A couple of months ago I got married in Italy. A lot of people have been asking me how I planned a destination wedding, so I thought this little guide might help some of you brides and grooms who are planning a destination wedding and trying to balance it with work and life commitments! Some of these tips also work for weddings at home.
1. Work out your style
Before my husband and I even looked at venues or colour schemes, we sat down and wrote down what we wanted from our wedding. What was important to us? What was the most important thing to us about the wedding? For us both, it was that our friends and family had a fun experience in an area that they could explore, relax and have a mini holiday in. It was important that it was easy for our guests to travel to. Another important thing for me was the photographer. Getting married in a beautiful place is wonderful, but if there's no one there to capture it you're not left with much after the wedding!
2. Consider if a wedding planner meets your needs
A lot of people hire a wedding planner, especially if their wedding is being held in a country with a language they don't speak. You can find loads of wedding planners online for your chosen country, and they have packages at varying prices. Some wedding planners charge a one-off fee, others take a cut of each service. Do your research on these companies and check out their reviews and always ask to see examples of real-life weddings they've organised. The language barrier wasn't an issue to me as I speak Italian, so I wanted to plan the wedding and make the arrangements myself.
3. Research venues and consider their limitations
People ask me how I found my venues - I got married at Villa Carlotta and had my reception at a beach club, Lido di Bellagio. I just used Google - usually typing "wedding venue name of place you want to get married" does the trick. I enquired at a number of venues before I stuck with those - it's important to do that so you can compare each venue. It's especially important to take your time if you're not planning on visiting your venues before the wedding. One issue I came across was that a lot of venues wouldn't allow dancing or music past a certain time, usually around 10pm. I realised that for my friends, having a great time and being able to dance to around midnight was important so that cut down my venue list quite considerably. Luckily, I stumbled across Lido di Bellagio!
4. Your venue can often help with suppliers
I found a few of my suppliers through the venues themselves. Often wedding coordinators have lists of recommended suppliers and these can be incredibly useful when it comes to things like flowers, cakes, transport etc. I managed to book my boats, officiant for the ceremony and my cake through my venue!
5. You could make savings by bringing some suppliers from home
My photographer very kindly waived their travel fees as Italy was somewhere on their bucket list, so if you do your research you might find you're saving money by bringing your photographer or videographer from elsewhere. Many photographers love to travel, so you could get yourself an amazing deal.
6. Check out wedding blogs
Wedding blogs were so useful for when I was planning my wedding. Destination weddings are becoming more common now, so you'll be able to find heaps of inspiration on wedding blogs. As wedding blogs always list the suppliers involved with the wedding, it's a great way to see potential suppliers in action or to find new ideas for suppliers.
7. Keep on top of your paperwork
You'll have payments and dates coming out of your ears, so it's important to implement an organised system for dealing with things. You'll probably be working in a couple of different currencies (seriously, I'm an expert in exchange rates now) so it's important to keep on top of things. I started off with a notebook, but I realised it wasn't the easiest way to do things. Venues and suppliers would send me emails and invoices, so I'd either have to print it out or write it down. It wasn't the most streamlined way of doing things so I switched to my computer. That way, everything was accurate as I'd just copy and pasted it from the emails. It's also a good idea to pop the important dates onto your calendar.
8. Think about the surroundings
I got married outside, which meant I could save on turning my venue into a lush, green paradise - it already had loads of trees! Think about your surroundings and whether you can ditch flower and prop ideas; not only will you save money, but when your surroundings are already beautiful you don't want all the gorgeous decor you paid out for to get lost.
9. Carry your dress/suit onto the plane
I couldn't imagine how sad I'd have been if my dress went missing. I've never had my luggage in the hold go missing, but if it did I couldn't imagine a worse time than my wedding for it to do so! My dress wouldn't fit into my suitcase and my airline wouldn't allow me to just fold it and put it in the overhead lockers, so I bought a seat for my dress. Make sure you check your airline's requirements beforehand and I made sure that I had it in writing that I could book an extra seat for my dress. Luckily, I managed to find a cheap seat in an airline sale that happened to be next to the seat I'd previously booked for myself!
10. Help your guests as much as possible
For my wedding, I created a wedding website that had details of travel information and local taxi firms. Your guests are being amazing by travelling all this way, so make it easy for them with lots of clear, helpful information. When you're getting guests to travel abroad, you have to accept that there are some things out of your control - flights can get missed and delays can happen. One of my good friends ended up not getting his flight because of BA's IT system failure. My husband's parents ended up missing their connection but thankfully managed to get another flight to the wedding. These things can happen, but you can minimise their impact by helping your guests as much as possible!
I had the most amazing time at our wedding and I have no doubt that it was because I could spend the week with my best friends in the most beautiful place. It was important to stay relaxed through the whole process and have fun with it - you only get to plan this once so enjoy it!