“ Advisors and planners for weddings abroad. „
I have always wanted to get married abroad, as i am not a fan of big weddings.
We have decided to get Married in Greece next September, and I have already found a great wedding planner in Rhodes who is absolutely brilliant.
We will be getting married at st pauls bay, outside st pauls chapel which is lovely.
I am a catholic, so there is one part of me that is thinking maybe i should get married in a catholic church ( this isn't possible in Greece as you need to both be baptised, and my husband to be is not).
It is all booked now, so i cant look back can i!
I would say having a wedding planner is essential if you are looking at getting married somewhere that you have never been to, as the wedding planner takes all the stress for you.
Luckily all our family and friends can afford to come out to Greece with us for the wedding, and they have already booked their flights for 150pounds per person, which is quite cheap.
My wedding planner charges 725pounds for the cost of the actual ceremony, and the fees for the legal documents.
Plus, her team will be able to liase with our venue for our wedding reception.
It is actually working out cheaper than it would cost to have a wedding back here in the UK, and the best thing is we don't need to invite people who we don't want to be there.
I don't think its right inviting every single family member to the wedding, and paying for all their meals at the reception, when you haven't seen or spoken to them for over 10 years.
I hate big weddings. No offense to anyone that has had one but they are not just my thing. So me and my fiancé (now husband) decided we would go abroad and you know what I wouldn't change a thing. It was actually perfect.
I think having a wedding planner is key when getting married abroad and I couldn't have done it without mine. We got married in Malta in September in 2007. I started planning it like January time. I found a wedding planner online and just started e-mail with info. I knew she was great when she started running around taking pictures of venues and things before I even handed over any cash. I told her what I wanted, she found it. No stress. Only thing that was a little bit of a pain was the legal stuff. We had to get some documents signed and also witness by a solicitor- its not expensive don't worry but you just need to make sure you go a solicitor that has done legal documents for weddings aboard. All they have to do really is sign a few things.
It was hot when we got married so we got married around 5pm when it was cooler. You also need to consider what your dress is going to be like and what material as you will get hot an sweaty if you don't get someone light.
Our pictures are beautiful as the setting is gorgeous- we walked around Mdina and took a lot of natural pictures.
We spent another week in Malta and everyone else flew home.
Guaranteed sunshine, its a lot cheaper (ours cost £5000 - we did have an intimate wedding though) and not stressful (I literally did nothing). Just make sure you get a good wedding planner don't try and do it yourself.
When my husband (as he is now) proposed to me in November 2007 to say I was excited is a huge understatement. I had been dreaming of my perfect wedding since I was a little girl, and now was the chance to plan it for real. Luckily he was pretty laid back; whatever I wanted (within reason!) he'd go along with. One thing we did agree on was that we wanted a small intimate wedding that was more romantic than showy, and the idea of jetting off somewhere with just a few people really appealed to us.
As embarrassing as it is to admit this, ever since watching Father of the Bride when I was little I always loved the idea of a winter wedding, I just thought there was something very romantic and magical about the snow. And so began the hunt for my dream location.
After doing a few searches on the internet on weddings abroad, the majority seemed to focus on hot locations, just not what I had in mind. Then I stumbled across Weddings and Honeymoons Abroad's website. On their homepage they were advertising "A Fairytale Wedding" in the Austrian Alps. I clicked on the link and within one minute of reading the information my mind was made up, I wanted to get married in Austria. Snow and the home of the Von Trapps, what's not to love?! I showed my husband and he agreed, it looked lovely, and so the wedding planning began!
The website was very easy to navigate, and full of information on your chosen location. There were links to the hotels website, real life weddings with pictures, a gallery of the resort and advice on what time of year to go, depending on what kind of wedding you wanted. There was also a section detailing legal requirements and a price guide for additional extras that were not included in the standard wedding cost. On the main page it showed the itinerary for a typical wedding - a day by day description in what would be included in the basic price. We thought this was a nice touch as it gave a lot of information of what was included and what you could expect from your money. Overall we found the website very good. It looked professional and it gave all the basic information needed to get you interested.
~Booking and planning~
As the website did its job in grabbing our attention, we used the enquiry link to express our interest in booking our wedding for the following winter and requested further information. We received a prompt response via email and were told that all the additional information was to be posted and we would receive it within a couple of days. True to their word, the information pack arrived two days later.
Within the information pack were more details on the hotel resort, what was included in the price, legal information and the price of any additional extras we may want. We spent that night pouring over the information and found it to be presented professionally and it answered many of our questions. We found the price guide particularly useful in giving us a good estimate at exactly how much our dream wedding would cost us. It mentioned in the information that winter is especially popular and so to book well in advance. Since I had my heart completely set on this wedding, we emailed back the next day and told them we wished to book our wedding for December 2008. Again, a prompt response was given. They would provisionally book the dates we wanted but we needed to fill in the booking form letting them know the number of guests and the location we wanted (there were a variety of different locations throughout the resort) and send 50% deposit before the dates were officially ours. So, giddy with excitement we did as we were told.
Seven days later, we still hadn't heard from them. Were the dates ours? Hade they received our cheque? Not wishing to appear Bridezilla-esque I dropped them a casual email enquiring whether they had received our booking form. Two days later a reply came saying they had received it and confirmation would be arriving with us shortly. Another two weeks past, still no confirmation. Considering they were so quick to send us out the initial information, I couldn't understand the delay in sending us our confirmation. I couldn't relax until I received it, I had visions of them keeping our money and giving the dates to someone else. Eventually the confirmation came through, advising us that the dates we requested were officially ours and guest accommodation had been booked. We still had 11 months until the wedding and so they told us to take our time making our decisions regarding decorations and extras as they would not need to be paid for and finalised until eight weeks before the wedding.
I was initially worried about how I was going to organise the decorations I wanted. What about the cake? What about my bouquet? I had very firm ideas of what I wanted. However I was told to send pictures and descriptions of my desired extras and my wedding planner would forward them on to the wedding co-ordinator in Salzburg, who would try and replicate my wishes as best she could. Knowing I didn't need to finalise my decisions until eight weeks before the big day, I took my time trying to find the perfect little extras.
There were a lot of legalities and paperwork that needed to be sorted but we had been advised not to do it more than three months before the wedding as the documents become invalid if processed too soon. I therefore spent the next couple of months doing the fun stuff, finding pictures of decorations, flowers...and my dress!
Things were going well and according to plan until 7 months before the wedding we found out we were having a baby. After the original panic that I wouldn't be able to fly and the wedding would have to be cancelled, we researched it and I was fine to fly. We therefore informed the wedding planners in case it would affect anything insurance-wise. I received a response congratulating me and assuring me that the wedding co-ordinator in Austria would be informed.
Gradually the wedding date crept nearer and so we set about sorting out our legal paperwork. In our confirmation pack it stated that all legalities must be sorted by the bride and groom to be as they would accept no responsibility if something went wrong. It all said that if the necessary paperwork was not completed we would be unable to get married. This freaked us out slightly, and we were determined to do everything by the book.
In our info pack we were told we would need full birth certificate, a certificate of non impediment and other forms of identification. Some of these would need to have an apostille to legalise them, and some need to be translated but the information given was unclear. We weren't sure what need an apostille and what wouldn't so I contacted the wedding planner. When we still hadn't heard anything I rang the office and I was told she would ring me back. Another day passed so I rang again finally getting through to her. She explained that she had been busy with other weddings and ours was down her list. Charming. I would have understood if I'd have been moaning about cake shapes or something but this was important and the deadline was looming nearer. She explained to me what we needed to do and said the documents that needed to be translated could be sent to them to translate.
So we got all our documents signed, stamped and legalised and shoved them in the post to be translated. I emailed the planner when we posted them and asked her to let me she had received them. And what do you know, another week passed, despite me emailing her on other matters, I heard nothing. I rang the office and they informed me she was off work for a few days. When I asked if someone else could help me they said they couldn't. They didn't want to interfere. I was beginning to get more and more stressed out. This legal stuff was important! Eventually she got back to us and confirmed the documents would be translated.
These documents would then need sending back to us, to send to Vienna for the registrar to keep hold of. She needed to have these 8 weeks before the wedding, hence my panic at the wedding planner dragging her feet. When asked if they could send the documents straight on for us, we were told no, as they were again washing their hands of any responsibility. I'd like to know what happen to their claim of making "the whole process stress free"! Finally, everything seemed to be finalised, we had sent everything off, paid the Austrian registrar and I could finally stop stressing and putting myself at risk from premature labour!
So now it was just a case of finalising our wedding details, extras and paying our final bill. Nine weeks before the wedding we forwarded on our completed wish list, with all our added extras and awaited our final invoice, despite me sending emails reminding them I still needed the total amount. The eight week deadline had passed by two days when we received the final invoice. Not overly concerned we wrote a cheque for the final amount and stuck it in the post, assuming that would be that.
However I received a phone call three days later saying they still had not received payment and since the deadline had passed, we had to pay £25 for each additional day, meaning we owed £125. It was their incompetence that caused the delay! It took my husband being stroppy and argumentative to finally get them to agree to waive the additional charge. As if we weren't paying them enough!
The price really was quite reasonable, especially when you consider how much a wedding in this country would cost. The basic price included the wedding ceremony itself, including interpreter and registrar, full board hotel accommodation for 4 nights, beauty and hair appointment for myself on the big day and a massage for hubby. We also got chocolate covered strawberries in our room on the wedding night, a nice touch I thought. Although champagne for the two of us, a limo to the waterfall for photographs and a wedding cake for two were included we had to pay extra to cater for the guests. Our photographer was included in the price, as were 70 photographs in an album, but we had to pay extra for a CD and negatives. Other extras included room upgrade (we paid extra to have a suite), a horse-driven sleigh ride through the national park and obviously all the legal costs.
All together, even including the extras, our wedding cost less than £5000, not bad for your dream wedding!
After what felt like years of planning (was it really only 11 months?!) December finally came around and it was time to fly out for the wedding. We flew to Munich as we struggled to find direct flights to Austria, and the hotel driver picked us up and drove us the three hour journey to Salzburg. We organised this with the hotel and I was impressed by the service. The driver was on time, smartly dressed, pleasant and helped with bag, which was good for hubby as he'd had to lug everything around considering I was 7 months pregnant and unable to carry anything.
We arrived at the resort greeted by glasses of wine. The resort itself was breathtaking. I don't want to talk too much about it, as I am going to do a separate review on it, but it really was as I dreamt it. Our rooms were lovely, the welcome was friendly, and the views were perfect. I finally felt myself beginning to relax. We had a meeting with wedding co-ordinator to go over final details and talk about any worries we had. She was great, understanding and helpful and really put my mind at ease.
The big day itself went without a hitch. I had my hair and makeup done which was surprisingly good considering we'd had no opportunity to have a trial. The beautician was lovely and distracted me from my nerves. The wedding co-ordinator told us that the groom and guests would be in the main hotel where the ceremony was being held and she rang me when it was time to make my way over. The ceremony was lovely, just as I'd imagined. We then went on to have hot chocolate by the fire, followed by professional photographs and a sleigh ride through the national park. We had our 5 course meal in a private separate area of the restaurant and we had personalised menus and decorations.
What impressed me the most was how it was exactly as I'd described to them, all my wishes were met. The cake was exactly like the picture I sent to them, the decorations in burgundy roses were perfect. For my bouquet I'd forwarded a picture of burgundy roses with little diamantes between each individual rose, telling them that anything like that would be fine. It was exactly the same, even down to the diamantes. It was gorgeous, I was very impressed.
When it was time to leave the hotel we were given our wedding certificate and the photograph album. The photos were really good; we were impressed that they managed to process them so quickly. We were also given a personalised photo frame from the hotel, with our names and wedding date engraved onto it, which we though was a lovely touch.
So to sum up, how do I rate Weddings and Honeymoons Abroad as a whole?
I found that they were very good when we expressed our initial interest and replied to emails within a couple of days, sometimes in a matter of hours. However, once we had paid our 50% deposit, we dropped down the priority list. Whilst I understand that weddings before ours must be given priority, I don't consider a response after 10 days acceptable, especially as we were paying them to do a service and to answer our many questions. What happened to "making the whole process stress-free"? I spent the majority of my time chasing up emails and phone calls trying to get a response.
I felt our planner could have been a bit more understanding, not only is it difficult to plan a wedding from such a distance, but the legal processes were quite confusing, and really not something we wanted to get wrong. Added to the fact I was pregnant and emotional, a bit of support wouldn't have gone amiss.
And did they deliver my dream wedding as promised?
Well despite my grumbles, they did. However, I'm not sure how much praise should go to them, as I feel it was the wedding co-ordinator in the hotel that did all the real work. Our wedding day went completely to plan, Johanna (the Austrian co-ordinator) was really understanding about my little worries and nervousness. She arranged everything exactly as I had envisioned it, and the day went off without a hitch.
So to sum up, despite having the best day of my life, I still wonder what Weddings and Honeymoons did that I couldn't have done myself by liaising with the Austrian co-ordinator.