Getting Married Abroad – Destination Weddings
Considerations, ideas and advice, especially regarding your photography needs
Why get married abroad?
There are a few reason why you might be considering this path for your wedding day. Exotic locations with breath-taking scenery can make the perfect backdrop for your vows and photos tends to be the biggest pull, but there are a lot of reasons why you might want to consider a destination wedding, here is a quick list of some benefits
- The Scenery and photo opportunities
- It can allow you to have a smaller more intimate wedding without causing offence
- You can still have a reception back in the UK, so you get to do everything twice
- The weather (hopefully!)
- The cost! Believe it or not, destination weddings can be a cheaper way to do things
- Choosing somewhere special that means something to you as a couple
- Honeymoon and wedding rolled into one, or have another honeymoon afterwards… I mean, why make things restrictive?
All good things tend to come with negatives, so I am going to pop a few below for balance.
- Logistics and planning – it can be stressful to organise and co-ordinate everyone and all of your plans
- Local lawns and restrictions will need to adhered to for the wedding to be legally documented
- Legalities- whether the marriage within any country is also recognised in the UK. This varies from country to country
- A Wedding Planner – whether you would normally choose to imply one or not, a destination wedding often makes their advice invaluable
- Cost, I said it can be cheaper to marry abroad. If you are not careful, it can also cost a fortune (especially if also celebrating in the UK).
- The weather – All of that planning for paradise and you need to bear in mind that weather can still cause issues anywhere
- Some of your loved ones may not be able to come either due physical, financial or practical reasons
I love to do destination weddings! I cannot lie, my biggest passions in life being travel and rather predictably photography. I have been lucky to travel to Italy, Switzerland, Ibiza, Malta and France currently for weddings. The arrival of Brexit has made things more difficult, but not impossible and I will always work with couples and wedding planners to make everything possible. I do, however believe it is important that I abide by any laws of the country, especially in regards to employment.
Using Already ‘Included’ Photographers
You may have to use a local photographer depending on the destinations visa laws, sometimes the larger resorts and hotels actually include a photographer with your wedding package fee! If this is the case for you, it is worth bearing in mind that the quality of service and photos will vary hugely between resorts and staff members. Unfortunately, it is sometimes the case that the venue will just purchase a mid-range DSLR and hand it to any available member of staff to shoot your wedding or you may be lucky and they may have a dedicated professional who works for them. My advice would be to ask all of these questions when booking and ask to see examples if it is a certain photographer/staff member who shoots the weddings. It can be amazing, it can be a disaster, please think carefully before accepting the included photography.
Using a local photographer
Using a local photographer can be a great compromise. You will be able to do your research online about photographers near to where you are getting married and have a good look through their work and reviews. You should also be able to chat to them before booking, making sure that they are the right photographer and the right budget for what you need.
I would still urge caution here, it can be worth doing some real homework on any business to ensure it is legitimate and look thoroughly through all contracts and agreed terms before signing anything or parting with money. You are unlikely to benefit from packages that include albums if you have chosen a far-flung destination you will probably find that import duties and postage costs negate any advantage over having your album produced locally from digital files. Please take care before parting with any money and consider using a credit card for extra protection on these wedding purchases.
Using a photographer from the UK (*cough, me)
If this can be worked in legally, it can be a great option. I charge very reasonably in terms of expenses and most photographers will share this attitude, I tend to stay in the practical, budget hotel down the road from the couples 5* venue and I am perfectly content with this kind of arrangement. I always hire a car and offer some additional photography, some couples invite me to the pre-wedding dinner with friends and family which is such a lovely auto break the ice. Other couples plan a short trip somewhere extra special after the wedding day to capture some couple shots with zero time pressures!
I always hire a car so that I can recce your venues, find some special local spots and if I get any down time (usually engineered in!), I go and explore myself capturing atmospheric shots to add to your images along the way.
Benefits of a UK photographer
As with working with a local photographer, you can do as much research as you want on the quality of their service and photography before you book with them, even better if you can go off personal recommendations! You have more (or certainly more accessible) protection if you were dissatisfied or if the photographer failed to complete their end of the contract, which I hope would not be a problem for you regardless, but it is good to know.
You can also meet your photographer, speak to them readily and even have a practice shoot if that is something that they offer (I do – check out my pre-wedding shoots HERE). Communications and payments are likely to be easier to deal with on the whole as well as planning or dealing with issues afterwards.
Of course, another benefit is that if you are having a UK element to your celebrations, the same photographer can also cover this event, giving your images a nice consistency in style through both events.
Just a brief list of little things that you may not have considered
- – If all friends and family cannot be there, why not take a leaf from all 2020 weddings and live stream your ceremony? It allows the people at home to still be involved in your celebrations, but you don’t need to buy them a meal
- – Don’t underestimate what can go missing on the way, pay extra to ensure your dress/outfits make it safely to your wedding
- – Don’t put all of your hopes on the weather. I have done a wedding in the south of France where is unseasonably rained so much that the venue flooded (You can read about it HERE) and one in Malta where a huge storm finally came to an end 20 minutes before the ceremony began. Have clothing for different scenarios and be overjoyed if you get a great day, if you are really worried about weather, check out my blog on rainy weddings HERE
- – Whilst we are talking about the weather, guys, we should mention that you may not want to choose a 3 piece formal suit for 38 degree weather? Might be worth looking into some smart, but cooler alternatives.
– Careful of tan lines and sun burn! In the days before your wedding, your will likely be enjoying your foreign destination as a holiday, which is wonderful. What is not quite so wonderful is a variety of tan lines, or even worse sun burn and peeling. Take care to protect your skin and think about clothing (ie: strapless tops) if tan lines are going to bother you.
- This article focuses on the photography considerations, for wider and legal considerations you might want to check out the governments official advice on the subject before making any big decisions.
This is just my personal view, and as is my usual ethos; your wedding, your way. However, try to allow real elements of the local customs, culture and cuisine to come in to your destination wedding. So, if you are hiring a big villa and doing your own reception, think about local food producers, delicacies and wine producers… not only giving your wedding a touch of authenticity, but also thanking the locals for ‘hosting’ your wedding.
A Mariachi band at a Mexican wedding, fresh Mediterranean food in Ibiza, or a fire-breathing troupe in France – these are likely to become some of your favourite memories and they certainly help to creategreat photo opps! A destination wedding can be really magical, if you plan it well, it can combine a family holiday of a lifetime with the prefect wedding day… of of your favourite people in the perfect destination? What more could you want…