Tips for planning a wedding abroad in Portugal

With 25% of marriages now taking place abroad and in total 340,000 destination weddings take place each year, getting married abroad is a popular choice. And also the choice for me and my fiance Blake. We got engaged in September 2019 and always knew that we wanted to get married abroad being that the weather is not always great in the UK and we saw it as being more cost effective than the UK. The average wedding in the UK now costs £30,355 which is a crazy amount in my eyes to spend on one day. I know being the budget savvy person I am I can plan our special day, way cheaper abroad.

Now our wedding planning abroad is in full swing I thought I would share some tips with all my readers who may be planning their wedding abroad like me.

Finding your wedding destination and venue

For our wedding we have chosen the Algarve, Portugal because it is a special place for us, where we travel every year with family and I have been going since I was young. It also has sunshine all year round and we already knew lots of places to get married etc. I know this isn't the case for some people who decide to get married abroad, you might not even know where to start on location as there are so many beautiful countries like greece, italy the list is endless so I would find recommendations from people who have already married on facebook wedding groups. Google and blogs are also a great source to use.

First I would decide on whether you want a beach front or hotel and how many guests will be joining you as they will both play a factor in price. You might even come across venues that don't advertise weddings but there's no harm in asking as you may find a bargain which is what happened to use.

The hotel we are having our ceremony at doesn't have many weddings but because we have been there a lot and know people who work there, we asked the question and have managed to secure the venue for an affordable price.

Create a wedding website
Once you have decided on your venue, start a website to put all the information on. As you will find you have way more to tell your guests than can fit on a wedding invite. I used for mine and just bought the URL from go daddy, as it was completely free, lots of personalisation and it accepted more European destinations than other wedding websites I found. Most only offered USA as the country.

They also had over 250 designs to choose from and you can upload food options, flight, accomodation, gifts and also let your guests RSVP. All in all Zola offers a really nice experience and easy to use. I can't believe it's free!

Send invitations out in advance

Being that our wedding is in September 2021, I sent my invites out in February 2020 yes you might think that is far too early but it soon comes around and I want my guests to have as much notice as possible. I decided along with the wedding website to make fridge magnets so they don't forget and they are super cute. I ordered them from Wilbert & Willow for £1.29 each as they matched my sage green theme and they offered personalisation. As the magnet was restricted to space, I also designed some paper invites on Vistaprint with the URL of our website.

The legalities

Getting married abroad can be complicated so we have decided to get married legally in the UK with a registar a few weeks before and then have a celebrant marry us in Portugal. Yes this is costing us a little bit more but we are saving in terms of venue etc. We are still going to treat our ceremony in Portugal as the official one by exchanging our vows and rings then.

Join Facebook groups

Even though I have travelled to Portugal lots, I still don't know any suppliers etc so luckily there is a really helpful Portugal wedding group with a list of all suppliers and you can ask questions yourself or search through the posts for previous ideas. There are also some more general "wedding abroad" groups if your more open to location just simply use the search bar on Facebook to find the group for you. I do wonder how people planned a wedding abroad before they had social media?

Should I hire a wedding planner?

If I was getting married somewhere I had never been or didn't know very well then I would say yes to a wedding planner which you can usually find on specific wedding groups. Likewise if I had a very busy work life and didn't have the time to plan. But as I do have the time, I'm planning my wedding somewhere I know very well, I'm happy to do everything myself which is a saving of well over a £1000. Although I may pay someone to arrange my reception tables and flowers at the ceremony.

How do I get my dress and decor to my wedding destination?

Luckily I have bought a wedding dress that doesn't crease too much but I will still be buying a wedding dress box to put it in and carrying it on as hand luggage because I would dread something happening to it.

For decor there are many suppliers who will do this for you, and I will be hiring a few bits like a welcome sign, chairs and flowers but some things like confetti and candles I want to buy here in the UK. Once I have everything I am going to weigh it and get a quote from a courier who will then ship it to my reception venue. Then after our wedding I am hoping to sell the bits cheaply on the Portugal wedding group.

Have you ever planned a wedding abroad?

Liz x

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