With gorgeous weather and stunning backdrops practically guaranteed, it’s no surprise that more and more people in the UK are opting to get married abroad – a whole 16% of you at the last count. But by waving goodbye to the UK weather, saying ‘no’ to the stress and expense of organising a traditional wedding, and opting instead to sink your toes into the sand and celebrate with just a handful of special people, can a wedding abroad really be the wedding of your dreams?
Let’s look at the pros and cons of tying the knot in the sun.
The Wedding Guest List
If you get married in the UK, there’s a tendency to feel obligated to invite almost everyone you know – the relatives you haven’t seen for 15 years, the next door neighbour who very kindly looks after your cat every time you go away, and the weird girl at work who you don’t particularly like (how can you invite everyone else in the office and leave her out?). But by getting married abroad you can avoid all of that pressure and just invite the people who matter the most. Of course, if you expect your guests to pay for their own trip, your invitations will have to be sent out 8-12 months in advance to allow them time to save and book, and you’ll have to be prepared for some ‘with regret’ cards that are bound to follow. Having said that, an intimate wedding in a spectacular setting certainly has its benefits.
The Wedding Extras
Organising a wedding in the UK is stressful enough, but attempting it when you’re based in a different country can be a nightmare. Unless you’re planning on shipping everything over with you, cakes, flowers and finishing touches will have to be chosen from your sofa. All the top travel agents offer wedding packages across the world, most of which include a wedding co-ordinator who will source all the things you’ll need. But not being able to touch, see, smell or taste what you’re buying can be a daunting prospect, so be prepared to take many deep breaths during the planning process.
You’re still going to need your bridal wear though, and if you’re planning on taking your wedding dress (and the wedding party’s clothes) on the plane with you, you may have to cross your fingers and toes and pray that it’s actually in the cargo hold when you take off. You’ll also have to hope that the catering will be perfect, the photographer will be experienced and your venue looks as stunning as it does in the brochure, so don’t expect it to be a stress-free time! On the plus side, one of the joys of getting married abroad is having the opportunity to do things differently. You can swap your cake for a fruit platter, forego the flowers and even kick of your shoes and get married in your bare feet. Letting go of tradition and all of the fuss and nonsense that goes with it is one of the many reasons people decide to hop the border in the first place.
The Wedding Reception
Every wedding ceremony should end with a celebration and a wedding abroad should be no different. Most packages include a wedding breakfast and some of them include a disco in the evening, but don’t expect to hear the music you love. I’ve heard horror stories of hotel staff merely operating an iPod when a DJ had been promised, and a lot of that music being local to the area. So, if music, dancing and a great party atmosphere is high on your list of priorities, it’s certainly worth thinking about this before taking that leap across the ocean.
One of the benefits of getting married abroad is being able to wake up the following day and immediately start your honeymoon, and for some people, being surrounded by the people they love is the icing on the cake, allowing that party atmosphere to continue for the next few days. For others, however, a lot of the romance is lost when they find it impossible to escape and be alone for a while. Only you know how you want to celebrate your marriage, so before you invite 25 people to spend the week with you, really think about what that’ll mean.
If you like the idea of getting married abroad but you don’t want to leave your friends and family behind, there are other options if a two week holiday in the tropics is way out of their budget. A chateau in France, a villa in Italy or a sea-front hotel in Spain can offer you romance, excitement and breathtaking scenery with the added benefit of being just a short flight away. And by staying in Europe, it’ll give you the option to perhaps splurge on a few things to make your day extra special. With flights / ferries being far cheaper, more people will be able to attend. And if you have your heart set on a particular UK wedding vendor (a hairdresser, photographer or DJ, for example), the chances are they’ll be more than happy to join you.
You don’t have to travel thousands of miles to have the wedding of your dreams – 84% of people have theirs right on their doorstep. But if your heart is set on it, do your research, speak to people who have done it before and really think about what you need to make your wedding day special. Whether it’s Bognor, The Bahamas, or a weekend in Belgium, there are pros and cons for them all.
photo credit: kristiewells