In August 2011 my husband and I got married in Antequera, Spain. It’s a small, un-touristy, sleepy, mountain side village, about 30km inland from Malaga. We planned it for over a year and although we had luck with our venue, church, and suppliers – here are a few tips and things to think of that we learned along the way.
It’s an obvious one, but doing your online research is really important. Pick an airport that’s close to your venue and also ensure that a few low cost airlines use that airport too, you want to make it as easy as possible for all your guests to get there! Have a look at Trip Adviser and Google images – you may even find photographs of weddings that have taken place in the same venue which can give you an idea of how its been decorated and what the atmosphere will be like. Definitely talk to your fiance about what kind of venue and place you’re looking for. Would you like to get married barefoot in the sand? or in a huge church in the mountains? (we chose the latter!).
2. Know your paper work!
It may not be the most fun and exciting part of planning a wedding, but at the end of the day it is probably the most important thing to get right, you are getting married after-all. Make sure you know what the legal requirements are for getting married in your country of choice. Me and my husband were lucky as we are both christened Catholics so there were no major issues with us getting married in the local church. Even so, we had to meet the local Priest (Don Antonio!) to get his permission, as well as getting permission from our Diocese in London, and go through a church approved marriage course just to get the paperwork in order for the day. This would have been even more complicated, or even impossible if our religion didn’t match that of the country of our choice, so make sure you look into this before setting your heart on that lovely church in the sun.
You’ve officially just got married and hopefully everything went as you had hoped and dreamed. But before jetting back home or on honeymoon you need to make sure you allow a couple of days in the area you were married to register it officially at the local registry office. An error in our paperwork meant that we had to return to our church and the registry office a couple of times to get the matter sorted. Luckily we were only an hour down the road in Granada, but if we had a flight booked straight after the wedding we would have had to face cancelling the flight or we would not be legally married. Not a good way to end your trip, and it is something that didn’t even cross our minds beforehand.
3.Visit, listen to your instincts and make friends
Visit one or two of your top venues and get a feel for the place, think of the logistics of how people would get there, think about where would people stay, think about what you both want, eat their food, get a tour, and chat to the owners or management of the venue and ‘make friends’!! We only visited one venue, but we got on so well with the manageress, we just loved the views, the decor, the food and we just thought ‘we don’t need to see anything else’ – it ticked all the boxes. This is where item 1 above, research, really pays off as you can minimise the costs of flying to your venues in person.
4. Take all the help you can get
And even pay for it if you have to! Ask your venue to help you with as much as they can. Ask them for advice on local suppliers like florists, hair dressers, photographers, coach services to ship your guests around, DJ, Band and anything else you need a hand with. They will either happily oblige without extra payment like our lovely hotel managers, or they might charge you for this support – but it is probably worth it for the extra support you’ll get and the fewer headaches you will have.
5. Google translate is your friend
Luckily our team at the amazing La Fuenta Del Sol had fantastic English, but the hair dresser didn’t. Out came the laptop for both the trial and on the day, with the help of a bit of charades and a few hand signals we got there in the end, but the rough translations made a huge difference. Having pictures of the look you want can help too, for flowers, hair, decorations and anything else you need.
6. Help your guests as much as you can
Yes it is your special day, but you are making all your family and friends travel abroad, so try and help as much as you can to give your guests a fantastic experience. In the invitations send out as much information as you can to help people book their flights, car hire and accommodation. Provide as much transport as you can to take guests from accommodation to church, reception venue and home again. A wedding abroad can go on late into the night, so make sure you make it as easy as possible for your guests to get home after what might be a boozy affair. We ended up having two coaches to take people home, one at 1am for the grannies, and one at 4am for everyone else who was still partying!
7. Relax and Enjoy!
On the day, just trust that all your planning will pay off. In the real world, it won’t all go to plan, (our coach got stuck on the way to the church as there was a car parked in the middle of the road!) but you can’t predict everything and at some point you’re going to have to let it all happen, breathe, relax and really enjoy the best day of your life!
Thanks to Dave for his contributions to the above advice!
Here are a few shots of our day, hope you like them. (taken by Becky Sharpe).
If you’d like any advice or would like to talk to me about your weddings abroad please feel free to get in touch.