Destination “I do”: How to plan an overseas wedding

Beach, chateau, whitewashed chapel… wherever you dream of getting wed, we’ve got top tips from the experts to make sure your desto do is the adventure of a lifetime Photography | Sarah Gawler

1. Start with the £££s


“Set a realistic budget, not based on how much things cost abroad, but on how much you can afford,” says wedding planner Elisabetta White. “Your budget will dictate how realistic your dream wedding is. If you decide to have a planner, this will be one of the first questions they’ll ask.”

2. Do your destination homework

“Your main consideration should be the number of guests and who will be attending. If there are older relatives or small children, you will need to take into account how long the flight is,” says Fred Harrison at luxury holiday specialist Tropical Sky. “You also need to check the legal obligations of your destination. For example, Barbados requires just one day of residency before the wedding, and the only documents needed are passports and original birth certificates. Destinations such as Mexico can be a little more tricky because a blood test is a requirement, while for weddings in the Far East you need to factor in an additional four night stay before the wedding can be official.”

3. Prioritise the paperwork

“Your first port of call should be the ‘Getting Married Abroad’ section of the Gov.uk website,” says Elisabetta, “which you should cross-check with the website of your chosen country’s embassy. Some paperwork, such as a Certificate of No Impediment (CNI) or Statutory Declarations, can only be obtained directly by you, but it’s a good idea to appoint someone (usually a wedding planner) to handle the rest, such as having documents officially translated or sworn before the courts, or presenting the paperwork to local authorities.”


4. Put everything in writing

“Getting overseas suppliers to stick to what you’ve agreed can be difficult,” says Elisabetta. “Follow up every phone conversation with an email summarising what was discussed, so that you have a trail of what was agreed. Always read contracts carefully and, if the supplier doesn’t provide one, ask them to formalise the relationship with a written document that lists any terms and conditions.”

5. Look after your guests

“The best way to communicate information to your guests is by setting up a wedding website,” says Elisabetta. “Many allow guests to RSVP and add their dietary requirements, too. Make sure to provide your guests with a list of hotels near the venue and organise pick-up and drop-off locations to ensure the day flows well. A pre- or post-wedding event is a nice gesture, too – consider a restaurant welcome dinner, a self-catered brunch on a beach or an informal aperitif.”

6. Be fashion forward

“Definitely consider the heat when choosing your dress (and suit!),” says Hendricks Rachel, events and wedding co-ordinator at Constance Lémuria Seychelles*. “You don’t want to wear anything in a thick material or dark colour. If you are getting married on the beach, remember sand and heels definitely don’t go together, so wear flats when your dress is fitted.” 


7. Pack like a pro

“You can now buy wedding-dress travel boxes that fit all major airline hand-luggage requirements,” says Elisabetta. “Or take your hand luggage to your bridal shop the day before you fly and ask them to help you pack it. Make sure your dress is also wrapped in a waterproof case, so there’s no chance of it getting wet.”

8. Don’t panic

“Just relax and enjoy it,” says Hendricks. “The hotel will have lots of experience of making sure everything goes to plan. You can often choose things like the location of the ceremony and reception once you’ve had a chance to look around – the on-site teams can then put everything in place for you very quickly.”


Photography: Sarah Gawler Photography