A wedding abroad may seem like a romantic but overwhelming idea, nearing on a nearly impossible dilemma.
But each year, thousands embark on enticing adventures that involve multi-cultural tidings and multi-level tasks. Weddings abroad, overseas, and in clandestine locations result in unforgettable memories. Jamaica, Italy, Barbados, South Africa, Austria, Bora Bora, the Caribbean islands and many other enticing locations are hotspots for newly wed looking for a novel wedding adventure.
“I thought my fiance and I were out of our minds when we decided to get married in Jamaica, but it was a spectacular and memorable event that no one will soon forget,” says recently-married Justine Stone.
Such a task not only involved several advance trips to the island of Jamaica but careful planning for other family members and friends who traveled thousands of miles.
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“It was an awesome weekend, but it took a lot of work and planning to occupy our guests for three days and nights,” says the new Mrs. Stone.
The couple chose a resort location, Round Tree Hill – known for its celebrity draw and cushy amenities such as exclusive villas – and gave their 120-count guest list eight months advance notice in order to coordinate flights and hotel rooms.
“We sent a ‘Save-the-Date’ notice in early summer so people could either make a vacation plan or simply attend the three days we had already planned,” says Justine. The couple later sent out official, formal invitations for their Dec. 11 date.
While the Stones’ decided upon Jamaica due to many previous trips they had made there, other couples take a chance on a location never visited before and rely entirely upon wedding planners to coordinate their event.
“We plan everything from here,” says Leanne, a coordinator for a Glasgow-based company, which handles everything from the priest to passports to the cake for events in Italy and other European locations.
“We’ve done hundreds of weddings, and have encountered very few glitches,” says Leanne.
Advance planning is the key, and the expectation that costs may be significantly higher in a foreign country due to additional travel and hotel costs. But the additional advantage of wedding overseas is that the honeymoon begins immediately, and access to other locations for travel and vacation purposes is relatively simple.
For instance, a couple wed in Italy then hopped a plane in Rome for five days of romance in Paris.
“They killed two birds with one stone, and added to the magic of their adventure,” says Leanne.
Time is another factor to consider. While we in the UK are used to events happening in a timely manner, other cultures may be accustomed to moving at a slower pace.
“I tried to hire a flower person and she missed our appointment by an entire day,” says Adam Stone, Justine’s groom. “But in Jamaica that’s customary. She just showed up the next day as though nothing had happened.”
Also, language barriers can arise as couples try to coordinate events themselves. Most companies offer interpreters or work with wedding planners who are bi-lingual or tri-lingual.
“You have to have someone who knows the language and its nuances. Something that means one thing in Florence might mean another thing in Naples,” says Leanne.
Ireland, Greece and other Mediterranean locations have also become popular.
It is essential that all brides-and-grooms-to-be provide proof of their marriage eligibility and agree to the laws of the country regarding marriage. While many weddings are non-denominational, some countries or cities may require that the marriages take place in city hall or a church. Laws vary from country to country.
“You want to make sure that your marriage is legal, and the laws may vary from typical laws in the United States, ” says Leanne.
And if you do prefer a religious ceremony, the appropriate person may be hard to find. In Jamaica, only one Rabbi was available for the Stone ceremony. In other countries a First United Methodist Church pastor may just as difficult to track down, but a Tibetan priest may be readily available for the ceremony, says Leanne.
Additionally, if family members or friends are unavailable to act as witnesses, local townspeople, or witnesses hired by the wedding coordinator may be available.
“It’s difficult for some people to deal with the idea of not being able to attend to all the details themselves until they arrive a few days before the wedding,” says Leanne. “They have to develop a rapport with their coordinator and trust that everything will go well.”
Some wedding coordinators leave travel coordination to the clients, but handle all other details. Airline tickets can often be found at bargain rates on internet services or with advance notice through regular airline channels.
Most international coordinators arrange a budget in advance but require a 50 percent deposit to get the ball rolling. Coordinators can also arrange for more exotic requests such as a hot-air balloon, a yacht or sailing ship, an African safari and a variety of requests that add an extra edge to wedding vows. Those special requests may add a few Pounds to the arrangement, but the extra effort will be worth the memories.
And just like the Stone, thousands have discovered that a wedding abroad may become a dream come true.
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