The Moment – a wedding special

Plan ahead: 8 ways to make an overseas wedding go smoothly

Overseas weddings are easier to organise if you are clear about your arrangements, and keep the planning simple

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 November, 2016, 11:17am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 May, 2017, 2:47pm

So you want to get married overseas? I’ve just organised my own destination wedding, and here’s a checklist of what you need to know.

Pick your venue
Whether it’s the place you first met, the best holiday you ever took, or just a somewhere you’ve always dreamed of going – do your research and find somewhere perfect.
Top tip: A place with meaning is always better. We’re getting married in Eltham Palace in Southeast London (see sidebar), just a few minutes from where my fiancée grew up.

Who to invite?
Many guests won’t want to spend the time and money to travel to another country just for your nuptials. This means you can slash your guest list to the people you really care about.
Top tip: If you have people flying in, hotels could offer a cheaper rate for block bookings. Call early and negotiate hard.

Pick a package
Organising a wedding from a long distance is hard. Look out for venues that offer package deals including venue hire,
food and more – that way you don’t have to spend your time negotiating with seven different providers.
Top tip: Older or historic venues have lists of accredited suppliers: They may cost more, but they’re guaranteed to know a venue and cater to its guests more frequently.
Plan for planners
Wedding planners can be expensive, but if you’re doing a destination wedding then hiring one might make sense. Do you have the energy to come home after a workday and spend an hour on Skype trying to thrash out the logistics? A planner based in the destination country can help – if you can afford one.
Top tip: If you have family in your chosen destination, enlist their help!

Come fly with me
The internet will make some things, such as wedding photographers and make-up artists, much easier to organise from afar. But flying over for a planning-specific trip is very useful. There are some things – such as tasting wedding menu options – that are very hard to do from a Hong Kong sofa.
Top tip: If you’re only in town for a week, unleash your inner Bridezilla: Set your own schedule and force everyone else to help.

Check the law
Before you start booking priests, check that you will be legally married by the end of the ceremony! Make sure you’re familiar with the paperwork.
Top tip: If necessary, have the party overseas – and just register the marriage when you get back to Hong Kong.

Work out your economies
You only have so much time, and organising an overseas wedding helps to crystallise what’s important. Ask yourselves what you really care about. Is an expensive cake essential? Do you need to have custom-made cocktails, or will cheapish booze be enough? Does each guest need wedding favours? Pick what matters to you because doing it overseas makes it twice as hard – and probably more expensive, too.
Top tip: Are there regional specialities you can put on the menu? Are certain services cheaper? Make use of what you can to save where possible.

Party at home
There’s nothing worse than feeling left out. If you’re having an overseas wedding, throw a bash for everyone here in Hong Kong too. That way, no one feels left out – and you might just get double the wedding gifts, too. Top Tip: The wedding was the solemn ceremony – now is the time to party hard.