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Real Bride – Destination Wedding Day Top Tips

Updated: Jul 5


Olive & Rose Bridal Boutique owner Bernadette shares her destination wedding experience and advice with you…

 

Having sat and chatted to so many of you lovely O&R Brides about your upcoming wedding day, we are often asked about our weddings, our experience, and advice. So, in our latest blog we wanted to share our bridal top tips for a destination wedding.


We very much understand that wedding planning can be overwhelming! Now more than ever there are so many choices, decisions to make and a need to keep control of a spiralling budget. So where to start…


A little more about Bernadette’s Wedding (and her husband Matts of course!)


With the beauty of hindsight, I have spent time reflecting on what I loved about my wedding…what made the day perfect and what added to the stress levels.


When planning your wedding you need to consider what traditional elements you like and do not. Looking back, I love the elements that were personal to me, like having my mum walk me down the aisle and having a maid of honour speech as well as the best man.


I got married in August 2015 in Chateau de Cazenac in the South of France.


Reasons why I LOVED it…


WEATHER

When picturing our wedding in the early stages of planning, I knew I wanted to get married outside in a relaxed personal ceremony, with the sun shining. I love the English countryside but equally knew an emergency wet weather plan would have me franticly stalking the weather forecast. Opting for France in August meant this was one stress I could avoid.


If an outdoor ceremony is a must for you, then a destination wedding could be the way to go.


BUDGET

As we started talking costs, we both agreed we wanted more than one day celebrating (greedy I know) so a destination appealed. After a brief look, the idea of getting married in France really made sense to us, we loved France, the culture, the food, the wine, and the scenery. Also, Chateau venue hire for a week was a similar cost to a wedding package in the UK.


A destination wedding is not for everyone but for us the idea of getting away for a week with our loved ones was perfect. We sourced an English-speaking wedding planner and headed over to start our venue search. The Chateau’s and the grounds were all breath taking and we quickly found the one.


A key consideration for us was being able to enjoy staying at the venue with as many of our friends and family as possible. Chateau Cazenac was perfect as it sleeps 45 people in the main Chateau and other on-site accommodation.


Us all staying on site together is such a lovely part of our wedding memories, although it did result in a few late nights and sore heads. Choosing France and the Chateau is 100% the best decision we made!!

 

PHOTOGRAPHER

Formal and traditional just did not feel like us, for those Friends fans reading this, the thought of having our photos taken brought on some Monica and Chandler level dread! So, finding a photographer with a relaxed style, capturing natural shoots was key. Sourcing suppliers in general is more challenging when getting married overseas. This is where having a good wedding planner is key. We explained to her what we wanted, and she sourced recommended suppliers for us to choose from.


One alternative option is flying out a photographer that you know and love. I know people who have opted for this, and it’s worked really well.

 

GUEST LIST

This is often this most stressful part for our brides, but it is such an important one for costs and the feel of your day. I love that our wedding was smaller, we had around eighty people in total. It was important to us that when we looked around the room on the day, that we were surrounded by our closest friends and family.


Even when you have found the wedding that works for you there will be some compromise somewhere. For us this was including elderly relatives who could not make the trip to France or anywhere further afield in the UK.

 

THE LEGAL BIT

Our legal marriage needed to take place in the UK. This was a bonus for us as it gave us a chance to do something with people who could not travel. My advice here is not stress if for some reason, not everyone can attend your wedding. There are many ways to include everyone without planning your day for everyone else.


If getting married abroad, you will need to research the legal requirements of that country. Often there is a minimum amount of time you need to reside there before the big day and for some you cannot legally marry without living there.


We opted for a legal ceremony at home with immediate family and a celebrant on the day in France. Having a celebrant was such a lovely process and she made the ceremony in France so personal to us.


I’ve been asked this a lot, but it didn’t feel strange for us to do both things and both days were equally special for different reasons. Our wedding in France very much felt like the actual wedding day, despite being legally married when we arrived. The legal ceremony also meant I could wear two bridal looks. I opted for a midi dress for a more relaxed bridal look at home.

 

For any brides needing two looks we have some amazing minis and two pieces in store!!

 

FOOD AND DRINK

This is one place we were happy to spend a bit more. We are such foodies, so the French cuisine was amazing. We loved travelling over to France for our food tasting/menu selection. Our Chef cooked for us at his house, which felt like such a treat. When we arrived in France for the wedding, we were able to stock up on all the drinks for the wedding reception and evening. This was a nice bonus and way to say thank you to our friends and family, who love a tipple and had paid to travel to share in our big day.

 

TRAVEL

This is an important consideration when getting married abroad as it’s a bigger ask of your guests. When researching locations, you’ll need to cost up travel options and accommodation for your guests.


With our venue we were able to cover a proportion of the accommodation costs to keep this as low as possible for people.


Having several methods of travel to France also meant people could chose a travel option that suited them and their budget.


Consider how you’ll get anything you need to your country of choice and the cost in doing so. We chose to drive over in a small van which meant I could take all the things I needed to and most importantly the dress was always with me.

 

Lessons learnt and things to consider….


VENUE HIRE

Check those finer details of your wedding package. For us the Chateau we chose wasn’t a fully supplied venue. This meant we had to source elements such as tables, chairs, silverware, glasses etc. This required more work and planning for us but also meant making the venue our own.

 

TRANSPORTING GOODS

How will you transport your dress, suits and any decorations. With France we opted to drive so we could transport all the decorations. For most destinations you’ll be flying your dress over, so speak to your airline about carrying this on (no one wants ‘The Dress’ in hold). Some airlines with provide a carry-on case for your dress.

 

TIME AND STRESS

The look and feel of the day is what most bride spend hours obsessing over. When researching online and creating mood boards remember to consider how much time this will take to create. Wedding Styling is a full-time job, so deciding whether to do this yourself is an important decision. If you do this is a good cost saving exercise and is an enjoyable and rewarding process, but it takes a lot of time.


I am an Arts and Craft geek at heart, so I did take this on myself. Brides-to-be who share my passion for crafting will have no doubt felt the temptation to make everything!


When I say everything, I made the invites, personalised favours, decorations, chair ribbons, seating plan, name cards, table centre pieces, origami birds (madness!) the list goes on. I turned my house into Hobby Craft and myself into a crazed version of Kirsty Allsopp at times! It is safe to say on the day before the wedding, that I regretted taking on quite so much, in hindsight I would 100% do a bit less! The chair ribbons and favours we’re worth the effort but some things weren’t needed.


Think about how much help will you need to dress the venue on the day prior and who will help. My guests were unbelievably brilliant, but it is a big ask and took us a good day getting the venue ready. It was a bit extra of me, but it did look amazing!

 

For all my craft girls out there, my advice is to pick a couple of key items to make and back away from the glue gun. It is your day, relax and enjoy it.

 

VIDEOGRAPHER

We did consider this but decided to not to opt for one due to the cost being high. The pictures taken by the photographer are lovely, but looking back I think this is one pricy item that would have been worth the spent. I would love a video to show the kids now. It’s a personal choice and you have to cut some things when planning your wedding, but in my opinion, this is one splurge I think you will not regret.

 

LOCAL SUPPLIERS

Sourcing suppliers is another BIG challenge when getting married abroad. A good wedding planner is a must, ours was brilliant as was so helpful here. It still wasn’t without a few stressful moments; one example was our DJ suffering a minor injury a couple of days before the wedding. Finding a backup option away from home was stressful. I’d advise discussing this with your venue/planner for key suppliers in advance.


When it came to hair and makeup there were no trails to practice and agree and look. So, you do have to put trust in your wedding planner and suppliers. If you have a friend who is attending who is great at hair or make up, this is an effective way to relieve this stress and practice looks. My sister does wedding makeup, so I was able ask her to do mine for me. I loved this process as she knew exactly what I wanted and what suited me…she was also on hand for touch-ups. Thanks again Carly!


ONE LAST BIT OF ADVICE FROM ME…

There is always something little that will not go exactly to plan on the day but remember your guests do not know the plan! They will have an amazing time regardless.


More than anything I would say to remember to plan a wedding for you and your spouse, that you both LOVE and that reflects you as a couple.


Bride and Groom walking down the aisle. Wedding Ceremony.
Bride and Groom - Destination wedding ceremony

Bride and Groom - Registry Office - Legal Ceremony.
Bride and Groom - Registry Office - Legal Ceremony.

“Happiness is the best makeup that you can wear on your wedding day”



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