Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Jumping ship - A Wedding Abroad

Less than a month after my own magical Winter Wedding in Courmayeur, Italy I want to impart my advice and lessons learned from organising a Winter/ Snow/ Ski Wedding abroad.

If you are engaged or planning on getting married soon, congratulations! Although you will feel some stress and worry as the months slip by, you will look back fondly on this time, so do try to enjoy it all!
If you are not getting married soon, but just stumbled upon this post, congratulations to you also and enjoy reading (try some others posts too!)

1. Wedding Abroad
The decision to have your wedding abroad can for some be obvious but for others may take some time. Everyone has their own reasons for deciding to jump ship, but just make sure that BOTH of you really want to do this.
This is important because as soon as you announce the decision, people will be disappointed, they will question your choice and they will tell you that you are being selfish ...be strong and be sure.
The major qualm for most people about weddings abroad is that you must realise loved older members of your family may not be able to attend, and despite giving people plenty of time and trying to keep costs down some of your good friends may not be able to attend.
If you are BOTH ok with this, then congrats you on the way to your fairytale wedding!


2. Location Location
Sun, snow, sea, mountains, lakes, castles … what do you want from your location?
We wanted snow, so when looking at locations that was our first demand. Then we wanted a ski resort, the ability to get married in a Catholic Church, Euro currency and easy access for guests (a good frequency of flights, short transfer etc)
Know your priorities, keep them small and then make your lists. This is fun and frustrating, use the internet, but be thorough.
Once you have the most suitable country or area then you need to start trawling the internet for reviews, ideas and inspiration.

3. Get a Wedding Planner
Yes they are expensive, but they are worth every penny.
If you are someone who does not speak the language, are not native and have never organised a wedding before, then going without a planner is a very brave choice. For us there was no other option, especially as snow destination weddings are a little unusual. A wedding planner will help, advise, warn, suggest and book all parts of your wedding.
Religious and/or civil paperwork, logistics and wedding details all come under their remit and you will feel better knowing they will be there on the day to sort out any problems as they crop up.

4. Lose control
I am the sort of person who feels that if I want something done right, then only I can do it.
But with a foreign wedding I couldn't do everything, I could actually do very little and so I had to lose control. I had a vision for the wedding, I shared that vision with the planner, the hotel, the photographer, the florist etc but I had no control over their interpretation of it. I had to let go, look at the bigger picture and hope that it all came together.
And it did and the wedding was better than anything I could have imagined.

(c) fifiheavey 2014

5. Prepare for Questions
Everyone will have questions, different questions, sensible ones, outrageous ones and some that will fill you with anger. This is all part of a foreign wedding, the more guests you have travelling the more questions there will be.
Write out information to go out with your invite, set up a website (www.mywedding.com ) set up a Facebook Group and keep everyone informed.
Also maybe take a bath and try to stay calm when people ask questions that you can’t answer, there will be many!

6. Remember your partner
Try not to have a greater relationship with your wedding planner than you do with your actual partner! Keep him/her involved, make sure you both get to make decisions and have input. Most men like to tell everyone their girlfriend is planning the wedding, but they really do want to be involved. It is nice to know that parts of the wedding reflect you both.

7. Money
You thought I forgot to say budget didn't you …?! Budgets are so important, especially when for many money is tight. But I hate to say that despite readjusting our budget several times, we went over it significantly and I understand most couples do the same. 
Remember that no one will recall the flower arrangements or the quality of paper in the ceremony booklet, they will remember how much or little fun they had and how happy the couple looked.
We were worried about paying all our suppliers before the wedding, but were delighted when we travelled there it was all done and dusted.

8. Visit the location
You must visit the location of your wedding, before the big event. Not only will be able to see all the locations, you will be able to speak with (learn a little of the language if necessary) with some of your suppliers. Visiting will help put your mind at ease, the place is real, the people do exist, your wedding is going to happen. It will also allow you to get excited and give you and your partner a little vacation time!

9. Honeymoon
So you are going abroad to get married - will you stay there for your honeymoon? Are you ok with your friends and family being there with you? If you do a ski holiday like we did it was perfect, but maybe a beach holiday with everyone might be a bit much. Do try to get some time alone with your new husband/ wife. Otherwise delaying your honeymoon is a popular choice, so when you get home you have something to look forward to.

10. Relax and Enjoy
Part of the reason we chose to get wed abroad was to try and skip the stress. It worked too, although we had to calm down everyone around us, we sailed through the experience. Make sure everything is ready to go, try and arrive at the destination a few days before to check everything out and to settle in.
If you are here for the snow or the sun please do get out and enjoy it.

I will be posting more details on our snow wedding, Courmayeur and skiing in the next few posts, so stay tuned!

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