Planning a destination wedding
MY GREEK WEDDING
When I met Alberto, I knew from the very beginning that he was the person I wanted to spend my life with. As everyone, we had our fair share of ups and downs. We learned to stay strong when life throws us against a wall, and stay grounded when things are good.
Last year today we finally got married.
He proposed on a rainy night at the most unexpected moment. Didn't took us long after that to decide that we wanted to get married in Greece. When we started dating, we spent a wonderful summer between Santorini, Lefkada, and my mother's hometown.
Alberto fell in love with me, and Greece, and the local food, in this order (or maybe not). 😆
Getting and being married has been one of the most exceptional experiences of my life. But I won't lie, planning a destination wedding it's not all fun and games, it can also be an exhausting and frustrating process.
Today I would love to share what I learned during those crazy months!
When picking the perfect destination for your wedding, keep in mind these four factors:
You can't predict the weather but you can play the odds by picking a date and a destination that work on your favor. Check out AccuWeather extended forecasts to get a better idea.
Is your destination conveniently located nearby an international/local airport? How will your guests get there? Don't forget to check flight tickets costs on Skyscanner, remote destinations tend to be more expensive.
If you're picking a popular destination check if there are affordable accomodation options for your guests. We initially wanted to get married in Mykonos, but after checking hotel and flight prices we quickly changed our minds. Our guests were already paying lots to fly to Greece; we couldn't ask them to spend 100$ a night for accommodation.
Most of your guests will try to combine your wedding with their vacations since they're already taking days off and flying out. Try to find a place that can be enjoyable and offers activities and cultural sites.
PRIORITIZE. When you start planning your budget, sit and write down a list of things you would like to have on your big day, once you visualize the big picture, underline all of the items that are an absolute must. Choose what it is most important to you and always remember this is your wedding, you don't have to spend on things only because this is what other people do. Choose on things that make you happy and are meaningful to you and your story.
COMPROMISE. Learn to compromise on things that you really want but are over-budget. Will it be cheaper if you choose another date or destination? Can you DIY it? Can you cut budget on something else?
Hello lateral thinking!
LET GO. Ultimately cut off things that won't make any huge impact on the overall experience.
I will never stress this enough: for your mental sanity, please get a local wedding planner!
Having worked in the event industry for a good amount of years, I thought I could easily handle this myself. Three months and endless emails later I had concluded nothing. Everything felt so unnecessarily complicated and overwhelming.
That's when we contacted Lorraine and ever since I kept asking myself why I didn't do this before! It is important that you find someone that you go along with, someone who makes you feel heard and understood and that you can truly trust. Don't be afraid to look for someone else if it doesn't feel right.
If yours is a budget concern, you'll be surprised at how much money you'll save if you hire someone who has good connections and can suggest vendors they have already worked with.
THE BORING STUFF
Marriage laws vary upon locations. Check them in advance and decide if you want to get married abroad or just have a symbolic ceremony.
Paperwork can be daunting. Stuff has to be continuously translated. Notarized. Chopped. Transferred. Communicated between consulates. If you're taking this path, you might want to do some homework and figure out what you're getting yourself into.
Inform your guests in advance, they need as well some time for planning. Send them save the dates at least six months prior your big day, followed by a formal invitation a few months later.
Some people won't be able to make it, try not to be too disappointed or take it personally, you don't know what's going on in everyone's life.
Be prepared for surprises! Chances are that some of your guests will not stick to your RSVP deadlines, leave a bit of margin for last-minute crashers and bailers.
(See 'accept that 💩 happens' )
PLANNING THE DETAILS
CHOOSE YOUR VENUE
All in one venues can be great if you're looking for a hassle-free type of wedding. They usually offer many services such as catering and planning, plus your guests can all stay at the same location.
If you want something more charming, you can pick different places for ceremony and reception, but consider that you might need to provide transportation for your guests.
FOOD AND DRINKS
Don't be stingy on food and drinks! Make sure the quality is good and the quantity just enough. Go for a local menu!
Let the destination be the theme of your decor. You don't need to go over the top to give that wedding feeling, explore ways to keep it minimal and classy, that will help cut costs too!
Add your personal touch and forget old wedding traditions. This is your wedding why not create new ones that are meaningful to you? Adding local customs can be a fun and surprising perk.
Good timing is key to any successful event. Sit down and plan the wedding rundown carefully. Don't leave your guests hanging, especially when taking couple pictures (we took ours prior the ceremony). Try to cut speeches down to size.
Make sure that at some point of the day, you and your spouse get 15 minutes alone to step back and enjoy what is happening.
ACCEPT THAT 💩 HAPPENS
You can plan everything down to the tiniest detail, but eventually, some things will not go as expected.
When we arrived in Corfu the weather was seriously playing with my nerves. I was hysterically checking the weather app, I bought 120 umbrellas, guess what? It was sunny all day 🙏🏻. One of my bridesmaids had an unexpected work issue and couldn't make it. There was a national port strike and dozen of my guests couldn't make it either. My husband had a minor surgery the morning of our wedding. This list could go on for days and I was beyond stressed!
You can't be prepared for everything, but you can be mentally prepared. No matter what happens, that day will be perfect and your attitude plays a big role, not only for you as a couple but for your guests too.
YOU CAN'T PLEASE THEM ALL
This was a tough lesson to learn. For as hard as I tried to plan everything to perfection and make everyone happy I still found myself in tears on multiple occasions.
The majority of friends and family will be there for you, but you will inevitably stumble onto unsolicited advice, nasty comments, and people that will feel entitled to make your day about themselves.
It can be truly hurtful, take a deep breath and try to analyze where they are coming from. Can you turn these comments into helpful advice? Is there something you missed?
If not, just take it as is. Don't feel like you have to do something just to please someone else. Ultimately check-in with yourself and do what you feel it is right.
This might sound obvious, but you'll be surprised at how easy is to get caught in the hectic spiral of that day.
Remember what is really important: you are getting married to the person you love and celebrating with your favorite people. All the rest are things and you shouldn't stress too much about it.
So relax, have fun, don't overthink and don't forget to eat!
Everything is going to be perfect as it is!