So you’re engaged! Congratulations! Once the champagne has been popped, and you’ve shared the news (and the ring!) with friends and family both near and far, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed. What next? Where do you even begin to start planning your Irish destination wedding? As a Dublin wedding planner, it’s my job to put you at ease and get you on the right track towards the beautiful, heartfelt wedding you envision – without the stress! Whether you’re Irish and coming home for your big day or have dreamed of a wedding on the Emerald Isle, the same process of destination wedding planning applies. Here are the first seven things I recommend you do after getting engaged.
A word about Coronavirus: Weddings are, of course, an evolving picture at the moment. That doesn’t mean you can’t start your wedding planning! However, it does mean that you may need to be more flexible, and keep up to date with the latest Coronavirus wedding guidelines in Ireland.
Agree on a budget
Setting a budget may not be the most exciting task, but it’s so important to get it out of the way right at the start. Your budget will affect all the rest of your wedding planning decisions, so setting those financial parameters is vital. Talk to your parents (if applicable) and ask them if they’d like to contribute, as well as any specific things they’d like to pay for. And, as this will be a destination wedding, don’t forget to factor in travel costs and currency conversion fees.
Select the perfect location
Of course, the key to planning a destination wedding is choosing the right location! Even if you’ve already narrowed it down to the island of Ireland, there are so many options to choose from! Each has something special to offer. As a Dublin wedding planner, I’ve created beautiful celebrations across both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, including in Dublin city itself. I’m always happy to advise clients on the best Irish wedding venues, as well as logistical elements like connecting from major airports. While you don’t need to settle on a venue straight away, it’s a good idea to narrow the search to a particular area.
Choose a date range
Wedding venues in Dublin and nearby counties often get booked up well in advance, so it’s a good idea to start thinking about dates early on. The exact date of your destination wedding might depend on availability and other factors, but you can start by deciding on a month or season. Be sure to consider bank holidays and other special dates in the Irish calendar, as they can be busier and more expensive. And, while you can never entirely predict the Irish weather, it’s still a good idea to look into what you might expect at different times of year in the location you choose.
Organise your guest list
It’s important to let guests know about your destination wedding in Ireland well ahead of time. So drafting the guest list is definitely a priority! Start by writing down a list of your ‘must-have’ guests. This will be your minimum headcount. From there, create additional lists of people you would like to invite, as well as their partners and children (if you will be inviting them). One advantage of having a destination wedding is that there is less pressure to invite acquaintances and co-workers. A smaller guest count may also give you more flexibility with changing regulations due to COVID-19. Even if you decide to invite more people, keep the original lists as a reference, in case you have to make cuts later on.
Hire a wedding planner
Planning a destination wedding from abroad can be complicated. That’s why it’s so important to have a Dublin wedding planner on the ground to help. A knowledgeable and experienced team will help to match you up with the right vendors, guide you through the wedding planning process, and create a little bit of magic along the way! And, while the internet can be a great resource, there’s really no replacement for local contacts and knowledge. A wedding planner will also help save you time and money, as well as a few sleepless nights!
Plan a visit (if possible)
For couples planning a destination wedding in Ireland, I always recommend making at least one trip – preferably around the same time of year as your wedding. This will allow you to visit Irish wedding venues, meet with key vendors in person, and get an idea of local places and activities that you might like to share with your guests. Of course, travel may not be an option right now. Virtual venue tours can be the next best thing. This is another area where having a Dublin wedding planner can really help. A venue scout on the ground who knows your taste and requirements is invaluable!
Research legal and religious ceremony requirements
There can be a lot of paperwork involved with destination weddings! In Ireland, your marriage license application must be lodged at least three months before your wedding date, so it’s advisable to get all the documents in place as soon as possible. If you’re wanting a religious ceremony, there will be additional requirements and forms to complete. Be sure to check on the exact requirements of your church.
Of course, there are many more wedding planning tasks and decisions to come for your Irish destination wedding. But for now, take it step-by-step and enjoy the process!
Slán go Fóill,