!
If you don't have a specific destination in mind already, take a look through our guide to Choosing a Destination Wedding Setting - this will explore some of the most popular options from beach weddings... to city weddings... to rural weddings etc... and then recommend some of our favourite destinations and venues, once you get an idea of the type of wedding you want.
Of course, we are here to help you with this too - reach out to our consultants if you'd like some personalised inspiration or assistance.
Check out the legal stuff early...
It can be all too easy to get swept away in early wedding planning excitement (and we thoroughly encourage you to do so) but you shouldn’t forget some of the less glamorous admin involved.
There may well be specific customs and laws about getting married in your chosen destination that will be very different than if you were to marry in your home country. For example, each country will set its own rules about the exact legal documents and process required for a wedding to be binding.
Don't worry though, this is never usually as complicated as it seems. And the hotel or venue will usually give you full instructions and take care of everything when you arrive.
You may also need to check if there are any legal requirements in your home country to ensure your marriage is recognised when you get home.
Quick disclaimer: Many couples choose to get 'legally married' at home and then plan a symbolic wedding celebration abroad to celebrate. This is a great option if you'd prefer to not have the stress of the 'legal stuff' whilst you're away (or if you've set your heart on a destination that cannot offer a legally binding ceremony or has an awkward or inconvenient legal process to navigate e.g. requirement to be resident in the country 30 days before your wedding date).
What type of destination wedding do we want?
You’ll no doubt have thought about this a great deal already (probably for many, many years!) but if you haven't got a specific venue or ceremony in mind - you need to start making decisions about what you want.
Do you both see yourselves exchanging vows barefoot on the beach with just a handful of guests? Or do you visualise a romantic rural setting illuminated with festoons as you party into the night with hundreds of your family and friends?
If you're starting from scratch that's fine.
Simply go to our wedding search bar and select your chosen destination from the drop down menu then take inspiration from all our recommended wedding packages, venues and expert wedding planners.
Again - get in touch here if you'd like us to help and suggest some options. Just complete the quick questionnaire and our consultants will email you with their expert recommendations. It's totally free with no obligation to reply or follow up on their suggestions (but you might just find something truly amazing you'd never have thought of looking for).
Should we hire a wedding planner?
If the admin side of a wedding is filling you with dread (or worse, starting to be a sore point for your relationship) then you might want to think about getting a specialist wedding planner.
These professionals can help with anything, from specific destination wedding planning... to gift ideas... to understanding wedding etiquette... to budgeting... to getting you access to exclusive local vendor deals and much more.
If you're a couple who prefer the certainty of being able to see and try samples out in person - you might see getting a wedding planner as you best solution unless you plan to travel to your wedding destination beforehand (possibly multiple times) to arrange supplier meetings in person.
This will obviously be the more pricey option - and unless you're adamant you want total control or this is something you enjoy and can easily afford doing - we think why unnecessarily take from other areas of your budget - such as your dazzling hotel reception and wedding ceremony combo - when a wedding planner can do this better?
This is really a matter of personal choice.
But if you're getting married abroad and you like to feel in control (and get instant answers) to everything along the way, it's probably worth the money to get a wedding planner for the sake of your mental health. Even if you are also planning to visit in person and take a very hands-on role.
Alternatively - if you're happy to trust in the 'process' then you'll usually get the same amazing wedding arranged directly by your venue (or sometimes with just a bit of work from yourselves - and we can help you with this if you're feeling unsure).
What about wedding insurance?
It’s definitely worth looking into as there are many specialist insurance providers who’ll be able to offer wedding packages.
Wedding insurance can help to protect you in case things go wrong, especially if there’s a long period between proposal and wedding day.
Policies can cover loss or damage to: the main wedding outfits; gifts; rings; the cake and flowers; as well as personal liability and legal expenses among other things.
If you do take the plunge for insurance, read your policy wording with a great deal of care. As there may be some hidden exemptions – especially if you’re getting hitched abroad.
When and where should we book our honeymoon?
You should book your honeymoon in plenty of time.
Ideally, this will be not long after you’ve got the wedding ceremony confirmed.
Many couples obviously honeymoon in the same hotel / destination where they get married... but it's not a must.
Our favourite recommendation is for couples to spend at least a week at their wedding destination before the big day (which is the perfect amount of time to settle in and spend time with arriving guests)... followed by a further couples of nights post-wedding to decompress in the honeymoon suite... before heading off to a new honeymoon destination (ideally not too far away) for at least another 7 days where you can experience a tradition honeymoon getaway for just the two of you.
If you're thinking of booking a separate honeymoon hotel or destination after your wedding you can start your search here for the best honeymoon hotels and packages.
HAPPY WEDDING PLANNING!