10 top tips to marrying abroad in a post-pandemic world
08 Mar 2022
As the world opens up again, destination weddings are back on the cards and here are ten top tips to ensuring a plain-sailing wedding plan
All images: Getty
The UK Weddings Task Force has estimated that a staggering 350,000 weddings will take place across the nation in 2022 as a result of Covid-related postponements. With newly engaged couples not accounted for in that number, there is evidently a greater demand on the weddings industry than ever before.
Many venues in the UK are entirely booked up until 2023 and, according to this wedding planner, those that are free are now starting to increase their prices in line with demand.
For couples who have been waiting months, if not years, to tie the knot, the scenario means choice is currently limited. Yet, with travel restrictions now gradually easing after nearly two years of minimal foreign travel, destination weddings are back on the cards as a possible option for couples.
George Burdon, co-founder of luxury villa providers Dynamic Lives, says: “The pandemic has made it hard, if not impossible, for couples who planned to get married during the last two years to do so and the high demand for weddings now that restrictions have eased means that planning the big wedding day will continue to be difficult for the foreseeable.
“That’s why destination weddings are the perfect solution, as the world really is your oyster and the possibilities for venues is essentially endless.”
With destination weddings expected to surge in the coming years, here are ten top tips if you're considering marrying abroad.
1. Choose a location you have visited
When it comes to choosing the location for your wedding, it is likely that you will choose a place with meaning; one that you have visited before and fell in love with. The benefit of having visited the location prior to getting married is that you will likely have a good idea of possible venues, transport links, accommodation options and other amenities to plan the perfect stay for you and your guests.
2. Check the legalities
Before you settle on your destination of choice, check the legalities involved to marry there. While there are a number of countries where there is no residency requirement to marry such as Italy and Las Vegas, you may still need to obtain the correct governmental documentation – such as a certificate of no impediment (CNI or CONI). Some countries also require you to apply for your marriage licence in advance.
For countries where a residency requirement is in place to marry there, you will have to conduct the legal preliminaries beforehand in the UK. This can be a low-key ceremony in a local registration office with at least two guests present to act as your witnesses. Speak to your local registration service for further information and take note of this invaluable guide to marrying abroad before you do so.
3. Consider your guest list
Asking your guests to travel abroad is a far greater request than asking them to travel within the UK to attend your wedding, so bear this in mind before setting a date. You will want to ensure that all the guests you want to attend are fit and healthy enough to fly and can afford the outlay. You should also make sure that, in the wake of the pandemic, they are comfortable and confident enough to travel.
A wedding abroad doesn't necessarily mean having a smaller guest list than you would in the UK, but it is wise to scale it down as much as possible. A larger guest list will only add to your stress levels as you account for every guest's safe and sound arrival, so you may wish to consider a smaller wedding abroad followed by a celebration for all back home.
4. Research the best dates
Most couples choose to marry abroad for the warmer and more predictable weather. However, countries that are often associated with sun, sea and sand will also have their wet seasons, so plan your wedding date wisely.
Also consider both peak and off-peak seasons as this can significantly impact the total cost of the wedding. While this is the same scenario for couples marrying in the UK, weddings abroad also have the added impact of air travel and hotel costs – especially if you're jetting out at the same time as holidaymakers.
5. Look at travel requirements
As well as finding the cheapest and most practical travel solutions for your guests, you will also want to check the Covid-related entry requirements of your destination country. While fully vaccinated travellers are enjoying greater freedom once again, you should check rules for testing and isolation – particularly for unvaccinated travellers. All regulations are subject to change, so make it a regular habit to stay abreast of the latest travel rules at gov.uk.
Bring yourself up to speed with the documentation required to enter your chosen country, including necessary visas. You will want to ensure that your passports are still valid and have at least six months left before expiration. Also consider health insurance. For European travel, apply for your GHIC card (Global Health Insurance Card), which has replaced the better known EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) at nhs.uk.
6. Hire a wedding planner
When you begin to set your plans in motion, find a wedding planner who is local to the area in which you are getting married. They will be able to advise on what is/isn't feasible, have suppliers they can recommend and are best placed to coordinate all the logistics of the wedding so you don't have to. They are also invaluable when it comes to breaking down the language barrier and simplifying the decisions you have to make.
Research the best wedding planners online and look for genuine reviews from couples who have used their services before.
The pandemic has opened up the world to more effective methods of communication. Zoom and Teams meetings have become the norm, which makes planning a destination wedding even easier, allowing you to enjoy the ease and convenience of regular catch-ups with your wedding planner from the comfort of home.
7. Book early
Demand for foreign travel over the next few years will be higher than ever, and as aforementioned, experts are predicting a surge in destination weddings as UK venue and supplier availability hits an all-time low. The need to book early has never been greater, so the sooner you can put your plans in place the better.
8. Get wedding insurance
As soon as you have booked your wedding, take out wedding insurance. Wedding insurance is a must when planning any wedding to protect you against any unexpected pitfalls, and the same applies for overseas weddings. Always check that coronavirus is included as part of the policy.
Voyager Insurance's Dreamsaver Wedding Insurance is one such insurance product that meets this criteria and provides cover against coronavirus. The cover is for the marrying couple or a relative, which is defined as: spouse/partner, (step) parent(s), grandparent(s), (step) children, grandchildren and siblings), and applies if someone tests positive for coronavirus within ten days of the ceremony date.
Managing director Steve Cox says: "We are really pleased our Dreamsaver Wedding Insurance product has the option to include cover for Covid-19, in a market with limited alternatives. This cover is vital for many couples, particularly those who are getting married abroad where Covid-19 might be more prevalent, in order to financially protect their big day from the unexpected. By having coronavirus cover available, we are hoping that more couples take the opportunity to protect their wedding."
For further information about this product, visit weddinginsurance.co.uk.
9. Compile an itinerary
Draw up a rough itinerary from the outset so you can begin to visualise the wedding stay, and see your plans come together. This will allow you to have a clear plan of action when you choose a wedding planner or start talking with suppliers, so they will be in the know as much as you are.
Decide how far in advance of the wedding you will arrive and how long you will stay after. The same goes for your guests; do you intend for their plans to match yours, or are they free to come and go as they wish?
Keep the itinerary up to date as time goes on, so that by the end of your planning you're left with a rock solid plan of action, which can be shared with your guests.
10. Send save-the-dates early
Once the essentials are in place such as the date and venue, there is nothing left to do but send out your save-the-dates or invitations to ensure your guests add it to their diaries. Include an email address to an inbox set up specifically for your wedding or set up a Whatsapp group so all guests can send their RSVPs and enquiries to one dedicated area, which you can address in your own time.
When the big decisions have been made, the fun can begin with themes and colour schemes to consider, a dress to buy and the hen and stag parties to commence.
Getting married abroad? Check out these destination weddings for inspiration.