I’m now a few months into planning my wedding in Italy next year. The last few months have been a complete eye-opener for me into the world of ‘destination wedding’ and during this time I’ve got the trickiest parts done and have booked a venue. As I’ve made some progress, I thought it might therefore be useful to sum up the things I’ve learnt along the way. These are the things you really need to consider before you decide to marry abroad.
1) The legal bit
If you’re planning on getting married in Europe, the chances are you won’t be doing the legal/official bit during the ceremony (I’m referring to civil ceremonies here). For example, in Spain, you can only marry there if you’ve been a resident in the country for two years or are originally from Spain. In other countries, such as Italy, you can marry but this mostly needs to take place in an official town hall. Most wedding venues, i.e. vineyards and hotels, cannot officially marry you on their grounds. Initially, we were considering doing the legal bit the day before our ‘blessing’ in the local town hall. We changed our minds, however, after receiving some valuable advice on the problems a foreign wedding certificate can cause. We don’t want any complications later down the line in proving we’re actually married and so we’ve decided to do the legal bit in the UK before we fly out for our blessing. For some people, this would be a big no-go, so think carefully about whether you’re happy to compromise on the day. A great website to check different marriage laws is Marry Abroad.
2) Wedding planner
I quickly realised that trying to plan a wedding abroad by myself was going to be impossible and so I decided to hire an Italian wedding planner to help me through the process! I’ve chosen Exclusive Italy Weddings, who so far have been amazing help! I told them the area of Italy I wanted to marry in and they sent me a big list of possible venues (within my budget so it wasn’t too depressing!) As well as booking and liaising with the venue, they source the photographer, videographer, florist, advise on the legal bits and assist guests with accommodation and transport. Of course, hiring someone to deal with all of this costs money, so consider your budget!
3) Wedding size
Deciding to have a wedding abroad generally means your wedding party is going to be smaller than if you married in your home country. This is a really important element to consider, especially if you know there will be relatives or friends that won’t be able to make it. If you’ve always dreamed of a huge wedding, then holding your wedding abroad might not be your best option as inevitably not everyone will be able to come. For me, a small, intimate wedding is perfect so this hasn’t been too much of a problem.
If you’re a total control freak and want to check, re-check and check again your venue, flowers, and food menus, then getting married abroad probably isn’t for you. Unless you have a lot of money, the chances are you’ll have to book a lot of things before you actually get to see them. We’ve booked our venue, but won’t be seeing it until this June when we go out to visit! Here, faith in my wedding planner, Trip Advisor and Lonely Planet reviews of the area, have been crucial!
5) Expect to compromise
As excited as you may be about a week in another country to get married, not all your guests will be feeling the same. For some, weddings abroad can be a stressful demand on time and money, so be prepared to negotiate and compromise. If people can’t make it, think about holding a party at home when you return, or some other sort of celebration, so people don’t feel obligated to attend the ceremony. We’ve found that doing the legal bit in the UK is a great compromise for some of our family members who won’t be able to travel out to Italy, as they can still be part of the celebrations before we go!
Of course, these are just my experiences (I’m by no means a wedding expert), but they’re things I hadn’t really thought about until the process of planning the wedding started. So far, I’ve learned that to plan a wedding in another country you need plenty of imagination, patience and compromise!
Have you got married abroad or are planning a destination wedding? I’d love to hear your experiences and any other good tips to consider!