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There’s plenty to think about if you’re planning your perfect wedding abroad, from choosing your dream location to locking down your guest list, and plenty more besides.
Let’s take a look at some of the essentials that will help you with your planning.
Before you give serious thought to booking your wedding abroad, make sure you’re fully aware of what you are getting yourselves into. Do plenty of research to find out if there are any legal requirements or cultural differences which you need to take into account before setting your heart on any particular destination. For example, there may be local customs to be aware of, which could include how to dress in a way that’s considered appropriate and which may not fit your own tastes and desires (such as that gorgeous backless wedding dress you've had your eye on).
And then there's your guests - if you have a multi-generational guest list of friends and family, who may be travelling from various locations around the globe, you need to be ultra-careful that your chosen destination works just as well for your elderly godmother as it does your big sister and her newborn (especially if it's important to you that these people can all attend). There's no quicker way to cut your guest list than hosting you wedding in a super expensive, inaccessible location! Remember: big weddings are about what works for everyone. And if you're getting married in a luxury resort with all the 5-star trimmings, think about choosing a destination that is easy to get to and offers local, more affordable accommodation options for any guests travelling on a budget.
Every country has their own rules and laws when it comes to getting married. Check any specific requirements, starting with the exact legal document that’s required for a wedding to be legally binding in each destination. In certain countries you can make an official record of the marriage by sending an original certificate through the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For more information, call the government’s General Register Office on 0300 123 1837. Our wedding planners can help if you have any queries.
Send your 'Save the Dates' nice and early. The more notice you can give your prospective guests, the better. Having more time means your loved ones have longer to save up for your unforgettable trip. You’ll also want to be at the front of the queue in case your friends or family were already thinking of heading overseas for another ceremony. Check each wedding venue’s maximum capacity and be careful not to over invite – just in case nobody drops out and there isn’t enough space!
Most airlines will allow brides to bring their wedding dress as hand luggage, but do check before you book. Find out whether any group travel discounts might apply if it makes sense for your party. When you get to the airport, why not ask at check-in for a cheeky upgrade or for the chance to get a couple of airline lounge passes to mark you special trip? If you don’t ask, you don’t get…
Check if the weather will suit you (and your guests) – The weather’s impossible to predict, but you can minimise the risk of your ceremony being hit a big monsoon or a severe heatwave if you book outside rainy or dry seasons in your chosen destination. Both young and older guests will thank you for this, not to mention your photographer…
If you’re having a wedding abroad, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to meet all your suppliers like you could at home. Start by doing thorough research online: read plenty of credible user reviews and check out the social media feeds of the companies you’re interested in. When you think you’ve found people you like, have conversations via email and Skype to build trust if you can.
Check and compare currencies – You may be able to make cost savings if you’re savvy when it comes to currency exchange rates. Don’t forget that rates fluctuate regularly, and will often vary depending on the amount of money that’s being transferred from one country to another. Any expenses you incur after your wedding day could need to be settled in another currency, and this could push your wedding over its initial budget if you’re not careful.
Travel out ahead of your guests – It’s a good idea to plan to be at your wedding site at least a week in advance of your ceremony. That way you’ll have time to deal with any last-minute hiccups, as well as topping up your tan before all your guests arrive!
Prepare for some life admin – Make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance in place long before your trip. You may also want to look into a specialist policy that offers cover for overseas weddings. Also you should check your home contents insurance in case there’s a new expensive dress, jewellery, camera equipment, etc., that’s increased the value of your home contents. If your guests are generous, you may own a lot of expensive wedding gifts straight after your ceremony. Get in touch with your insurance provider to make sure you’re covered.
The Algarve offers plenty of unspoiled views of the Atlantic Ocean, and the Vidamar Hotel Resort looks to have many of them all for itself. Ideally located by the beach, this unique resort lets couples tie the knot above a wooden pergola while surrounded by gorgeous palm trees. Vidamar is a super-family-friendly resort, with an adults-only area that offers a peaceful haven for grown up guests looking to chill by the pool and sip cocktails. Large groups of all ages will be very happy here, and with temperature sometimes reaching 30-degrees until November it's the perfect year-round destination for sun-kissed weddings in Europe.
Chateau-Bouffemont is just an hour’s drive north of Paris and is perfectly arranged for a big wedding party in an idyllic, parkland setting. This huge nineteenth century Château had new life breathed into it in 2012 following a major renovation. Today it can be booked for exclusive use for up to 150 guests, 30 of which can stay in accommodation on the enchanting grounds.
Having a central location in the main drag of Pristina – the Kosovan capital city – means Swiss Diamond Prishtina can be a fantastic host for a wedding abroad with more than a touch of European style. This lavish 5-star hotel will transport you to Renaissance times thanks to the spectacular décor in luxurious suites. There are a couple of restaurants and bars to keep your guests occupied too. Meanwhile the National Theatre and Parliament Hall are both close by. Finally, the hotel's Spa and Wellness centre has a huge total area of some 1,200 square meters.
The chance to have exclusive use of the historic Ashford Castle, along with its gorgeous grounds in County Mayo, is something that many celebrities in search of a classic Irish wedding have taken up in recent years. The underground wine cellar and a majestic golf course are just two of the attractions that can be enjoyed by up to 164 guests in 83 beautifully equipped suites. The estate will be pleased to arrange group events for large parties. And be sure not to miss the full Irish breakfast served in the stately George V Dining Room each morning…
The golden beaches, hot springs and all-round stunning nature of Phuket make it a sought after choice when it comes to once-in-a-lifetime weddings abroad. The Novotel Phuket Resort lets happy couples choose between a traditional Thai wedding and a western ceremony. The bridal couple are able to enjoy a special couples’ spa treatment during their stay. Also, this lovely resort has a free shuttle to Patong Beach which opens up lots of wonderful restaurants and shopping opportunities.
Elsewhere for outstanding service with a smile, you’ll need to look no further than Ramada Plaza Chao Fah (Southern Star). This resort’s splendid rooftop pool is perfect for hosting lots of enthusiastic wedding guests who may be in need of some cooling off…
With beautiful panoramic views and spacious living quarters, the La Cala Golf Hotel & Spa has many things going for it. This large Malaga retreat offers an all-inclusive wedding package which includes: hair and make-up, a photographer, flowers, the ceremony, reception and DJ, plus a plentiful breakfast buffet. Being in the Costa del Sol means you’ll have plenty of classic activities to keep your supersized guest list occupied. There are three golf courses surrounding the hotel; then there’s the coastline as well as easy access to the towns such as Mijas, Marbella and Fuengirola.
The award-winning all-inclusive St Raphael Resort &Marina promises a sun kissed Mediterranean wedding venue situated on one of the best and largest Blue Flag beaches in Limassol. Surrounded by beautiful landscaped gardens you and your guests will be enthralled by the natural beauty of Cyprus whilst all your wedding plans and arrangements are taken care of by their professional team... and all at remarkable price, making this a great option for brides organising a big wedding on a budget.
The splendid 5-star resort of Paradisus Cancun comes with arrange of tailor-made wedding packages to choose from. Big numbers won’t be a problem here: ceremonies for up to 200 guests can be hosted for a lavish ceremony by the Caribbean Sea. Suites at Paradisus Cancun have private terraces which afford breath-taking views of the Nichupté lagoon, or the blond sandy beach.
It’d be hard to go wrong with a ceremony held in the aptly-named Prosecco Hills, and the huge San Salvatore Castle in Veneto is a timeless manor where lovers can tie the knot in style. Booking a wedding package here means you’ll have sole use of the castle and its majestic grounds. Plus, you’ll have a personal butler and a chef who’ll help to facilitate your once-in-a-lifetime event. As the lucky couple, you’ll be able to stay in a dramatic and romantic suite in the top floor of the castle.
Situated in the heart of the Turkey’s most populous city, Grand Hyatt Istanbul is just a stroll away from Taksim Square meaning couples with an eye for vibrant culture – and adventure – will have everything they could wish for. The Grand Hyatt Istanbul offers an oasis in an otherwise buzzing city centre. A tranquil garden surrounds the hotel and makes an ideal setting for a poolside barbecue. Their wedding package is set up for hundreds of guests and includes an uber-classy, and banquet style, dining area.
Coventry’s Coombe Abbey Hotel boasts a peaceful lake and 500acres of rolling parkland – a perfect host for an ambient English wedding. A former 12th Century Cistercian Abbey, the medieval building and its lush grounds will offer plenty of unique photo opportunities. It may be worth starting your research by looking into the hotel’s Exclusive Marquee, which provides a particularly romantic setting for a wedding breakfast or an evening reception for up to 500 people.
If you’re considering a beachfront destination wedding, The National Hotel in Florida is likely to meet and exceed all of your hopes. Plush suites here come with stunning views of the city, pool or the world famous Miami Beach. Reception and ceremony combos can be held for up to 150 guests. Your visitors can spend lazy days by the pool at Aqua Bar & Grill while feasting on delicious salads, grilled satays and juicy burgers – all washed down by fresh, tropically infused cocktails by the glass or pitcher.
The Banyan Tree & Angsana Lăng Cô is situated on the south-central coast of Vietnam, amid white sand beaches and the grand TruongSon Mountains. This indulgent resort offers a wide choice of wedding settings including: the beach, a ballroom or in one of two lawns (Central Lawn & Moomba Lawn). Then there’s the popular wedding chapel, which is situated right next to the beach. Gorgeous paintings and eco-friendly bamboo make up the charming décor in the villas, all helping to contribute to a feeling that you’re absorbed in royal Vietnamese architecture.
Get in touch with a Romantic Consultant. Our hand-picked selection of experts have lots of experience in planning large romantic breaks that meet your specific needs.
Or read some of the most frequently asked questions on weddings.