Finding the perfect location for your wedding is such a big thing. You want the day to be amazing and want to create memories that will last a lifetime for you, your partner and your guests (that’s if you invite guests, of course). I personally got married in a castle (well, hotel, but it’s got the word castle in its name so I tell everyone it was a castle) in the East Yorkshire countryside close to where we live. However, it was not our first choice. We initially wanted to get married in Florence, Italy, as that had been the place we had visited on our first date. However, due to local laws and rules, we could not get married in the place or in the manner we wanted. And even though we love travel and always have, there was nowhere else in the world that had such a significant meaning to us.
Even though we were so close to having a destination wedding ourselves, up until a month ago neither of us had ever been to one. That was until we were invited to our friend’s wedding on the Greek island of Rhodes. The location was special to the couple, and the day was perfect – especially as sun in Greece in September is almost guaranteed!
It appears that destination weddings are becoming more and more popular, and it seems that there are many good reasons for it. Perhaps you yourself are looking for inspiration for where in the world to get married? Here are five fellow blogger’s destination wedding stories – why they chose the location they did, what went well and, in some cases, what didn’t!
Hayley from Hayley’s Little Things – Lindos, Greece
“I am asked quite often about our wedding and what it was like getting married. We always knew we would get married abroad, but it was just a case of when and where. The Caribbean had always been a thought, but to get our family and close friends over there was just a little too much to ask, and we wanted something that didn’t just feel like we were just at the beach for the day either.
We looked at different countries and places, but Greece really stood out for us and when we came across Lindos we knew it would be perfect for us!
Planning the wedding was easier than I ever imagined – I had a few stressful moments, but they were all quite small issues in the grand scheme of things! The big things like the venue – we chose a quaint, tiny little chapel overlooking the bay (Agios Demtrios) rather than one of the more busy places on the island, the reception venue and the venue for dancing afterwards – were really easy decisions. We saw them and knew it was just what we wanted!”
Michaela from This FP Planet – Iceland
“We’ve always been a couple that didn’t see the appeal in a big English church wedding that costs thousands; an event in our ‘home’ town seemed very uninspiring for us. As keen travelers, we see value in experiences, and we wanted to make the best day of our lives something special, but we also wanted it to be a little out of the ordinary, erring on the ‘non-traditional’; something amazing for both us and our guests.
It was always going to be Iceland for us. Something about the country clicked for us both on our first trip in 2014. A year later, in 2015, we embarked on a return visit and he popped the question at the Glacier Lagoon, so in the end it felt natural to return for our wedding in 2016! I didn’t want a wedding planner, but a church wedding in Iceland was relatively easy to organise on our own. It was also incredibly affordable; the cost of the actual wedding was a fraction of the cost of any UK affair. Now consider that you’ll have waterfalls, black beaches and incredible landscapes at your disposal; mother nature’s just taken care of the ‘wow factor’ all on her own!
What was our favourite part? Do I have to pick? I can’t pick! With a high risk of sounding like a ‘soppy Sally’, the whole week was perfect – it was like living out a dream! At a push, my top three moments? Relaxing in Icelandic thermal pools in the run up to the big day was an ultimate wedding prep goal; cruising over the hill on the way to Vik; and spotting our church and getting butterflies and finally seeing our guests’ faces when they were treated to the panorama of the beach from the church… priceless! A minor set back with our accommodation at the beginning of the week tipped me temporarily into Bridezilla mode, however this was quickly resolved thanks to some excellent customer service from Airbnb! Other than that, the entire wedding week went without a single hitch – even the weather held out for us. I could not have been luckier!
Our Icelandic wedding was more than I could have ever dreamed of. I haven’t regretted a thing. It was so ‘us’ to say our vows in a place that we both loved, the church was adorable, and the day was simultaneously perfectly simple and out-of-this-world extraordinary. I planned a kick-ass wedding and it was awesome!”
Leona from Wanderlust Family – Ballina, County Mayo, Ireland
“We got married in 2008, just after we had left university, so when we were planning our wedding we had no fixed spot that we called home. Since travel has always been important to us – we went to Scotland, Italy, Seattle, Alaska and Canada in our first year of dating – we decided that a destination wedding was the right thing for us to do.
As my family are of Irish heritage, and although British born, I consider myself Irish raised, we decided to go back to my ‘hometown’ in Ireland to get married. The main reason we chose Ireland was because of the family heritage. Many of my relatives still live in the town that we got married in, so it was special for that reason. The town considered ours the wedding of a ‘local’, therefore I don’t think I would recommend it to others unless they had a connection to Ireland, because it was my heritage connection that made the day so special. I would, however, encourage others to look for destinations that are significant to them
My favourite part was incorporating aspects of my family’s heritage into the day. The Cathedral where we got married was a cathedral that relatives of mine had gone to all their lives, and some had even been priests at. Some of my family had helped build the hotel which we chose for our reception, and the meal – sausage and mash – was from the butcher’s shop where my grandfather had done his apprenticeship. I also loved the fact that we had an autumn wedding. For me autumn is the best season in Ireland, as all the colours are so vivid. The beautiful greenery of the Emerald Isle juxtaposed with the bright Autumn leaves made for some magical photos.
As we got married in 2008, we had to do a lot of things face to face, especially with regards to the Church service. This meant we had to go to Ireland a few times before the wedding. Perhaps the biggest thing that didn’t go to plan, not to do with destination though, was our cake. The night before our wedding the baker fell down the stairs with our cake, breaking both his ankles! Our cake then ended up as a bit of a hodge podge of other cakes and was slightly wonky. It is a funny story to look back on – though perhaps not for the baker!”
Amy from Footprints & Memories (& Freelance Writer) – Vanuatu
“It had always been expected among our circle that our wedding would have something to do with travel. We had met in Peru on our own travels around the world, and travel have been a big part of our lives ever since. So, naturally, when it came to planning the wedding, we were determined to give everyone an opportunity to travel with us!
Will and I are both from Sydney, and, not wanting to make everyone travel so far, we chose Vanuatu, a small Pacific Island national that is only around a 3 hour flight away. We wanted a holiday atmosphere, and had a relaxed beach wedding where our guests could just come in their shorts and thongs (flipflops!), and at the same time, we wanted have a break from their own daily lives! My favourite part about our wedding ceremony was that I was taken to the alter by a canoe, with my very own warrior escort!
Of course, a destination wedding is not all the fairytale that everyone sees it to be. A misunderstanding during the booking process meant we didn’t have a wedding cake, and they had got our arrival flight number wrong so that we didn’t get the airport transfer as promised. Not that any of these were the end of the world for us! As all travellers know, things will happen, and you just let it happen and get on with it. I think that a destination wedding is a wonderful idea, but it definitely isn’t for those who want to control every aspect about their ceremony. Best to just go with the flow! In the end, it’s just a big holiday!”
Jessica & Luiz from Inthelandofbeauty – Paris, France
“After planning a wedding for our family and friends in our current home base of San Diego, CA, we started slowly to realize that the typical wedding and putting on a show for others wasn’t us, and wasn’t what we wanted to go on remembering for the rest of our lives. With his family and friends all living in Brazil and my family and friends being spread across the country, it also didn’t make sense to put that kind of financial burden on everyone who would have to travel to get to our wedding (95% of the guests). After Luiz’s visa was processed a year before we expected, our decision to spontaneously get married in Paris, France, was made, and we started preparing.
Our entire relationship leading up to our wedding had us moving back and forth between the USA and Brazil, as well as taking side trips to meet up in new cities that we could explore together. We decided that for our wedding we wanted to make the most of our time off and travel somewhere new where we could have not only a wedding to remember, but an entire trip and experience. We chose Paris because it was somewhere we had always wanted to visit together due to its ‘city of love’ reputation, and neither of us had ever visited any country in Europe. It also ended up serving as a great starting point for the rest of our trip. I would highly recommend getting married abroad, especially in Paris. I was hesitant at first, thinking that it might seem cliché, but looking back on the day I wouldn’t change a thing. It was 100% thanks to our amazing photographer and celebrant, and it was more romantic than any wedding that I have ever been to.
I loved walking around after our ceremony to take photos around the city. We took cabs between locations and had everyone congratulating us and wanting to take photos of my dress. To have so many strangers who all spoke different languages congratulating the two of us just made the moments so real and raw that I can still picture some of their faces when I look back on that day. I had originally wanted an updo, since my dress had sleeves, and after searching everywhere I thought I had found a stylist that ended up going out of town last-minute. Scrambling to figure out what to do, we ran to the store the night before to find a curling iron, and I ended up having to do my own hair and makeup in less than an hour before our ceremony. At the time it seemed like a big deal, but I’m really happy with how it turned out and now I have a story to tell.
I think that a lot of people planning weddings feel overwhelmed and stressed out at various points as they want to make everything perfect so that everyone else will enjoy the day and have a good time. My only advice to engaged couples is to think of yourselves first and make your wedding as authentic and true to your relationship as you can and the rest will work itself out.”
Are you thinking of having a destination wedding? If you’ve already had yours, we’d love to hear your story too!