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