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Planning an Overseas wedding

Have you thought about planning an overseas wedding? We’ve chatted with a beautiful bride who has done just that!

This is the ultimate guide! Not only has Sarah provided info on everything to be aware of when planning a destination wedding has some fabulous tips for all brides-to-be.

Sarah and Tom Moreton       

Wedding Location: Eastington Park, Gloucestershire, UK

How long did it take you to plan your big day? 21 months

Any recommendations for how to bring people together for an overseas wedding?

  • Travelling to the other side of the world for a wedding is a massive ask so we thought that we would make an event of it – we had a wedding weekend so our guests weren’t with us for just hours but days instead.
  • Think of the time of year – lots of guests tied our wedding in with summer travel in Europe and planned trips before and after the big day.
  • Think of traveling groups – friends that would like to travel together and family that could use it as an excuse for a wider family holiday.
  • Must be a child friendly wedding – you can’t ask people to be apart from their children for that long.
  • Be prepared for no’s – out of our 110 guests at the wedding only 28 werefrom my side due to the travel component. You will need to be aware of this and accept this will be the case prior to deciding on a destination wedding.
  • Make sure you are not asking too much of people – family will want to attend and may put either their health of finances in jeopardy to do so – make sure you are aware of what you are asking people; it is a big commitment.
  • Give people as much notice as possible – we sent out of save the dates 18 months in advance and the invites over 12 months before the wedding to give people lots of time to plan and save for the trip.
  • Pick an unusual place that people haven’t been before – as most of our friends and families have been and or spent time in London we decided to have our wedding in the Cotswolds to give everyone an excuse to explore a new place they wouldn’t have visited otherwise.
  • Location – you have to decide which family gets the ‘home wedding’ – in our case we didn’t have a choice as my husband’s family is older and would not have been able to travel whereas mine, although difficult for some of them, were able to make the journey half way round the world for the day.

Did you use or given the chance again would you have used a Wedding Planner/Co-ordinator?

No, we had lots of time up our sleeves and quite enjoyed the planning process. However, I do work in marketing and have planned big events before so wasn’t fazed by it but can see how, if it is not your background, how it can become overwhelming.

Any tips or tricks you can offer brides-to-be?

  • Plan for any weather outcome – we had 30 degrees in the UK which is unheard of and everyone melted. If we were to do it again we wouldn’t have had just a back-up plan for rain but a back-up plan for ridiculous heat as well.
  • Really think about your guest list – don’t feel pressured into inviting people you don’t want there as you will just end up seeing them in all your photos and wishing you had invited others instead.
  • Be prepared for no shows – no matter how many times I was told by past-brides that people would just not turn up (even after RSVPing, sending food options back and enquiring about accommodation) we still had 7 people not turn up on the day. It is hurtful but if you accept it as something that is going to happen it helps.
  • Pinterest is a bride’s best friend
  • Make sure you do a shot run list with your photographer – do not leave this to chance!!! Due to a family illness in the lead up to the wedding I didn’t get a chance to meet with the photographer and talk through the day and the shots we wanted – looking back now there are so many people missing from our memories i.e. would have loved to get a shot of my university girlfriends together etc.
  • When briefing your family and bridal party on speeches don’t use times!!!! We said 5 mins and had some that were more like 20 mins!!! Give them an ‘amount’ i.e. 5 mins is about 1.5 pages of A4 with 11-point type – that way they will have a limit and won’t go overboard.

Anything you would do differently?

  • Would have organised a ‘too hot’ plan i.e. fans and umbrellas for shade
  • Listen to your gut when doing invites – if in doubt do not invite!!!
  • If you have pre-bought alcohol assign a family member or friend to ensure that it is being distributed – we found that waiters were too slow to replace wine bottles on tables etc which lead to guests purchasing their own alcohol at the bar. The pre-bought alcohol is there to be drunk so make sure someone is keeping an eye on its distribution.
  • There is always too much food!!!! I would have ordered way less if I was doing it again, think only about half the food was eaten on the day, people just don’t eat at weddings!!!!
  • I don’t know if I would have giving the groom free range on the DJ playlist again – too much nineties house music….. the dance floor emptied and once its empty it’s hard to recover!!!

Were there specific components you spent more or less on?

  • We spent 1/3 of our budget on the venue itself as wanted somewhere that would accommodate the whole family for the whole weekend. The venue makes the wedding. It’s the first thing people see and the lasting impression.
  • We spent lots of a photographer as this was really important to us knowing that it would be the only time both of our families would ever be together – wanted to capture these moments well.
  • We kept flowers to a minimum and spent nearly nothing on venue decorations – we invested in a beautiful Georgian manor house and wanted the beauty of the house to speak for itself.

If you live overseas or you and your partner come from different countries the obvious question is where do we get married or do we have two smaller weddings – this ultimately comes down to what is more important to you:

  • Having everyone there that you want here = 2 weddings
  • Having both families together at your wedding = 1 wedding
  • There are going to be benefits and disadvantages of each i.e. if you are having one wedding a lot of your friends will not be able to make it and it is also it is disadvantageous to one side of the family i.e. my husband was able to have all 56 relatives attend the wedding at not much cost whereas the huge expense of travel and accommodation fell on my side of the family and friends who all would have spent a minimum of $2,000 to be with us. It’s not really the fairest option but having the families together was the most important part of the day for us and we tried to subsidise my family as much as we could over the weekend. Be prepared to feel a tad guilty at times!!!
  • If you decide to go for two weddings you are essentially paying for two weddings and so therefore will be paying for things like flowers, venue, cake etc. twice. Additionally, you will not have the family together and only one will be a ‘legal’ wedding meaning you will need to decide which side of the family actually gets to see you ‘tie the knot’ for real!!!
  • When planning an overseas wedding in which one side of the family will have to travel you have the ‘normal’ bridal stresses but on top of these you will have to think about guest’s ability to travel, guests desire to travel, how to make it ‘fairish’ in terms of expense to one family, all the nitty gritty logistics of having guests from overseas getting to venues, accommodation etc.

But it is all worth it to see both sides of the family together celebrating such an exciting day, especially if they have not all been together before.

Check out some of the Moreton’s photos, We’ve spent days pouring over them all and it was hard to choose just a few!




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