Not keen on a traditional wedding in your hometown? Perhaps you fancy sunny seashores of South Africa, old villas on the hills of Tuscany or even a mountain wedding preceded by a rigorous hike on Gran Canaria? If yes, you need to stay with us on this and learn how to plan a wedding abroad! We have provided you a detailed and full blown master plan speaking from our own experience.
Important disclaimer: All photos seen on this blog post are made by us – SuperWeddings photographers and videographers.
Wedding Abroad – speaking from experience
We at SuperWeddings are a wedding videography and photography team that travels the World to amazing destination weddings
all the way from Mexico, through Spain, Italy, Greece, Morocco up to Abu Dhabi and Australia. Many of our couples have shared their experiences with us while planning their wedding abroad and we have learned the skills along the way. Now we have prepared this ultimate guideline on how to plan a wedding abroad, or a destination wedding if you wish. We can’t wait for you to read it, and remember that if you need any help or planning your wedding or elopement abroad – feel free to contact us anytime.
Why is a wedding abroad the right thing to do?
A destination wedding is traditionally a wedding outside your hometown, but nowadays it’s not enough to drive to the next county or state. Nowadays, it’s definitely more of a wedding abroad – and we don’t mean only a stereotypical ceremony on a sunny tropical beach (although this is great too!).
So yes, a wedding abroad may mean an exotic island, but it can also entail a ceremony in such places as the foggy Isle of Skye or cold Iceland highlands! We even know of a wedding package for an adventurous celebration in Antarctica! But don’t worry a wedding abroad doesn’t have to be so extreme – it can be simple, yet beautiful and most importantly adventurous. Because the best part of a destination weddings is that, it’s not only about the wedding day itself, but also about the travel, experiencing new places and cultures and uniting with your family and friends far away from home, which adds up to the moment. Most of the couples that we work with travel long distances to places that mean a lot to them, or play a special role in their love story. For example the Florence elopement of Bianca & Aaron who came all the way from Australia to Tuscany, because it was a place that they knew from their past and was a dream wedding abroad venue for them.
Why go with a wedding abroad?
It could save you money
Sure, it all depends on the place you choose, the number of guests and a few other things – such as the venue, your wedding dress or tuxedo and legal costs – but a wedding abroad is usually cheaper than a domestic one. Just to give you an example a 30 people wedding abroad in Spain can costs as low as 10.000 Euro. If you would like to plan a luxury experience in Europe you might need to fork our something around 35-55.000 Euro (about 40.000 USD or 35.000 Pounds) but of course this numbers may vary on your needs and available budgets. If you are reading this and you already know that you want an intimate elopement abroad that we recommend the Canary Islands with places like Gran Canaria, or Fuerteventura where we can easily help you to elope in the most magical way.
On the other even a big wedding abroad for 70-150 people may save you up money if you compare it with a wedding in New York, London or any other big city.
Peace of mind
If you go with a package and a professional wedding planner, the whole affair’s logistics will be much less stressful than organizing it all by yourself. Honeymoon hotels and resorts in popular destinations often offer the option of wedding on-site – and they have the equipment and trained staff for it. Although in our opinion its always better to write to us first or hire a wedding planner to provide for specific wedding venues, rather then choosing a hotel with a wedding on site, as this usually means sharing your ceremony with strangers at the hotel, who might be walking around in bathing suits (not cool).
It’s all yours
A wedding abroad allows you to create a ceremony that will reflect your true self. Not going with a traditional ceremony in your hometown also means that no parents or other relatives are trying to tell you how to organise your wedding.
Sounds a bit harsh? Yeah – but we always tell our wedding couples “It’s your day, make it for you to enjoy it, you parents already had their chances” Because that’s the raw truth about any wedding – you need to have fun. And you know what? We will help you with that!
I even remember skyping to one couple’s parent and explaining how we want to pull of a wedding on the ocean hill and why its a better idea that a boring hotel ball room.
You can take it easy
Destination weddings allow you to seamlessly transition to your honeymoon and vacation time. You can take it easy and spend some quality time with your new family – especially if you or your spouse have kids from previous relationships – or other important people you haven’t seen in a long time. You spare yourself the stress of making sure everything’s in its place, and you don’t have to run around greeting all the guests. And if you make right wedding abroad venue choices, you might experience some amazing places after or before the wedding day. I know a beautiful place in Radicondoli in the Siena district of Tuscany region in Italy. It’s just so amazing to celebrate your wedding abroad there and then enjoy all the beautiful little cities and vineyards of the area. Make sure to check our Tuscany Wedding of Alessandra and Diego to learn on what I mean.
You’ll make fantastic memories
The stories you’ll have to tell your kids and grandkids! Tropical beaches, the aurorae in the North, or maybe an old chateau in France – the possibilities for your wedding abroad adventure are endless. And think about all the fantastic – and sexy – memories you’ll create.
Experience another culture
A wedding abroad means getting to know another culture and trying out the local cuisine. You can also learn a phrase or two – or brush up your language skills!
Wedding abroad – how to start
Look for inspiration
You’ll find plenty of inspiration on the Internet and social media. Google is your friend! You can dive into Pinterest boards of other brides or grooms or check out such hashtags like #weddingabroad, #overseaswedding, #weddinginspiration, #destinationwedding, #destinationweddingplanning on Instagram! And if you need some advice – be sure to dig through our website and check the guidance blog post that we made for all our couples that plan a wedding abroad, for example on how to elope in Spain.
Wedding abroad location checklist
1. Do your research in terms of price range and accessibility to the destination. What is the flight duration? Do you have to change flights? How much will it cost your guests to get to the destination and book accommodation? Try to answer these questions and set a budget – both for the wedding and for your guests. Try to find a location where they will be able to choose a variety of places to stay – hotels, hostels or Airbnbs – so that they’ll be able to select a price range they’ll be most comfortable with. Want a real life example? Check our top Ibiza Wedding venues guide.
2. Decide whether your wedding will be adults-only or will you invite kids. This is important because it’ll affect which location you will choose – some venues or travel agencies focus on events for adults only and don’t allow children. Other places consider all kinds of configurations – they have family-friendly areas and separate parts of the establishment dedicated to adult guests only.
3.Check the weather! Does your dream location have dry and rainy seasons? If so, you should take this into consideration when booking your venue to ensure pleasant weather. Unless you want to take your vows during a raging monsoon or sweltering heat, of course. Off-season dates are usually cheaper, but it’s worth investing in a day with perfect weather – if not for its practicality and logistics, then for the happy memories’ sake.
4. Fulfill your dreams. Think of what you want and what your dream wedding abroad looks like. It’s your day, so don’t listen to your parents or family members. It’s your wedding and honeymoon, so it should reflect both your personalities and needs.
5. Make it accessible. Unless you plan an intimate elopement slash adventure and don’t intend to invite guests, choose a location that is easy to get to – we don’t mean only flight-wise. Ensure your venue doesn’t require a trek up a mountain of stairs a la Mamma Mia film or a 2-hour bus ride.
6. Is it legal? Remember to also check any legal requirements and possible issues in the country of your choosing. Some countries don’t allow same-sex marriages or only allow a blessing ceremony. Each country also has its own legal procedure for getting married as a non-citizen – make sure to do thorough research and don’t hesitate to reach out for legal advice.
7. How about checking it out? Consider a visit to your destination if you can afford it. If not, don’t worry – that’s what you have your wedding planner or travel agent and Skype for!
Need help planning your wedding abroad? Feel free to contact us for detailed help.
Wedding planner abroad – with or without?
Organising a wedding in another country is quite a challenge. While you can embark on this arduous adventure alone, we definitely recommend hiring a wedding planner at the location. They know the market and average prices and know all local suppliers – they can probably get you a sweet deal on some of the services. They know their way around the legal matters and can take care of it for you, or at least explain all the ins and outs. And hiring a wedding planner means that you have a professional taking care of everything – you can’t just pop by the venue if something goes wrong or needs checking when it’s a 4-hour flight away. You get PEACE OF MIND. Of course, you’ll also need to put in some work – after all, it is your wedding. Conveying the image of your perfect wedding abroad, deciding on the vendors, organising the guest list and so on.
When hiring a planner for your wedding abroad, communication is crucial, so consider the language barrier. You obviously need someone you can speak with and convey your needs. Ideally, the wedding planner should speak the local language as well as yours – or at least one that you’re both comfortable communicating with.
And what about the cost?
It usually depends on the location, the number of guests and services included. Premium planners will charge you a min. of 20% of your budget – and it may not include additional expenses, such as travel costs. Some wedding planners offer flat-rate packages or offer you a flat-fee package but require an extra 10-20% of your budget for management and coordination costs. Others have hourly rates and charge you by the amount of time they’ll be working for you.
The nice thing about flat-rate is that not only you know the cost from step one, but any discounts or special deals your wedding planner gets for you from the suppliers will pass onto you with no commission fee – or to your guests in the case of accommodation for them.
Big wedding abroad or a small elopement
A big traditional wedding means that you can invite many people and make sure that all your loved ones are there. It’s a more elaborate and larger celebration than eloping and allows you to spend this special time with your family and friends. On the other hand, weddings can be expensive and usually require a lot of planning. They are also less intimate because you’ll be busy at the party greeting guests and making sure everything goes as planned.
Maybe traditional weddings are not your thing, and you prefer something more intimate or adventurous like eloping. It can be inexpensive and – usually – involves less planning and less stress. It allows you to be more flexible and true to yourselves. The downside is that you won’t be able to invite that many guests or even none at all. But it all really comes down to what you need. It’s your day remember?
How to find suppliers for your wedding abroad?
When looking for vendors of such services as a venue, catering, photography and videography, it’s good to start with research. You can reach out to people on forums and Facebook groups who are eager to share their tips and recommendations. If you choose a travel agency with a wedding package or hire a wedding planner, then the research and organising will be on their plate.
Nevertheless, if you want to search for suppliers by yourself, first look at the quality of their website – does it seem legitimate? Read the testimonials and research them online – ask around if you’re in any Facebook groups.
Next, come up with a list of 5-10 vendors. Prepare some questions and meet them via Skype or face-to-face if that’s possible. If you have a wedding planner – email them the list and let them do their magic or ask for their recommendations. We would love you to choose us for wedding photography and videography, so please make sure to book at least 6 months in advance.
The average cost of a wedding abroad
Obviously, it depends on the country, the ceremony’s size, the venue and the number of guests. According to Insider, the average cost of a wedding in 2019 was about 16,500 euro (14,380￡/20,000$) in Canada and Greece, about 15,670 euro (13,670￡/19,000$) in Spain, 14,260 euro (12,450￡/17,300$) in the Netherlands, about 8,240 euro (7,200￡.10,000$) in Mexico, 910 euro (800￡/1,100$) in Sri Lanka and about 400 euro (360￡/500$) in Mauritius (although here, no additional costs like dress and photographer were included). As you can see, the differences in prices are significant. In 2020, the average cost of a domestic wedding in the USA was 28,00 euro (24,460￡/34,000$), although in some cities, like New York, the price could rise to over 65,950 euro (57,550￡/80,000$). In contrast, the average cost of a destination wedding in the same year was about 6,840 euro (5,970￡/8,300$) though Weddings Abroad also cites a price of about 7,560 euro (6,600￡/9,130$).
Wedding abroad on a budget?
Are you planning a wedding abroad with limited budget, if yes then you absolutely need to check out massive E-book with all tips and trick on how to plan your wedding abroad on a budget.
What will you receive?
- Real life stories of couples with detailed feedback
- Ideas of locations and venues
- Biggest mistakes and how to avoid them
- Examples of 3000 Euro budget weddings
- Tips that will safe you a lot of money!
- A lot more
Is getting married abroad legal?
Yes, though you need to check legal proceedings in the country of your choice and make sure you have all the necessary documents, such as passports valid for at least 6 more months, birth certificates, declarations of single status and proof of residence.
Some countries expect you to stay a certain number of days on their territory before you can get married there or require a certain number of days to pass between a divorce and a wedding. Some countries do not recognise same-sex marriages or allow only a blessing ceremony for both straight and gay pairs. Check an example of gay wedding in Italy
Wedding packages abroad
Wedding packages mean you have two points of contact when organising your wedding abroad – the agent at home that helps you choose the location and the right package for you and a wedding coordinator responsible for logistics on-site.
Wedding packages from big travel agencies are less flexible, but they guarantee professional service backed by lots of experience. Smaller providers may allow more freedom and personalisation of your chosen plan.
What’s included in a wedding package abroad? Most of them have an on-site coordinator, legal proceedings to acquire your marriage license, ceremony set-up (a celebrant to conduct the ceremony, flowers, chairs etc.), bouquet, buttonhole and cake and very often also a photographer. Make sure to learn what is included in the package and what you need to organise on your own.
How to book a wedding abroad
The easiest way to do it is to hire a wedding planner to take care of everything on-site. Even easier, although a less flexible option is a wedding package abroad that you can book at a travel agency. Make sure to contact us first.
Where to get married abroad
Spain has it all – sunny sandy beaches and breathtaking mountain tops. The most popular wedding destinations are Ibiza, Barcelona, Marbella, Mallorca, Seville, Gran Canaria and Tenerife. It’s also a short flight from the UK – about 2 hours!
The cost of an Italian wedding usually varies between 20,000 and 80,000 euro. You have various unique and beautiful places to choose from – old villas and mansions on the hills of Tuscany or by Lake Como, Maggiore and Garda or bustling cities of history and art – Rome, Florence, Venice or Milan. Maybe you prefer a beach wedding on Riviera, Amalfi Coast or Sicily. Or something a bit colder – a sunset wedding in the Dolomites.
Here, Santorini, Rhodes, Mykonos, Kos, Crete, Halkidiki, Peloponnese, Sifnos, Zante, and Corfu are the most popular destinations. The average cost of a Greek wedding is 15,910 euro (13,880￡/19,300$, but you can find elopement packages starting from 300 euro (260￡/360$)!
Other popular destinations
Wedding insurance abroad
Types of insurance
You can get several types of insurance, such as wedding and event liability in the case of any damages and guest injuries at the venue. There’s also host liquor liability against alcohol-related accidents. You can insure yourself to avoid any loss due to cancellation or postponement – you get your deposits back. Check out any additional insurance you might need – for your dress or tuxedo, for example, against theft and damage.
Currently, due to the global pandemic, many insurance providers include covid-19-related coverages for weddings abroad.
Why do you need insurance
A wedding is an investment of your money, time and energy. There’s always a chance that something happens, so it’s better to be safe than sorry and protect your most important day! You can get insurance for less than 85 euro, so it’s well worth it. Plus, when you buy several types of insurance, some providers offer discounts!
Especially in a wedding abroad and tropical locations, there’s a possibility of a typhoon or a heavy rainfall. And no matter how much you prepare, a gift theft can always happen, or your dress can rip. There’s also that one in a million chance that you’ll need to cancel the wedding, relocate it at the very last minute or change the date. It’s really better to be prepared.
Luxury wedding abroad
Destination weddings can be private and inexpensive, but they can also be elaborate, big and luxurious! Many European countries are choke-full of ancient villas, old castles and glamorous city mansions. Or maybe you prefer magnificent palaces of Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia or Vietnam? Such locations are perfect for a luxurious wedding abroad. This is your day (and honeymoon) so go crazy. You deserve it!
Same-sex wedding abroad – venues & locations
More and more countries legalise same-sex marriages. Now you can say “I do” in bustling cities of the United States of America, in foggy and magical Ireland or while getting your feet wet on a Spanish beach.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
This city is the unofficial queer capital of Argentina. You’ll find many LGBT-friendly establishments, from cafes to hotels. If you’re considering this place, how about arranging the date close to one of the country’s biggest queer events – Queer Tango Festival?
Cape Town, South Africa
RPA is a great choice not only because of the great weather and beautiful sights. Although a beach wedding in this country seems like an obvious choice, consider going a little bit more inland – how about a wedding on one of many vineyards there?
Ireland and Europe
Same-sex marriages in Ireland have been legal for a few years now, which is fantastic because it means you can have your wedding abroad in a hauntingly beautiful castle of 800 years, like Ashford Castle. Make sure to check our same sex shoot on Gran Canaria.
As of now, 16 countries in Europe recognise same-sex marriages. You can go to warmer places like Spain, Portugal or southern France, or you can go North – to wed under the northern lights of Iceland or Norway. The choice is yours!
Mexico, Hawaii and sandy beaches
If you prefer a proper tropical wedding abroad with your feet sinking in the sand and the hum of waves as the backdrop of your marriage vows, consider beaches of Mexico, Brazil, Hawaii or Tahiti.
Winter Wedding Abroad
A destination wedding doesn’t mean only a tropical beach and swimsuits. Your wedding abroad or elopement can also take place in a winter wonderland. You can choose the Alps, broad ice plains of Finland or unforgettable highlands of Iceland. If you’re up for an adventure, have the right budget and are legally eligible, you can even marry in the British Antarctic Territory. Just remember to dress for the weather!
Planning tips for your wedding abroad
Try to visit your venue. It’s good to make the trip and see the location in person before making your decision. If you have a wedding planner, they should shortlist the best venues for you – that’s half the job. Now all you need to do is check these places out. Don’t sweat it if you can’t afford it or simply don’t have the time! In this case, you just need to trust your wedding planner.
Book photographer and videographer from the same team. Not only will it save you time and stress trying to coordinate everything, but it will probably save you money as well. What’s more important, though, is that you get an experienced team of professionals who work well together and ensure that both the photos and the film are perfect.
Civil wedding at home and ceremony abroad. This is a way to save money and still celebrate at a destination that doesn’t allow marriage ceremonies for foreigners – some countries offer only a blessing ceremony, for example.
Save up money on currency exchange. Traditional international bank transfers can have quite a fee, so try to use alternatives, such as PayPal, Venmo, TransferWise and Revolut for better exchange rates and lower fees.
Biggest mistakes while planning a wedding abroad
You’ve sent out too many invitations. You may think that it’s better to be prepared if many people decline the invitation to your wedding abroad. Yes, some people are bound to say no – after all, it’s quite a trip and requires both some investment and taking time off. Not everyone can afford it. Still, try not to send too many invitations or else you might end up with a far bigger wedding than you planned!
You’ve sent the invitations too late. Another common mistake when planning a wedding abroad. As we’ve already mentioned, a destination wedding requires your guests to take time off work and book a flight and accommodation. That’s a lot of time, money and energy to invest. Things can complicate further if your guest has children or elderly in their care and has to arrange a replacement while they’re attending your wedding.
Not to mention the stress you’ll have to endure while waiting for your guests to respond until the very last minute. Yikes. So, out of respect for your guests and yourself, try to send the invitations as soon as possible. Ideally just after you book a date and place.
You didn’t check the weather. You may think you’re going to a tropical paradise with the everlasting sun, but that’s not always the case. Tropical destinations often have rainy seasons, and typhoons and monsoons aren’t rare. Check the weather of your dream destinations to avoid any unpleasant surprises!
Wrong dress and shoes. If you want a beach wedding, you better forget high heels – you want to gracefully walk down the aisle, after all. The same rule applies to more adventurous weddings and elopements – comfortable shoes and a dress suited for the weather is the way to go.
Wedding abroad – frequently asked questions
Where is the cheapest place to get married abroad? Mauritius is definitely at the top of the list with an average cost of about 14,330 euro (12,500￡/17,320$), then there are Sri Lanka and the Maldives at about 14,900 euro (13,000￡/18,080$).
Where to plan a luxury wedding abroad? Hands down I would for either Italy or Spain. It’s actually a choice between the Lake District such as the Garda Lake and Barcelona or Seville in Spain.
Where is the easiest place to get married abroad? Once again, we have Mauritius with its 1-day residency requirement, relatively easy access with an overnight flight and low wedding cost. You can also check Seychelles (3-day residency requirement), Sri Lanka (4-day residency requirement) and Bali (no minimum residency requirement).
What to wear to a wedding abroad as a guest? This all depends on the destination and the style of the wedding. Usually, weddings abroad in warm countries allow for outfits like maxi or slip dresses or even a more casual jumpsuit. Pair it with sandals or pumps. Opt for dos with your hair up and ditch the hairspray – your hair will thank you later. And don’t forget the most essential accessory, a bottle of sunscreen that you should reapply every 2 hours. The last thing you want is a sunburn!
What is the best place for to get married abroad? Personal opinion
I would love you to come to visit Spain. Many years ago we have chose this beautiful country as our own home as we moved with our family to Gran Canaria. It’s absolutely magical and Spain can really offer you everything for your abroad wedding. Make sure to check our ultimate guideline on the best wedding venues in Barcelona.
Are you planning a wedding abroad in Europe, possibly in Spain? Make sure to check our ultimate guide on Spain wedding venues