How To Plan A Wedding Abroad: All You Need To Know

Portugal | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings

Many couples dream of getting married abroad. It’s exciting and special! Getting married in a beautiful place far from home can make your big day unforgettable. But, it takes a lot of planning. In this guide, we’ll help you understand all the important steps to make your dream wedding abroad a reality. It’s all you need to organise a special celebration that truly shows your love and who you are.

Choose the Perfect Destination

Firstly, think about the weather where you want to get married. Do you want to be on a warm beach or in a snowy place? Knowing the weather helps you pick the right time for your wedding.

Another key point is how easy or hard it might be for you and your loved ones to travel to the chosen destination. Consider factors such as flight availability and transportation options within the country. Choosing a place that’s easy to get to can make planning your trip simpler and help your guests come celebrate your big day without any trouble.

Also, remember the rules you need to follow when you want to get married in another country. This way, you won’t run into any problems right before your wedding. We will discuss this later.

Quinta A Lendária, Venue | Barreiro, Portugal | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings

Set a Realistic Budget

First, set up your budget. Knowing this will stop you from spending too much and getting stressed about money later. Split your money into different parts such as travel, accommodation, venue, catering, decor, and any other expenses. Decide what’s most important to you and your partner, and spend more money on those things.

Remember that things can cost a lot different in different places. So, find out the prices at your chosen destination and you’ll know how much money you’ll need. Also, changes in the value of money between different countries can affect your budget. So, think about exchange rates and any extra charges.

When you’re planning a destination wedding, you might face some surprise costs. Things like unexpected travel problems or sudden changes to your decoration plans. To handle these surprises, it’s smart to save some extra money, like 10-15% of your total budget, as a backup fund. This way, you’ll be ready for anything financially.

Make sure to save money for travel such as flights for you, your bridal party, and maybe some guests. Think about how everyone will get there and back, and if anyone needs special travel papers. Also, look for nice places for your guests to stay close to your venue.

Spend a good amount of your budget on getting the right venue. But remember, there might be extra costs like decorating or special fees for having it all to yourselves.

Planning a wedding can be full of surprises, so it’s important to keep an eye on your budget and be ready to change things if needed. Be flexible, so you can handle anything without hurting your finances.

Igreja Nossa Senhora da Fé de Monte Abraão, Church | Monte Abraão, Portugal | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings

Plan Well in Advance

By starting your planning process early, ideally 12 to 18 months before, you open up a world of possibilities. The most popular venues and vendors often get booked up months, if not years, in advance. So, if you plan well in advance, you will have enough time to find the best places and vendors to help with your wedding.

Even if you have everything perfectly organised, unexpected problems can still happen while you’re planning. If you plan well ahead of time, you’ll have time to deal with any surprises that might come your way.

Sé Catedral de Beja, Church | Portugal | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings

Research Legal Requirements

Planning your wedding in another country requires careful research about the laws there. Each country has its own set of rules. Take the time to look into these to avoid any problems later.

Firstly, find out what documents you will need. This might include your passports, birth certificates, and if you were married before, papers from divorce too. Some countries might ask for extra documents like a Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage (CNI) or a Letter of Freedom to Marry. You can talk to a local wedding planner or get in touch with the embassy or consulate of your destination country. They can help you figure it all out and make sure you don’t miss anything important.

Also, know if there’s a waiting period before you can get married. Some places require you to wait between getting your marriage license and having the ceremony. This wait could be a few days to several weeks. So think about that when picking your wedding date.

Quinta A Lendária, Venue | Barreiro, Portugal | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings

Find a Venue

When planning your wedding abroad, one of the most important decisions is selecting the venue. Your choice sets the tone for your big day and needs to match your style while also fitting the needs of a destination wedding.

First, look for places that are good at hosting destination weddings. These places have experience working with people from different parts of the world and can help with planning and understanding different traditions.

Think about what the place looks like. Whether you want a beachy vibe, countryside charm, or something else, choose a venue that fits your idea of a dream wedding. It’s also important to make sure the venue can fit all your guests comfortably for both the ceremony and the party afterwards. You want everyone to have enough space to enjoy themselves without feeling crowded.

Amenities can make or break your wedding experience, particularly when you’re far from home. Look for venues that offer essential amenities such as catering services, accommodations for you and your guests, and facilities for pre-wedding preparations. Also, it’s nice if they have people to help plan, transportation options, and fun activities to do.

Quinta Pinhal das Confreirias, Venue | Almargem do Bispo, Portugal | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings
Quinta A Lendária, Venue | Barreiro, Portugal | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings

Hire Local Vendors

When planning your wedding, try to use local vendors as much as you can. These local vendors know the area well and understand how things work there. They can help you with any rules or customs you might not know about, which makes everything easier.

For example, they can suggest great places for your wedding, find beautiful flowers that grow nearby, and help if there are any language barrier or culture differences. So, whether you need someone to cook delicious local food or take amazing pictures, local vendors have the inside scoop to make your wedding perfect.

When you let local vendors handle your wedding plans, you can relax because they know what they’re doing. They give special attention and make sure your wedding is not just nice to look at, but also truly reflects the charm of the place. So, choosing local vendors will add a special touch to make your wedding day even better.

Quinta Palácio Dos Antónios, Venue | Aroeira, Portugal | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings

Communicate with Guests

Communication is key when planning a wedding abroad. Unlike local celebrations, going to a wedding abroad requires more planning, including taking time off work, sorting out travel plans, and budgeting for expenses. If you give your guests plenty of notice, they can plan and save money, so they won’t feel rushed or worried about the trip.

Once you know the date and place of your wedding, send out save-the-date cards. These cards tell your guests when and where the wedding will happen. Tell them about the closest airports, suggest some good places to stay and give ideas for things to do while they’re there. This way, your guests will know what to expect and can plan their trip easily.

Having a special website for your wedding will help you share all the important stuff with your guests. You can let them know about any travel deals, explain any local traditions they might not know about, and give them a schedule for the whole wedding. Also, you can look into group discounts for hotels or transportation. Sharing websites or travel agents you trust can simplify the booking process for everyone.

Make sure to tell your guests that if they have any questions or worries, they should feel free to ask. And when they do, be quick to respond and help out whenever you can. This will help them feel more comfortable about coming to your wedding.

Keep in mind that going to a wedding in another country can be pricey for your guests. Be thoughtful of their budgets by giving them different choices for places to stay and suggesting cheaper ways to travel. 

Quinta Pinhal das Confreirias, Venue | Almargem do Bispo, Portugal | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings
Quinta A Lendária, Venue | Barreiro, Portugal | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings

Plan Activities 

When you’re getting ready for your amazing wedding abroad, it’s important to think about more than just the wedding day itself. You need to plan fun activities to do before and after the wedding. These activities are great opportunities for guests to bond and make new friends.

Before your wedding day gets super busy, you can have some fun with your family and friends. Think about doing activities that everyone will enjoy. For example, you can go on tours to see cool old stuff, spend a chill day at the beach, try different foods or go on a fun hike through pretty scenery.

After your wedding, take time to relax! You and your guests can go to the spa, take boat rides at sunset, or have peaceful picnics in beautiful places. If you’re up for some fun, try zip-lining, snorkeling, or riding in a hot air balloon. The important thing is to mix relaxation with fun, so everyone goes home with happy memories.

Quinta A Lendária, Venue | Barreiro, Portugal | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings
Quinta Cascata dos Sonhos, Venue | Almargem do Bispo, Portugal | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings

Plan for Cultural Differences

You can make your wedding special by including customs and traditions from your destination. Learn about the local customs and rituals. This could mean having traditional music or dances at your party, serving local food, or even wearing clothes inspired by the local style. You could also include stories or symbols from the local culture in your ceremony or decorations. 

But it’s important to be respectful when including these traditions. Talk to locals or experts to make sure you’re doing it right and not disrespecting anyone’s culture.

Tyseley, UK | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings
Tyseley, UK | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings

Travel and Accommodation Arrangements

Helping your guests with travel plans for your destination wedding is super important. You will make it easier for them to come to your wedding. Good planning and clear info will ease any worries.

Let your guests know about the closest airports to your wedding spot and suggest good airlines with direct or easy flights. Make a list of flight options from different cities with times so they can plan better. It’s a good idea to book flights early to get the best deals and seats.

Make it simple for your guests to find a place to stay by suggesting nearby hotels, resorts, or rental homes. Talk to hotels about reserving rooms or offering discounts for your guests. Share info like prices, what’s included, and how close they are to the wedding spot.

If your wedding is in a tricky spot to reach, help with transportation. You could organise shuttles or group rides from the airport, hotels, and to the venue. Give clear directions for local transportation like taxis or public transit.

Igreja Matriz de Almargem do Bispo, Church | Portugal | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings

Consider the Weather

When you’re planning a wedding abroad, it’s important to think about the weather. It can make a big difference to how much you and your guests enjoy the day. 

So, it’s smart to check what the weather is usually like during the time of year you are getting married. You can’t control the weather, but you can be ready for it. Think about things like how hot or cold it gets, if it rains a lot, and how windy it might be. It’s a good idea to have a backup plan just in case. For example, having an indoor place ready to go or having tents and umbrellas on standby. And don’t forget to give your guests advice on what to wear for the weather. 

Quinta Pinhal das Confreirias, Venue | Almargem do Bispo, Portugal | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings

Pack Wisely

When you are getting married abroad, it’s important to pack wisely. Besides your fancy clothes, don’t forget important papers like passports, visas, and any legal documents required for the wedding. Consider the weather and where you’ll be getting married when you pack your clothes and other stuff. Remember things like sunscreen, bug spray, and any medicine you need. It’s smart to have copies of important papers and keep them in a different place from the originals. If you make sure you have everything you need packed safely, you can fully enjoy your big day without stressing about forgetting anything.

Quinta Pinhal das Confreirias, Venue | Almargem do Bispo, Portugal | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings

Enjoy the Experience

Planning a wedding far away is not just about making plans and checking things off a list. It’s about enjoying the process and having fun every step of the way leading up to your big day. Remember to have a great time. Among all the decisions and preparations, take moments to feel excited and happy about celebrating your love in a special place.

Also, don’t forget to appreciate the bond you have with your partner. Let planning your wedding together strengthen your connection and show how committed you are to each other.

Besides the planning part, have a good time with your family and friends who’ve come from near and far to celebrate with you. Whether you’re exploring the area together, trying out tasty food, or just having fun and sharing stories, enjoy these special times knowing you’re making memories that will last forever.

Igreja Nossa Senhora da Fé de Monte Abraão, Church | Monte Abraão, Portugal | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings

Planning a wedding abroad can be hard, but if you plan well and focus on the little details, you can have the amazing destination wedding you’ve always wanted. So, as you start planning your wedding far away, remember to enjoy the whole experience. Have fun at every step, because it’s not just about where you end up, it’s about the wonderful memories you’ll keep forever. Cheers to many happy years together!

If you enjoyed the content and would like to see more of my work, don’t forget to explore my portfolio. I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback. Click here to dive into my portfolio now. Your support means the world to me!

Pedro Cruz

Wedding photographer and videographer from Lisbon, Portugal. Here is Pedro Cruz's short bio.

Recent Posts