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Anything to detract from the fraudulent summer we are having in the UK. Today. Destination weddings!
There is such an allure to having a destination wedding, Mr Nu Bride and I toyed with the idea. And we’ve had the pleasure of celebrating with close friends and family who opted for destination weddings and have travelled from Barbados to Slovakia and this year we’ll be heading off to France. There is something quite lovely about truly relaxing and having a multi-day event spending quality time with friends and family. Without having to clock watch, or get back to work and spilling over into a holiday and a chance to explore new cultures and surroundings. But it takes pre-prep and a lot of research to choose the right destination venue and make sure your celebration is as seamless and inclusive as possible.
Today, I am joined by super talented destination wedding expert and planner Olivia, founder of Nulyweds , to share some tips to help you with your destination wedding plans and to explore if this type of wedding celebration is right for you! Over to Olivia!
So you’re thinking about getting married abroad?
Amazing choice if I do say so myself! Marrying abroad is a real adventure and gives your wedding guests an entirely new experience for weddings they may have been to before. As a destination wedding planner in Portugal, the most common issue that couples complain of is the migraine-inducing process that is venue sourcing abroad.
I’m going to break it all down and give a step by step guide on how to find the perfect wedding venue abroad for you.
This article is for you if:
- You live far away from your chosen wedding destination
- You find the thought of sourcing a venue overseas daunting
- You’re a little worried about international travel and want to avoid discrimination. Perhaps how yours or your partner’s skin colour, religion could affect you when marrying abroad
Step 1: Destination Before Venue
There are two fundamental principles to getting venue sourcing abroad right. One is that preparation will save you so much legwork in the long run, literally and metaphorically, so the first two steps in this article are all about prep work. Fun prep work, but prep work nonetheless.
The second fundamental principle is destination over venue.
Go deeper than just the country – what town or city or region do you want to get married in? If you have a connection to a particular place then that could be a clear choice, but maybe you just love the country and it could be anywhere. In that case, you can narrow the location down in a range of ways but my go-to is by landscape. Portugal, for example, has sooo many landscapes to choose from as most countries do. Are you into glittery cities like Porto or sleepy countryside in Braga? Do you want a peaceful beach wedding like in the Algarve or surrounded by valleys in Estremadura? Do you like enclosed forests that Sintra can offer or do you prefer to be out in the open like in The Alentejo? Figuring out the precise locations you’re attracted to will make the research process way easier.
Photo: Oydin and Mei
Okay so this is where we have a real talk about discrimination.
As a Nu Bride reader, I know you’re used to the diversity talk on here so this shouldn’t phase you at all, but I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t mention it here. You may be received and treated differently as a BAME couple in different parts of the world, which I find slightly amplifies if you are a mixed couple.
Do your research when it comes to the regions you’ve chosen, be observant and see how you feel walking around and how customer services clerks treat you. You do not want xenophobia, racism, religious or any form of discrimination to hinder your wedding planning, so ensure you feel safe and comfortable.
Using Portugal as an example, it is very multicultural here and there are few examples of racism or xenophobia. In terms of religious customs, however, as a Catholic country, it’s a little more complicated. I’d recommend having a religious blessing in Portugal rather than an official legally binding wedding. It’ll also be much more complicated to get halal or kosher food for example in The Alentejo than in more cosmopolitan areas like Porto and Lisbon. These are all things you need to bear in mind when thinking of your perfect wedding destination and accessibility.
Step 2: What is your wedding style
The next preparatory step is figuring out your wedding style which is super fun to think about. Venues comes in all shapes and sizes. There are castles and barns, greenhouses and luxe hotels, vineyards and seaside bars, rooftops and wine cellars. Notably they all correspond to the style of wedding you want, so it’s best to figure that out first. Are you super glamorous and want a fairytale wedding in a historical place? Are you relaxed, homely and rustic and therefore would suit a barn or outdoor wedding? Have you always dreamt of a city skyline as your background and so perhaps a rooftop bar is for you? See what venue type really draws you in and it’ll help your research stage.
Step 3: Researching with purpose
Photo: Six Senses Douro – The Quiet Wolf Photography
Now onto the meat and potatoes of this guide; the researching. If you’ve done enough prep, you should have a clear idea of the town, city or region you want to get married in and what type of venue could be for you. From here, it’s way easier to start using trusty old Google to get some venue results that are relevant for you. So don’t search for “Portugal wedding venues”. for example, as you’ll be sifting through thousands of totally irrelevant results for you. Be nice and specific.
“Outdoor wedding venues near Lisbon”
“Castle wedding venues in Porto”
“Beach wedding venues in The Algarve”
Drill down to your specific wants and you’re going to get a much clearer outcome.
Now yes, this research, however specific and efficient, is still a little tedious to some. I recommend sitting down together, with a hot chocolate or something stronger, and browsing the internet together for potential options. Unfortunately, you can’t really skip this step unless…
Step 4: When to get expert help
So you’ve done all the groundwork but venue sourcing is still mind-numbingly-confusing, boring or just a time siv that you’d rather not have. It can be doubly overwhelming if you don’t speak the language of the country you want to get married in. You may also find that Google shows alot of favouritism to the big, expensive venues who are extremely popular, and rarely shines a light on the smaller, lesser known gems that are waiting to be discovered by you. I completely understand. This is where it’s time to tap in some expert help.
Photo: Six Senses Douro – The Quiet Wolf Photography
Now this could be a local planner to your chosen country or a planner in your home country. I, of course, recommend a local based planner, because they know how to navigate the market, speak the language and are well versed in the venues there. That said, I wouldn’t knock a home-based destination planner, as they can also be effective and you’ll have more one-to-one contact with them in real life than over Skype. Whoever you choose, wedding planners are here to take the heavy lifting of venue sourcing off your shoulders.
My advice would still be to do the preparatory work, as your chosen planner will still need an indication of location and venue type, but they will then do the research for you, negotiate rates and present you with a shortlist of venues for you to look at. Like a friendlier, more personalised Google. So if you really are stuck when it comes to finding a wedding venue abroad, absolutely get in touch with a planner to help you.
I hope you found this little article helpful on how to find the perfect wedding venue abroad for you. As my turf is Portugal, I used examples from there but these steps apply to any wedding destination, anywhere in the world. My parting advice is to not lose faith. Marrying abroad can seem daunting now, but the end result is so worth it!
Olivia – this is golden! Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us.
Olivia is a destination wedding planner working with colourful couples to help them plan their dream wedding in beautiful Portugal. If you would like to find out more about Nulyweds and some of her planning and venue sourcing services, hop on over to www.nulyweds.com for a free consultation.