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First Steps to Planning Your Wedding Abroad

Posted on 22/07/2019 at 11:09 AM by in Blog

You’re engaged, congratulations!

If a destination wedding is your dream (because let’s face it, having a holiday and wedding in one sounds pretty amazing) then look no further.

Planning a wedding abroad can seem daunting and right now you might not know where to start, but don’t worry we’ve put together some steps below to get you started! Before we begin, grab yourself a coffee (or a glass of your favourite tipple), put your feet up and let’s get going……

Your Budget

This is the subject many couples dread discussing, (with good reason – weddings can be expensive!), however it has to be the first thing you discuss even before the planning starts.  Not setting a budget from the outset will lead to problems later on, so it’s important that the budget is discussed and determined now. Here are a few tips to get the conversation started.

  • Be Realistic! We all have our vision of our dream wedding, but sometimes those dreams are just that, dreams, and they can be quite far from reality(hey, it’s not our fault, we’re always told to dream big!!). It doesn’t mean you can’t have the wedding day of your dreams, you just have to manage your expectations and by doing to you’ll save yourself heartache along the way and enjoy the planning process so much more.
  • Ask yourself honestly how much you can save each month from now until the wedding, without killing your social life in the process. If you stretch yourself too far, you’ll end up resenting the wedding.
  • Check if anyone is willing to contribute financially or otherwise to your wedding, such as mum and dad or other key people.
  • And just incase you skipped this above, I’ll say it again, don’t over extend yourself – we cannot stress this one enough! Setting yourself an unrealistic budget will only lead to heartache when you have to reduce your guest list, or compromise on any special extras later on. I’ve worked with so many couples in this situation and although they may have enjoyed the day in the end the planning journey was stressful and upsetting. It’s really not worth it, I promise you.

Guest Numbers

Once you have set yourself a (realistic) budget, decide on how many people you would like to invite to your wedding. Then work out 80% of this total – so if you invite 50, expect 40 (which is 80%) to actually attend.  I work with 80% because this seems to be the average acceptance rate for weddings abroad, partly due to the expense and also because guests have to commit to more time away which isn’t always possible due to work or other commitments.  Having an idea of guest numbers will help you to establish which venues/destinations will work best with your budget.

Close to home or Far Far away?

Next consider how far you want to travel. Do you want to fly long haul, over 6 hours away, or short haul under 6 hours? Before deciding consider the following:

  • Are you expecting a lot of children at your wedding – long haul is generally more expensive, especially for large families so consider this if you want a high acceptance rate, guests may not fork out 1000’s just to attend your wedding, no matter how much they love you.
  • Is the destination well served by travel agents, budget airlines and good regional airport links at both ends? If yes then guest will be more likely to attend, if they have to get 2 flights or travel for hours to get to an airport then they may think twice, make the journey as easy as possible if you want a high acceptance rate.
  • Is the destination guest suitable? You know your guests better than anyone and what type of holiday they would enjoy. Don’t book an expensive long haul destination if most of your guests would typically book an all inclusive beach holiday in Greece as their annual holiday. Whilst I would never say choose your destination purely based on guests preferences, if you want a good acceptance rate then you need to choose a destination most will be happy to travel too.

In summary, if you have a large guest list and would love a high acceptance rate then, stay closer to home, the more convenient and cost effective the travel is the more likely it is that guests will attend.

Choosing the Destination

By now you should have decided your budget, how many guests to invite and roughly how far you want to travel, so now you can start to list possible destinations (Yay, this is where the fun begins!):

  • Decide first on the style or setting you would like for your wedding, for example would you prefer a beach wedding, a castle or maybe a chapel or villa wedding etc.
  • Once you have a style in mind think of destinations synonymous with that type of setting, for example, if you want a beach wedding, think of the miles of beautiful beaches of offer in the Mediterranean or the pink power beaches of the Caribbean or the idyllic islands of the Maldives, or for a villa setting then Italy or France or even California.
  • Then have fun researching! Pinterest, Google and Instagram are all great image led tools to start looking at venue ideas.


It’s time to talk priorities.

It’s time to get brainstorming! List all the ideas you have for your wedding day, go crazy here, this is not a time for holding back, for example, outside or inside? Set dinner or BBQ, sea views or mountainside, DJ or live band, fireworks, helicopter!!! Go for it, this is just a list remember!


  • Away from each other (and no peaking)
  • Reduce the list until have 10 things that are the most important to you
  • List those 10 in order of preference – 1 being most important and 10 being the least.
  • Once you’ve done this come together and review each others answers, don’t be alarmed if they are completely different, that’s ok, just work out a compromise (it’s a good practice for married life) and decide on your joint top 10 priorities.

This list will then help you with the next step

Narrowing it down

This can be one of the hardest steps in all of the planning, the venue is such an important choice as it’s the blank canvas on which you will create your dream wedding day, it will determine the style and type of wedding you have so it’s not a decision that should be rushed or taken lightly.

Right now you may have a long list of venues(and that’s good), however once have received quotes, checked availability and considered suitability, then I’m sure the list will quickly decrease until your left with just a few to choose from.

Don’t worry help is at hand.

Click this link to download our Venue Comparison Checklist  to help you with your choice. It’s pre populated with priorities but you can edit/add these to suit the list you’ve just created. It’s pretty easy and hopefully fun to complete and eventually you should have one venue with more ticks than the rest, if you do you then have your dream venue, if not then you simply need to choose the best of the best, certainly not a bad position to be in, just trust your heart and you’ll make the right decision, I’m sure.

Q: How did you choose your wedding venue? Any tips you’d like to share with other couples on their venue search?



Hanna Monika | Story Studios | Nathan Wyatt | Phosart 

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