Real-Life Brides Share Their Advice For Getting Married Abroad
Real-Life Brides Share Their Advice For Getting Married Abroad

Real-Life Brides Share Their Advice For Getting Married Abroad

Now that the world is back to normal, getting married abroad is something many brides choose. But with a raft of added complication, it pays to hear from someone who’s been there to find out what you need to know beforehand. From real-life newlyweds to SL brides, we found out what tips they’d share with anyone just starting the planning process.

Real-life bride Natasha Zoltie says…

“Remember, getting married abroad is no guarantee for good weather, so don’t assume it is. You could be hit by a freak heatwave or biblical rainstorm. If you fell in love with an outdoor venue, have a plan B you’re (almost) as happy with. Also, make sure there’s a good balance of pre- and post-wedding events – it’s worth taking advantage of the fact that everyone has some free time, but your guests won’t want to have something planned for every part of the day and night. This might be one of their holidays, so let them have time to explore and chill. 

“I’d also really argue against black tie. If you’re getting married in one of the more traditional locations, it’s going to be hot for your guests – don’t make them resent you by making them wear a full tux. A final tip – be friendly to the air hostesses and stewards, and they will happily look after the wedding dress and suits free of charge. If you don’t get lucky, I wouldn’t put them in the hold – it might even be worth buying an extra seat on the plane so you can keep an eye on everything.”

SL-bride Aggie Mrowka says...

“I would tell other brides that organising a wedding in Europe needn't be daunting. There are a lot of very underrated destinations that are worth having a look at – including places like Slovakia or Croatia. Apart from unique venues and breathtaking locations, they'll also probably work out a lot cheaper than the UK. When we were looking for venues, we found many we loved, including this one in Poland which looks like a quiet vineyard and has a real Mediterranean vibe to it. We eventually did get married in Poland – our home country – so we didn’t feel we needed the help of a wedding planner. But if you were organising a wedding in Europe, in a country where neither of you are from, the language barrier might be an issue. In that instance, it could be worth hiring someone to contact the venue and all your local suppliers. I would also book your photographer for another day for a couple of hours to make the most out of the location. This way you can avoid disappearing from the reception and enjoy the day to the fullest. You can also go all out with a second shoot. We booked our photographer again for three days after the wedding and went to a nearby lake. Some of the pictures were taken during golden hour, which made the final result really unique.”

It could be worth sacrificing your style or preferences if it means the wedding will have a better vibe and the day will work better with local vendors or suppliers.

- Jordan Pace, SL reader

Real-life bride Susie McCorry says…

“If you can’t get a spray tan at the wedding destination you’ve chosen, make sure you’re prepared ahead of time and bring your favourite tanner of choice – and that there’s someone willing to do your back for you! Also, remember to take anything you want as a keepsake from your wedding day; I learned the hard way that the wedding planners will clean up faster than you can say ‘I do’ and your menus, place cards and table names won’t be coming home with you to one day show your children. We also said we didn’t want a website – but I’d have one given the choice again, just so we could communicate all the logistics to our guests at once. Otherwise, everyone is going to ask you a thousand (of the same) questions. 

“Finally, don’t get first night fever and overdo it at your welcome drinks. It may be exciting to be overseas but it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Also, try to enjoy the moment. I know easier said than done, but I was running around making all the final adjustments and didn’t get enough time to spend relaxing with my friends as I’d have liked.”

Real-life bride Chelsie Malin says…

“We had planned to ship all our on-the-day wedding stationery, wedding favours and welcome gift bags but due to Brexit, the costs were astronomical compared to a few years ago. It was cheaper to buy extra suitcases to take everything with us on our flight. Also, I can tell you now that your guests really want to be taken to the wedding venue. They don't pay all that money to travel only to be told it’s another $200 taxi to the venue. It was an additional expense, but it really paid off having shuttle buses take guests to and from the wedding. We had to plan pick-ups and drop-offs at nine hotels around Ibiza though, and without our planner the logistics would have been challenging.

“Nearly all our suppliers were Ibiza based, but we did fly in a rabbi for the ceremony and our band – Ibiza bands are not common, it's mostly DJs. So, factor in those additional expenses. For example, awkward flight times meant our eight-person band needed accommodation for two nights, not one, and the policy was they each needed their own room. We gave them each a lunch voucher and a buffet dinner during their breaks, too. 

“We toyed between hiring our own villa, but the FOMO would have been out of control if all our friends were staying in one hotel and we weren't with them. About six months before, we built a website and told everyone where we would be staying, encouraging people to stay with us if they could. In the end we were in the hotel with around 80 of our guests, and in some ways, it was even more fun than the wedding itself. Breakfast each morning felt like a party. But I’d also made a list on my phone of each hotel and what day they were expecting each guest, so we could make a point of popping in to say hello.

“Finally, don't get upset if some people can't make the wedding for financial reasons or otherwise. I had three very close friends who were too pregnant to fly, and my husband’s grandparents were too frail. It’s your choice to have this wedding abroad. That’s why we made a bigger deal out of our civil ceremony, so the grandparents could feel like they'd really celebrated with us.”

Be clear about where and how to get your wedding licence in the place you’re getting married. Also, be super clear about addresses and logistics.

- Sophie Dengestinos, SL reader

SL Community member Sharon says...

“We recently renewed our vows in Barbados and would recommend having a dedicated planner who communicates with you and updates you regularly – you need a pair of eyes on the ground. In most places, the language barrier isn’t likely to be too much of an issue as reputable event planners will have worked with international clients before. If you have time, you may want to take a quick trip to your destination to meet a few planners and do a bit of a recce before committing to anything. A couple of hundred pounds for a short break is 100% worth it for peace of mind. It might also be worth investing in wedding insurance and paying on a credit card so you have protection. 

“I really recommend reading this government article too. While some say having a civil ceremony first takes away from the excitement and romance of your big day, I personally found the quiet of it just being the two of us, our two witnesses and our youngest son meant we could fully immerse ourselves in the moment. It was very intimate and completely about us – so make the most of it.

“Finally, be mindful of having to manage all your guests, who have come a long way for at least a couple of days. There is little or no room to have a meltdown. Oh, and don’t forget to have a last pre-wedding date with your fiancé. Have fun and enjoy yourself every step of the way.”

Share your tips with other members of the SL Community

Real-life bride Jewelle says…

“I’d always loved the idea of getting married somewhere in the south of France, maybe around Provence, but Matthieu had an inkling that we’d eventually agree to do it in Annecy, which is where he grew up. In the summer of 2019, I went over to France in search of on-the-ground planners, and I looked at venues at the same time. Eventually we settled on two – Château de Duingt for our ceremony and cocktail hour and Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard further up the hill for dinner and dancing. The first venue doesn't normally host weddings because people live there, but our planner was amazing and negotiated us in. That’s the reason we split the day in two, though – we didn’t want to disturb the residents any longer than we had to.

“It’s a cliché, but don’t sweat the small stuff. Between the pandemic and a couple of our suppliers going missing, we faced quite a few challenges in making our day a reality, but it all worked out so well. We also built in a contingency plan for the weather as our ceremony was outside – they’d asked if we wanted a tent and, while we decided to risk it, we erected it elsewhere just in case. It turned out to be a hot day, so people used it for shade instead of cover. I also think if you’re having a destination wedding, having someone on the ground is invaluable, even if it’s just a co-ordinator on the day. They can look after all the details, and you can really be in the moment.”

Read about Jewelle & Matthieu’s wedding here 

Influencer & model Danielle Copperman says…

“My husband Hedi and I got married at Hedi’s family home near Lyon, which had become so special to us during the pandemic. Hedi’s parents had spent many years restoring the property and we have spent many happy times there over the years. We wanted the wedding to have an intimate garden party vibe, and I was excited to welcome a lot of my friends there – many of whom hadn’t been able to visit.

“I realise now that hiring a wedding planner to co-ordinate everything on the day would have come in useful. Because we got married at home it didn’t feel necessary in the run-up but, given the time again, I would look into that. I’d also tell future brides to prepare for a wedding abroad to dominate your life for a while. It’s not worth getting too stressed about – make sure you take regular breaks from wedmin – but it is something that takes up a lot of time.”

See Danielle & Hedi’s big day here 

It’s not enough to just hire a wedding planner in the destination country. You really need to find someone who has knowledge of the local area and any idiosyncrasies that might go with it. That way they can field any hiccups.

- Mabel, SL reader

Real-life bride Gabriella says…

“Covid hit shortly after our engagement, so we took our time to make sure our wedding was perfect. I knew I wanted to get married in Tropea, Italy – where my family is from – so travel was going to be a non-negotiable part of our day, which meant waiting. Italian wedding traditions are very family orientated, and I couldn’t have imagined getting married anywhere else. I’ll admit it: it’s a nightmare getting married abroad, and even more so in somewhere like Tropea where there aren’t that many options. We did a great deal of the planning ourselves, but in the end I hired a wedding planner to help finalise and bring things together on the day. I’d advise going to your chosen destination at least once before the wedding and do as much as you can face to face.

“It’s common for venues in the UK to offer wedding packages but not in Italy, so be prepared to bring in plenty of your own suppliers. Luckily, because my dad knew the area well and we have family connections there, there were a few people and companies who could help us out. Italy is also a very strict, religious country and you have to be Catholic to get married in a church there. It meant both Dean and I had to convert to Catholicism and do a dedicated marriage course in order to make it legal.

“In some respects, I could have made life easier for myself, but I’d probably only have regretted it if I’d ended up doing something I didn’t want to do just because it was the simpler choice. At the end of the day, this is a once-in-a-lifetime moment, so you should go the extra mile to make sure it’s exactly as you want it. I understand why some couples elope, but no matter how stressful my own experience, I wouldn’t change anything about it.”

See Gabriella & Dean’s wedding here

Visit your local vendors with as much time to spare as possible. That way you can be clear on your vision – and it always helps to put a face to the name for future communications.

- Patrice, SL reader

Real-life bride Daisy says…

“Andrew and I knew we wanted to get married somewhere halfway between the UK and Australia, and we’d both been to Cape Town a couple of times together and really loved it. We had some incredible wedding planners based locally called Kraak – two guys I found on Instagram – and they were a huge help. I must give my mum credit too. I couldn’t have put any of it together without her.

“Both of us knew we wanted to find somewhere with amazing views, and preferably in the Stellenbosch or Franschhoek areas. We went with our planners to see quite a few options but we settled on Blaauwklippen mainly because of what they call the ‘cathedral’ – kind of like a glass marquee. We brought in all our own suppliers, from the florists to the entertainment, and the food and drink.

“Don’t get worked up about the small stuff – delegate and you’ll be able to enjoy yourself much more. I also think there’s a lot of value in hosting dinners or drinks for family on the days either side – that way, on the wedding day itself you don’t feel like you need to spend all your time with them. It gives you more freedom to speak to everyone in the room.”

Read about Daisy’s big day here 

Real-life bride Gemma says…

“I spotted Villa Lena in Tuscany on a friend’s Instagram feed. What appealed most was the fact it had no neighbours or curfews, so the party could continue well into the night. The ethos and vibe were very laid-back, too – exactly what we were looking for. The moment we visited, we knew it was the right place. We chose Liz Linkleter to help us. She and her colleague Jess were a godsend on the day, as we had a lot of changes to manage. We used the entire venue, so it gave us peace of mind to know they had everything under control. 

“My biggest tip would be that you can save a fortune by letting certain things go. Try to make it personal – prioritise what’s important to you and your partner, and bring that into the theme. If you can, release control. This was hard for me, as I love planning and all the tiny details, but it was so worth it on the day.”

Read about Gemma’s wedding here

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