Dreaming of your wedding on far-flung shores but put off by the practicalities? From costs to legal requirements and the weather to where to go, founder of Pierre Carr Tropical Weddings, Michelle Pierre Carr, guides us on the road to the perfect destination wedding; in just seven simple steps…
1. Seasons in the Sun
Escaping grey British days for a wedding in the sun almost guarantees gorgeous big-day pics (except maybe that one of your uncle dancing), but even hotspots have rainy seasons; be sure to check when yours is before you book.
“There is good weather 90% of the time in the Caribbean, compared to the unpredictability of the UK,” says Michelle. “The best time to marry there is over the winter season, through to March.”
2. Destination Dream-Team
Once you’ve set the date and destination, it’s time to get some local knowledge: “Pick a team or wedding planner who knows the destination, which is well worth the cost to save time and hassle,” says Michelle. “Also, pick venues that only have one wedding a day – you want your day to be special, and I don’t believe it should be shared.”
3. On Tropical Time
At home, guests can shift their schedules for your big day in just 8-12 weeks, but remember there’s more to overseas weddings than booking a day off and buying an outfit.
“Get invitations out as early as possible,” says Michelle. “I suggest eight months prior to your wedding, which will give guests enough time to budget for your wedding, put it in their schedule and sort out flights.”
4. Long Arm of the Law
Half the fun of having your wedding a million miles from home is the far-away-from-it-all freedom. Check your country’s marriage rules before you go to make sure you keep yours.
“Think about where you want to get married and understand the legal requirements,” says Michelle. “How many days do you need to be in the country before you can get married? Do you need to take a blood test? And what paperwork do you need? Always check with your destination’s embassy for the exact details or hire a wedding planner to sort out the details for you.”
Find out the legal requirements for many countries here
5. Family Fortunes
They wouldn’t miss your wedding for the world, so make sure your guests know you appreciate them crossing the globe to be there.
“It’s important for guests to see this as an opportunity for a holiday and not just one day – your wedding,” says Michelle. “Give guests a choice of accommodation around the wedding venue to fit their budget, and consider having pre-wedding drinks or arranging excursions so that guests get to know each other and have a good time in the lead up to your wedding day.
“Also, put a gift bag in your guests’ rooms with details of the area, things to do and little touches such as fans, mosquito spray and sun-tan lotion, so they know how much you appreciate them making the journey.”
6. Can’t Buy Me Love
Good news! Choose your destination wisely, and your budget might actually go further than at home. It’s all about the exchange rate: “For example, as most Caribbean islands work in dollars, £10,000 pounds = $30,000 Barbados dollars,” says Michelle, “which means you can get so much more and you’ll have those great sunset shots to show for it.”
Keep a weather eye on special deals for your wedding in the sun, too: “Hotels have a number of offers.,” says Michelle. “If you stay in the hotel for x number of nights you could get your wedding free, or if your guests stay for at least three nights you could get your accommodation free. So check the possibilities at your chosen venue.”
That’s not the only way to get more for your money abroad…
7. Travel Right
“One of the obvious ways of saving on cost with a destination wedding is to combine the wedding and honeymoon,” says Michelle. “Also, you can keep travel costs down by avoiding having your wedding during Christmas, Easter or school holidays as these are the most expensive times to travel.”
You could even save a bundle on your bouquet and decorations: “If you want amazing flowers at your wedding,” says Michelle, “to save on cost, pick locally grown exotic blooms which will be far more reasonable in price rather than imported flowers such as roses, which can prove quite costly.”
More Honeymoon Favourites
Now you know how your wedding abroad works, why not find the perfect country for you with our Destination Finder, pick out thank-you gifts for all your guests or get your dress before you go?