Destination wedding essentials for a dream celebration

Destination wedding essentials for planning a dream celebration
Planning a destination wedding successfully is all about finding the right suppliers. Photo: Ben Wyatt Photography

Lisa Burton, founder of destination wedding portal Luvana, gives her essentials for planning a wedding beyond home shores

Lisa Burton founded to give couples planning a destination wedding the opportunity to find suppliers abroad, or those with specialist knowledge of their chosen location. Here, she gives some key tips for ensuring that your celebration goes just as you’d envisaged it.

Mind the budget

A wedding abroad is often more cost-effective but be mindful that some of the more expensive places to holiday, such as France and Italy, are equally expensive locations for a wedding. One factor that can help your budget is that destination weddings are a great way to cut down on the guest list. Typically, the people willing to travel to your wedding will be your closest relatives and friends, but it’s still a big commitment for them so gauge their reaction before you commit.

“A wedding abroad can be more cost-effective, but bear in mind that expensive places to holiday are also expensive places to host a wedding”

The general rule is that you don’t need to pay for your guests’ accommodation and flights. If you are marrying at a villa and accommodation is on-site it is acceptable to ask for a small contribution from guests staying with you. Flights are best left to guests to organise but it is good etiquette to pay for transfers to and from the venue on the wedding day. Also think about ways you can spoil your guests – for instance, a pre-wedding dinner or a sumptuous post-wedding breakfast. Welcome bags are a must-have and an opportunity to include a local treat or delicacy plus an itinerary so they know your schedule.

Destination wedding essentials for planning a dream celebration
The general rule is that you don’t need to pay for guests’ accommodation and flights, but you do have to treat them as a thank you for making the journey to join you

Sourcing suppliers

With communication via email or Skype with many key suppliers, it’s vital to do your research. Scour suppliers’ social media accounts for verified reviews, recent examples of work and testimonials. Be confident that the communication is good enough – the supplier needs to understand and answer your questions and concerns confidently. Ask for a brochure and contract before you pay a deposit (never sign anything you can’t understand) and request receipts for any deposits paid. All that said, go local wherever you can with suppliers. Imports always cost more, be that imported flowers or imported drinks.

One of the lovely things about marrying abroad is the local cuisine on offer, but when your food requirements are specific – such as vegan, gluten free or kosher – then to speak to your guests and your caterers before booking. Locations such as Portugal offer every style of catering you could wish for, whereas in Greece your vegan guests could end up eating a plate of salad or vegetables. Most venues are very happy to tailor menus to suit your tastes providing its in-keeping with their style of cuisine and ingredients.

Destination wedding essentials for planning a dream celebration
One of the joys of marrying abroad is the opportunity to enjoy the local cuisine, but do speak to your caterers before booking if you have guests with specific food requirements

Venue and timings

Your chosen destination should suit guests who will be attending. Inviting families with children to an exclusive destination or a resort famous for all-night clubbing will greatly affect their enjoyment. Also think about access and what you and your guests will wear. Are you likely to encounter water or sand or a narrow, rickety bridge? If the answer is yes, your dress code should be appropriate and with extra consideration for anyone with mobility issues.

There may also be restrictions in some locations. For example, churches abroad may stipulate that legs and shoulders are covered. When it comes to timings, also follow local traditions. While great weather is often a primary motivation for marrying in the sun,  weddings abroad generally start later in the afternoon when the sun starts to go down and temperatures remain warm but not too oppressive.

To find out more about Luvana, the destination wedding portal, visit


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