The Essential Guide to Your Destination Wedding Planning

So you’ve decided to ditch the unpredictable UK weather for sunnier exotic climes on the big day? With the weather being as dire as it has been so far this year, I can’t say I blame you!

The temptation to tie the knot overseas is one that draws many brides and grooms (around 350,000 annually!), with sunshine in abundance, the potential for a gorgeous beach backdrop and not to mention getting to combine your wedding day and honeymoon, if you so wish!

While a Destination Wedding is undoubtedly a wonderful idea, with the possibility of being a wonderful reality, it does come with a fairly hefty ‘to do’ list of things that you would not normally have to consider with a wedding in the UK. But being a challenge doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take it on, it just means that you need to get clued up and know the essentials beforehand so you don’t get caught out.

From licensing laws to organising the catering from afar, the struggle of arranging a destination wedding on your own is real, so if you can budget to hire a wedding planner to help you out this might be a very good option. Although the outlay for employing a professional may seem more than you’d like to part with, it could actually end up saving you money in the long wrong purely by cutting down on logistics and having someone who knows how and where to get you the best for your money. However, before you decide whether or not you need professional assistance, you might want to try getting your head around what it is that actually needs doing that really differs from the organisation of a wedding on home shores.

As an award-winning bridal hair and makeup artist with 30 years experience, my services are often required outside of the UK for brides who have chosen a destination wedding to ensure that they get the hair and makeup they really want. Because of this, I’m no stranger to the ins and outs of planning the big day from a distance and I’m familiar with both the joys and the downfalls! To help you get started with your destination wedding planning, I’ve put together my essential guide with everything you need to know…

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destination wedding

Licensing

Before you do anything else, the first step to planning a Destination Wedding is to investigate your different countries licensing laws ASAP.

You may have an idea in your head of where you would like to get married, but there are some countries that are considerably harder than others to achieve that in and in fact, some where legally it’s not possible at all. Fortunately, on the flip-side, there are numerous countries where UK citizens can get married relatively easily and unless you really want your work cut out for you, I would generally advise you opt for one of these. Even the easier options may have some tricky legislation to get through, which often includes having to be in the country for a month or two before the big day to make it legal.

destination wedding

Depending on your availability and budget, caveats like having to be in the country for an extended period or make multiple visits within a certain time frame could easily take a destination out of the running, so make sure that you have thoroughly researched the ins and outs of where you’re going before you send out your invites!

As a UK couple getting married, there are lots of amazing places you can say your ‘I dos’ without too much hassle that only require a 1-7 day residency beforehand. These are:

Italy

Greece

Cyprus

Mauritius

Seychelles

Sri Lanka

Southern Africa

Bali

Thailand

Caribbean

USA (New York, Las Vegas, Florida and Hawaii)

Canada

Australia

New Zealand

Cook Islands

Fiji

destination wedding

Seasons

You’ve figured out where to have your destination wedding, the next step is when. Have you found an almost too good to be true deal at your dream venue that is weirdly cheaper than other times of the year? This could be down to the fact that the weather you’re counting on is doing some crazy things at that time of year.

Always check the general annual weather for countries that you’re considering for your destination wedding to avoid selecting a season that is known for it’s unbearable heat or tropical monsoons. Getting married on a beautiful day is often a priority for couples drawn to tying the knot abroad and if you pick the right season, you’ll be in with much better luck of getting your wish.

destination wedding

Vendors & Suppliers

One of the most daunting things about having your wedding overseas has got to be the organisation of all the ‘little’ things: catering, flowers, bridal hair and makeup, entertainment, décor…these are all hard enough to get selected, tied down  and booked in when you’re in the same country, speaking the same language, but it can be near-impossible if you’re attempting to go it alone from abroad.

This is the point where you can’t beat a wedding planner when it comes to getting everything sorted remotely. Hiring someone who is a pro at planning weddings in the area or even using a wedding planner provided by a hotel or venue will take all of the really challenging planning out of your hands and into those of someone who knows what they’re doing. You shouldn’t have to worry about them taking over and arranging a day that isn’t what you have in mind – be vocal about your wants and needs and be clear that you want to have as much input as possible from the outset.

destination wedding

There are lots of things that are best left being local – the food and the event styling being two of those. But often getting the high quality of bridal hair and makeup you’re after and of course, being able to attend that all-important trial run, is a task best left to pros at home.

The way you look on your wedding day will have such a huge impact on how you feel and therefore, whether or not you really enjoy your wedding, so it’s essential to get right. You will of course have to take into account the extra costs of flights, accommodation and additional days you’ll need to pay your bridal hair and makeup artist for, but if it’s an artist you know you’re really happy with, it’s worth it.

destination wedding

If hiring a wedding planner is out of your budget or you’d rather take it on yourself, here are some tips:

  • Pay a visit to your destination at least once before the wedding to scout out and book local suppliers
  • Befriend people who live in the area or who work in local restaurants for the best intel on lesser known talent and the best prices.
  • Bring your hair and makeup artist with you! Getting your bridal hair and makeup just right makes such a difference to your big day. Don’t risk it on someone you’ve never met or trialled with, instead, talk to your favourite UK wedding hair and makeup artist about their fees for coming along.
destination wedding

The Dress

Wherever you decide to get married, be it in the UK or a destination wedding, always book the venue before choosing your dress.

Not only will the choice of backdrop affect the style you’ll want to go for, but of course when getting married abroad you also need to take into account the temperature and whether or not you’ll be comfortable. You might love those illusion sleeves and big ball gown silhouettes, but these are probably going to be far from practical on a beach or in sizzling heat! Your husband to be should consider his outfit too – maybe a tailored linen suit would be more appropriate than a wool tux?!

Oh and one more this: never check your dress! It’s Sod’s Law that the item of luggage that will go missing will be the most important one and you can’t afford to lose this. Carry your dress on board and have it pressed and steamed when you arrive.

Start Early

Planning a wedding in your own country takes around a year all in, so take into account that arranging a destination wedding will usually require more time and effort than that, unless you’re using a wedding planner.

Don’t leave anything until the last minute! Everything must to arranged well in advance to avoid any unwanted stress.

Start your organising by planning at least one scouting trip, but preferably more like 3 or 4 – the more the better to make sure that everything goes smoothly. Really be on it for these trips by setting up as many appointments with prospective suppliers and vendors as you can to really make your most of your time out there. The less rushed everything is, the more you’ll feel happy that you made all the right decisions when the day comes.

destination wedding

Wedding Planning: How to Get Your Guests to RSVP on Time!

As a Bridal Hair & Makeup Artist with over 20 years experience, I’ve seen it all when it comes to weddings and as such, I’ve picked up a lot of really, wedding planning handy tips on how to make the big day run as smoothly as possible.

One of the most common problems I hear about from my brides both on their trial run and on their wedding morning is what a struggle it has been to get their guests to RSVP on time, so today’s blog contains my advice on how to get those RSVPs when you need them!

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Sending out wedding invitations is often something that couples leave surprisingly late, but if you’re hoping to get ahead of the game and really crush it with your wedding planning, make sure that you bump this task right up your ‘to do’ list.

Why? Because one of the biggest hassles about getting all your wedding bits and bobs sorted has got to be trying to get your guests to RSVP in a timely fashion!

Although all-things-wedding might be the only thing on your mind, it’s usually not so much for your friends and family, so when your wedding invitations go out be prepared to do a bit of extra leg-work to get those responses back.

Sounds like a bit of a nightmare, right? Well yeah, when guests don’t RSVP until the last minute (or at all), that really puts a spanner in the works, so following a few, simple wedding planning steps to get the yay or nay from your guests is well worth it.

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Here’s how to get your guests to RSVP on time:

Make It Easy

 

Requesting an RSVP by post is one sure-fire way to find yourself with minimal responses. People have busy lives and the last thing they’re going to find the time to do is tick that ‘attending’ box and mail it back to you.

The easier the better, when it comes to getting a timely RSVP, so keep the reply options really easy.

Set up a wedding email account (this is a great idea anyway, to help you keep on track of all your wedding vendors and quotes) and ask your guests to ping you over a brief message. Everyone has a smart phone these days so sending an email is no big deal. Welcome to the future!

If you’re set on keeping it traditional and still want to go for the snail mail system, do provide that pre-stamped return envelope. It adds on a cost, but it’s worth it for the efficiency and the money you’ll save on not having excess meals going to waste.

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Be Very Specific

 

Don’t give your guests the opportunity to be lax about their RSVP. Make it abundantly clear on your wedding invitation that you require a response by a certain date and make sure that the certain date you choose is WAY ahead of your wedding.

If you don’t state exactly when you need your answers by, I can guarantee that you will be getting them much later than is ideal.

 

Stay Organised

 

It’s easy to let the little things slip, but do try your very best to stay super organised when it comes to keeping a record of who has RSVP’d and who hasn’t.

Create a spreadsheet and make a note of every reply you get as soon as you get it; this way, when it comes to having to do your chasing up (which, unfortunately, you will have to do) your life will be made much easier.

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Chase Up

 

We’ve broken the news to you in the point above, so let’s get down to the details. You will, inevitably, end up having to chase a good chunk of your guests for an answer, no matter how clear your wedding invitations were – so how do you go about doing that?

Despite it being very understandable that you need an answer with plenty of time to spare, many guests don’t get that, so try to be gentle with your reminders and don’t get too frustrated! Your wedding email address comes in handy here again as an email is probably the best way to send a quick, friendly reminder out.

You’re one step closer to your perfect day!

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5 Simple Ways to Look Amazing in Your Wedding Photos

There’s no denying that getting your wedding photos right is a pretty huge deal – these are going to be your memories to last a lifetime after all, so you want to make sure that you look your very best.

 

Having your hair and makeup done by a pro certainly helps with this, from knowing the best flash-friendly makeup to use that will last all day, to creating a hairstyle that you know is going to stay put and look fabulous, but there are some more things that you can do to help you feel confident in getting that photo album you’re after.

 

Getting your wedding photos taken, whilst a fun thing, can also be a bit daunting for many, so doing everything in your power to boost your confidence and help you feel as though ‘you’ve got this’ is going to help.

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Practice your poses

 

It may sound silly, but there’s no harm in practicing some poses in the mirror ahead of your big day, so that when the time comes for you to step in front of the camera you feel totally ready.

The likelihood is that your photographer will be taking plenty of candid photos that you won’t need to strike a pose for, but there will probably be some snaps of you with family and friends that are set up. Figure out how to flaunt your best assets and disguise bits you’re a bit self-conscious about in a subtle but effective way, by doing things like putting a hand on your hip to slim arms, or pressing your tongue behind your teeth for that perfect, natural looking smile.

 

Avoid a Double Chin

 

We’ve all fallen victim to a double chin cropping up in photos – it happens to even super slim people! The trick to avoid it isn’t just to lose weight, it’s actually more about how you hold yourself.

When you’re having your wedding photos taken, remember to lengthen your neck by moving your head forward and then tilt your chin upwards. This may feel slightly unnatural, but you’ll be glad you did it when you get all those single chin images back later!

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Laugh – for real!

 

Fake smiles and fake laughter is not a good look in wedding photos, so instead of putting it on, try getting a real giggle out instead! Forget the bad jokes from the photographer and desperate attempts to recall something hilarious on the spot, just start with a fake laugh and go from there. Let out a big old, false guffaw with whoever you’re having your photo taken with, then do it again and again. Soon enough, you’ll all be laughing for real. Try it – it works!

 

Stand Tall

 

Bad posture has a lot to answer for in many wedding photos, so try to hold yourself correctly as much as you can throughout the day.

Draw your shoulders back, lift your chest up and tuck your tummy in. Breathe, to relax yourself (looking stiff isn’t great either!) and then smile. You’re photo ready!

 

Hire a Pro Hair & Makeup Artist

 

Having a professional do your hair and makeup really does go a long way in making you look great in your wedding photos, not just because of the skill involved in creating that perfect look and the high quality products, but also because of the confidence it will instil in you.

If you feel amazing, you’ll look amazing – it’s that simple!

Wedding planning is a pretty full-on job from the get go. There’s so much to consider, from booking your venue to finalising the menus, and with such a lot whizzing through your head it’s easy to allow your own needs to get forgotten about.

The real key to having a wonderful day, once all the big stuff is sorted, is to go with the flow – you can’t control everything – but that being said, there are some little things that you can do to nip any niggles and issues in the bud.

A small amount of personal prep is all it takes, but it’s always the things that newly weds only think about in hindsight that would have been really handy. Fortunately for you, with over 20 years working in the wedding industry, I’ve met my fair share of brides and attended literally thousands of weddings! With my top wedding planning tips for a savvy bride, you’re bound to have the perfect day.

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Wedding Planning Tips for Savvy Brides-To-Be

Pack Your Survival Kit

 

A bridal survival kit is a bit of a must for all brides-to-be, full of things that you would never think of that often turn out to be invaluable on the day. Here are a few unusual items that have been known to come to the rescue:

 

  • A piece of white chalk – perfect for covering up any wedding dress blemishes, should they appear throughout the day.

 

  • Protein bars – Nerves and excitement can be a real appetite suppressant, but don’t let yourself suddenly get to the point where you’re starving. An emergency protein bar is a great thing to have to hand.

 

  • Fashion Tape – Avoid any wardrobe malfunctions by coming armed with fashion tape

 

These, along with the obvious aspirin, tissues, dental floss, mints and makeup for touch ups will have you set.

Be Honest

 

If there’s something that you really want, or really don’t want make it clear to whoever needs to know well in advance. Don’t just go along with things to make everyone happy, because your upset is bound to come out when you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed on the day.

Honest communication from the start of wedding planning is key to getting the day you want.

 

Test Your Shoes

 

We all know that new shoes can be a bit of a pain – literally – and being in pain is the last thing you want on your wedding day.

Practice wearing your shoes around the house ahead of the big day, so that they’re broken in a and comfortable to wear when the time comes to walk down the aisle.

Obviously, no matter how much you test drive your shoes, discomfort can still strike, so don’t forget to bring blister plasters with you just in case.

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Get Personal

 

You’re going to spend most of your time in a spin on your wedding day and often newly weds regret that they didn’t get to spend much time with their new husband or wife, which is of course what the day is all about!

Avoid getting caught up in a whirlwind and missing out on this beautiful time, by figuring it out during your wedding planning.

Allocate yourselves some alone time after you’ve said your ‘I dos’, so that you can cry and kiss and cuddle and share the moment with each other. You will be so glad that you did this – this is the sort of memory that will last you a lifetime.