We all want to be different in our own special way – so why should our weddings not fall under the same category. An exotic ceremony in a foreign country is always a “brow lifter” What better way to make your guests “ooh” and “aah” than a scenic wedding in Tuscany, Italy or Bali, just to name a view.

Image found on www.ballens.ca
Image found on www.ballens.ca

But if only it was as easy as saying “ooh” or “aah”. Organising a wedding abroad takes amounts of planning, research and you might even encounter a few bums here and there. This piece will fill in some of the gaps as to what to avoid, how to go about organising things and what not to forget.

Pros and Cons – It’s a honeymoon and wedding all wrapped in one, it’s so out of the box it’s in another country and you can limit your guest list to the people you actually want there! However it can be quite pricey and it should be planned around the law that applies to marriages in that specific country. It might also be smaller than you would have hoped but at the end of the day it’s about a union between a man and a woman (with an amazing location).

Image found on bunniktours.com.au
Image found on bunniktours.com.au

After outweighing the pros and cons and if you’re up for the challenge (which it is) you need to decide where you want get married. The setting and feel for instance: would you want it to be historic, scenic in the country side or a beach wedding? Talk to travel agents visit tourist boards or ask family & friends. It’s also very, very important to gather as much information as possible about your country of choice.

Things to consider when choosing your location might be:

  • The climate you want to get married in
  • The time of year you would like your wedding to take place. It might be peak season.
  • Legal requirements (as I said very important)
  • The distance might also play a significant role.

Another thing that might help is looking at the different countries’ currencies, especially when you’re living in South Africa. For example it would be much cheaper to go to Bali or Thailand than say Switzerland or the United Kingdome but then again it all depends on the feel and look you want for your special day.

Image found on www.eyeshotphotos.com
Image found on www.eyeshotphotos.com

When it comes to the legal requirements make sure you know what papers you need, what goes and what doesn’t. It’s very common for bride and groom to have a legal ceremony in their country of residence followed by a symbolic ceremony in a foreign country.

Contac the local Embassy or Consulate of the country you would like to get married in – it might seem like a bit of a mission and it sometimes is but this part of the planning is too important to just leave it in fates’ hands.

Guests! Who to invite, who not to invite and where shall we put them? The thing that actually makes a wedding a ceremony is the guests. It’s wonderful to share something so intimate with people you love. It is an expensive story which is why dates should be discussed well in advance least a year(minimum) to give family and friends enough time to save. This is not the time to invite all you Facebook friends, weddings hosted abroad are usually small and intimate. It’s also perfect for inviting long distant relatives (we don’t really want them at the wedding but we’ll feel too bad not to invite them). If however they do show up you’ll know it’s meant to be and that they really, really wanted to share this day with you.

Image found on www.polkadotbride.com
Image found on www.polkadotbride.com

You will make it a lot easier for your guests if you recommend accommodation and you can put details in an information pack or on a personal wedding website or blog. Pre-booking accommodation for your guests can take some time but it makes it a lot easier for during the wedding – getting people to and from the event for instance is less of a hassle.

Now for all the planning! There are three ways to go about this:

  1. Choose a wedding package offered by a Tour Operator
  2. Use a wedding planner (They specialise in these types of things)
  3. Plan it yourself.

Personally I would avoid number three – but if you’re a hands-on type of person this shouldn’t be a problem. It might also help if you’re very clued up on the country or if you have a bunch of contacts living in the vicinity. If however you find yourself not in that category, number two is perfect – get the wedding planner. In the end it’s a total investment and they know the ropes.

Catering, flowers, food, venue etc. – you tell them what you want and they’ll get it for you. It’s perfect for when you don’t know your way around the place, what’s good and what to stay away from. A local wedding planner from your chosen country is easy and much more hassle free!

Image found on S6photography.co.uk
Image found on S6photography.co.uk

If you have a budget – Strangely enough sometimes hosting your wedding abroad vs. an extravagant wedding at home can work out a little cheaper. This thanks to a favourable exchange rate and having fewer guests to cater for. However there are more ways to save.

Daniela from Italy Italian Weddings says the following advice not only applies to weddings in Italy but to other countries as well:

Use a wedding planner that specialises in the region this way you won’t be restricted to just English speaking vendors, they’ll have a more intimate understanding of the area and they’ll have access to better quotations. Get married in off peak season and save the expensive tourist locations for the honeymoon, for example instead of planning a wedding in Rome or Venice, choose a villa outside a town where the reception, accommodation and wedding can be held all in one place.

Getting married is a mile stone we all treasure – we dream about this day from an age where we’re able to walk. With D-day around the corner (be it in a year or two) why not create something special and magical?

TIP: a website I found extremely interesting and helpful was “Weddings Abroad Guide” Brides share their experience and secrets as to how they went about doing things, feel free to sneak a peek.