So you’re engaged and need to plan an overseas wedding. Whilst it may seem overwhelming at first, with these useful tips you’ll breeze through the planning stage and be living out your dream day before you know it.
5 Tips to Successfully Plan an Overseas Wedding:
Tip 1 – Be Decisive and Realistic in Your Decision Making
Planning an overseas, or even interstate wedding means that you don’t have the benefit of visiting venues and agonising over the small differences in inclusions. Whilst this may seem a little scary, if you sit down and make clear decisions about what you do and don’t want you can look at the bigger decisions with a little more clarity.
For us, we wanted a relaxed vibe where we could do many things ourselves and would be close to Pete’s family. Luckily, we had friends and family to recommend venues, but if you don’t, there are plenty of forums and online sites where you can find impartial views. Eventually we set our sights on the yacht club where Pete used to sail as a child. It was a great open space, provided a foreshore and grassy area for the ceremony and had spectacular views of the city.
Needing to travel also cuts down many of your options. Instead of a large traditional dress, I chose a more slimline ‘Gatsby’ style dress that could travel on the plane. Neither of us compromised on wedding style, but by being smart and choosing retailers that operate in both the UK and Australia, it meant that we could organise the guy’s clothes without having any ‘trying on’ issues on the day. If you’ve got a great idea, but it may be a stretch for you to pull it off on the day, you’re best to put that idea to rest. The peace of mind of knowing that everything is ready to go when you arrive is much better than worrying that your grand idea may fall flat.
Tip 2 – Involve Family and Friends
If you’re lucky enough to have family and friends at your destination, then you’re in luck. Pete’s sister was a godsend. We were able to order all of our supplies online and have them posted to her. She then confirmed their arrival and checked to ensure they were all in order. Creating a shared Pinterest board also helped to share the vision so she could confirm that what arrived was what we had imagined.
Unless you’re eloping, you’ll be sure to have some family and friends flying in for the celebrations. People love a wedding; so don’t be afraid to ask a few favours. If you can have items like bubbles or bonbonniere waiting for your arrival, distribute some of these items amongst your guests’ luggage. Your guests will love a little sneaky peak into the day’s theming and be happy to help.
Tip 3 – Online Shopping is Your Best Friend
I can honestly say my wedding wouldn’t have had the style and finishing touches that it did if it weren’t for my wonderful online suppliers. Guests on the day openly commented that they were impressed at the level of detail we were able to achieve in just 87 days, and with us not even being in the country.
Immediately after getting engaged I found two graphic designers on Etsy and set them off on the task of creating our ‘save the date’ and wedding invitations. Both sets were custom made to our specifications and the wedding invitations were custom designed to our sketches, venue and colour scheme.
Ebay was an excellent source for smaller items such as lanterns to hang in the venue and bubbles to blow as we walked down the aisle. These smaller items weren’t expensive and they added that extra touch to the décor.
Online printing companies such as Vista Print and Zazzle are excellent options if you need to have your invitations in a different country to you. Since all of our guests (bar one family) were in Australia, and we were the ones flying in, we chose to have our invitations shipped to Australia. Pete’s sister kindly addressed them for us and posting them from within Australia meant that they got there much quicker than from England and the postage costs were around a quarter of international postage.
We created an online wedding announcement page with ‘The Knot’ and this reminded our guests of the RSVP details and any other information they might need so they could double check without having to try and contact us overseas. It all worked very well.
Tip 4 – Be Upfront With Your Suppliers
‘Hi, we’re Aussies living in the UK and we’re getting married in Perth in x amount of days’ is how we began much of our correspondence. We were warm and friendly, but also quite firm and open with our time frames. If a supplier wasn’t keen on working with someone they couldn’t meet beforehand, or felt rushed with our time frames, we completely understood and moved on to someone who was.
We ended up with a range of lovely suppliers who joined us on our journey and went over and above what was required. Our wedding invitation designer was so inspired by our theme she gifted us an additional design of us sailing off into the night and added a new wedding timeline postcard into her range.
Our florist hailed from Scotland originally and made the most exquisite bouquets. She was willing to take on our inspiration and added her own flair to the designs. On the day when our rather larger than life wedding cake started to sink a little, she came in to bat for us (well for the poor stressed out groom and best man who were putting the final touches on the venue!) and created a stunning floral display on the cake to lessen the impact of the lean. Other than my dad who asked me ‘Is your cake on an angle?’ no one else, not even me noticed, until Pete confessed later that night!
Tip 5 – Be Prepared to Pay a Little More
I did cringe a little at the rush fee of over $100 USD to ship our wedding invitations, but Zazzle was printing them in the USA and the risk of them not getting to Australia on time if we didn’t pay for a guaranteed courier just wasn’t worth it. No invitations, or a little extra money. When you’re wrapped up in the moment the money can feel like a stress, but overall it is a no brainer. Pay the extra and alleviate the risk of it going wrong.
Having a venue that allowed us to have the ceremony outside on the riverbank and then move into the yacht club meant that we didn’t have to travel around from place to place. It also meant that quite a number of guests who could only make it to the ceremony could stay for an hour or so after the ceremony to enjoy drinks and canapés on the lawn. We paid extra to ensure there was plenty of food and drinks for all, and had a waitress there to assist. Several of our guests had flown in from interstate, so it was very important to us that they were comfortable and well looked after.
Initially we had decided to use chairs from inside the venue for the wedding ceremony. After thinking it through we realised that although we’d save some money on hire, it would mean our guests lugging chairs back up inside for the reception. We both felt that would ruin the whole feel of the afternoon and decided to spend the money on a company that hired chairs, tables and also organised a set up and pack up service. Again, this company was another of our stellar suppliers and even visited our venue prior to the day to take some 360 degree photos of the venue so we could work out exactly where we wanted the chairs set up!
Lastly, we put the idea of an iPod to rest and invested in a DJ. Neither of us wanted a hugely ‘dancy’ kind of wedding, but having a DJ ensured that the playlist wasn’t over ruled by anyone and we had an MC to make announcements for us instead of asking one of our guests. All of these small touches will ensure you have a really fun time at your wedding.
The Round Up
On March 28th, 2016 we celebrated our wedding day in Perth Australia. Like any wedding, some small things went wrong. Our cake was a little wonky, packing up took a lot longer than anticipated and Pete couldn’t find the right sashes for the aisle chairs for the ceremony, but you know what, no one but us knows those things and that is a given for any wedding really.
For us the main thing was we left England feeling relaxed and arrived in Australia excited by the wedding day (which was 2 days after landing). Most people will have a longer engagement in which to plan their special day, but if we can do pull it off in a mere 87 days, you’ll be laughing!
Hi, we are Pete and Laura, two Australians who have just returned home after a 2 year stint in the UK. Our passion for travel led us to the UK and we love to share our adventures as well as encourage others to take their own adventures on our blog Passport Collective. Our time overseas led to an engagement on New Years Eve in 2015 and subsequently an overseas wedding in Pete’s home town of Perth the following Easter. We hope our experience can help you to plan your own wedding.
Have you ever had to plan an overseas wedding?