22 Tips for Planning Your Wedding Overseas
Posted in Destination Weddings on November 24, 2015
Everyone wants a memorable wedding, and few things can make that special day more amazing than coupling it with a fabulous foreign destination. Before you hop on a plane to say “I do” in an exotic locale, there are plenty of factors to consider in planning to make sure that day is as amazing as you envision. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
- Forecast Your Date Well in Advance
Any wedding takes a great deal of time and planning. This is naturally multiplied when you bring in the additional tasks involved in planning an overseas trip. Give yourself (and your guests) at least a year in advance to have enough to time to plan for the extra expenses, travel documentation, marriage paperwork, and other necessary considerations for a vacation in a foreign land.
- Plan Your Guest List Early
As soon as you’re fully committed to your destination wedding, send out your “save the date” cards as early as possible. Your friends and family that want to attend will need their own measure of time to determine their finances, get proper documentation, and take care of all their other personal needs to make it to your big day abroad.
- Talk with Other Friends When Planning a Date
Due to average marriage age, some people will find themselves booked for 3 different weddings in the space of 6 months, all of which involve travel of some kind. If you’re planning an overseas wedding, try to be nice to your friends by not scheduling it just a month after someone else’s wedding. It may not seem relevant to you individually, but it’s a nice step in making sure all the people you want to see have a chance to make it there.
- Accept That Some Guests Can’t Come
International travel is a big expense, and some of your friends simply won’t be able to afford the time, the money, or both. In the modern world, you may even consider setting up some form of online video relay if your destination allows for it, allowing those friends to still witness the ceremony live without having to get on a plane.
- Consider a Wedding Planner with Experience
A good wedding planner may already know a lot of the nuts and bolts for things like documentation and legalities, and some even specialize in overseas weddings. They may have contacts and access to travel packages and deals that will actually wind up saving you money in the long run! You can always work with them to decide what aspects of the wedding to leave in the planner’s hands and what parts of your destination wedding you want to give your personal touch.
- Check Wedding Legalities for Your Destination
Look up the laws governing weddings and marriages in the country you want to visit for your special day. You’ll need to know who can legally officiate weddings and make sure that your marriage will be recognized when you get home. Getting in touch with the embassy or consulate for the country and finding out what you need can save you a lot of hassle.
- Make a Checklist of Documentation You’ll Need
Early in the process, find out all the documentation you’ll need for your travel and wedding. This may include passports, birth certificates, other travel documents, immunization records, and any legal papers you’ll need for the wedding. As you get closer to the date, put together a packet that has all the copies everything you’ll need in one secure place. Share the checklist with your guests to make it even simpler for them to join you at your wedding hassle-free.
- Search for Travel Packages and Other Deals
Weddings are a big business in many vacation destinations, and plenty of businesses will offer special deals for certain conditions to make sure you choose them. Some hotels and airlines work together for bargains on travel and accommodations. In some wedding and vacation destinations, your ceremony could even be free under the right conditions! A little bargain hunting online may go a long way in saving some cash.
- …But Be Careful Which Deals You Take
While you should always look for the best bargain for your buck, you should also be sure to look for the fine print as well. Be certain you’re meeting all the requirements to get the deal to avoid getting hit with surprise expenses. Be wary of deals that seem too good to be true because that great island wedding sale happens to land your outdoor ceremony right in the middle of monsoon season. Remember, a deal is only as good as what you’re actually getting.
- Check the Climate of Your Destination
While we’re on the subject of seasons, do a little research on the climate of your ideal wedding destination. Make sure that you’re scheduling your date at the right time to be more likely to get the weather you really want for your trip and your ceremony. Factor in the temperatures and likely conditions when picking out the bride’s dress and planning other clothing. This can help you have the happy, comfortable wedding you’ve always wanted.
- Research Cultural Climate
Be aware of what requirements your desired location might have for visitors of any type. Even if you want to have your overseas wedding someplace for the stunning visuals, you’ll need to know how welcoming the area actually is and if there are any cultural or political issues that would make the location inhospitable or even unsafe.
- Take Care of Language Issues
If your wedding is taking place in a non-English speaking country, take that into consideration. You may want to hire a local translator for when you arrive. In some cases, you may need to have your documentation translated to the local language by an official translator and properly approved before you even get there. Know the requirements so you can take care of them early.
- Take a Pre-Wedding Trip to Your Destination
Even in doing all the right research, sometimes pictures and descriptions just don’t give you a proper portrayal of that dream destination. As part of your planning, try to take a short vacation to where you’d like your wedding to be prior to even setting your date. See some of the possible venues and attractions of the area with your own eyes before spending all the time, effort, and money to bring everyone there.
- Put Together a List of Available Activities in the Area
While your wedding party will likely be busy for most of the trip fussing over all the last-minute details and excitement, you’ll probably have some friends and family with spare time leading up to the ceremony. Having a few close-by activities and sites to see already listed on paper or online is a nice thing you can do for them as part of the entire trip.
- Book Travel under the Right Legal Names
Many weddings and marriages involve a name change of some kind. With travel and security conditions being what they are around the globe, take an early look at any issues your name change might create and make sure your travel arrangements work around them. In some cases, it may be beneficial to effect the name change early on paper so that all your legal documents will match for the duration of the trip.
- Plan Your Luggage
You may not wish to trust some crucial items such as a one-of-a-kind wedding dress to your checked baggage. Talk to your airline about the wedding party. In many cases, you can bring the dress as an extra carry-on as long the airline has been notified in advance. Various arrangements can be made, especially if you have a large group traveling together.
- …And Your Shipping
There may be some things you want at the wedding—such as pre-printed place cards or special family decorations—that would overload your luggage. Get a head start on finding the right shipping company that delivers to your overseas destination and seeing what rates they have and how long shipping will take. The earlier you can ship, the better, as rush shipping almost always costs a lot more.
- Research Local Businesses
Another fact to consider when getting all the things you want for your wedding is the local businesses and crafters that might already be at your destination. If the cost of packing and shipping some things starts to look pricey, consider what resources are in the area for services such as printing or even arranging to purchase items like wedding clothes from local vendors.
- Budget for Extra Expenses
Every wedding runs up against unexpected costs close to the event, and an overseas wedding compounds these chances. Be sure to leave plenty of room in your budget for emergencies, extra expenses, or even fun activities that you may decide spur of the moment. Even if you don’t have to spend that cushion at the wedding, just look at it as more money for the honeymoon!
- Consider Destination Wedding Insurance
With so much going into the big day abroad, you may also find it worth the expense to purchase some insurance to help cover unforeseen issues. Many companies offer specific insurance for overseas weddings that cover damaged items, cancellation costs, or other problems that can arise. Some even offer assistance to get the event back on track if there’s a crisis.
- Prepare Medically for the Trip
Know the vaccinations and other health-related concerns that might impact you at your destination and when you should update them to make sure they’re in effect when you arrive. The CDC has a site that allows you to input your destination and any conditions you or others might have to give you up-to-date information on what you should consider before traveling.
- Take Deep Breaths and Don’t Sweat Small Stuff
The last and most important tip is to roll with the punches and try to stay relaxed. There’s a lot to do when planning an overseas wedding, a lot that can happen, and invariably something won’t go exactly right. Don’t panic and stay calm when you have to adapt. Have a few plan-B’s for some of the trickier aspects of your wedding. Focus more on enjoying the special day even when something goes awry, and you can have that memorable wedding of your dreams in your ideal location.