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Top tips to make an overseas wedding run smoothly

Cherry Reynard
Written By:
Cherry Reynard

Cost considerations trump romance for many Brits as favourable exchange rates, and the growing costs of weddings in the UK drive more and more couples to marry abroad.

The number of Brits tying the knot abroad has increased by almost a fifth (19 per cent) in just one year, according to research from currency exchange group HiFX.

Most are sticking with the Eurozone, cashing in on the weak Euro, but there has also been an increase in weddings to more exotic destinations such as Australia, Thailand and Fiji. The group estimates that couples can save up to £12,000 on the average £25,000 cost of a UK wedding.

As part of the research, HiFX looked at exchange rate fluctuations to popular wedding destinations over the course of the year, to identify the reasons behind the rising popularity of overseas weddings. It showed that the pound strengthened by just over 11% against the euro from June 2014 to June 2015, and over 6 per cent against the Thai Baht.

Mark Bodega, director at HiFX said: “Having seen such a huge rise in the number of couples getting hitched overseas in the past year, we’d expect the next five to ten years to see an even more noticeable flow of couples abandoning traditional British settings for sunnier shores. Getting married abroad however, requires great organisation, and hours of researching an area before the big day.”

HiFX gives its top tips for couples considering getting married abroad:

Look at tax rates

Careful planners could cash in on tax breaks, by putting a bit of research into foreign rates before booking anything. For example, the UK currently has one of the highest sales tax rates in Europe, at 20 per cent, which means that when booking a DJ or caterers, the price they quote will be 20 per cent less than the bill when it comes to paying up. On the other hand, there is no VAT in the USA, and the Canary Islands boast just 7 per cent. Most European countries also offer reduced VAT rates on different items, such as food, accommodation or transport too; Portugal for example offers a reduced VAT rate at 13 per cent  for food

Do your research!

There are many things to consider when deciding where to have your abroad wedding. Is there a country that means a lot to you? Did you get engaged on holiday and want to go back there? Remember the time of year you want to get hitched will affect both the price and suitability of a destination; those travelling further afield will need to factor in weather patterns

Consider a wedding planner

Once you’ve decided on a location, the next step is finding a venue and booking up caterers, music, flowers and the rest. Some people will opt for a package deal organised through a tour operator, while others prefer to book each aspect separately themselves, or via a wedding planner. The costs are hard to compare as each wedding differs greatly in scale and size, but as a general rule, booking everything yourself gives you greater control of the details. However, hiring an overseas wedding planner can be a good option for some. Although there will be an extra charge, a local planner may be able to negotiate better prices, and will certainly make the whole process easier

Embrace the culture

Marrying in Italy? Then why not toast with Prosecco rather than Champagne? Saying ‘I Do’ on a Greek Island? Think about having Meze for your wedding breakfast. There are many options you could consider to bring some of the local culture to your wedding, through food, drink, music and flower options. As well as taking advantage of the strengthening pound, those getting hitched abroad will notice that their cash goes much further when buying food and drink.

Save money using an international payments specialist

With so much to organise and pay for, frequent and often large payments overseas are hard to avoid, particularly if you’re doing all the leg work yourself. High street banks can charge up to £40 per transaction, and exchange rates are often poor meaning costs can spiral. Opting for a specialist money-transfer service, particularly online, can cut the cost dramatically. You will need to weigh up both the exchange rate and any fees charged when shopping around for the best deal

Beware of the hidden extras

If you’re going for Full Service Wedding Packages, choose a company that has clear wedding package inclusions so you know exactly what you are getting for your money, and read through any contract carefully. It’s important to know what you are getting, but it’s also important to know what other things you may want and to get quotes for them too

Plan for emergencies

When travelling abroad you should always take out insurance to protect against anything from lost baggage to health issues. Don’t forget to apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) if you are going to Europe as this will cover you for treatment in a foreign hospital for free.  If you are getting hitched abroad it is also a good idea to take out specific wedding insurance, too.   This means, should you need to cancel due to ill health or extreme weather, or if anything is stolen, such as wedding rings or expensive dresses, the provider will pay out

Make sure it’s legal

Often the most daunting and complex thing about getting married abroad is all the different legalities around getting married in another country. If you go through a weddings company, this stress can be removed as they do all the hard work for you. They can tell you exactly what documents you will need, what to get signed and where to send them.