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1. FAMILY DISCUSSION
Talk to both sets of parents about the feasibility of an overseas wedding. Some parents might prefer that you marry locally to allow more relatives to attend. You can consider having one celebration here and a ceremonial one abroad for a smaller group. See the best resort weddings here.

2. RED TAPE
Always check with the destination country’s immigration, tourism offices, embassy or registry of marriages for their laws on weddings. Each country will have a different required length of stay before you can register your marriage there. Other things to check on: required documentation from your own country’s Registry of Marriage, medical tests, processing time for paperwork, witnesses, and other requirements for civil and/or religious ceremonies. Check about solemnisers or priests to conduct the ceremony too. See the things to note when planning for a destination wedding, and tips if you’re looking to marry in Bali and Thailand.

3. BUDGET
There’s a price to pay for the exclusivity of a destination wedding. Most brides would set aside at least $20,000 for the dinner reception alone. Add on airfare, clothes, flowers and so on. The reception and accomodation are your biggest expenditures, brides say it’s possible to save on flowers or venue decorations. Since you’ll spend the bulk of your finances on the reception, always start your planning here. Decide on the number of guests, then factor in general and/or extra expenses like flowers, rooms, tips and others. This is how much your wedding will cost – from the ROM to the banquet.

4. IS YOUR OFFICIANT AVAILABLE?
No point in choosing a date when there’s no one to officiate. See also: how to book a Justice of the Peace for your wedding. If not, consider having a grassroots leader officiate instead!

5. SELECTING SITE AND SERVICES
Consider these: what time of year is best to visit? Can you save money by marrying during the off-peak season? If it’s a remote location, is there convenient and affordable acoomodation for your guests? Does the destination offer pre-and post-wedding activities?

6. PLAN AHEAD
Try to plan at least a year ahead so you’ll have more time to research and be sure to get what you want. Some locations for example, may need a longer booking time.

7. GET ORGANISED
Always do your research and get as much information as you can from all sources; the Internet, people who have been there or couples who’ve had their wedding overseas. Make a list of what you’d need to do in order of importance and work from there.

8. HELPING HANDS
Whether it’s a professional wedding planner, the hotel caterer, relatives, or a close friend, have someone based in the country of your wedding to help with red tape and details. It should be someone you can depend on to follow through, and whose taste you trust.

9. LET IT GO
Determine which decisions are best left to your co-ordinator and which you prefer to make yourself. However, you split the tasks, be speciific- remember that no one can read your mind.

10. COMMUNICATION
If your venue has an on-site co-ordinator, talk to him/her as much as possible for overall information. Check out what previous couples have done, discuss table seating, venue decoration, drinks, food amongst others.

Put together a wedding day schedule and go over it with the coordinator. Tap his experience about worst-case scenarios and get his advice on preparation tips. Good communcation and a good co-ordinator will take loads off your mind

11. GUIDING YOUR GUESTS
Give your guests a headstart. Sending your save-the-dates a few months in advance will give them ample time to make air and hotel reservations. You can also help by reserving a block of rooms at a hotel or enclosing a lsit of local hotels.

12. REMINDERS
You can start a wedding website so guests can log in reguarly to check wedding info updates. For instance, you can send notes to guests to remind them to get/renew their passports ahead of time. Let them know too if they will need a visa. Other useful information can include an estimate of the exchange rates, what the weather will be like, so they’ll know better what to pack, etc.

13. WEDDING GIFTS
Ask your guests to send gifts to you later. Some couples actually got stuck with excess baggage at the airport because of wedding presents! 

14. LAST MINUTE DETAILS
Both you and your spouse, and a good friend who’s helping you, should fly in at least a week early. Go strictly for business to get things in order. Forget about meeting up with friends who may be going in early to have a break. Too many people around will be distracting and that time is critical for organising all the last-minute details.

Make sure you have all necessary papers and the rings. They should be kept in the hotel’s safe. If you’re worried that you have too much on your plate and may forget something, assign them to your best friend who’s there to help you. 

15. FINALLY
Loosen up! Don’t expect to have the same degree of control as you would have if you were planning your wedding locally. Know that at some point you’ll have to put your trust in other people’s decisions.

There’s only so much you can do before the wedding day comes around. And in all that planning, don’t forget to have fun because all the little memories will add up. 

This article was first published in Her World Brides March – May 2002.