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Planning a wedding abroad: our top tips to saving money, time and mental health.

So you have your heart set on an exotic location for your wedding in a galaxy far far away. Well, a faraway country sounds more realistic but sometimes it feels like a galaxy away! I'm a wedding videographer based in Italy. I'm originally from the UK (Manchester to be exact!) but my wife and I chose to get married in the North of Italy, in a region called Pordenone, in between Venice & the Alps. Beautiful indeed!


Now I'm no stranger to planning a wedding, I've worked in the industry for over a decade and regularly help my couples with various parts of the day. But nothing prepared us for planning our own wedding - abroad! So I thought I'd put together some tips for what we found helpful, and maybe what we would do differently.


Image courtesy of Manisol photography - our photographers!



Get a wedding planner


Seriously, do it. This is my #1 tip and if you only read one then let it be this one! This is actually something we didn't do, rather than what we did. Learn from the mistakes of others! Boy, do we wish we had a wedding planner. Sourcing vendors from a different country, in a different language, no less, was not only super difficult but also extremely stressful. We did it all ourselves, and our biggest regret was not hiring a planner to help with the coordination.


If there's one thing I've learnt from planning our wedding, is that mental health is so important. It saves you the energy that can be spent in better places, like actually reviewing the vendors your planner hand-picks for you, rather than scouring Google and other websites until you have no idea what you're looking at and you just pick Friends. Wait, I'm talking about planning a wedding not choosing what to watch on Netflix.


But take a moment, have you ever been in that situation where you get choice anxiety on Netflix and you just settle for watching ol' faithful (Friends in our case). It's kind of the same thing! A planner can save time and mental health, but as you give them a budget, they'll find the very best vendors for your wallet so you could also be saving money! Keep reading for my recommended planners and other vendors.



International Payments & Exchange rates - don't get stung


If you're based in the EU, and getting married in the EU: congratulations you have nothing to worry about! For everyone else, including our Brexited neighbours (spellcheck is telling me that Brexited isn't a word, but I say it is!), you'll need to navigate paying your vendors in a foreign currency.


Here's my advice: use Wise, previously TransferWise. I'm not affiliated with them, but it's super easy with next to no fees and they use the best possible conversion rates. Do not use PayPal! They have all of the fees and some of the worst conversion rates. On Wise, a wedding service costing €1000 would mean sending $1067 USD or £884 GBP today. On PayPal, that same €1000 would mean sending $1150 or £956 GBP.


When you're spending upwards of €10-15k on the venue alone, things start to get a little bit more ridiculous.



Visit!


The best part of getting married abroad is visiting the place. Make sure you scout out all the venues and of course the food! Don't take anyone's word for it, make sure you're visiting the area yourself, preferably the same time of year you're planning to get married.


You might dream of that glorious sunny June day in Tuscany, only to get there and realise there's no shade at that time of day. When we visited our venues, we had a ceremony time in mind and made sure to schedule our appointments at that time to 'test out' the climate. This way we knew that in the area we had designated for the ceremony, the trees were providing shade at this time.



Choose a symbolic ceremony


At least here in Italy, wedding ceremonies are quite different if you're not catholic. If you are, speak (or have your planner do it!) to the local church to find out your options. Otherwise, you have a couple of options, a symbolic ceremony or a registry-style civil ceremony.


We opted for a symbolic ceremony and a civil ceremony at the local commune the day after. Our plan was to get married in Italy and then move here so this might be different for you, but legal, non-religious weddings here don't allow you to customise. So you can't have readings, and it's all very unromantic.


If you're not planning on getting married in one of Italy's glorious church cathedrals, I would suggest marrying legally in your home country and then having a symbolic ceremony abroad.


 

Now I understand that a lot of this is specific to Italy, but I've tried to be as broad as possible for other locations. I hope you found it useful! If you did, and you'd like to check out more please have a browse through my real wedding videos! Please let me know if you need any help with your own wedding I'd be more than happy to chat about what you have planned so do get in touch!


Recommended Planners

Olga Brovelli at Eachother Weddings and Events - Website

Natalia Sorokina at Italia Weddings by Natalia - Website


Recommended Photographers

Carlotta Nucci - Website






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