Have you been planning, researching and mood-boarding your dream wedding since you were a kid? You may have a good idea of the kind of dress, colour scheme, wedding flowers and bridal party you’d want for your special day – but what about the location?
Destination weddings are on the rise and, from Tuscan villas to Thai beaches, it’s not hard to understand why. From the budget to the guest list and more, here are some things you should consider before choosing where to exchange your vows.
The Pro’s and Con’s of Destination Weddings…
Perk #1: Holiday and wedding in one!
Fancy a holiday and a wedding for the price of one? Destination weddings can bring a glamorous, exotic wow factor.
Holding your reception in a place with sentimental value can make your big day even more memorable, and be a great compromise if you or your significant other hail from overseas but are planning to live in Australia. Bringing together your wedding and honeymoon seamlessly in the one amazing place can prolong the celebrations and quality time with your loved ones.
Perk #2: Smaller, more intimate occasions
Size is a major factor when choosing the location and venue: are you after an intimate reception with only close friends and family? Or is your dream wedding an extravagant affair attended by hundreds?
Some destination weddings can be low-key thanks to the smaller size that naturally comes with having your big day overseas. This in-built filter for your guest list will soothe a sense of guilt or obligation when it comes to inviting your guests. Quality over quantity means you’ll have more one-on-one time with your closest loved ones rather than having to rush around to greet dozens of tables.
Perk #3: The rise of all-in-one deals
Yes, destination weddings involve the additional hassle of airfares, accommodation and transportation on top of the usual, already massive organisational feat of wedding planning. But believe it or not, destination weddings can sometimes be relatively simple to put together – so long as you’re not planning to organise the entire thing yourself!
The rise of all-in-one packages, overseas wedding specialists and in-house consultants offered by some resorts and hotels means your big day can be hosted stress-free abroad. This does, however, vary by country; places that are off the tourist radar are less likely to offer these specialised wedding planning services.
Pitfall #1: Double the bureaucracy
As for the downsides of getting married overseas, the big one is the minefield of bureaucratic red tape to navigate. For starters, you’ll need to research the legal ins and outs of getting married overseas, like obtaining marriage licenses in both Australia and your destination country and making sure your wedding will be registered back home.
Navigating foreign bureaucracy can be frustrating and time-consuming, in some cases involving lots of paperwork. Some countries, such as Italy, require you to complete a special affidavit before the consulate for instance. Wherever possible, it’s best to have an experienced professional help you handle the paperwork.
Pitfall #2: A logistical headache
And then there’s the foreign language, currency, and cultural customs to contend with for your typical destination wedding.
Even armed with an overseas wedding planner, you’ll have to consider not only all the usual components like food, table settings, flowers, decorative elements, your dress, photographers, videographers and more – but also how you will get all these elements to your venue! Whether you plan to use local suppliers, or bring your own bits and bobs from home (be wary of import taxes, transport costs and customs regulations), these decisions can be stressful and research-intensive. Something as simple as taking your wedding dress overseas can be a hassle depending on the gowns size and delicacy, for instance, and catering for everyone’s tastes and dietary requirements can be challenging in a foreign country.
Destination weddings also require more forethought in planning as you’ll need to send your save-the-dates well ahead of time, ideally a year or more in advance.
Pitfall #3: Difficulty for guests
The cost of travel, accommodation and time spent from work can impose a real financial burden on your guests, raising the thorny issue of destination wedding etiquette. Though few guests would expect you to pay for their flights or hotel stays, arranging discounted group rates for airfare and accommodation is a nice token gesture.
Beyond the financial considerations, health issues and a lack of leave accrued at work may also make travel impossible for some guests.
Final factors to consider
Think carefully about what your dream wedding looks like. If that’s a big wedding attended by your entire extended family, totalling hundreds of people, overseas is probably not a realistic option. If your beloved elderly grandparents aren’t up to long-distance travel, staying closer to home is the obvious choice.
There are also aesthetic considerations: if your dream floral bouquet consists of stunning Australian natives, or your ideal colour palette is an elegant monochrome, perhaps a tropical palm tree studded ceremony in the Pacific is not the greatest match!
In the end, it all comes down to what type of wedding is the best fit for your personality, budget and the amount of time (and patience) you have for wedding planning.
Whenever you opt to celebrate your wedding, this exciting milestone will be an unforgettable occasion. If you’d like help with bringing your dream wedding to life, get in touch with our team. With over 20 years of wedding florist experience, and an award from the Australian Bridal Industry Academy, we specialise in bespoke floral arrangements for your big day and offer complimentary consultations for brides.