By: Ben Spence
The sun in the sky, the beach in the background and you with the person who you love uniting your lives for life. Sound idyllic? This is why more and more couples are choosing to have their wedding abroad.
In our 6 years experience, talking to couples and helping them to make their dreams come true there are 3 main reasons for making this decision
1. So you can have the wedding you want
There is a fairly strict guide of what ‘should’ be done at a wedding in the UK: The great thing about getting married abroad is that you can take ‘the guide to wedding etiquette’ and throw it away. If you want to walk down the aisle with your partner, handing out coloured balloons to your guests, with your favourite music playing in the background, or letting doves go at the end of the service then that is exactly what you can do.
With today’s extended families, it can be a nightmare deciding who sits where – and especially, who sits at the top table. In different surroundings, it’s easier to choose an unconventional seating plan – with no top table (or even no seating plan at all).
There is a much larger choice of venue. If your dream wedding is set in a Castle in the mountains, or on a golden beach with waves lapping gently in the background or even in the snow capped mountains - then it’s available.
In the UK, the majority of venues cater for large numbers of guests, but abroad you can find intimate salons where you can celebrate with just those people who are very special to you – or even just the couple themselves – if that is what you would like.
Whilst the weather cannot be guaranteed, choosing to be married abroad gives you a much better chance of being able to have the ceremony, and sometimes the reception in the open air.
2. Family issues
Most families have their little problems but there is nothing like a wedding to bring them all out into the open. This can be anything from one side of the family being 3 times the size of the other, to some part of the family not approving your choice in partner for life. Marrying abroad means you can get away from all of this and relax, enjoying your day with the people that you love.
As a general rule the overall cost of the wedding is reduced by getting married abroad. The largest cost of most weddings is the reception and the drink. The UK is still one of the most expensive places for eating and drinking out and this is reflected in the overall price of the wedding. Additionally with cheap flights to most European countries, it is often cheaper to travel to Europe than within England. This leaves more in the budget for the extras that you dreamt of.
The 2 main downsides are the paperwork and the distance that those people that are closest to you have to travel..
The paperwork associated with getting married abroad is usually more complicated than marrying in the UK. Usually documents need translating into another language and legalising and then the marriage certificate needs translating back into English. This process can be quite expensive. Additionally many countries have some sort of residency requirement prior to the wedding.
For this reason, many couples opt to have the civil service in their home country and then have a blessing abroad. The main advantages of a blessing are that it can be held in a large range of venues, and it can be tailor-made for you, allowing you to play your favourite music, select your favourite readings, write your own vows and wording for the service. Most couples who take this option do not tell their guests that the blessing is not a legal service.
If you decide to have the civil service (the legal part) abroad, you will need to find out what the legal requirements are for the country where you are planning to get married, and ensure that you can fulfil their residency and other requirements.
2. Travel to the venue
Your guests will need enough notice to travel to your chosen destination - but in our experience most family and friends, given enough notice, will make your wedding into a holiday. With families now spread out far more than in the past, and the advent of low cost airlines, it can be cheaper to travel abroad than travel a long distance in the UK. Additionally accommodation tends to be cheaper abroad, making the overall cost of attending the wedding lower than if it had been held in the UK. In fact, when the wedding is in one of the countries nearer the UK, many couples find that a much higher percentage of guests than they were expecting, decide to be attend the wedding. This can be a plus or a minus - see above!!
Making it happen
Once you have found out the legal requirements for your chosen country, you can then select the type of ceremony that is going to be most appropriate for you. You need to consider budget, where exactly you want to get married, what kind of setting e.g. beach, mountain, how many guests you want to invite and exactly how you want your day to be.
Then you can start looking for suitable venues and all the ‘extras’ like flowers, photographer etc to make your day unique.
You will probably need to visit the country at least once before the wedding to check out options, especially the reception venue, as no matter how many pictures you look at, you need to be sure that it ‘feels’ right for you. When marrying abroad, it will usually be well worth investing in the services of a Wedding Planner. Look for someone who knows the country and offers you a wide choice of venues and suppliers.
The Wedding Planner will help you make the right choices for you, should show you different venues so that you pick the ‘one’ for you, ensure that all paperwork is correctly completed and help bridge the language barrier. Most importantly, on the day itself, they will liaise with your suppliers, and make sure that everything runs smoothly.
So you are free to relax and enjoy your perfect Wedding Day.
Pink Products, the online wedding store created specifically for gay and lesbian couples wishing to tie the knot. For further information about the wedding gifts we offer for Civil Partnerships and marriages, please visit our website at http://www.pinkproducts.co.uk
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