I'm not one of those people who has been planning their wedding since they were a kid, in fact for a long time I was sure that marriage wasnt for me. As a child of divource I honestly couldnt see the point in it; the majority of marriages end anyway, so why go through all that hassle and expense? That was untill I met my boyfriend who has had a very different upbringing to me, whose parents are still together, and happy, after 42 years of marriage. He has always been sure that marriage is for us, and over the years has brought me round to his way of thinking. Not with words but with his unfaltering love, support and commitment to our relationship, melting my pesimistic heart and making it imposisble to not be excited at the prospect of standing up in front of our nearest and dearest and celebrating that, no matter what the future holds.
After he got down on one knee (briefly, his jeans were quite tight) and asked me to marry him, on New Years Eve 2017/18 in Lisbon, we quickly decided that we wanted to get married in 2019. We'd said for a while that we wanted to get married abroad, Spain to be exact, and unless we wanted to get married in the sweltering heat our options were either Spring or Autumn. This Spring was far too short notice and Autumn coincided with some other commitments and weddings we had planned. Giving ourselves over a year took the pressure off and gave us far more options when it came to venues, suppliers etc. and planning a wedding abroad you need those kind of things to go right.
When it comes to a desitination weddings there is a few things i've learnt. Firstly, give youself time. If you want as many of your friends and fmaily there as possible, then make sure you give everyone the information far enough in advance. We are getting married on a British bank holiday weekend so flights and accomodation will be more than other weekends in May, therefore we were really keen to make sure we got our save the dates out as soon as possible so everyone could start making plans and keeping it in buget.
Another thing i'd recommend if you're planning to get married abroad is to get a wedding planner. Unless you have someone on the ground in the country you're planning to get married in, it really helps to have an expert involved who can put you in touch with suppliers, manage your budget and ensure your day goes exactly to plan. It might seem like an unecessary expense and if you have the time and holiday allowance to visit your venue often, then it probably is, but if like me your time is already split between a million and one things i'd say its a no brainer.
Make sure your Venue is right for the Wedding you want
Everyone says picking your venue is the most important part of wedding planning, and i'd agree with that. Not only is it key to secure the date you want as popular venues can get booked over a year in advance but if you're weighing up a couple of options its important to choose the one that most suits the style of wedding you want to have. Some will have the perfect sea view or amazing gardens, but will also be restrictive in other aspects or be way over budget and ultimately you don't want to blow all your budget on the venue if it restricts you a lot further down the line.
We opted for a venue that used to be a boutique Hotel, which is now rented out privately for events and weddings. It's tucked away in the Andalusia hills and has lots of character, private gardens, a pool and 11 rooms each with their own Spanish tiled bathroom and terrace. At first my Dad tried to pursuade us to choose one of the functioning Hotel's closer to the sea, which he felt would be easier to organis as they have a team dedicated to weddings. But we felt the Haceinda offered a more intimate, unique and private venue which suits us better than a grand hotel setting, it also gives us the freedom to host people for longer which we wanted to do given that people are travelling far. When choosing a venue just be sure you've weighted up all the pros/cons and go for the one you think will give you the day you envisage.
Do your research
When we started planning our wedding, I got stressed that some things weren't turning out how I envisaged them. My planner sent me some suppliers that were really not to our taste and it started to stress me out that the area didn't have what we were looking for. I would recommend from the off to send your wedding planners your Pinterest, Instagram etc so they can get a feel for your style, otherwise they're just going to send you the most popular suppliers that they work with and often this isn't to your taste.
For our photographer our planner kept sending us photographers whose photos looked like those stock images you get in new frame you buy.. magazine style photography defintely works for some people but both Shaun and I are really into photography and we wanted someone more creative who could capture our personalalities as well as the day itself. So I did a bit of research and found someone we are both really happy and excited about. I then asked him for suggestions on Hair and Makeup, Bands, Videographers etc as chances are if you love their style then they will have worked at weddings with a similar asethics and can give you lots of great recommendations. If you are having trouble finding the right suppliers, use your contacts, do your research and don't just settle for the first option thinking its all thats availble.
It's not just your day
Throughout your wedding planning, you'll hear 'its your day' over and over again. Whilst that is true, it is about you and your partner, you arent the only ones that are emotionally envolved. My parents are divorced so that dynamic is always going to be a tricky one. Whilst this happened years ago now, it's still not easy to navigate, if you have a difficult family situation my advice would be, dont get too swept away with it being all about you and expecting others to just put up and shut up. Weddings are a happy time but they are also an emotional time, things that to you might seem silly or petty are still raw and painful to other people. Take a step back and understand that with all the will in the world, you can't change peoples feelings and you can't make everything perfect. Honestly, some compromises are worth it especially when it comes to your closest family who have done so much for you over the years.
Everyone judges brides and thinks 'ha I wont be turned crazy by my wedding', but once the shoe is on your foot you can see how easily it can (and does) turn even the nicest people crazy. If like me, you're already an anxious person, the pressure of planning such a big day can definitely get to you, especially whilst juggling all the other things you have going on. I'm very relaxed now, with the venue chosen and most other bits falling into place, but I've learnt a lot in the process and it's not all plain sailing. My advice to anyone whose about to start planning is try to put everything into perspective, its not the end of the world if every detail doesnt go according to plan but just accept that, enjoy the process and don't let the pressure for everything to be perfect get to you.