Having a wedding abroad
If you’re reading this it’s likely I’m riding an Elephant through the jungle, or relaxing on a South East Asian beach sipping on a Piña Colada (or some significantly more manly drink). You see, two days ago my fiancée, well, she became my wife and I became her husband. And now we’re enjoying the great Thai outdoors on what you can either describe as a continuation of our wedding celebrations, or simply, our honeymoon. That’s right. We got married abroad.
‘Why are you getting married there?’
We first discussed, in jest, the idea of getting married abroad years ago. We both had an affinity with travelling and neither of us were particularly interested in having our wedding day ruined by bad weather. If you’re anything like us and like to do as much as possible to avoid the chance of rain, you just don’t get married in England. (Did someone say summer showers?)
When we sat down to discuss actually getting married it turned out we weren’t really joking. A wedding abroad can keep the ceremony small, it can discourage ‘unwanted’ family members and most importantly (for us at least), it can completely readjust your perspective on budget. That’s exactly what we wanted. And what we ended up with wasn’t far from what we set out to achieve. We had 11 guests, and the ceremony cost us just over £1,000. While getting married on a budget isn’t impossible, it’s certainly a lot less hassle abroad.
The downsides of getting married abroad?
If your family is anything like ours, prepare yourselves for a whole lot of opposition. Some close-knit families aren’t too keen on the idea that you’re trying to keep it small. And on the flip side of trying to keep away some extended family and friends, you have the problem that some close friends and families might not be able to afford the trip out. [Editor – Yeah, like me. I’m sitting in rainy England. Editing.] [Paul – Sorry!]
To counteract this, we’re having ourselves a little get together on our return. This means we can have all of our friends and family (even the one’s whose names we can’t recall) together in one place without any of the pressure of wearing wedding clothes and following the usual hoo-ha. In our books, this is a night for everyone. Of course, this is just an added extra for us – you might decide that you don’t want that hassle. (After all, isn’t that why you went abroad?)
One element of getting married abroad (that some see as a downside) is the amount of control you have. If you’ve got plenty of money this might not be a big problem – it’s possible to go out to your destination ahead of time and make sure everything is just the way you want it. I imagine there are a lot of couples who wouldn’t feel overly comfortable tackling this situation the way we did.
We did a quick look for wedding planners near our chosen location, chose a planner that was affordable (yet not the cheapest by far), contacted them, filled in a form that said what we wanted and then we let them get on with it. This was practically it. So if you’re fairly relaxed about your wedding (and lets face it, what can go wrong with a beach wedding?), this might actually be the perfect way for you. It’s virtually stress-free and the results are simple but effective. (If you still can’t decide, read our Jo’s article all about it.)
But don’t forget about the paperwork
So weddings abroad aren’t all beaches and sunshine, if you’ve discussed getting married abroad you’ll soon find out you have to do a little extra leg work. Every nation has its own rules regarding foreign citizens getting married in their country. Fortunately, the British government website has a handy little tool that can help you when it comes to planning everything. For example, in Thailand, we had to make a stop by the British Embassy in Bangkok a week before our ceremony just to go through paperwork. This cost us a couple of hundred pounds, but in the grand scheme of things, it was painless.
If you think a big white wedding, set in a church or a manor house, surrounded by lists of extended family and friends you can’t put a name to sounds like a nightmare, then perhaps you need to escape the country with a select few and celebrate in your favourite place.
We wanted a beach wedding in Thailand. But for you, it might be a hill-top wedding in Greece looking at the setting sun, or a ceremony on a cruise floating down the Nile. How about an American celebration with your favourite Disney characters, atop the Empire State? Or a traditional elopement to Vegas? Maybe a marriage in a Japanese cherry blossom garden? A Christmas-themed celebration in Finland’s Lapland? Whatever you decide, all you need to do is remember this is your celebration. And it’s about you and your partner. It needs to be perfect for you.
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