Top Tips to Plan a European Destination Wedding

A European destination wedding is a popular choice for the modern bride and groom who want to celebrate their love in a stunning location. A wedding abroad means you can select the perfect location that suits your tastes and style, and Europe is full of amazing places for you to choose from. However, it can be complicated when it comes to organizing logistics from far away. From deciding on the venue and finding accommodation for your guests, to booking the right photographer and delicious catering service, there are so many details to navigate. But not to worry, we’ve put together a list of the best advice to ensure your wedding planning is as easy as possible!

Avoid the stress and get inspired with these top tips to plan an unforgettable European destination wedding.

1. Communication is Key

Organizing a wedding abroad is exciting but you’ll have to be extra careful with communication, with both vendors and guests. When it comes to vendors, it’s always best to speak over the phone or even better, have a video call, rather than limit communication solely to emails. Have regular update meetings with them, and share as much information or photos as you can. Don’t be shy in asking as many questions as possible too! Your guests will also be arriving from far away, so keep them updated as well. Give your guests plenty of notice by sending save the dates and invitations as early as you can. They’ll need to book international flights, reserve accommodation and check any documentation. Our tip is to make a wedding website so that everyone has easy access to all of the information they need.

Another fundamental communication aspect in Europe will be the language barrier. Each European country has its own beautiful language. So although a lot of people do learn English, especially if they work internationally, keep in mind that not everyone in your location will speak English. This means that you may struggle to convey your vision to local vendors. It’s important to be prepared for this when planning, so don’t hesitate to ask about translation services that may be available.

2. Prioritize a Wedding Planner

Meet your new best friend: your wedding planner. Unless you know your European destination wedding location very well, we recommend relying on a wedding planner to be your right-hand woman or man. They’ll ensure that your vision comes to light just as you want it. Wedding planners have the best inside knowledge about which local vendors suit your wedding style. Your planner will know exactly where to find your favorite flowers, your perfect decorations, the most delicious cuisine and more! They’ll also be very handy when it comes to overcoming any language issues.

3. Location, Location, Location

The beauty of Europe is that there are so many different types of locations, with their own unique historic and cultural features. Whether you want a stunning Tuscan villa, a beautiful Ibizan sunset, a traditional Greek island, a majestic Alpine mountain view, or a Provencal French chateau, there are endless options on this continent. So make sure that the location you choose is meaningful to you both. You’ll save these memories forever, so you want it to be a location that has a special place in your heart. And of course, don’t forget to do your research! Are there any limitations? For example, are there any local regulations you’ll have to adhere to?

Another tip is to try to visit your location. Although FaceTime and your expert wedding planner will be your key resources during the planning process, do try to book one or two trips to see it all in person.

italy wedding planning
Photography: Stephen Karlisch

4. Make the Most of Local Vendors

Vendors that are local to your European location are a great way to save money, while also ensuring that the local community is involved. The most important aspect is that it allows you to find vendors who are familiar with the area. They’ll have the most useful knowledge to find the elements that best suit your needs. Local vendors will also know where to source certain items or food and will know whether the quality is high or low, or if it’s the best price. You won’t need to fly out anyone to your location or help them with language barriers. Also, they’ll be able to help you plan activities such as sightseeing tours, restaurants, and wine tastings that capture the essence of your destination wedding. Finally, choosing a local vendor for your wedding also provides you with the opportunity to really give your guests a taste of the country, and celebrate in the place where you tied the knot.

5. Book Accommodation Early

It’s likely that all of your guests will need help with accommodation. Most couples won’t know anyone in the local area so it’s fundamental that accommodation is at the top of your priority list. Research hotels that are a good distance between your ceremony and reception venues, as well as an airport or train station.

If you’re going to popular European locations, then you’ll find that hotels will be able to offer you room blocks for you and your guests to stay in together. On the other hand, if you’re going to a smaller town, then check out any large houses or villas that you can rent to keep everyone in the same location. The most important tip is to book early to make sure you have plenty of options. Once it’s sorted, post all of the information on your wedding website so that your guests know where they’ll be staying ahead of time. Also, make sure to double-check in advance that everything is as arranged so that no one ends up having to make last-minute arrangements.

6. Consider Accessibility

How will you organize transport logistics? In general, most main European destinations have good transport access. But if you choose a small Italian town for your wedding, be mindful that the bus schedule won’t be as precise as you need it to be. Or there might not be enough taxis for your number of guests. These are easy to solve if you plan ahead with enough time and consider private car hires. It may cost a little extra, but at least you’ll have peace of mind knowing that all your guests will see you walk down the aisle and celebrate with you on the dance floor.

european destination wedding
Photography: Benjamin Wheeler

7. Be Extra Mindful of Costs

It’s important to have a clear budget in mind when planning your wedding, especially if it’s overseas. Check any hidden fees, international charges and shipping costs from the onset. Think about different ways that you can save money. For example, the time of year. The European summer is from June to August, but it’s also the peak season in the most popular locations. So consider off-season times that can see you reduce costs substantially, especially flights and accommodation. Also, take into account your guests’ budgets. They’re flying internationally to celebrate your special day, so be mindful of how much any extras will cost them.

8. Create a Guest Experience

Show your guests why you love your European destination with special guest experiences. Give them an authentic taste of the city or town you’re in by highlighting the area’s culture and history. For many, it might be their first time visiting! They’re priority will be celebrating your wedding, but also give them an opportunity to make the most of the new location. Talk to your wedding planner and local guides to plan experiences that emphasize the best of your European location. Incorporate different activities for your guests to find out more about the region and country they’re in. Make sure to include helpful information about the area, a map and perhaps a traditional delicacy in your welcome kit too! Some guests might choose to stay for a few days to get to know the destination. But you can also consider a wedding weekend to really make the most of your time in the special place together.

9. Embrace the Local Culture

You’ve probably chosen the European destination because you love the local culture, food and atmosphere. So include this during your wedding. Introduce your guests to new delicacies by choosing local cuisine. Celebrate with local artists and performers. Keep the night going with local wine, beer or liquors. You can even have signs or say a few words in the local language. You can also incorporate local traditions, popular customs, and artisanal elements to show your appreciation for the location. End the day with some favors that represent the destination too and create an immersive experience to make your special day unforgettable.

tips for a destination wedding
Photography: Cinzia Bruschini

10. Always have a Plan B

You could have the most detailed plan but everyone still needs a backup, especially for a destination wedding. So while you’re organizing, think about any issues you may encounter and put steps in place just in case! One of the main things that ca affect a destination wedding is the weather. Even on the gorgeous Amalfi Coast, the stunning Balearic Islands or the beautiful Greek Islands, it can rain during the summer season. So check if your venue has any contingency plans. This is also why hiring a local wedding planner will be extra useful in a European location, as they’ll know what is most likely to go wrong. We also recommend investing in travel insurance for your international wedding. This will help alleviate any stress if anything doesn’t run smoothly.

11. Travel Ahead

It’s best to be at your European location around a week before the big day. Firstly, you’ll want a day or two to settle in and take in your surroundings. Secondly, you’ll want to talk to vendors ahead of time to see how everything will look on the day. You’ll be there in person to sort out any issues and finalize any details. Thirdly, it also gives you and your partner some downtime alone to cherish the location before the madness of all your guests arriving. You might want to have your maid of honor and best man travel ahead too in case you need to delegate any tasks leading up to the wedding.

12. Be as Flexible as Possible

The essence of your special day is that it’s in a gorgeous European location that means so much to you and your partner. But, the international aspect of it means that you won’t be able to oversee every single detail. Some guests might have delayed flights, there may be lost baggage and some details might have gotten lost in translation. Also, keep in mind that Southern European locations have a much calmer pace of life than you may be used to. So try not to worry if things aren’t exactly to your intricate planning schedule. Just make sure to leave plenty of time to manage any problems, and don’t sweat the small stuff. Remember that the most essential aspect of your beautiful day is to be present and enjoy special moments with your family and friends.

greece destination wedding
Photography: Phosart

Planning a European destination wedding should be exciting and enjoyable, so make sure everything runs smoothly with our tips. For more help planning your special day or to explore stunning destination wedding venues and chat with local wedding planners, head over to WedBoard. You’ll also find more advice for wedding planning including Top 20 Destination Wedding Locations, The Most Important Questions To Ask Your Wedding Venue, and Tips for The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline.

Featured image: Paula O’Hara

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