Welcome to this series of articles based on my popular book, “The A to Z of Wedding Wisdom” … a few juicy extracts that you might like, to give you a taster of what the book can do to help make your wedding (or a friend or relative’s wedding) superbly successful.

This time, we look at…

Destination weddings

If you peruse the pages of glitzy feel-good magazines (I do while waiting for my son’s school bus) you’ll often see spreads of celebrities idyllically marrying their sweethearts on an exotic beach in some tropical tax haven. Ah, wouldn’t it be wonderful….

Then I think again. If I have just spent $75 on a pedicure do I really want to traipse barefoot through burning sand to be married under a palm tree? Do I really think I can wear a full length satin gown, elaborate hairdo and full makeup in 40°C heat and look cool and glamorous after the first three minutes? Never mind; I’m just a pragmatic old Taurean.

Getting married abroad is becoming quite popular for a number of reasons – and not just because you can combine wedding and honeymoon in one hit.


The first point is a huge reduction in hassle factor. Particularly if you use one of the numerous specialist agencies which have sprung up in recent times (just key “destination weddings” into Google or other search engine, or look up the “Wedding Guide” in your local Yellow Pages) virtually all you do is pick the time and place, pay for it, and turn up. Of course you can design your own bespoke wedding abroad too. But at least with this option you can choose how much involvement you take on.

Interestingly enough despite the air fares and hotel costs a wedding abroad can turn out to be much less expensive than a wedding at home, largely because you don’t have the expense of a lavish reception for large numbers of people. Because most of the old traditions become irrelevant when you go abroad, the cost can be spread more comfortably across the whole family, even with everyone paying their own way. As for who you invite, you can be very picky indeed and select only those you really want to share the day with, although this can have disadvantages, too (see below.)

Alternatively you can just disappear on your own and tell everyone about it afterwards. Some friends of mine did that as part of their annual holiday in Barbados one Christmas; it was just them and their three sons. They sprang a double surprise on us all when they got back because we all thought they were married already! When I asked the new bride why she had sneaked off secretly she said, “I couldn’t have stood the pain of my mother organizing a wedding in this country.”

Another indisputable attraction is the glamour element. OK, the sandy beach may not be my idea of perfection but the thought of getting married in a beautiful location like Venice or East Africa does sound wonderful. There’s just an added spark you can’t get at home.

Any disadvantages?

Well, to begin with you won’t be in control of your wedding in the same way that you would be at home. No matter how carefully you liaise with the venue and local organizers, you’re still operating by remote control to an extent and are reliant on their carrying out your wishes. With a wedding at home, you can be much more “hands on.”

The whole issue of who accompanies you can be tricky, too. The people who matter most to you may not be able to afford the money and time to travel to your destination, and you may not be able to afford to pay for their flights and accommodation. Then, because your guest list will be pretty short, you risk offending some people who have been left off it. That applies, too, if just the two of you go; not only will you have to invite someone you don’t know to be your witness at the ceremony, but also you may find your immediate families feel cheated at having been left out of it.

To an extent that problem can be remedied if you have a good party when you get back. Although that will cost some money to put together you won’t be obliged to spend on the traditional and costly elements like the cake, flowers, lavish entertainment, etc. Your party can be anything you want from dinner in a restaurant with everyone paying for themselves, to a casual barbecue or meet-up in your favourite pub.

What about the weather?

Don’t be fooled into thinking that exotic locations have 365 day hot sunshine. I got an email last September from a friend who lives near Mombasa, Kenya, saying that she was indoors wearing jeans and two sweaters while outdoors it was pouring with rain, accompanied by a howling gale.

Whilst it may be hot in Caribbean locations during the months of June, July, and August there is often very high humidity, which makes outdoor existence extremely sweaty and uncomfortable – not to mention having a disastrous effect on recently-straightened hair. If you wait until a little later in the season you get not only heat and humidity but also gales and hurricanes. And so-on.

Naturally you will do your homework to find out all you can about the destination of your choice. Beware cut-price packages and “off-season” deals; remember the old adage that if you pay peanuts you get monkeys. Discounted deals are usually discounted for a reason you would rather not find out about the hard way – like impending monsoons, a half-built or ancient hotel, thundering jet planes landing a hundred yards away, or a resort’s recent bout of food poisoning that affected 200 guests.

In non-tropical destinations like European capital cities the weather is not necessarily as much of an issue, but it would still make sense to pick a time of year when your chances of a bit of sun and warmth are higher than average. Even Paris, Amsterdam, Venice, Florence and Rome are pretty dull and miserable in November.

For all 174 pages of helpful tips and advice, grab your copy of “The A to Z of Wedding Wisdom” from Amazon (USA), Amazon (Canada), Amazon (UK) and all other Amazons.