A destination wedding sounds such a wonderful idea – and it is!
It’s an exciting prospect. Sun, blue skies, the sea, the works … Why wouldn’t you go weak at the knees at such a dream?
However, it is easy to forget that there are a few practicalities to take into account.
I don’t claim to be a travel agent. They are the experts in this field. However, I can start you off with a few givens that you will need to consider: flights, access to the wedding venue, guests, accommodation, catering, and so on. Not to mention budget or destination preferences. But I defer to the experts here.
Where I am much more experienced, as a professional Civil Celebrant, is the ceremony itself. If you’re going to travel miles to marry in an idyllic or significant spot for you, you’re not going to want the ceremony to be an anti-climax or disappointment.
There are various options open to you:
- There may well be a celebrant on the spot that you can use. The hotel can often supply one. How good they will be is open to question. You won’t have met them before, so they’ll conduct the ceremony of their choice (standard for everyone, with just the names changed) and there may be no rapport between you. There may be language difficulties too. Of course, they may be professional enough, but using one can constitute quite a gamble.
- You can take a celebrant from the UK along with you. When you’re buying the flights for your family and friends, you add the celebrant’s fare, and pay for a night’s accommodation (or two, if the return flight isn’t convenient), transfers and meals. The advantage of this is that you will have worked with them in the UK and prepared exactly the service you want, which they will conduct for you. They are professionals. You can relax.
- One of the bridal party may be able to conduct the ceremony for you. You’ll save money that way, but will this officiant do a good job? Most people are not naturals at presenting. They are unlikely to be able to reach the standard of a professional civil celebrant. They may want to help you out, but they may be much happier enjoying the ceremony as a bystander, rather than having to endure stress.
Whichever of the above options you prefer, what about the friends and family you cannot take with you, but who would love to celebrate with you and share your happiness? Have you thought of having a wedding blessing (call it what you will) when you return to the UK? You can book the venue of your choice, the bride can still wear white, you can have bridesmaids, a best man and a procession, the tone will be as formal as you want, you may include ritual (religious or not), you can hold a certificate-signing photo-opportunity – in short, the whole ceremony can, to all intents and purposes, be a full wedding.
So consider what is important to you. Some will be happy to be married by an Elvis lookalike in Las Vegas; others will want something more serious. It’s all good, as long as you get what you want.
But if you’re looking for a memorable, meaningful ceremony – whether at your destination or in the UK afterwards – think about using a civil celebrant . With their advice and guidance, you can enjoy that unique ceremony that reflects your personalities and beliefs, and which will be everything that you want it to be.
Do contact Michael (+44 (0)7931 538487) to discuss this further.
As a civil celebrant, I am something of a luddite. I don’t really ‘do’ technology.
However, I admit to using scheduling. Thanks to this miracle, this post has been written a few days ago and is being published automatically. I needed to do this because today (‘today’ in the future, not in the present, you understand!) I am flying to Cyprus.
Regrettably, it is not for a holiday, although, if I get the opportunity to enjoy myself, I shall be prepared to do so. Rather, it is to work.
I am being flown over to conduct a wedding in a five star hotel tomorrow.
What could be better?
Here is a glimpse of paradise that awaits:
Not all sunshine, seaside and swimming
I have some reservations, though.
As I write, I am having to fit in quite a lot of work that needs to be done by the time I get back, and that, frankly, is putting me under a fair bit of pressure.
I have never been to Cyprus, so am dependent on others for actually finding the venue in good time.
It is an open-air site (overlooking the shore!), but I burn readily, so am concerned about the sun and heat.
I am being paid to work for one day, but (and this is my fault for not thinking it through) I am going to miss two days’ potential work, as I’ll be spending them travelling to and from the island.
I shall miss my family, although it is for three days only (and there are such things as e-mails and texts, even in Cyprus! I may be a luddite, but I can usually manage those!).
I am being taken slomewhat out of my comfort zone with this.
In case you are feeling too sorry for me, I have to point out the following:
I have been selected and paid to go on a trip to what looks to be a fabulous destination.
To go out of my comfort zone means that I shall be challenging myself, and there’s nothing like challenge to aid self-development.
I shall be part of two families’ big, big day, and feel very privileged. I hope to add a dash of sparkle to them and all their guests, and make their day unforgettable.
On a practical level, I am bringing a panama hat, so can protect myself from the sun!
On a business level, I hope to impress and gain referrals.
When all’s said and done, I realise that I have a lot more to gain than to lose.
So I’m just going to have to put up with being part of a high society wedding in a 5-star hotel in a superb location. (Well, someone has to do it!)
It’s nice that there are some perks to the (not always glamorous) job of being a civil celebrant!
If you mention weddings abroad, people think of destination weddings. There is no doubt that that is a very important sector. In fact, it seems to be growing in popularity all the time.
But “destinations” can be somewhat less exotic than many people imagine. This is usually because the venue choice is determined by where the family of one of the families is based. It may also be because the couple work in different countries and have to opt for one.
Weddings abroad, however exotic the location, bring a major problem in their wake. If you’re getting married in a foreign country, what do you do about those guests who can’t be there?
With a genuine destination wedding, there are various options available.
In some cases, you ensure (as much as possible) that the people you really want to attend actually get there by organising and paying for their flights, transfers and hotel. You need to start planning this well in advance, so your guests can make sure they are available. Then it’s a question of organising the flights and hotel. Whether you use a travel agent or do it yourself, of course it isn’t going to come cheap!
However, you will be surrounded by your choice of people on your big day, and how do you put a price on that?
The other possibility is to give details and plenty of warning, but not do most (or any) of the financing. You leave your guests to sort out their travel and reservations. That way, they have the option to turn their trip into a holiday and stay out there as long as they want.
The longer they have to consider this (ie to ensure they can be free and can budget for it), and the more information you can send them in advance, the better.
Other Weddings Abroad
As a celebrant, I conduct a number of weddings where this is one of two ceremonies that the couple will be having.
For example, Lucy and Dave got married (in a small legal ceremony) on a Greek island. A month later, in London, I conducted what, to all intents and purposes, was their wedding. Everyone knew they were married already, and this was more of a ceremony of blessing, but as most guests had been unable to attend the original wedding, this was a perfect solution.
Of course, this idea of a “wedding blessing” (call it what you will) can work well after a destination wedding too.
Tania and Magnus decided to have their official ceremony in Windsor. After the registrars had legally married them (in one room), they had the ceremony of their dreams in another chamber. A lot of Swedes (from Magnus’s side, obviously) came over, but they did have the option of attending a small ceremony in Sweden too, if they had been unable to get to London.
Sometimes, people choose an intimate ceremony abroad. I am conducting a wedding for a Greek couple in London, where there will only be a dozen guests. Once they are legally married, they will return to Greece and mark the occasion in a different way for those who didn’t come.
So there are ways round the problem of accommodating those who can’t attend a wedding abroad, and these can be simply stunning.
Being in the wedding industry means you are part of people’s biggest day. I am very privileged to work as a civil celebrant, and serve my clients by creating and conducting the ceremony itself.
Others contribute with their own specialisms. Who do you go to, if you want to organise a destination wedding? Or your honeymoon?
Obviously, a travel agent. There are a lot of them out there, though.
I recently met Uli Williams, who is an independent Travel Counsellor. When she had explained to me how she can arrange all this – and with the personal touch – I thought I should share her offerings with you, my readers, so this week’s blog is written by Uli. Enjoy!
Turning Your Dreams into Reality
Isn’t it exciting to organise your Big Day, looking forward to tie the knot with your loved one?
I know that planning your wedding day and honeymoon is one of the most exciting periods of your life – but it’s often among the most stressful! From grand arrangements to the finer details that make your wedding unique, there’s plenty to organise to ensure that you get hitched without any hitches. As your personal Travel Counsellor, you can relax while I take care of it all for you.
We can discuss your personal ideas and requirements to create your hen and stag dos, dream wedding day and honeymoon to remember.
Perhaps it’s against a backdrop of azure seas, with soft white sand between your toes. Maybe it’s a New York party into the early hours after a wedding in Central Park?
Whatever makes up your unique vision for the perfect marriage, I can make it happen for you.
Travel Counsellors offer a unique ‘Honeymoon Gift Registry’ which will enable your guests to give you the most memorable gift of all – the honeymoon of your dreams. This registry service works much like the usual department store wedding list, except that your wedding guests can contribute monetary amounts towards your honeymoon plans.
If you have decided to get married abroad, maybe just the two of you or with a close circle of family, why not have a wedding blessing after your return to the UK, allowing your wider family and friends to celebrate your wedding and share your happiness?
If you are looking for a memorable, meaningful ceremony, think about using a civil celebrant. With his/her advice and guidance, you can enjoy that unique experience that reflects your personalities and beliefs. Why not give Michael Gordon, at Vows That Vow, a call? He is passionate about making your day just as you want. www.vowsthatwow.co.uk
Get in touch with me for your personalised, professional wedding planning!
Contact: Uli Williams, Travel Counsellor
T: 07739 184865 or 01992 877 390
Thank you so much, Uli.
Asking you to beware that destination wedding may sound a bit melodramatic, but don’t be put off. As my last blog ought to have suggested, I have nothing against a destination wedding! In fact, I spoke about how wonderful it can be, provided you have the right civil celebrant.
However, there can be a few other things to look out for, if the wedding is to be the success that you are dreaming of.
A lot of thought is going to have to go into deciding whom you invite. I can’t advise you on that, as it obviously has to be your decision, but you will need to weigh up who absolutely has to be there (it may be the best man, parents, or whoever) and how you get them there.
Depending on where you are holding the ceremony, you will have to think about other people’s budgets (unless you’re lucky enough to be able to treat them to flights and/or accommodation).
I suggest a few considerations here (remarks which might equally apply to non-destination wedding venues too).
- If you are having a theme, will the venue be suitable?
- Is the venue licensed for civil ceremonies (or will you actually be marrying in a register office before you depart, say)?
- Don’t forget to check if the area is big enough (yet not too big) for your party – and whether you will need to hire any equipment (audio, seating, cutlery, etc.)
- Is there an in-house wedding co-ordinator – and will she be there on the day?
- Can the catering arrangements all be sorted satisfactorily? Will vegetarian or gluten-free options be wanted – or even possible? Can there be a cake?
- Does your package include menus, place cards, centerpieces, etc.?
It is probably simpler, if you stay in the hotel where the ceremony will take place. If not, ensure you organise transportation well in advance. At all events, try and do your homework before booking.
If you have guests arriving after you, ensure they know how to reach the venue from the airport/port.
Make sure you check their requirements before booking them in for at least bed and breakfast.
Before the wedding
The last thing you want is to be ill on your wedding day. Therefore:
- Avoid over-indulging in alcohol, especially the day before the ceremony
- Be conservative about what and how much you eat, especially on the eve of the wedding
- Don’t spend too long in the sun
- Ensure you keep well-hydrated (with bottled, still water, preferably)
A Wedding Blessing?
What about those people you didn’t invite or who couldn’t join you in your exotic location?
A lovely possibility would be to hire a room in a restaurant or hotel near your home back in the UK, and hold a bespoke wedding blessing ceremony just for your friends and family. A civil celebrant could compile and conduct a beautiful, meaningful short service for you.
Your guests would love having the chance to witness and participate in what is (to all intents and purposes) your marriage, and would appreciate the photo-opportunities. Knowing the legal bit is long over and done with, you would simply relax and enjoy the whole event.
That way, everybody can be happy!