To many engaged couples, there is nothing more exciting than the idea of a wedding overseas. After all, the world is full of beauty, so why not make your love a part of it? From Greece to France to the ancient ruins of Cambodia, there are myriad amazing locations to choose from. But before you send out the invites, you’ll need to sit down and do some serious planning.
It’s easy to forget how many components there are in a wedding. It’s even easier to forget how complicated it can be to get what you need when you are thousands of miles away from home. To get you started, we have compiled a list of common considerations for international weddings along with tips to meet the challenges and have the event of your dreams.
The first step of planning your destination wedding is choosing a location. If you know you want to wed abroad, but you are unsure of where to go, think about both of your personalities and what you enjoy doing the most. If you love adventure and epic backdrops, consider somewhere far away, like a wedding in the amazing textures of Iceland. If you are looking for a more relaxing event, then you might go to a resort in Mexico or the Greek Islands.
Wherever you go, take the time to review the marriage requirements in that country. Some locations will require you to be within their borders for a certain number of days before you can get married. For instance, France requires you to be a resident for 30 days before you can apply to be married. Some locations may also require you to take a blood test or present specific documentation before you can make it official. If you are not comfortable with a particular prerequisite, then you may have to choose a different location. Most locations will require that the documents would be in their local language, so you will be needing a certified translation service for this.
You should also consider the weather during the time of your nuptials. The peak wedding season is between May and October in the Northern Hemisphere. These are typically the nicest, warmest, or calmest months when it comes to weather, but they will also be the most expensive months to have your ceremony. They may also differ slightly according to your destination of choice. If cost is a factor, you might consider the off-season period toward the beginning and end of the year. However, remember that weather patterns differ in every country. Do your research so you aren’t caught off guard.
Lastly, consider the COVID-19 protocols in your list of potential destinations. England, for instance, has lifted many of its regulations that would have affected wedding plans during the height of the pandemic.
Now that you have chosen the perfect location and you are okay with the requirements, the next thing you need to do is send out invitations. Since extensive planning, travel, and effort will be needed, you will want to give your guests plenty of notice and send out your invites at least eight months in advance. Due to the cost and time necessary to attend, you should consider and be okay with the fact that some guests may not be able to make it to the wedding. Don’t hold it against them. Instead, live stream your wedding for your guests who can’t make the trip. To ensure your livestream goes smoothly, make sure you’ve chosen and learned a platform your guests are familiar with, create a timeline, and pick someone who is capable of giving your virtual guests great views of the festivities.
For the guests making the trip, it’s important that you do all necessary research beforehand, so you can inform your guests of anything they need to know, including what vaccinations may be required and at what specific date they will need to be in the country. It is easy to forget (but important to note) that the way money is exchanged is different in each country, and that includes how credit cards are used. For example, in Europe, cash is king, and credit cards are used less frequently, especially in the smaller towns, so your guests should prepare accordingly. You should also inform your guests of currency rates and a budget of how much money they should bring.
Lodging will be another major consideration, especially if you are having a large wedding with many guests. It will be considerate of you to choose a nice but price-friendly hotel that is, at most, 15 minutes away from the venue, so they don’t get lost or need to pay a lot for transportation. Your best bet may be to research hotels ahead of time and reserve a block of rooms so everyone stays together. If you’re having your wedding in a natural outdoor venue, like one of the United States’ national parks, share safety tips with your guests so everyone has a good time and no one gets hurt.
Due to the long distance, proper planning will be essential in the months leading up to your wedding. It is highly recommended that you visit the destination ahead of time, ideally during the same time of year as you plan to have your wedding, so you can experience the weather. Research the vendors you hope to work with before you leave and make arrangements to meet with them in person while you are there so you can set everything in stone.
While you are in the area, you should also visit your venue so you can see it in person and ensure that it will be suitable for your nuptials. Verify the number of guests you can have without violating any codes. Ask the proprietors if there are any other events planned at the same time that may rush your service or cause a distraction. You will also want to speak to the venue owner and get definitive answers on how much decorating you can do and what is and isn’t acceptable. You must accumulate all of this information ahead of time so you can plan accordingly and guarantee that the wedding will be exactly how you dreamt it should be.
An easier way to get all of your ducks in a row is to hire an event or wedding planner who lives and works in the area you are visiting. You can research online and read reviews of potential candidates. Many resorts also have a wedding specialist on staff if you choose one of their packages. The wedding planner can help you pull together all the elements of your wedding plus navigate and resolve any local issues that you may not be aware of. Have them accompany you when you visit the venue and the vendors.
With proper planning, the destination wedding of your dreams can become a reality. Consider the tips discussed here today and make it a trip that you will cherish forever.