There's no denying that a destination wedding is hugely appealing! What could be more fun and memorable than traveling to a distant location (be it a few hours drive from where you live or across the other side of the world) with your nearest and dearest and spending a few days together celebrating your love and creating unforgettable memories. We are chatting with Paris wedding photographer MOLLY CARR today who captures a lot of destination weddings in Europe and has some sage advice for those of you considering one.
Molly tells us, "Looking back on my own wedding, I can confidently say that having a destination wedding was one of the best decisions that my husband and I ever made. The intimate size, the beautiful venue, the opportunity to spend nearly a week celebrating with our closest friends and family - it was truly an experience that we will cherish for the rest of our lives."
If you are considering planning a destination wedding in Europe, you know that the initial process can seem a little overwhelming. There is virtually an endless array of stunning, historic, one-of-a-kind venues, and it can often be difficult to even know where to start. With the right vendor team in place, it's actually so much easier than you could even imagine, and Molly Carr Photography's Guide to Planning a Destination Wedding in Europe will help you navigate the process. Scroll down to read the full guide!
Do you feel the most like yourselves when you're attending a black-tie gala in the city? When you're having a Michelin-starred meal paired with gorgeous French wines? Or perhaps you both share a passion for classic literature and dream of visiting the sprawling English estates of the Brontë sisters' novels. Think about what connects you as a couple and what destination wedding locations will most reflect that. Once you have an idea of what kind of wedding you are envisioning...
I strongly encourage all of my brides to hire a wedding planner, but when planning a destination wedding in Europe it is absolutely essential. There are fantastic planners who specialise in destination weddings abroad that will be able to help you navigate the process every single step of the way. They will be able to help you find your dream wedding venue and often have access to exclusive properties that one simply can't find with internet research. They will be able to bring together an amazing vendor team that will perfectly create your dream day - all within your budget. And, they will be able to manage the cultural and language complications that often come along with planning a destination wedding in Europe so that you don't have to. Most importantly, come your wedding week, they will handle every single thing so that you and your family are able to enjoy every moment of your celebration in one of the most beautiful places on the planet.
Once you have an idea of your budget and your style, your planner can help you find the perfect destination wedding venue. From pastel-hued French châteaux to ancient Italian villas to chic seaside estates to grand Parisian salons, Europe is home to some of the most elegant historic properties that will truly give your guests a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Your wedding planner will be able to recommend you the most talented and professional vendors that will be able to create your dream wedding on your budget. I recommend leaning heavily on your planner for this and taking their advice - they know best!
Because destination weddings require a large amount of travel time and coordination, I always recommend sending save the dates to your guests as soon as you finalise the details. This will give them time to plan their trip and schedule any vacation requests with their work.
When you first get engaged, spend some time looking through your Pinterest boards, wedding magazines, and blogs to see what kind of images speak to you. Share this with your wedding planner, and as soon as your date and venue are finalised, reach out to a few photographers whose aesthetic, style, and voice resonates with you, and set-up time to talk with them on Skype. As a destination wedding photographer, I can speak from experience that you want someone who you connect with on a personal level - as being comfortable with your photographer ensures that your real connection will be able to shine through in the images. Ultimately, I always recommend hiring a destination wedding photographer when having a wedding abroad. Photographers can booked 12-18 months in advance, so don't hesitate on this one! And, if you have any questions about hiring a destination wedding photographer in Europe, feel free to contact me!
Once the main wedding details have been finalised, decide how long you will want to spend at your wedding destination. I recommend a minimum of a week to not only give you time to acclimate to the time change but to rest, relax, and enjoy your beautiful destination with your friends and family. Also, consider your honeymoon and if you will be leaving immediately following your wedding.
One of the best parts about planning a destination wedding in Europe is that it offers you the opportunity to essentially go on a vacation with your nearest and dearest. Take full advantage of your destination and plan additional events that will allow you to spend time with your guests enjoying the beauty and history of your region. Visiting a nearby château, touring a vineyard, hiring a guide to show you the secrets of your city, chartering a sailboat, having a chef come and make you a special meal, planning a welcome cocktail party for your guests to get to know each other - the possibilities are endless!
There are so many moving pieces to a destination wedding, and I recommend starting to plan out everything that you need to bring several months before the actual date. This will give you time to assess your wardrobe and see what works and what you need to purchase - especially if you will be leaving immediately following your wedding for your honeymoon. Also, write down all of the wedding necessities (rings, wedding attire, special family heirlooms, bridal party gifts, letters to each other, etc.) to make sure that nothing gets forgotten. There are several good packing lists available online to act as a jumping off point.
When you arrive to your wedding destination in Europe, allow yourself to let go of the to-do lists, the endless details, and to truly just soak up the moments as they unfold. Your wedding planner will handle all of the coordination, so give yourself the gift of being present. You are in one of the most beautiful places in the world, with the people who mean the most to you, about to marry the love of your life. Take a deep breath and allow yourself to truly savour each and every moment of this once-in-a-lifetime experience!
A huge thank you to Paris wedding photographer MOLLY CARR for sharing this amazing destination wedding advice with us. Molly creates timeless and evocative images that are known for their romantic feel and painterly-quality. If you're planning a destination wedding in Paris, be sure to check out this valued member of our VENDOR GUIDE HERE and you can also read our short interview with her here. Also see this Chic & modern Chateau wedding inspiration with a black gown.