Every engaged couple has an idea of how they want their wedding to look. For many, it’s in their home towns, with their friends and family around them. For others, it’s a wedding abroad, in an incomparable setting where they can create new memories, or a place that can double as the honeymoon spot after the wedding is over. Getting married abroad isn’t for the faint of heart; it can be a confusing and frustrating process, particularly when dealing with foreign languages and strange new currencies. How many euros is a dollar again?
As with any wedding, there are no guarantees, and success depends on perseverance, lots of research, a dose of humor, and a little luck. Here’s a quick guide for couples looking to say their “I do’s” in another country.
The legal bitsBefore you even decide on a location, make sure you know the local rules and regulations for getting married. Many countries require a couple to register to get married or apply for a marriage license. Some even require that the bride and groom-to-be submit a medical exam and a blood test before they can get permission to be married, or abide by a minimum residency requirement (here’s looking at you, UK…) In addition to researching these requirements, couples will also want to make sure they understand the steps to have their marriage be legally recognized in the US.
Once these hurdles are crossed, find out if you or any of your wedding party will need visas to enter the country and have them apply well in advance.
While decidedly unromantic, covering off the legal requirements and getting the correct documentation will ensure that you have less to worry about in the days leading up to the big day.
Timing mattersPlane tickets are often cheaper during off-seasons when tourists are less likely to travel. If you are able to swing a wedding in these off-peak months, it could be your best bet to save money on both the wedding and travel to and from the destination. Research your locale to find out what the peak season is for that location. For places like the Caribbean and Mexico, off-peak seasons are the rainy periods. This may not be the best time for you to enjoy that outdoor beach wedding, but by timing your big event around this, you can save thousands. Some airlines have wedding travel packages that can allow you and your wedding party to save on costs.
Committing to the right vendorsMany couples who are planning a wedding abroad have a good mental picture already of what they want their wedding to look like. But when you’re thousands of miles away, how do you make sure you find the best location and vendors for your dream wedding? Short of scoping everything out in person, for many it boils down to online research. When dealing with countries that have a smaller web presence, it can become even more frustrating. To protect yourself from the feeling of panic and frustration that can sometimes set in before the wedding, ask whenever you’re unsure. Consult local resources such as blogs and forums, and don’t be afraid to ask vendors to provide more photographs so you can be sure you’re paying for the venue you want. Lots of people may end up relying on photographs on the webpage, but asking for more shots is something any venue looking to please its customers will be happy to do.
Lots of locations now have wedding packages to cut down on the work for the bride and groom. These packages can be a great option if you’re not the type to stress the details, and some even come with wedding planners who can take care of the thousands of little tasks so you don’t have to.
When you’re working with vendors, make sure to ask for group discounts, particularly if a lot of your family and friends will be coming. It’s those little things that can cut down on costs for the couple and ensure that more of your loved ones are able to make it. If you can guarantee a minimum number of nights for hotel stay, some resorts even offer package weddings that are included in the ticket price. While there may be some pricey extras, this can be a good option for some couples looking to save and leave the planning to others.
Plan to arrive earlySo you have everything figured out and you’re all set to fly out the day before to say “I do.” Wait a minute… Despite the best made plans, issues can sometimes come up at the last minute. Plan to arrive at least a few days early before the wedding to meet your vendors and make sure they understand your requirements. Once you talk to them, your own ideas may become clearer and they will also be better positioned to help you make the picture in your head a reality. Aside from finalizing details with all the vendors, getting some downtime before the guests come can be a welcome way to de-stress and enjoy yourself in a new location.
*Gulp* Big ticket costsWhether your wedding is big or small, couples can spend around $20,000 or more on a destination wedding. With travel, hotel, and vendor costs combined, that can be a hefty price tag to carry. What’s more, many couples choose to pay for immediate family members’ and the bridal party’s travel, and it is customary for many to pay for accommodations for their guests as well. If this is you, you will want to make sure that you’re not wiping clean through your savings. Engaging an international payments specialist like World First can ensure you’re not overpaying when you could be saving, and are getting more for your money. With our app, you can access our great rates and make payments on the go.
Planning a destination wedding can be daunting, but you can be left with a lifetime of beautiful memories and a location that will always have a special place in your heart. Leaving lots of time for planning, and taking into account the currency differences, can make sure your event is exactly as you want it, whether it’s a beach wedding, or a small country wedding at an inn. Now tell us, have you had or do you want a wedding abroad? What are some of your own tips?