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How to plan a destination wedding abroad: 10 expert tips for your dream day

Celebrities such as George and Amal Clooney have married abroad

beach wedding couple
Chloe Best
Lifestyle Features Editor
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The likes of Coleen Rooney, Billie Faiers and George Clooney have all chosen to tie the knot abroad, and with gorgeous weather and beautiful scenery, who can blame them? If you're considering getting married abroad, once the coronavirus travel restrictions are lifted, then you may be wondering where to start with planning. With help from the experts, we will guide you through the 10 top tips to allow you to pull off your dream destination wedding

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1. Give your guests lots of notice

"Once you know the date of the wedding, you can start sending out save the date cards – best to give more notice if you're planning a destination wedding. At this stage you can give as much or as little information as you like: the key is to share date and location, and of course if you already know it will be a certain type of celebration (for example, multiple-day) that’s something you can let guests know now." (Vaishali Shah, Creative Director, ANANYA cards)

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2. Style your wedding to suit the venue and location

"There are so many options nowadays for destination weddings and each location gives the opportunity for different styling and wedding design. An opulent villa on the Italian lakes leads to dining alfresco at dusk amongst the olive trees lit by chandeliers that seem to float magically above the long tables. Go to a tropical destination and you'll want plenty of bright pops of colour, exotic native flowers and luxurious white orchids in abundance. Whereas a French chateau or palace brings more a classic fairy tale look - the ornate detailing of the interiors is the perfect backdrop for plenty of gold, opulent table details and antique candelabra.

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"When styling a destination wedding, always work with the location rather than imposing a style into an unsuitable setting. That way you guarantee the venue and styling are the scenery, not the star of the show. " (Sarah Shuttle, Creative Director, Sarah Shuttle Creative)

3. Tailor your beauty look accordingly

Bride on beach© Photo: iStock

" Let your hairstylist know how your hair reacts to the climate (humidity) and different water. This will enable the morning to run smoothly. Nobody wants to have a Monica whilst walking down the aisle!" (Sally-Kate Duboux, Bridal Hair Stylist, Hair By Duboux)

4. Research the legal implications

"Do your research into that country first to ensure you are aware of legal implications. Not checking the legalities can mean you may not be legally married! Some countries have a residency period of 7 days before you can legally marry. In France for example it is 40 continuous days." (Bernadette Chapman, Director of The UK Alliance of Wedding Planners)

5. Ensure you have the correct documentation

wedding signing register© Photo: iStock

"Contact the UK-based embassy of the country you want to marry in, just to clarify what documentation you need for a wedding in that country. The embassy can give you the most up-to-date information regarding the legal requirements. If you are unable to meet legal requirements and/or residency requirements you may wish to have a symbolic ceremony abroad and a legal one in the UK." (Bernadette Chapman, Director of The UK Alliance of Wedding Planners)

With a notebook as cute as this, wedmin will be a joy:

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Wedding planner, £15.59, Amazon


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6. Consider your guests

"Destination weddings are often more cost-effective for the wedding couple (you get more for your money). BUT they are way more costly for your guests due to travel and accommodation. If possible, offer alternative hotels, that maybe a little more cost effective nearby." (Kelly Mortimer, International Wedding Venue Consultant, Kelly Mortimer)

7. Choose your stationery to suit your destination

"Commissioning a bespoke illustration (of the wedding venue or the country you are getting married in) for your invitation suite is a lovely touch. This also makes a wonderful keepsake for you after the wedding! If there are colours native to the location, country, or season when you’re getting married, you can incorporate these too." (Vaishali Shah, Creative Director, ANANYA cards)

Tropical floral invitations Papier

SHOP: Tropical floral wedding invitations, from £24 for 10, Papier


8. Re-think the traditional wedding cake

"Try not to replicate a UK wedding cake in a foreign country. The weather conditions may mean that it is too hot for a buttercream or fully iced cake and you will need to think about how the cake will be displayed. You will also need to consider what kind of designs the local bakeries can actually make (unless you have your cake flown over especially). My advice would be to embrace the local cake traditions as they will be suitable for that climate and will be the speciality of that area. It will also give your guests the opportunity to experience the local flavours and wedding traditions." (Debbie Gillespie, Cake Designer, Debbie Gillespie Cake Design)

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9. Choose your wedding venue carefully

Beach wedding venue© Photo: iStock

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"Ensure you have absolute trust in your wedding venue coordinator. The person you’ll be dealing with at the venue is always important but even more so with a destination wedding. As they’ll be your point of contact through planning and likely on the day. Be sure you feel comfortable with them and check how much support they can actually give. For example, will there be a video call each month and will they be coordinating on the day?" (Kelly Mortimer, International Wedding Venue Consultant, Kelly Mortimer)

10. Ask for help

Ask family. Asking a grandparent or parent about what inspires them from their culture could assist you with injecting any cultural elements into your stationery. And it’s a great way to include them in the wedding planning.

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