How to plan a destination wedding

by | Apr 18, 2021 | Weddings | 0 comments

How do I start to plan a destination wedding?

For a destination wedding anywhere in the world, there are certain things you need to consider and questions you should ask yourself before any planning even starts!
Essentials such as budget, number of guests, your vision for your wedding ceremony and the celebrations afterwards should all be considered before you decide on your destination wedding location.
Celebrant Spain officiating wedding on board the Sunborn yacht Gibraltar

Photo Jack Hartley

Before you plan your destination wedding

STOP! don’t do anything until you have identified your destination wedding budget! Remember that having a wedding overseas means this is probably your wedding and honeymoon budget combined.

A weddingmoon usually includes your travel and accommodation in addition to the wedding ceremony and celebration.

Now, how many guests are on your “I-can’t-have-my-wedding-without-them” list?
Small weddings overseas are easier to organise so start with a list of essential guests and allow yourself to feel generous at adding numbers, rather than writing down everyone you’ve ever known and feeling guilty at culling the list.

ceremonia de arena en boda simbolica con Celebrant Spain

Photo Jack Hartley

Destination wedding dreams

When you think of your dream destination wedding, what do you imagine?
What is your vision of your perfect wedding day abroad?
Is it on the coast or inland; in the city or a rural location; a hot or cold climate?

Destination location decided, what type of venue do you prefer?
A castle, palace, private villa, cortijo (farmhouse), all inclusive hotel, boutique hotel or somewhere out in nature?

Top tip: If you are looking for sunshine then choose a country with a long wedding season to take advantage of out-of-season prices.
Example: the Costa Tropical in Spain boasts an average of 320 days of sunshine a year.

Gibraltar register office marriage of Spanish and English couple

Photo Jack Hartley

Practicalities for a wedding abroad

So you’ve probably got an idea of the country and a broad location, now let’s think of the practicalities.

How affordable is the country you’ve chosen?

Top tip: Look on a local supermarket website to get an idea of a bottle of champagne or cava, a can of local beer and a bottle of local wine. Guests will thank you for choosing somewhere their holiday spending money goes further!

  • Is the airport easy to fly to or only serviced by major airlines?
  • How will your guests transfer to their accommodation?
    Examples: taxi, car hire, group bus hire, public transport, independent travel
  • Where will your guests stay?
    Examples: all together or separate to the bridal couple
  • What accommodation will your guests prefer?
    Examples: all-inclusive hotel with a block booking (better rates), take over a boutique hotel/private villa/cortijo for exclusive use, independent accommodation close to the venue
getting married on Gibraltar with wedding ceremony handfasting

Photo Jack Hartley

Destination wedding planners

Is a wedding planner an expensive luxury or will they save you money and stress in the long run?

Well if you speak the local language and already have trusted supplier contacts you will feel comfortable negotiating the best deals for your wedding day – otherwise you might appreciate someone on-the-spot who can source the best solutions and literally translate your wedding dreams into a reality.

  • A wedding planner works for you, the couple, and will show you a range of venues and may offer you a venue visit. They will offer you a choice of suppliers, photographers, celebrants, florists etc to interpret your ideas into reality.
  • The event coordinator at a hotel, only works for that venue and will probably have their own team of suppliers.
  • A compromise is to do as much of the organising and decision making yourself, and hire a wedding planner just for the day of the wedding to ensure that all of your planning runs smoothly.
  • You can of course, totally DIY and plan your special day yourself. Just remember that you want to be the bride or groom at your wedding however and not problem-solving the blocked toilet, finding the DJ who’s gotten lost on route to the venue or trying to create more shade for your guests as the sun is not where you expected it to be!

Top tip: Some wedding suppliers offer a free half hour consultation without obligation – a great way to find out if you really need one or not!

tying the knot in Spain

Photo Jack Hartley

Spain as a destination wedding location

Spain has a long wedding season from April to the end of October so you really can take advantage of out-of-season flight and accommodation prices.
Once you arrive, prices are affordable so your budget will go further eg in the large supermarket chains a bottle of cava brut is under €2, a can of beer is 25 cents and a good rioja is €1.20
wedding flamenco guitarist

Photo Ana Marielina @anamarielina_fotografia

Southern Spain travel facts

Getting to Malaga International Airport is easy. It is well serviced by many different airlines flying in from a large number of UK airports. Public transport is cheap, clean, reliable and because it is a tourist destination most people in the service industry speak Englsih.
Malaga city itself has a beautiful old town and is well worth considering. It has its own beach and a great number of venue options within an easy taxi ride from the airport including holiday destinations like Benalmadena, Torremolinos and Fuengirola..
Head west for an hour on the coast road past Marbella to Estepona for some luxury wedding destinations.
Top tip: The British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar is little more than an hour’s drive from Malaga city where you can contract your legal marriage under UK law
Head east out of Malaga for an hour on the beautiful Mediterranean motorway which hugs the Costa del Sol coastline to find Nerja (a very popular location for Irish weddings) where the Costa del Sol becomes the Costa Tropical. The tropical coast. of Granada is a world away from the heavily populated tourist destinations and gives you a taste of “real Spain”.
Spain destination wedding Gibraltar ceremony

Photo Jack Hartley

Planning the details

Having chosen your destination wedding country, a location and venue you can now have fun deciding on the details of your special day.

Whether you have the help of a wedding planner, an event organiser or will plan your destination wedding yourself, enjoy the process and if you would like to consider one of the Celebrants in Spain team as your celebrant, we would be delighted!

Celebrants in Spain team of wedding officiants

Photo Emily Whiting

Debbie Skyrme is Celebrant Spain award winning bilingual wedding officiant

Photo of Debbie Skyrme, Juanma Segura

Author bio: Debbie Skyrme is Celebrant Spain helping destination wedding couples in Spain by officiating dream ceremonies in the Spanish sunshine.

Photography of the real wedding of Sarah with James on the Sunborn Gibraltar by kind permission of: Jack Hartley

(c) Debbie Skyrme 18 April 2021
This content was authored by Debbie Skyrme and originally published on
Unauthorised publishing of the text or image content in part or in full is strictly forbidden.



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