Weddings Abroad

Weddings Abroad

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?

Destination Weddings

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.

 

A second wedding ceremony

A second wedding ceremony

Why on earth would you contemplate a second wedding ceremony?!

It often happens that people aren’t able to attend a wedding. Any of illness, injury, infirmity or travel problems may play their part. Or, possibly, a major commitment that can’t be changed will mean missing the event.

The wedding may be a destination wedding or be held in a constricted space, so guests are necessarily limited.

So what about those who cannot attend, but would have liked to?

Solutions

Of course, there may possibly be live streaming or perhaps the event will be made available on video for later viewing. However, these are not really the same as being present at the event.

To deal with this situation, a lot of people nowadays are arranging blessings or a second wedding ceremony, usually civil. So, for example, a couple may fly out with a few close friends and family to a Greek island, and actually get married there. Then they come back to their home area and hold a ceremony (in a hotel, back garden or restaurant, for example).

What does the ceremony consist of?

Your civil celebrant will be able to give you tips and, of course, will go with what you have decided, so there’s a wide range of possibilities.

 

The event can be staged like a ‘real’ wedding – so the bride may wear a white wedding gown, and there may be a ring blessing, recitation of vows and other elements. It can be quite formal and even include a (not legally valid) certificate-signing (mainly, a photo opportunity, but also a lovely souvenir); there may be elements of a traditional wedding mixed with rituals that can be fun or more spiritual; and then, it may stretch to the totally informal, and include, say, texts and music that the couple really like. Again, there may be any degree of religiosity.

At a second wedding ceremony

The couple will be able to choose rituals (if they wish), like ‘jumping the broom’, readings and the participants.

They will be able to hold a creative, memorable, moving ceremony that reflects who they are, what they believe and is everything that want it to be, in front of all those guests who couldn’t make the original ceremony. That’s pretty exciting – and the ceremony may be every bit as wonderful as the actual wedding.

How great is that!

 

Beware That Destination Wedding

Beware That Destination Wedding

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.

Guests

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).

20140525_122607

Venue

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.?

Accommodation

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!

 

Oh, there’s plenty of time…!

Oh, there’s plenty of time…!

People often assume that – apart from about a week’s turnaround for a funeral – I always have loads of time to prepare for a ceremony.

I was reminded of that only yesterday when I was approached to do a wedding blessing in nine days’ time!

That in turn reminded me of a bright July day. My family and I were leaving to go on holiday abroad. Our bags were actually on the doorstep when the phone rang. I was tempted to ignore the call, but my wife decided to take it.

It turned out that it was the daughter of a man who had (re)married last year. He had then suffered a massive heart attack and not worked since. His wife, Aretha [not her real name] had nursed him back to health, as well as earning an income. Now he was well again, they wanted to have the wedding party they had never had. He is C of E and she is Catholic, so they wanted their new rings blessed, which is where I came in.

ring blessing 10-08-13 - resized

The problem was that they were giving me all of eight days’ notice! (I could not work while I was away and I would only be returning late the evening before the event, so it would be asking quite a lot to prepare a ceremony properly in, effectively, a couple of hours.) I explained this to them and said that, if they could not find another celebrant (I passed a name on to them), I would do it for them, provided I had an e-mail waiting for me on my return.

In the event, there was no e-mail, and, as I was free that Saturday, I went out till about 1.30 p.m. When I came back, there was a message for me, asking me to contact the husband on his mobile after 2 p.m. The job was on after all!

The plan was to surprise Aretha (who had done so much for the husband in the last year). I normally meet with clients in advance, find out exactly what they are looking for, compile the service, e-mail it across for their approval, and make any changes requested. This time, all I knew was the background to the ceremony and that they wanted ‘a little religion’.

There is a happy ending to this story. I managed to plan a ceremony (all of seven or eight minutes long!), and it turned out to be appropriate to a party, where none of the guests had an inkling about the ring blessing. There was a mixture of serious readings and humour that went down well. Aretha was moved to tears, the guests seemed to enjoy it (it was a new experience for them – AND it was not over-long!), and the family clearly appreciated it. A mad rush, perhaps, but it gave me (and, I trust all present) a feeling of real contentment.

Being a celebrant is never boring – and can be such a delight! Just don’t go telling me that it’s always relaxing!

 

Source of featured image: headstride.co.uk

Destination Wedding Warnings

Destination Wedding Warnings

If the title sounds a bit melodramatic, don’t be put off. As my blog last week will suggest (https://vowsthatwow.co.uk/?p=1629), I have nothing against destination weddings! In fact, I spoke about how wonderful they can be, if 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.

Guests

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!).

Venue

I suggest a few considerations here (remarks which might apply to any venue at all).

  • 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 registry office before you depart, say)?
  • Don’t forget to check if the area is big enough (but 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.?

Accommodation

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 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 the day before 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!

Michael Gordon can help prepare and conduct a tailor-made civil ceremony in or around London or, indeed, in Europe.