Deciding on the right wedding venue for your big day can be one of the most stressful parts of the whole wedding planning process. After all, it's the start of your new life together, so you need everything to be perfect.
But don't worry too much, even though you're bound to find many venues which would be right for you, often it all comes down to how you feel when you visit a location. This also applies to choosing a wedding planner. If you "click" when you speak to a planner, and feel that she understands what you're looking for, then that's a really good start.
One you're engaged and have decided that you're marrying abroad, and ideally decided which country/area you'd like to exchange vows in, then it's time to narrow down what type of wedding you'd like. You may have very clear ideas as to what you're looking for, or you may be confused by the huge amount of choice out there.
Once you've both selected which type of venue or ceremony you'd like to have, it's time to find the perfect venue/destination/planner. Although some couples decide on a wedding planner first and then ask her for suggestions for the venue. Others decide on a venue first and then either use the in-house planner, or find a planner who will be able to work with the venue. Neither way is best, it just depends on how you'd like to work.
Common venue/ceremony types include:
Hotel or Resort Weddings
Hotel or resort weddings are an easy option, as once you've decided on the right place for you their in-house wedding planners will take care of everything for you!
Many resorts have a One Wedding per day policy, although you should always check before you book. Also, if you choose a resort and bring lots of guests with you then the resort may either give you a "free" wedding or a night or two free as a thanks for booking so many guests (although this does depend on the hotel).
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There are so many chateaux around the world which offer weddings, you can choose any type you like! From traditional chateaux in France or Italy, to palaces in India or castles in Scotland, there's bound to be one that suits your dreams.
Most chateaux have wedding planners they work with - the smaller ones will use an independent planner, whereas the larger chateaux are more likely to have an in-house planner, both of which will be able to get you good prices from local suppliers for everything you need.
They can also usually be hired for the entire day or week, should you
wish to spend a bit more time with your guests!
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This is such a classic wedding abroad option - getting married on a beach as the sun sets and the waves lap at your feet.
Unfortunately not all countries allow beach weddings, as many do require you to marry under a roof, but there are still plenty of fabulous countries where you can marry on the beach, mainly in tropical countries where there are no restrictions on where you marry.
If you're dreaming of being a barefoot bride, then take a look at our beach weddings page to find out where you can exchange vows on the sand.
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Having a civil ceremony is the law in many countries (often a religious ceremony isn't legal on its own), and it's also often the cheapest way to be legally married.
If you just want to be married, without the fuss of a big ceremony, then a civil ceremony is the ceremony for you. Almost all wedding planners can help with this kind of ceremony, especially with the paperwork, so all you need to do is to find the perfect location and then ask a planner to help!
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Wedding planners also work in different ways, some will charge a percentage of your wedding budget to organise the whole ceremony and will deal with the suppliers for you; others will introduce you to suppliers and you book and pay for each supplier separately; many planners also offer an "on the day" service where you do the planning but they ensure everything runs smoothly on the wedding day - it really depends on the amount of planning you'd like to do vs the amount you'd like the planner to do.
Garden weddings can be held in any country where you can legally marry outside, although some countries get round the "roof" requirement by installing gazebos so couples can marry under a gazebo roof in a garden.
What could be better than exchanging vows in a sun dappled forest as the early evening light softens and the fairy lights come on as you become Mr and Mrs?
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Do remember though that they are the experts in their field, and will remind you of things you may not have thought of. After all, they've done this many times before (and you probably haven't!).
Choosing a wedding planner or venue abroad ultimately is a bit like falling in love with your fiance - once you find the right venue you'll know straight away. So make sure you put the deposit down fast to avoid losing your wedding date!