14 tips to plan a wedding from afar

Do you live in another country but would like to marry in the place where at least one of you was born? You're not going to be in that place for a year (the time necessary to plan a wedding) leaving all your life behind, right? With planning and time everything is possible. But how can you be sure that everything goes according to plan? We'll give you 14 tips to plan a successful wedding from afar.

1. Begin by searching on the Internet. Start a search engine and type “wedding” and the place where you would like to get married, for instance “Portugal, Braga”.

2. Search the yellow pages, call the chosen company, and order the service in your area or in the town where you want the wedding to take place (don't forget to make additional searches on the Internet).

3. Organize a file with several items, such as flowers, catering and photos so that you can organize budgets, invoices, etc. Always write down in a notebook the topics of phone talks and keep a computer file with the sites consulted and the e-mails exchanged so that you have a register of when you did both transactions and budgets.

4. Ask vendors to send samples of colours, brochures and photographs; musicians should send recordings of performances given at other weddings. Ask for references of other couples to whom you can call.

5. To hire a wedding consultant may be an excellent option since he/she will know the best local wedding vendors and can make the best deals.

6. If you have relatives that live near the place where you wish to get married, ask them for suggestions and to check your choices.

7. Try to contact hotels, places of renown. Sometimes they offer the possibility of organizing the entire reception, leaving very little for you to do. Besides, they can recommend you several other quality vendors, such as florists or photographers.

8. Send precise images of what you want to the florist. It can be done by e-mail (note that colours differ from monitor to monitor) or directly by mail. Send photos with examples of flowers or floral arrangements exactly like you want. You can cut out pictures from magazines or photograph the flowers you want.

9. Prepare the packing of the wedding gown and the groom's outfit for the trip at least 15 days beforehand. If you prepare it with less time there's a 99 per cent chance of forgetting something!

10. Go local: think on the kind of flowers, places and weather that exist on your wedding location. Consider the time when you're getting married and use that in your favour so that you can save work and money. For instance, if you're going to get married in Madeira, in July, you can choose flowers that are abundant during that time of the year, and reduce your budget.

11. If you are only meeting the officiant on your wedding day, ask for a script of the ceremony well in advance so you can negotiate changes if you wish to do so.

12. Check all necessary marriage licenses on time. (See article: “Legal procedures regarding marriage”). Expect to pick them up in advance and don't forget to count the holidays and weekends. You may need to make a pre-wedding trip to take care of these details.

13. Book at least two appointments prior to the wedding; with the hair and make-up stylists and with the catering service for food and wedding cake tastings.

14. As your wedding day draws near, check and double-check all the necessary items “to do and to have” that day.