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Destination weddings are quickly becoming popular among couples. Think of a wedding in the midst of the lavender fields in Provence or at one of the villas around Lake Como. Imagine intimate weddings at the beautiful Victorian mansions in England or in one of the charming chateaus in France. The list could go on and on depending on how adventurous you are!

You might have previously heard of friends having a destination wedding overseas or you may have traveled far to attend one. Now that it’s you’re turn to tie the knot, are you also thinking of having your own destination wedding? Take a look at the pros and cons (and my top tips!), then figure out if a destination wedding really is for you.

Destination Wedding pRos

Intimate destination wedding at Hedsor House: English wedding theme in a Georgian wedding venue near London. Bride is wearing a long sleeve lace Marchesa gown and Groom is wearing a formal tuxedo long coat with top hat. Flowers by Lucy the Flower Hunter. Photo by fine art wedding photographer Cristina Ilao www.cristinailao.com

1. A destination wedding and a honeymoon trip all rolled into one

You get two for one. There’s no need to pack a separate bag for your honeymoon trip. You’re already there! All that is left to do is to sit back, relax, and enjoy your first holiday as a married couple. And this doesn’t just apply to the two of you. Your guests can also plan a side trip on the days before or after your wedding date. Here’s a tip. When sending out your wedding invitations why not include a mini holiday guide too? Suggest places your guests can visit or activities they can do near your destination wedding venue. It’s a great way to get them even more excited about going to your wedding!

2. An intimate occasion

A destination wedding is usually a smaller celebration with only the nearest and dearest family and friends. You’ll both enjoy your wedding more because you’ll get to spend enough time with the most important people in your lives. You’ll have enough time to interact with the whole wedding party and plenty of time left to enjoy the rest of the celebration. You can both focus more on enjoying your special day and spend less time worrying about hosting your guests.

3. Utmost privacy and exclusivity

Destination wedding venues are usually exclusive hire venues that allow you and your guests to enjoy the whole place in private. Most guests stay will be staying in the same venue or near the venue. For that reason, your guests are also more likely to stay until the end of the party as they won’t be in a rush to get home. You can all keep partying even after the clock strikes twelve! 

destination wedding in the UK - English countryside wedding in Yorkshire. Bride is wearing white off shoulder mermaid wedding dress by Cherry Williams London. Groom is wearing a formal black tuxedo with ribbon. Photo by London wedding photographer Cristina Ilao www.cristinailao.com

4. A more accurate guest count

A destination wedding requires you and your guests to fly or travel to the destination. Therefore, planning ahead is essential for both you and your guests who wish to attend. Of course, they’ll need to book flights and arrange accommodation in advance to ensure availability and save on costs. This means that your guests are also more likely to respond to your invitation way ahead of the wedding than at the last minute. Your guest drop-out rate is potentially lower than that of a normal wedding.

Destination Wedding coNs (and what you can do about them!)

I know, I know – for every pro, there is a con. But know that for every con, there are also solutions! I’ve listed below the common concerns I hear from couples planning their destination wedding AND what can be done to address them. You’re welcome!

1. Planning a destination wedding can be a challenge

Planning a wedding where you’re based is already a challenge. But, planning a wedding many miles away is something else. There are so many things you need to consider from choosing the best venue to selecting the most suitable wedding suppliers and getting your guests to the destination. Here are my top tips on what you can do to make planning a breeze.

small civil destination wedding in The Hague Netherlands. Bride is wearing a simple white wedding gown with veil while holding a rose wedding bouquet while groom is wearing a royal blue suit

Hire a local wedding planner

If you can afford it, a good way to help you get through your wedding planning is to hire a destination wedding planner. It’s even better if you can find someone local. Local wedding planners will have the ability to scout the venues for you and meet with your other wedding suppliers in person. They can also offer local knowledge that could be extremely valuable for planning your wedding. Whether you’re going for a local wedding planner or not, here’s my tip: Make sure that you understand the type of service you are asking for. Various wedding planners offer different types (i.e. on-the-date coordination, semi-coordination, full wedding planning, etc). Choose the planner and the type of service that suits you and can meet your requirements.

Stay organised

If you choose to do the planning yourself, it’s critical that you stay organised. Some couples use a wedding organiser while some rely on wedding mobile apps. Whatever works for you is fine as long as it lets you stay on top of things.

You do need to set aside time as wedding planning can get tedious. Carve enough time to be able to do your research before making any decisions. Create a reasonable timeline and set achievable milestones so you don’t get burnt out and stressed. Most importantly, take care of your well-being. It’s easy to forget this when you’re so caught up trying to figure out how to cross the next thing off your wedding planning checklist. Read this blog post about my well-being tips if you’re wondering how to practice self-care while planning your dream wedding.

soft and relaxed beachy waves wedding hairstyle for brides with long hair. Photo by Cristina Ilao www.cristinailao.com

Learn to delegate

Divide the list of tasks between you and your other half. You’re not the only one who’s getting married so why not ask for help from your soon to be husband/wife? List down all your to-dos and agree which ones can be done by each of you. If you’re both still feeling overwhelmed, enlist the help of your family and friends. It doesn’t have to be entirely up to the two of you. Some of your family and friends might even appreciate participating and contributing to your wedding by assisting you with small tasks. Just make sure to communicate what exactly you need them to help you with to avoid confusion. You don’t want that to add more stress to your wedding planning.

Ask help from your entourage

Don’t forget your maid of honour, best man, bridesmaids, and groomsmen. They’re not just there to look beautiful beside the two of you on the day of the wedding. They’re also there to help you with some tasks or activities leading to the wedding day. Why not delegate simple tasks such as sending out the wedding invitations or monitoring the RSVPs. It’s all up to you and will depend on how involved you want them to be.

2. A destination wedding can be a logistics nightmare

As much as destination weddings are beautiful, they can also be very tricky to organise. Arranging transportation and accommodation for both you and your guests can be a challenging and pricey exercise. This is one wedding planning task that can easily get out of hand. Here are my top tips if you want to manage your wedding planning logistics like a pro.

simple and elegant wedding stationery suite flatlay: Navy blue and pale blue wedding invitation with gold foiling by Katie Sue Design Co, Silk Ribbons by Silk and Purl. Styling and Photo by Newcastle wedding photographer Cristina Ilao www.cristinailao.com

Send out save-the-dates way ahead of the formal invitation

This way, the guests can confirm early whether they’re available to attend your wedding. If they have other commitments, this early notice gives them flexibility. They can make arrangements and tweak their schedule more easily because you’ve given them enough time.

Help your guests plan ahead

Provide your guests with information on travel and accommodation as early as possible. This gives them a chance to take advantage of lower flight costs, discounts, and deals that might not be available if arranged nearer to the travel date. If your wedding is at an expensive venue, suggest hotel or lodging options at more affordable price points. Offer to assist them in getting to the venue and in pairing them up with roommates to save costs. The easier it is for them to get there, the more likely they are to want to come.

I hope you found my top tips helpful. Feel free to post a comment below or send me an email if you have other destination wedding planning tips. If you’d like to receive an alert for when I next share posts like this, then please join my email list and let’s stay in touch.

Much love,
Cristina xx

London wedding and editorial photographer

Meet cRiSTina

Born and raised in the Philippines, Cristina is an award-winning international wedding photographer currently based in London and Newcastle, UK. She is known for her fine art approach and light and airy photography style.

Throughout her career, Cristina has worked with distinguished television celebrities, leading UK fashion influencers and international brands, cementing her place in the UK and extending her reach to a global client base. Cristina has been featured by Nikon Europe,  Yahoo Style UK, and some of the most notable international wedding and photography magazines.

Her work has taken her to some of the most beautiful places in the world including the USA, France, Malta, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Greece, and the Caribbean just to name a few.

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