An engaged couple may choose a destination wedding for many reasons, in fact 3 of the 4 ladies at Ellie Sanderson in Oxford were married abroad (the 4th is Acacia- planning her UK wedding on the blog every Monday!) Destinations included the Algarve, Cyprus, and Kenya! Emotional attachment was the key; it was either their first ever holiday destination together, the majority of their family lived out there, or they had spent a lot of their childhood there.
Destination weddings are a great way to have an intimate wedding, with a smaller guest list than you might be able to have in the UK, in a place you love. It usually makes a fantastic starting point for your honeymoon!

Here are ten top tips to keep in mind when you begin to plan your destination wedding:

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1.    Choose your destination:  Do you and your fiance have a place that is special to you? If not, don’t worry. Your chosen destination doesn’t have to be somewhere you have connections to; we regularly meet brides who tells us they have picked their location because it is a dream destination for them and their partner, so why not start married life exploring your dreams?
If you have a theme or a venue type in mind, this can often kick start your research. A destination wedding doesn’t just mean on a beach; why not go on safari, get married in a resort, or even at a point of interest? Disneyland anyone?

2.    Check the weather: Recently I met a bride who was getting married 8 weeks after she got engaged! Some may call her crazy, some say dedicated; her and her new fiance were desperate to get married in the ski-season in the Alps! If you are looking for heat, Thailand is an unusual but stunning destination. Just do your research on the wet months and monsoon season; if you are paying all that money and traveling all that way for the weather, you don’t want to get caught out if you can avoid it.

3.    Look at flights: Do flights only fly into your destination on a Tuesday? Have you chosen an eleven hour flight to California for a three day wedding weekend? Are you looking to fly to Greece in peak holiday season? Do some early research on the cost and availability of flights you may require. Does a flight and hotel package work out better off for your guests? Is it realistically affordable for everybody close to you that you want there? A Caribbean wedding may be the dream, but if your sister and her partner or your best friend is unlikely to be able to afford it, don’t forget to weigh up your priorities. Consider sending your Save The Dates as soon as you have booked your venue to allow time for your guests to save. If you have opted for a popular bank holiday or the middle of August, get your date in before other holiday plans are made by your guests.

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4.    Research the area:  Do some background searching on your chosen destination. Is an international film festival going to be on at the same time? This may mean the hotels are booked up, roads are closed, and flights extra expensive. Do many of the restaurants and entertainment facilities close nearby out of season? Your guests may be looking for other forms of entertainment before and after your wedding day. Is your chosen venue in the middle of nowhere, requiring a 2hour coach journey in 90 degree heat from the hotel? Think about not only your own comfort, but that of your guests too.

5.   Start the first draft of your guest list:  Numbers will be key to your destination wedding. Are you looking at an intimate ceremony with ten of your closest family and friends? For some couples, a destination wedding doesn’t mean cutting numbers it means celebrating somewhere special away from home. Draw up an idea of who you both want to invite; this will have an impact on costs, but could also affect where you get married.

6.   Research venues online: You may want to stay in the sister hotel of where you previously stayed, you may go on a recommendation from a family member or friend. For some, it may require a possible trip to visit. It is not unusual to book your venue without having seen it; just make sure you have seen adequate documents and recent pictures of the exterior and interior. I recently viewed a local venue which had been updated since its brochure- and we preferred the ‘before’ images! Do check to see if there are minimum or maximum guest requirements; this may depend on the day of the week, the season you are visiting, or there may be no restrictions at all. Is there a wedding co-ordinator dedicated to helping you from the minute you book to on the day room dressing?

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7. The Legal Bits: Make sure you are fully aware of the legal requirements to get married abroad; visit for advice, planning checklists, and required documentation lists.

8. The practical bits: Consider the logistics of all of the suppliers you may need. This list can include but is not limited to florists, caterers, a baker for your cake, a seamstress for any last minute alterations or pressing your dress after her flight. Can you negotiate with your venue to include any of these in your package? Are you happy with the choices on offer? Is there only one DJ in the town for you to choose from?

9. Start your dress search: With a venue in mind, start brainstorming the type of dress you would like. Pinterest, magazines, and the website of your local boutique is a great place to start. Just keep in mind the weather conditions of your chosen location. If your destination is hot go for fabrics that can breathe, less underskirts, and be wary of tan lines! No matter your destination, travel boxes are available which you can purchase from Ellie Sanderson to ensure your dress is safely transported abroad.

10.    Reserve your date, book your venue, and get excited! Then let your guests know!


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