It’s a really confusing time for couples planning a wedding, especially if you want to plan a wedding abroad. We asked Marsha Ann Donaldson Brown, Director of Weddings & Romance at Sandals Resorts, for her advice for couples who are thinking about a destination wedding in 2020 or 2021.
Read more: Coronavirus guidelines and weddings
11 Things to Consider When Planning a Wedding Abroad During a Pandemic
Who to Book With
When planning an overseas wedding it is advisable to book with an expert travel agent or tour operator, as this can offer added protection and peace of mind. Unique Caribbean Holidays Ltd. (UCHL), the UK Tour Operator for Sandals and Beaches Resorts, is bonded by ABTA (the Association of British Travel Agents) and protected by ATOL for flight inclusive packages, meaning you can rest assured that your booking will be protected. It is also a good idea to make sure your wedding party has purchased travel insurance prior to overseas travel.
Read more: Choosing your wedding insurance
Invest in a good wedding planner to help with the logistics. Having someone who knows the destination and can liaise with local suppliers means some of the potential stresses will naturally be alleviated, leaving you more free time to enjoy the run up to your big day!
Sandals and Beaches Resorts offers a series of helpful ‘virtual wedding planning’ elements to assist with the process right from the start, including 360-degree digital tours of our resorts and a virtual wedding design experience, which includes a digital meeting with our own specialist wedding planners to help with choosing décor.
Brides and grooms will also be able to take advantage of The Ultimate Digital Wedding Planning Tool, where they can browse through our wedding offerings from every island and picturesque venue, right through to finer details such as bridal services for the actual wedding day.
Health and Safety Measures
If you are travelling abroad for your wedding, make sure to check for the latest government entry requirements and official destination protocols in advance.
It is also a good idea to ask your wedding venue or holiday provider whether any additional health and safety measures will be implemented by the venue for you and your guests, including any wedding-specific measures which may apply to the ceremony or reception party.
Sandals and Beaches Resorts’ new Platinum Protocols of Cleanliness policy ensures added health and wellbeing requirements are applied across all points of contact at every Sandals or Beaches resort, including a new triple-check system for cleaning and sanitation.
There are often innovative options available meaning guests at home don’t miss out on attending your destination wedding ceremony, even if they can’t be there in person. Find out whether your venue can offer any live streaming services for the ceremony, or if guests could even join via facetime, Skype or zoom call!
Sandals Resorts has just introduced a new complimentary Virtual Wedding Streaming Service for couples in 2020 and 2021 (when booked before 31st December 2020) meaning no guests need to miss out on the celebrations, as they can tune in at home and watch the ceremony in real-time for free.
Read more: How to downsize your wedding
Different wedding venues may be operating at a reduced capacity size in order to allow for adequate social distancing to take place, particularly during the ceremony/reception. This ensures that weddings can still be conducted safely and smoothly, and couples can feel safer knowing that there are extra measures in place.
Check in advance with your wedding provider to make sure you are aware of any restrictions which may apply to your guests, so that you can share any necessary updates with your wedding party prior to travel.
Read more: How to choose your wedding venue
The destination is one of the top considerations for brides and grooms, as many are looking for a spot which will look incredible in their wedding photos and videos. A lot of couples are keen on getting married on a beach, which the Caribbean is perfect for!
Sandals Resorts are located on some of the world’s best white sandy beaches with a multitude of other beautiful wedding locations to choose from, such as in the tropical gardens, ocean front gazebos or one of our four beautiful Over-the-Water Serenity Wedding Chapels which overlook the ocean.
There is also a beautiful Traditional Wedding Chapel, which is exclusively available only at Sandals Montego Bay in Jamaica and boasts traditional wooden pews with an elevated altar.
Read more: The best destination wedding dresses
Sunshine is one of the top considerations for couples looking to marry overseas. We know that no one can control the weather (even in the Caribbean), but most of the time we do have lovely sunny days and balmy evenings which are ideal for an al fresco wedding celebration.
Read more: Planning a honeymoon in a pandemic
Value for Money
Weddings can be expensive, so it is important to make sure you are gaining the best value for money. When choosing to get married at any Sandals or Beaches Resort, couples can qualify for a ‘free wedding’ when staying three nights or more.
This includes a personal wedding planning team, ceremony, bouquet, a wedding reception including the cake, cocktail reception and hors d’oeuvres, so this a great option for those looking for a great-value destination wedding abroad. Most British guests tend to stay at Sandals or Beaches resorts for at least seven nights, meaning they also qualify for other ‘Premium Perks’ which include credit towards a room upgrade or government fees, credit towards wedding décor, photography credit, videography credit or credit towards a cabana or candlelit dinner.
Couples who book more guest rooms for their nuptials can also choose from a selection of ‘bells and whistles’ such as a welcome celebration event, a bridal shower or a rum and games night, plus many more different options.
Read more: Easy ways to boost your wedding budget
Hair and Makeup
Most brides will be planning to have some kind of beauty routine for their big day, so it’s important to check with your make-up artist or venue stylist in advance to ensure that they have adequate health and safety procedures in place.
As a part of the new Sandals Platinum Protocol of Cleanliness, personal Red Lane Spa Wedding Make-Up Kits are available for all brides to purchase in advance, including a professional application and can also include a trial when in resort.
Brides can also keep their personal Red Lane Spa wedding make up kits to take home, for use after the wedding.
Styling & Décor
No two weddings are ever the same, so it’s important to identify how you want your ceremony to look and discuss expectations in advance with your wedding planner and/or venue coordinator.
With a wedding at a Sandals or Beaches Resort, brides and grooms can choose the décor, style and location of their big day and customise it to suit them. The range of different ‘inspirations’ that we offer can be used to theme a wedding ceremony and reception or they can be customised to make something unique.
Our team has gained over almost 30 years of expertise, so couples can rest assured that everything will be taken care of to the highest standard.
Read more: How to style an outdoor wedding celebration
If you are planning to have entertainment during your wedding, consider what works best with the location and plan accordingly.
If it’s a smaller venue then subtle touches like a local singer may work better than a live band, for example. Some couples may also want to think about activities for guests to enjoy after the wedding, for example arranging tours and excursions such as a catamaran cruise around the island the day after the ceremony or visiting local hotspots.
A lot of guests will combine destination wedding celebrations with their own holiday, so it’s a chance for them to embrace the culture of the destination as well.
If this idea appeals to you, why not read up on the concept of buddymoons?