Weddings abroad: an expert planner’s guide

Written by    Last updated: February 4, 2014

A fairytale wedding isn’t something that just happens; it requires sound project management skills. If you decide to have your wedding abroad, getting the help of a professional is a must. Roberto Benetello, a wedding planner of BestWeddingAway gives you his top tips to success.

The Bride & Groom & Father Of The Bride

Over the last four years we have handled hundreds of requests from UK brides wanting to have their big day abroad. Sometimes I find it very educational to spend a few minutes looking back at some of these requests and extract some meaningful take home messages.

Plan realistically

Occasionally we are asked to provide detailed quotations for a wedding in four years time. This often ends up being a futile exercise. Suppliers for any kind of wedding related service normally review their prices at the end of the summer season. The following season’s prices are normally published at the end of the year. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to nail down a quote with a time horizon that goes beyond two years. Quite frankly, I personally would never pay a deposit for booking a wedding beyond two years!

Don’t expect miracle savings

Another frequent myth is that everything will be incredibly cheap abroad. I am afraid this is not the case! The single most important saving that a couple achieve by getting married abroad – and please excuse my cynicism – is the consequent reduction in guest numbers compared to a home wedding. In fact the drop-out rate – the number of invited guests who kindly decline the invitation – is between 20 and 40%, depending on several factors. Some of these factors include how big the guest list is, cost of travel and accommodation (if not covered by the bride and groom), time of year, advance notice, distance and accessibility of the wedding location and children friendliness of the event and venue.

Shop around

Sometimes the bride and groom believe they have everything already well planned for their wedding abroad because they have carried out extensive DIY work on the web. They approach the wedding planner only to take care of those things they were unable to sort out by themselves, for example, finding a DJ for the wedding reception or a photographer. It is very important to bear in mind that any commercial relationship – the wedding planner is normally somebody who tries to make a living out of his/her work – must be a win-win one. In other words, there must be mutual advantage in entering such a relationship. When it comes to choosing the wedding planner, shopping around is essential. The objective should be understanding how a company works, their credentials and how much they charge. However, sometimes the shopping around becomes only a way of gathering information with the objective of making all the wedding arrangements independently and after having led on many people. If this is the case you must be absolutely sure that you will be able to plan and implement your wedding completely independently before you make the decision to go solo. Remember that often wedding planners know each other and very often use the same suppliers whom in turn talk to each other.

Check their credentials

Whenever I am given to opportunity, I always advise wedding couples to check the credentials of the chosen wedding planner. Ask very simple questions such as how many weddings they have organized and what type of events they were. Make sure they are experienced in organizing a wedding similar to the one you want. Make sure they have organized weddings in several different locations. This gives the wedding planner the experience and credibility to tackle contingencies during your wedding, should something go wrong.

 Use experienced professional planners only

In this time of economic downturn many people have set themselves up as wedding planners. They might have a flashy website with tons of pictures taken by some photographer friend at weddings they know nothing about. So, before signing on the dotted line ask them what business licence they have. Ask what sort of third party liability insurance they have. If they offer accommodation, transfers, excursions, etc., they must be registered as travel agents. Is this the case?

The weather is good, not guaranteed

Finally, I want to remind brides that sometimes it rains during the summertime – even in Southern Europe. So the sun during your wedding day is not a given and your professional wedding planner should present you with a sound plan B. Good luck with the planning of your wedding abroad!

If you are looking for help and advice for your wedding in Italy, you may want to contact BestWeddingAway.

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