The Dos and Don’ts of Planning a Destination Wedding in Europe

Dreaming of a destination wedding in Europe? Who could blame you! There are so many options for romantic European weddings, from ancient castles in Ireland to sunkissed villas in Italy or France. Whatever you’re picturing, planning a perfect destination wedding in Europe isn’t as difficult as you may think, especially if you have an experienced local wedding planner on board. But before you start packing your bags, here are a few important dos and don’ts to consider.

DO visit the location in advance

One of the best things about having a destination wedding in Europe is that there is a location to suit every couple. From beachy Mediterranean settings to vibrant historic cities, to cosy country retreats. The internet is a great place to start scouting venues, reading reviews, and swooning over images. But if at all possible, make sure you visit your destination before booking. (Plus, it’s a great excuse for a romantic getaway!)

DON’T choose a difficult-to-reach location

When picking a European wedding venue, it’s important to think about accessibility for your family and friends. Are there regular (direct) flights? Is there suitable accommodation at a range of price points nearby? You should also make sure that the location has all of the resources you need, otherwise you will have to budget extra to bring them in.


DO arrive a few days before your guests

It’s always a good idea to travel out to your European wedding destination ahead of your guests. This will give you time to settle in, calm your nerves, and get over any jetlag. You’ll also able to squeeze in a hair and makeup trial, and deal with any last minute details.

DON’T limit your celebrations to the wedding day

Having all your favourite people with you on a dream European vacation is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Make sure to organise additional outings or events for the group, so that everyone is able to get a real taste of your host country. If you’re planning a destination wedding in Ireland, that might include dining on some of our delicious local cuisine, visiting an historic site, or enjoying a golf or spa day, for example.

DO embrace the local culture

To make your destination wedding in Europe extra special, you should embrace and incorporate elements of your chosen location. For example, you could reflect it in your menu, your stationery, your wedding design or your ceremony. For an Irish destination wedding, a popular option is to have a bagpiper play you down the aisle. You could also invite Irish dancers to perform at the reception, and serve your guests a selection of fine Irish whiskeys.


DON’T make your destination wedding ceremony your legal one

Of course, it’s possible to arrange for your destination wedding ceremony to be a legal one. But depending on your destination, that can be a tricky and time-consuming process. In Ireland, the registration system can be more trouble than it’s worth, so I would recommend getting legally married in your home country. It also gives you more freedom with when and where your symbolic ceremony or blessing can take place.

DO make sure your guests feel welcome

It’s more important than ever at a destination wedding that you do everything you can to make your guests feel welcome. After all, they’ve come a long way to be with you! Treat them to welcome gift bags at their hotels, and provide them with all the information they need to enjoy their stay. Spend time with each of them during the wedding weekend, and be sure to add a personal touch with a handwritten thank you note to show how grateful you are that they are there.

DON’T try to do it all on your own

Planning any wedding is time consuming and stressful. A destination wedding has an extra layer of challenges. And depending on which European wedding destination you choose, language can also be an issue. That’s why it’s so important to find a team of professionals you can trust. Starting with an experienced destination wedding planner! They will be able to coordinate with other vendors, give you good (local) advice, and help you source those special touches.

Slán go Fóill,


Images by Lisa O’Dwyer and Photogenic Photography

5 Ways to Narrow Down Your European Wedding Destinations List

So you’ve decided on a destination wedding, and narrowed it down to Europe. The inevitable next question is: where? After all, the location of your wedding will set the tone for the whole event, and put into motion so many other aspects of your wedding planning. But with the whole of the continent at your fingertips, how do you find the place that’s right for you? A beach in the Algarve, maybe. A castle in Ireland. An elegant chateau in the Dordogne. Or maybe even a glacier in Iceland? With so many fabulous European wedding destinations to choose from, it can be hard to know where to begin. Here are some things to consider, that will help you turn an endless list of possibilities into a more manageable shortlist.

Decide on a backdrop

The best place to start is with yourselves. What sort of backdrop do you envision? What sorts of places do you love to travel and what are your passions? Whether you dream of mountains or ocean, sun or snow, a secluded country venue or a vibrant city spot, the place you choose for your wedding should reflect YOU. And with so many European wedding destinations to choose from, there really is something for everyone. Sit down as a couple and discuss your dreams and expectations. Then make a list and start researching which locations fit your criteria.


Consider your guests

Choosing a wedding destination is far easier when you have an idea of how many people will be on your guest list. If it’s a larger one, this may allow you to eliminate locations that don’t have enough accommodations nearby, or that are hard to get to. It’s also important to consider the ages of your guests and whether you will be inviting children or elderly people. Creating a first draft of your guest list will give you a lot of information to apply to your destination search.

Think about season and weather

Another aspect of European destination weddings to consider is the season, and the weather you can expect during any month. This is especially important if you want an outdoor ceremony or reception. The weather here in Ireland is known for being a little eccentric, so we always prepare for showers, whatever the month! That said, the second half of the year is generally wetter and windier. August and December are typically the rainiest months and we do get plenty of pretty days throughout the year too!


The small print

When planning a destination wedding in Europe, it’s vital that you research the legal requirements. Each country has its own requirements and these often change. Of course, you can also get around this by having a legal ceremony in your home country, followed by a symbolic ceremony at your destination wedding. Also, be aware that if you want a religious ceremony, there are additional rules to follow in most countries and churches.

Guest activities

Destination weddings are more than a single event. They’re a chance to share an experience with your favourite people and explore a beautiful place together. That’s why it’s important to choose a location that has plenty to offer. Fortunately, many European wedding destinations fit the bill, with everything from historic sites to culinary adventures for all to enjoy!

Once you’ve narrowed down your location, it’s time to move on to the next exciting part: venue hunting!

Slán go Fóill,


Images by Lisa O’Dwyer and Aspect Photography