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Guest blog post: weddings abroad

I’m beginning to see why weddings abroad are so popular – if only from looking outside my window this week and from all the soggy jeans and squidgy trainers by the radiator this week (I have short legs). If you’re considering getting married abroad, you might find this advice from new guest blogger Michelle comes in handy to get you started. Michelle is an expert in planning weddings overseas, and shares her top tips below.

“Greetings readers of English Wedding,

With the price of an average British wedding rising (£20,000 at last glance), and British weather being, erm, temperamental at best; a fair priced wedding on a gorgeously warm and tropical island has become an increasingly attractive option for many English brides.

Hummingbird Hall in JamaicaYet for some, the thought of planning a wedding abroad can be both bewildering and a little intimidating. Not least because – except for a small minority – very few couples have the ability to view their wedding location and meet those who will be making their day special until a few days before.

However weddings abroad really can be what dreams are made of and, as a British wedding designer who lives in Jamaica and has assisted with the wedding dreams of countless British couples at Hummingbird Hall; it is my pleasure to give readers of English Wedding tips that should help wherever your dream wedding location may be.

Local Events

Destination weddings can offer more than simply a picture-perfect backdrop. Couples who plan their wedding in conjunction with the local social calendar – concerts, festivals, heritage days – can add a unique and memorable dimension to their wedding experience so couples are advised to check with the venue and/or tourist board.

Cheap flights

Hummingbird Hall in JamaicaThe cheaper your flight, the more of your budget can go towards your wedding and honeymoon!

Airlines have a predetermined number of seats at each pricing ‘level’ (such as 10 seats at £100 each, 75 seats at £110 each, 100 seats at £300 each etc) so the earlier you book the more likely you are to get the cheapest ‘level’ of pricing. Very last minute bookings and online retailers (who themselves are eligible to cheap ‘levels’ of pricing) are the exception to this.

In addition there are flight deals to be had during the months of February, April, May, September, October and early November, so those whose dates are flexible are well advised to take advantage of these periods.

Ask Questions

There is no reason to be any less shrewd because you are marrying abroad. Ask questions, ask again, and ask some more!

Important questions include:

– How many weddings does the venue do a day?

– Does our wedding fall on a local national holiday? If yes – how will this affect our wedding?

– Will a marriage licence be obtained on our behalf?

– Are the marriages recognised as legal and valid worldwide?

– Are there any surprise extras that we should be aware of?

– May I bring my own photographer/videographer?

– When is the rainy season?

– Does the venue take precautions against mosquitoes and pests?

– What will the temperature be during the month of my wedding?

– Are the couple obliged to stay on site if holding a wedding at the venue?

– Are children permitted?

– Are blood tests required? (not the case in Jamaica)

– Are there any ways we can incorporate local traditions into our wedding?

– Is there any way we can incorporate local flowers or details into our wedding?

– Is parking provided?

– What is the venue’s rain plan?

– Are Rehearsals included in the cost of the wedding?

– May the couple write their own vows? How much of the ceremony is stipulated by law, and how much can the couple tweak?

As with weddings at home – getting the agreement between you and your venue in writing is also a must!

Referrals

The fact that couples have enjoyed their wedding so much that they are willing to extol the venue’s virtues to other couples is a great sign. It is even more fabulous when couples have given the venue permission to share their photographs, email address and/or telephone number with prospective clients.

Even though the venue may be abroad, do ask if they have British couples who you can call to get a client-centred view. As we in the business know, happy couples are our best advertisement!

Communication

Planning the fantastic wedding of your dreams is more than possible when in a different country; though choosing a venue that communicates well is essential.

You can often get a good sense of this from how fast your venue responds to your requests for information prior to your booking. There is never an excuse for longer than the next business day, so expect no less!

Venues that have a staffed live web chat / 24 hour phone line are worth their weight in gold since you can call different time zones with ease. You (and your telephone bill) will also come to appreciate venues which have a local British telephone number.

Luggage

Flying with lots of luggage can be particularly onerous and burdensome and, with horror stories of luggage being lost; it is much better to ask your venue to supply the items that you require or ship your items well in advance of your wedding.

Always carry the rings, wedding dress and groom’s suit in hand.

Weddings via Webcam

For many, the main disadvantage of a wedding abroad is the fact that some of their loved ones may not be able to attend due to the distance. Thankfully, with modern technology comes the ability to beam the wedding – live and in real time – to a secure, password protected website for friends and family unable to attend the Big Day.

This service is a great way to include those not physically present and will be on offer by most good venues.

Best of luck with your wedding, wherever it may be!”

Thank you to Michelle who writes from destination wedding venue Hummingbird Hall in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

I like and admire Michelle for the values she promotes on the Hummingbird Hall website: “Well aware that our eminence is due to – and dependent on – the wider community, we take pride in ensuring that our operations benefit the locale, Jamaica and mother earth.

We delight in growing local businesses and so partner with Jamaican, rather than international, vendors of excellence.”

Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at www.byMoonandTide.com. Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in November 2009 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.

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