Bride Hugging Her Groom

Whether it's George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin's Italian fiesta or supermodel Gisele's Costa Rican carnival - the allure of destination weddings is obvious and couples are increasingly following the lead of the famous by extending the wedding into a weekend, or even a week-long celebration.

Trouble is, if you think planning a regular wedding is heavy duty, the workload for a destination wedding will take your scheduling skills to another level. It's not that marrying in a far flung location involves a heavier workload. It's not more work, it's a different way of working.

But it'll all be worth it. Picture you, your partner and your guests sharing a fabulous adventure in an exotic, rustic or rural location where you can combine pre-wedding lunches and dinners with post-wedding brunches and parties - as well as plenty of time to unwind and spend some serious time with family and friends - rather than fleeting moments during a typical evening reception.

Wedding Cake And Couple At Their Destination Weddings In Africa

The key to pulling it off successfully, and to minimising your stress, it to pick a location (and a venue) that is well versed in hosting weddings. If you're thinking tropical, larger islands are more geared to servicing large functions and will typically have a wedding coordinator on staff. There's a reason Fiji, Bali and Hawaii are popular overseas picks, and Queensland's islands are a favourite back home.

That's not to say you can't marry in a secluded spot or in a much more remote location, it just means that to do so you'll need to be more willing to compromise on what's on offer (you can't have phalenopsis orchids on an island that won't import them and you can't have fresh flower centrepieces if they have to be shipped to the desert). Ok, actually you can, you just need an extremely healthy bank balance and strong connections in the logistics field!

One word of advice is key if a destination wedding is on the cards - make key decisions early and the rest will flow from there. Obviously the location is the first choice, but setting your budget and determining how many guests you'll invite are other decisions it pays to make early.

Once you've settled on the spot, pack your bags and check it out in person if at all possible, or send a reliable scout. However, if you just can't get there ahead of time, ask your venue or resort to provide you with recent video footage and photographs to ensure you're not booking into what you thought was a recently renovated five-star resort which was in fact just that, only 15 years ago. Ask for referrals and testimonials - and make sure they're recent - in order to ask questions and get a more detailed perspective on the pro's and con's of your chosen spot.

Destination Weddings In Bali

Remember, everyone's budget is different, so it's vital to investigate a range of options for your guests' accommodation, unless, of course, you're footing the bill for everyone, in which case, the choice - and cost - is entirely up to you.
If a wedding planner will make your life easier, consider hiring someone with local knowledge who can help coordinate travel arrangements and organise those little details that make all the difference, such as welcome packs for travellers, along with pre- and post-wedding activities in the area.

The benefit here is that a local wedding planner will have a network of caterers, photographers, DJs, hairdressers and more which will make your life - and your big day - a smooth and seamless operation.

However, a wedding planner isn't for everyone and if you're doing your own legwork it may pay to dedicate a few days on site early on to source local services. But that's not the only solution. Many a bride has taken her own photographer or make-up artist along for the ride and you may be surprised how many wedding service providers are happy to travel, some for a set fee, and others who'll combine work with play if you pay for their stay.

Beach Wedding Bridal Party

They say the devil is in the detail and when it comes to planning a destination wedding, they're right. Many a bride has come unstuck by neglecting to thoroughly research aspects of the day such as flowers. It pays to find out whether your venue has a wedding florist able to source fresh blooms for the day, or whether you'll need to be a little more inventive with your bouquets and table decorations by making the most of a potentially limited local selection.

Wherever your wedding it's important to get the details you've agreed with your venue and service providers clarified in writing to avoid misunderstandings, and if you've opted to marry in a romantic outdoor locale there are a few other factors to tie down.

These include picking the exact spot where you'll marry (and you'll need a back up option for wet or woolly weather); considering catering and bathroom facilities; and knowing well ahead of time how much input you'll have into decorating and setting up the area.

If a far flung location floats your boat then unless you fancy being the only couple standing on the big day you'll need to give guests plenty of notice, and sending "save the date" cards, or creating a wedding web page, well in advance - six months' for Australian locations and more than 9 months for overseas nuptials - is pretty common practice.

It often pays to employ the services of a travel agent to coordinate your guests' itineraries - and if there are plenty of you it may result in a better deal or upgrades on the back of group bookings.

Finally, be sure to respect any religious or cultural expectations appropriate to your location - and if you're planning to tie the knot in a tropical zone prone to cyclones or flooding, it's worth putting some thought into a worse-case scenario back-up plan - just in case the region's annual rainfall decides to all fall on your big day.

But enough about that, we're picturing cocktails, sunsets, vineyards and country manors - and you should be too.

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