Are you considering getting married abroad? With the cost of the average wedding in the U.K. now reported to be approximately £27,000, and as high as £38,000 in the capital, compared to the average destination wedding coming in at £7,500, it’s no wonder more and more people are looking to tie the knot abroad. But before you decide if its right for you, there are some hidden costs that you should consider.
1. Travel-related costs for venue and supplier meetings
You should really budget for at least two visits back to the country your venue is located in when getting married abroad. Personally, Si and I have done three visits. Our first was to view a selection of venues. The second was to choose where we would hold our welcome cocktail reception and do my hair and makeup trial, and our final was to do the tasting.
When travelling to meet with your venue and suppliers, you will have the added expense of flights, accommodation and possibly even car hire. These expenses can add up very quickly!
2. Wedding wardrobe
Our wedding will be held across three days. On Friday our guests will arrive and join us for a welcome cocktail reception, followed by the wedding on Saturday and a pool party brunch on Sunday. This means I need outfits for the rehearsal dinner, cocktail reception, the wedding and the brunch! I also have another dress for our civil ceremony in London the week prior to our celebrations aboard. With so much emphasis on the wedding dress itself, you can quickly overlook the other outfits required during the wedding celebrations.
Getting married abroad can throw up some unique issues to consider. If you fancy adding personal touches to décor for your wedding, you will either need to find vendors that will ship directly to your venue, which can sometimes be frustrating and limiting if you are trying to buy goods from international sites where English is not the first language. Or, you can purchase goods in your home country and have them shipped to your wedding venue. If you are doing this later, whilst you will be totally in control of the items you purchase and your budget, you will then be liable for international shipping costs.
You could also look into your luggage allowance for when you fly to try and reduce shipping costs. I am a Silver British Airways Executive Club member for example. We are allowed two checked in bags, in addition, to carry on luggage. So, I can check in a box as well as my luggage and still take my dress onboard as my carry-on luggage.
4. Translators and legal fees
If you opt to have a legally binding ceremony in a foreign country, you should consider that you will need to pay for a translator service when lodging the formal paperwork, alongside any legal fees. I highly recommended the help of a wedding planner who has the expert knowledge to help you coordinate this.
Although our venue is giving us a lot of support, we do not formally have a wedding planner. Thus, we decided there would be less room for error if we were to formally get married in the U.K. before our Italian wedding. That said, it is perfectly possible to get married in Italy if you have someone to guide you through the formal process.
It’s also worth noting that you will still need to factor in the cost of a celebrant for a symbolic service abroad, in addition to a local registry service if you choose to do it as we have done.
It’s also imperative to check that weddings or civil partnerships that take place abroad are valid in the UK. Most are, but some may not be.
5. Accommodation for your guests
Debretts suggests that it is good etiquette for the bride and groom to provide overnight accommodation for close family. When our friends have previously gotten married abroad, the bride and groom have covered the cost of the wedding day for their immediate family and also their bridal party. Then, family and the bridal party cover their accommodation expenses beyond this.
Although, if it’s within your means, you could certainly consider covering the cost of accommodation for your immediate family and bridal party for the duration of your celebrations. They are there after all to celebrate your nuptials.
When selecting your venues, keep in mind that if you are having celebrations across multiple days, you should really be providing transport between the venues for your guests. Especially if taxis are limited or they are not walking distance from guest’s accommodation.
In smaller European villages, large coaches will not be plentiful and they will have to come from larger towns further away. This will, of course, increase your costs and is worth considering from the offset.
7. Wedding insurance
Is an absolute must when you are getting married abroad! Specialist destination wedding policies will offer protection against public liability, loss or damage to your attire and rings, venue cancellations, suppliers that don’t show up, and cancellations to the wedding party if they were to fall in.
Comprehensive travel insurance is also highly recommended.
8. Transporting the dress
You should check with your airline to see if you are liable for additional luggage when travelling with your dress. Fortunately, my airline has advised that I can take it on as part of my allocated carry on luggage.
It’s also worth requesting that the cabin crew hang your dress and suit to ensure they don’t get creased. They are often all too willing to oblige.
9. Hair and makeup trials
In addition to paying for your hair and makeup on the day of the wedding, you will also need a trial ahead of it to ensure that the look you like suits you and, to make sure that you are happy with the artist. Don’t be disheartened if it doesn’t go to plan in the first instance. Many brides have several trials before finding the perfect look for them. And if you’re doing a civil ceremony before getting married abroad, you will also want to factor in hair and makeup costs for that service too.
10. Beauty appointments
Don’t forget to budget for any ad hoc beauty appointments such as eyelash extensions, threading, waxing, tanning, nails, spray tans etc. These can all add up very quickly if forgotten.
You’ve included the dress in your budget, but have you included your bridal lingerie? A lot of dresses will require very specific underwear such as nude, and seamless no VPL pants. You may need a strapless or a stick-on bra. And maybe you want something a little sexier for after the wedding? It is worth tucking a little aside to make sure you have this covered.
Whilst it would be amazing to think that you’ll step into an off the rack dress and it fit like a glove, it’s not entirely realistic. Most dress shops have alteration packages for you to purchase where you can save yourself some money on bulk buying your fittings.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that you may have alterations for your bridesmaids and groomsmen and your other wedding outfits. This bit can get quite pricy, especially if you are using the services of a specialist as recommended by your dress shop.
And for the record, I would say this is something not to skimp on. I recently tried to cut corners by taking two of my dresses to a local dry cleaner. They did a terrible job and I had to then take them to a specialist seamstress. In the end, it cost me even more for the alterations, as I wasted the money at the dry cleaners and then had to pay for a specialist to fix everything. I should have taken it to the seamstress in the first place and saved myself the money I wasted at the dry cleaners.
Whilst supplying your own wine may seem an attractive way to save some money, make sure you check to see if your venue charges a corkage fee. Often, they will charge different amounts for wine corkage vs. champagne corkage. This may, in fact, make it a more expensive option than ordering wine from the venue’s menu.
On the day of the wedding, you are likely to want to order food and beverages whilst you are getting ready. Depending on what you order and how many for, this could quickly add up.
15. Supplier meals
Speaking of food, your suppliers will also need feeding if they are with you for a long period of time over meals. You can either give them a wedding meal or opt for an alternative dish to keep the cost down. They should also have access to a range of non-alcoholic beverages.
Don’t forget to budget for stamps when you are sending out your invitations and thank you notes. International postage can take a long time and cost a lot. When getting married abroad, you might like to consider electronic invites where possible to avoid expensive postage.
17. Thank yous
On the topic of thank you notes, these are often overlooked as you sprint for the finish line with your wedding planning. Electronic notes will often be cheaper to produce and quicker to send to your guests, although printed ones always look chic.
Are you going to get a new passport before your honeymoon? If so, you’ll want to factor this in too. Having not long gotten mine, I’ve decided to wait until we return from honeymoon to update it with my married name, to get the most mileage out of it.
Are you planning on presenting gifts to your bridal party or the mother of the bride and groom? Depending on what you choose, this could add up very quickly. No one expects large, lavish gifts. And if you are getting married abroad, keep in mind people will need to travel with the gifts after you give them. Keep them small and personal for maximum impact.
There you have it, whilst some costs are unavoidable, others are not entirely essential and it will be for you to decide what means the most to you. However, it’s good to have a clear idea on of potential hidden costs from the offset so there are no nasty surprises along the way.
For more great tips on how to save money on your dream wedding abroad, check out my post 8 Tips to help you negotiate with your wedding suppliers.
Until next time, safe travels and happy wedding planning!
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