Everything You Need To Know About Getting Married Abroad
THE EARLY PLANNING STAGES...
Consider Your Destination Carefully
Some people have a deep and meaningful connection to a particular destination, others choose on a whim to get married abroad. Whichever camp you fall into, it’s important to take into account the logistics before getting excited. If you’re asking your friends and family to travel abroad, you need to consider their time and budget, so make sure they can fly directly to the destination, and try to avoid school and bank holidays, when the cost of flights sky rockets.
Get Straight On A Plane
If you have a destination in mind, your first priority after getting engaged should be getting yourself there. Popular wedding venues and suppliers book up fast, so the quicker you can commit, the more likely it is you’ll be able to have the big day you’re after.
Check Out Guest Accommodation
It’s all very well you find the destination of your dreams, but you need to make sure your guests are catered for too. Don’t pick a venue that has only a 5* hotel and a Travel Lodge nearby - from air bnbs to boutique hotels or villas, make sure there are enough styles and price points for them to choose from so they won’t begrudge the weekend. It’s also worth considering the costs while they’re there - avoid choosing a remote location that will require them to spend money on taxis and transport.
Hire A Wedding Planner
Weddings at home are already a huge amount of work - factor in foreign websites, suppliers being unfamiliar and alien local etiquette and customs, and you’re doubling your workload. A wedding planner, contrary to popular belief, doesn’t eliminate the decision-making process - you’ll still have tonnes of choices to make. But they know the suppliers, from which florist to recommend to where you can source the perfect candle sticks for your tables, making your life significantly easier.
Only Work With A Portion Of Your Budget.
The sad reality is your wedding is probably going to cost a lot more than you think. Did you know a wedding planner will likely charge 12.5% on top of every cost? Or that in addition to the cost of a band or DJ you may have to rent all their AV equipment? If you know you have a budget of £10,000, work towards spending just £8k - likewise if you have £100,000 to play with, try really hard in the first instance to stick to £80k. You’ll be grateful for that buffer zone down the line when unexpected costs crop up.
Consider How Else To Entertain Your Guests
When friends and family are traveling far to celebrate your big day, it doesn’t really cut it just to have the one event. Don’t forget to factor a welcome dinner or a next day brunch into your budget - plus etiquette dictates you should provide goody bags on arrival too. Keep the gifting simple and affordable. Make like our fashion editor Charlotte and her husband, who gave guests small tokens representative of Mallorca, from local olives to castanets.
FURTHER DOWN THE LINE...
Allow Enough Time For A Civil Ceremony
To be legally considered married in the UK, in most cases you have to physically get married on British soil. That’s why so many couples have a civil ceremony before heading to their abroad nuptials, which is a bit of a logistical feat of its own. You’ll first need to give notice of your intent to marry, by both attending an appointment at your local council office (you can usually book this online by answering a short series of questions about your marital status). You’ll then be interviewed separately to ensure your marriage is legitimate. This must take place more than 28 days after the registry ceremony you’ve booked. Additionally, don’t forget the extra costs involved - Camden Council, for example, charge a one-off fee of £35 per person (that’s £70 a couple) plus Westminster Council command £450 for a registrar for a basic civil ceremony.
Have A Hair & Make Up Trial
A hairdresser or make up artist who’s local to your venue may have a different idea of what constitutes bridal beauty than you do, so eliminate the risk of a beauty disaster by taking the time to trial your hair and make-up look ahead of the big day.
Book Flights In Your Maiden Name
Don’t get carried away booking return or honeymoon flights with your new married name. You can only fly if your passport matches the name on the booking, and whilst some airlines like British Airways will allow you to change a passenger name for a small fee, others resolutely will not.
Book Your Dress A Seat On The Plane
Chances are you’re not going to want to fold your dress into your checked baggage. If your dress is not too weighty or would crease easily, fold it carefully in a protected film and dust jacket and place inside a small wheelie in the overhead lockers. Alternatively, you can book your dress its’ own seat, which requires a call to the airline and an extra seat booked on your ticket for a small fee.
Reinforce The Dress
Travelling with a wedding dress is a total pain, so keep the rest of your hand luggage to a minimum - if you’re going to need to lay your dress out over your arms carefully, you won’t have free hands to lug heavy bags around too. Plus, make sure your designer or supplier has seriously reinforced the dress to the hanger - you don’t want to end up like one bride we know whose dress spent most of the transit scrunched up in the bottom of its suit bag due to improper attachments.
Take Out Insurance
Whether it’s a hurricane or an unexpected death, there are certain things you just can’t plan for. Don’t risk losing everything by not taking the proper precautions, even if it is an added expense. It simply isn’t worth it.
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