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.
Common venue/ceremony types include:
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.
Some common questions to ask prospective wedding planners/venues are about how you'd like the ceremony to go. Many venues in Europe, such as chateaux or stately homes, can be hired for the entire day or week; many hotel or resort venues will only hold one wedding a day, although you would have to double check before you book; many resorts, particularly in the Caribbean, offer a "free" ceremony or room for the couple if they bring a certain number of guests to the wedding. Again, it all depends on the type of wedding you'd like, but when you're looking around venues make sure to bring a list of questions to ask, and remember to note down the replies!
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. 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!