Getting engaged is meant to be an exciting and happy phase in a couple’s life but often the stresses of wedding planning can make it a little weary particularly when you have the challenges of planning a wedding abroad. When I look back at the wedding planning experience, at the time I thought it was rather stressful but now in comparison to everything else over the last few years, I would gladly plan another wedding! 😉 I also hope that by sharing what I know I can help make this process a little easier for someone else.
After a lot of thought, contemplation, debate and discussion we decided to get married in South Africa instead of the UK. The biggest benefits being, more family and friends to share our special day with us and a less expensive wedding.
A Wedding Planner or Not?
If you have the budget and would prefer someone else to manage all the stress of wedding planning consider using a wedding planner. Some wedding planners also offer different priced packages that vary from a few hours of service to an end to end service that is provided. I considered this briefly but decided not to use a wedding planner as I do enjoy organizing things and am a bit of a control freak too!
So where to from here?
My 4 essentials during wedding planning were Whatsapp, Excel, the Internet and my notebook.
The sad thing about living abroad, away from family and close friends is that wedding planning on your own can feel quite lonely…well for me it did anyway. But as I’ve always tried to focus on the positive things in life, I tried not to let this get me down. At the time my Mom was using a Blackberry so I asked her to install Whatsapp. I then formed a Whatsapp group with my Mom and 2 best friends. I was probably slightly annoying to my friends but this turned out to be the best thing for me. (Sorry – you know who you are! ;P ) I didn’t feel so alone trying on wedding dresses while sending updates and pictures at the same time. I was extremely grateful for the amazing support and love I felt which made the whole process a little less lonesome. Now I’m not encouraging you to harass your friends with all your questions and ideas too but I’m just mentioning how this helped me through the process 🙂
Wedding planning – where to start?
Decide on the wedding budget
- I found this great excel wedding budget checklist that lists everything to think of when planning a wedding. It doesn’t mean that you have to cater for everything though. It also allows you to keep track of expenditure and payments. Please see the bottom of this post for more information on how to download this file.
- You will need to have some cash upfront to pay for the deposits. Most wedding suppliers will expect a deposit.
Create a wedding folder, get a notebook and a file
- Be organized from the start so that you can stay ahead with the process and not get lost in the detail
- Keep a notebook on you for jotting down ideas and things to remember when you’re on the go
- Have a wedding folder on your PC for storing everything wedding related
- Get a file to keep all your wedding related paperwork if you wish to print out invoices and quotes
- Create a wedding email address. This is totally up to you but it allows you to have one mailbox to keep all your wedding related communication. You can also create folders in your mailbox to organize emails by supplier. You can then also use this email address if you decide to do electronic invites.
Think about the theme you’d like for your wedding
- This can be based on the style you’d like or the colours you choose or both
- Do you want a small and intimate wedding? Vintage-style? Beach wedding? Smart and elegant? Warm and romantic? Bright, bold and colourful?
- Check out wedding magazines, wedding blogs, wedding photographers blogs, Pinterest and Instagram for ideas
- Your budget can also influence your theme and venue choices
- And your theme can also influence your venue and colour choices
- If you’re struggling to decide on colours why not use your favourite colour? I helped a friend choose a wedding theme based on her favourite colour (yellow) by matching it with a basic contrasting colour (navy) which resulted in a beautiful theme for their day.
Set the date
- Consider the time of year for your destination wedding. Would it be slightly cheaper to get married in spring rather than summer?
- Consider the day of week – during the week is often cheaper than weekends
- Are there religious or supersitious aspects to consider regarding your wedding date?
Start contacting wedding suppliers for quotes
- Use the spreadsheet I’ve suggested above to get an idea of what suppliers you need to contact
- If you’re getting married in your home country where people may already know of suppliers that they can recommend then start with contacting those
- Otherwise try to find reviews or recommendations of wedding suppliers online through wedding directory sites or wedding blogs or just go with your gut and contact the ones that you like the look of online
A few words of advice…
Remember that this is your big day as a couple. Unfortunately people may upset or disappoint you during the wedding planning process but don’t let it get you down. And the most important thing to remember is why you’re doing this – to marry your partner! So try to have fun and make the most of this special time 🙂
I’d love to hear from you if you’re planning or even if you have already planned your wedding abroad. How is it going for you? Please feel free to share in the comments below.
Instructions on how to get the wedding budget checklist
This wedding budget spreadsheet was created by London wedding planner, Andri. You can check out her site here.
To download the file click on the link below:
Click on ‘File’ in the left hand corner of the page and ‘Download’ – then you can download it as an Excel Spreadsheet. Once you’ve downloaded the file then you may need to change the currency. To do this, highlight the relevant cells and choose the Currency option from the General dropdown box on the menu tab. This will set it to the currency of your PC’s regional settings. If you wish to set the currency to your wedding destination then you’ll need to right click and change it in the Format properties of the cells.
Remove any lines from the spreadsheet that you think won’t be applicable to you. In the UK, the wedding format is slightly different to the South African wedding format as you’ll see a line for a wedding meal as well as evening food whereas in South Africa there would only be one meal served at the reception.