Taking your nuptials overseas not only means that you get to skip the fuss and frenzy of a traditional wedding – it might also cost a lot less. While it may involve some mind-boggling logistics, it doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Here’s a practical guide by SingaporeBrides to pull off a beautiful destination wedding.
Actor Daniel Wu and model Lisa S. tied the knot in a beautiful forest in South Africa, surrounded by the local villagers who sang, danced and blessed the marriage. Longtime celebrity couple Nick Lachey and Vanessa Minillo, meanwhile, secretly planned an intimate four-day beach wedding on a private Caribbean island. Nearer to our side of the globe, In the Mood for Love leading man Tony Leung exchanged vows with girlfriend Carina Lau in a meaningful Buddhist ceremony in Bhutan.
Destination weddings, it seems, are getting increasingly popular. According to the recent Real Weddings Survey, which surveyed nearly 18,000 US couples married in 2011, one in 10 bridal couples decide to say: “I do” on foreign shores. That’s a 25 per cent jump from 2009, [Source] and there are a number of compelling reasons why. For one, a destination wedding means getting away from stressful family situations (like having two sides of the families arguing over the number of banquet tables to host). Also, even if you add up the bridal- and travel-related costs, it may still be less expensive than holding a ten-course banquet dinner in a four-star hotel. That’s because an overseas reception often involves fewer guests. So if you are engaged and considering a destination wedding, here’s a list of 10 useful tips:
1. SHORTLIST A FEW DESTINATIONS
You may have your heart set on getting married in the Maldives, but it will be wise to open your mind to more than one destination at the planning stage. Think of a few locations that will make sense to both your personalities and is meaningful to your relationship. For instance, you may want to return to Bali, where you and your fiancé first travelled to as a couple. Or if you are both wine lovers, how about holding it in a vineyard in Australia? You can always make a dream list, before considering the practical aspects, like budget.
2. PICK THE RIGHT SEASON
In Singapore, it’s always a toss-up between “sunny” and “rainy”. But this is definitely not so in other countries. For instance, a wedding photographer once told us how he had to shoot a wedding in Boracay, Philippines, in the middle of the typhoon season (let’s just say the sand got into everyone’s food). To avoid the weather being a major mood-dampener, be sure to pick the right season. Also, choose your wedding gown according to the weather. If your wedding is going to be held in summertime, it might not make sense to wear a long-sleeved taffeta gown.
3. SET A BUDGET EARLY
At SingaporeBrides.com, we always advise brides-to-be to set a reasonable budget during the early stages of wedding planning. And this is even more important for a destination wedding. Having a budget will help you to narrow down your options, whether it is the venue choice or number of guests. If your parents are chipping in, have a sit-down discussion about which aspects of the wedding they might like to provide for. For instance, if they choose to sponsor the flowers, you can strike that off your list early and focus on budgeting for other bridal needs. Remember to factor in extra costs and hidden costs, like shipping costs for anything that you may need to ship ahead of time, such as décor materials for the venue.
*Tip! Look for all-inclusive wedding packages offered by resorts and hotels in the destination of your choice – you might be able to save some cash.
4. PLAN A HONEYMOON AT THE SAME PLACE
If there is a budget constraint, you can consider planning a honeymoon at the same location as your destination wedding. After your guests fly home, just stay on. You can simply check into another resort or hotel for a change of scenery. Or, travel to a nearby city or island in the same country. For instance, if you are in Krabi for your beach wedding, just make arrangements to take a domestic flight up north to Chiang Mai for a weeklong honeymoon.
5. SORT OUT THE NITTY-GRITTIES
By this, we mean the dreaded paperwork. Certain countries have specific marriage requirements, so you will need to research on how things work ahead of time. For instance, legal documents may need to be translated (as is the case in Italy) or marriage applications may need to be filed months in advance. Sort these out before you fly there to say: “I do”. If in doubt, check with the wedding coordinator at the venue or contact the country’s embassies for help.
6. BE COMFY WITH YOUR WEDDING VENDORS
As you will be leaving a lot in their good hands, choose and choose carefully when it comes to vendors like a wedding planner, florist, photographer and stylist. Besides online portfolios, also check out word-of-mouth recommendations from other brides. Consider using Skype to e-meet your vendors – a face-to-face discussion is often more effective than communicating via email. An alternative to hiring vendors from your wedding destination is to decide on what’s important to you and hire professionals from your own country. For instance, if hair and makeup is extremely important to you, bring your own stylist there.
7. CARE FOR YOUR GUESTS
Not everyone is savvy enough to book travel arrangements on their own. Make sure you are available to coordinate and arrange for flights and accommodations. There will be lots to do once you’ve arrived at the wedding destination, but don’t neglect your guests. Upon checking-in, it will also be a good idea to hand out welcome bags, filled with essentials like sunblock lotion, fruits and a schedule. Also consider getting two members of your bridal party to be in charge of showing hospitality to everyone, such as by planning icebreakers and booking spa treatments.
8. TOSS TRADITION OUT
That you’re planning a wedding away from home-ground means that you are at the liberty to not follow age-old traditions. Like having a big, five-tiered wedding cake or a 10-course banquet at a hotel on a weekend evening. Instead, you are free to have it as laid-back as you wish, whether it’s walking barefoot down the aisle at a beach ceremony or forgoing the tuxedo-and-gown combination at a summer wedding. It’s more important for you to have fun.
9. LET IT GO
Let’s face it: Brides-to-be yearn to be in total control of their Big Day. But with a destination wedding that’s usually planned long-distance, it’s simply not possible to plan everything down to the last detail or keep everything in check. Even if you fly to your wedding destination before the actual date (and we strongly recommend this), some details will be lost in translation or missed out. This is true even if you’re super organised and have a clear vision. So learn to let your hair down, and enjoy the journey to marriage instead!
10. REMEMBER THOSE AT HOME
A destination wedding may not allow you to invite everyone you want. Some loved ones may also not be able to travel out of the country for your Big Day. Consider hosting a celebration back home for these guests. It doesn’t have to be a banquet at a fancy hotel – an intimate reception at a favourite restaurant or a casual affair at home will do just as well. Think of it as a way to continue your wedding fun!