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Destination Weddings

by donnamichelle 

Posted: 12 January 2009
Word Count: 1456
Summary: Marrying abroad and don't know what sort of wedding stationery you should order?

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Do you know how many Brits opt to tie the knot overseas each year? No? Would you be surprised to hear that it is in excess of 50,000? So, here I sit, scratching my head after being contacted by another client concerned about what wedding stationery they should order. Why is there so little literature available to help brides when choosing their stationery for a destination wedding? Do you even need to order stationery? With these questions in mind I have designed this article to cover some of these concerns and help with all of those nagging questions.

Okay, let’s try and make this as simple as possible and break it down. There are two kinds of weddings…..budget and non budget. Your task is to decide what category you fall into before you start planning. Ireland or the Bahamas, once you begin thinking about wedding stationery you should have already booked your wedding date and destination. The next point I would ask you to think about is how many guests you would like to invite. For this kind of wedding it is sometimes a good idea to make two lists – one for ‘must attend’ and a ‘back up’ list. You may be surprised that some family members do not like to fly! Another point to consider is whether you would like to contribute towards your guests stay. For example, depending on what ‘budget’ bracket you put yourselves into you may wish to help with their flights or accommodation or maybe you would like to organise a group activity at your chosen destination. Why do you need to think about this at this stage? Well, it is vital information you will need to give your guests when inviting them.

Now we can think about your wedding stationery. It is very common for stationery designs to reflect the destination. For example, if you are marrying on a yacht just of shore from San Francisco Bay then a sea theme could set the mood nicely as where the obvious for a beach wedding is seashells and sand just as Las Vegas would be dimes and dollars. Whichever you choose and you may just want plain and traditional with no theme relevance whatsoever, this design will follow through the entire stationery order.
You must also think about size. Do you want a flat card or one in a box? Would a square card compliment your theme more than a scroll in a bottle. Whichever you decide, your stationery designer will be able to offer advice on this.

For destination weddings you must ignore all the etiquette rules. For example even though it is appropriate to send invitations 2-3 months in advance when you plan a ceremony in UK it is clearly not acceptable when travelling abroad. You must think about letting your guests know at least one year in advance to allow for arrangements to be made although I feel it is inappropriate sending invitations out this early. However, a save the date announcement would be appreciated as your guests will need to be briefed with substantially more information than just the traditional names and date. So, with this reason in mind, I would not encourage the traditional postcard sized notice but promote something a little more special by designing a miniature style booklet (or a simple letter) as it allows you to lay out all the relevant information without squashing it into an undersized space. Whichever you choose, be mindful that at this stage it is important to state which country you wish them to travel to and the dates you wish them to attend, the day of the actual ceremony, airline details and flight numbers for easy booking along with the hotel details. It may also please your guests to add the approximate cost they will be expected to pay and if you intend on contributing anything towards it. Last but not least, don’t forget to add that all important wording that ‘an official invitation will be sent closer the time’.

Four to five months before your wedding would be a good time to send out invitations to each guest who received a save the date notification. These can be worded in the traditional way, however it is advisable to also enclose extra documents and my first suggestion would be a response card (RSVP) designed to ask not only whether your guest can attend but other questions too. For instance the dates, in case they can only make 5 days of the ten you are asking. Having this information will help if you plan to book mini buses for the airport or if you are planning to book group activities. For the latter you may also like to know whether they can swim or if they have a fear of heights. Alternatively, a check list in which guests can tick what activities they would like to do would be just as suitable. If you are planning to book your guests hotel rooms then you may like to ask if they are smokers and for menu purposes you will need to know if they have any dietary requirements. The second enclosure I would strongly suggest is an information card. With this card you can list all hotel details, car rental and taxi numbers in case your guests need to make any reservations or enquiries themselves. You should also reiterate any flight information and remind guests they will need up to date passports. Another idea is to add local places of interest within short distance of the hotel.

So you have finally reached your destination, do you need any stationery now? I recently read a lovely idea created by Colin Cowie, a wedding planner to the rich and famous, involving your guest’s arrival to the hotel. Arrange to have each guest given a length of ribbon at check in (which could match your colour theme). Each guest then writes a wish or good luck message to the bride and groom. These are collected afterwards and locked in a box for you to open on your first wedding anniversary.

You could pre-arrange for an information card to be waiting for your guests when they enter their hotel room for the first time, welcoming and thanking them for joining you plus inviting them to an arranged evening drink. You could also use this opportunity to give them the ribbon if you do not want reception handle it. Another special touch is to post a card under their door later that night detailing any pre-arranged activities planned for the following day.

Maybe you have planned to have a gathering or a rehearsal dinner the night before your ceremony. You could use this opportunity to have pictures taken of your guests and ask them to sign your wedding guest book. This way you are sure nobody has been missed out and you can also add the pictures to the pages upon your return to the UK.

You do not need the traditional Order of Service but you may still like to present your guests with a memento of your ceremony. You can achieve this by giving guests a scroll or card printed with your wedding details and any readings or poems that are to be read out. Maybe you would like to give each guest a favour bag containing petals, confetti or rice. A small note can be added to this.

Your wedding breakfast menu, if you decide to have them, would be the same as if you were ordering them for a UK wedding. They generally list the meal for that night, or if it is a buffet, what is available.

A new ‘favour’ idea hitting the celebrities in the USA is to make a charitable donation in your guest’s name. This is a good idea for destination weddings as it either saves on shipping charges when sending items to your hotel or cancels additional extras for you take with you. For example, inform guests with a small notelet that they are now the proud adoptive parents of cuddles the monkey at Colchester Zoo and that their names will be on a plaque and on view near to the chosen animal. An everlasting reminder! Alternatively it could be to a charity of your choice.

My last piece of obvious advice is to remember you will not be able to have everyone you know and love, attend a wedding overseas. A reception party upon your return is a highly popular event and many family and friends will love the idea that they have shared in part of your wedding celebrations. I would suggest sending these invitations out 6 weeks before your party remembering to add a note to your main wedding party’s invitations.

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