Travel, Love and Weddings- An Elopement to a Weddding Abroad

Love travel? Love the love of your life? Planning a wedding? Getting stressed planning said wedding? If you answered yes to all of these then why not hot foot it on a plane and get hitched abroad.

Regular readers might remember we were in Fiji back in October last year and the reason for this was my cheeky little sister and her partner were getting wed. Initially, they had planned to elope and had told us that they would be getting married away with only two friends on a beach somewhere in the world. Our parents masked their pain and whilst they would have loved to have been there they did support their decision. Our parents are good like that they might not always agree with our life choices but they will always support us with our wild and wonderful ideas. My middle sister had recently had her own wedding day and decided to impart some wisdom and also wanted to get in on the beach wedding adventure so somehow convinced our sister and future brother in law that immediate family should be invited. Then with one decision, the elopement became a wedding abroad.

And what a wedding it was. Fiji was stunning (how could it not be), the bridal party looked gorgeous and our dad and my sister’s brother in law wore a sulu to truly embrace the Fijian spirit. The wedding was at the Outrigger Resort I and whilst  I am sure they have over 100 weddings a month my sister’s wedding wasn’t just a standard cookie cutter wedding that you would possibly expect. They were able to include parts of their own personality and style alongside the facilities on offer. With different locations around the resort, they are able to choose which best suited their needs for all parts of the day and also what suited the weather. There were 15 guests including the bride and groom (but not including the 100 odd people at the resort nightclub we ended up partying the night away with) and it was an intimate and family oriented wedding. The wedding planning and staff involved were amazing and displayed the world famous Fijian service and  welcoming attitudes. She was serenaded by Fijian singers, served amazing food, had a funny game of Mr& Mrs, was spoiled with a hen party spa day for the ladies and we got to have an amazing family holiday whilst celebrating a new chapter for the happy couples.

My sister and her now husband love travelling and by getting married abroad allowed them to see another place they hadn’t been with their nearest and dearest. Obviously, though it was bittersweet as they weren’t able to have everyone there with them, however, they did have a big party a few weeks later to share the joy with everyone.

A wedding abroad is actually a really tempting idea. It’s usually cheaper than a normal wedding, it’s often somewhere exotic, it’s intimate with fewer guests than a normal wedding and it allows travel loving souls the chance to explore and have their special day on foreign soil.

It was a picture perfect wedding and I’d always wondered how they decided and planned their wedding abroad so my sister kindly answered some questions and shared her insight below in case there is anyone else out there planning a wedding abroad or an elopement.

Why a wedding abroad?

We both love travelling so thought it would be great to incorporate our wedding in that.  A wedding abroad gave us the option to travel somewhere new!

How did you decide where to get married?

We were originally planning on eloping, and we found Fiji had great eloping packages and it was somewhere we had never been. Over time we changed from eloping to a wedding (complete with family) but Fiji remained.

Was it a hard or easy decision?

A very easy decision, I mean have you seen pictures of Fiji?!! Palm trees, friendly Fijians, cocktails, sunset, beach – what more could you want! It was a very laid back and intimate wedding, with only 15 people (including Shawn and me).

Did it affect the type of wedding that you had or wanted?

Shawn and I are quite laid back so a beach wedding was always the plan and this fit in with Fiji.

The best part of getting married in Fiji?

It was so relaxing, we basically just turned up – everything was organized for us. My sister Sarah will love this, as she was the one to convince us to invite the family, but it was awesome as it was like a family holiday. It was also very special as Shawn’s family had not been outside of Australia before so it was great to see them experience somewhere new.

The hardest part of getting married in Fiji?

The Outrigger resort where we got married is so organized and professional – so we didn’t have any problems. Except maybe when our butler picked up our wedding clothes a bit late to get prepped for the big day (basically just threw that it in so I could say we had a butler 😊), the hardest part was not inviting more family members – it would have been great to have my grandparents with us and aunties and uncles.

Where was the best place for research information?
My mother, Debs known as the MOB(Mother of the Bride) was in research heaven. There are many websites for Fiji weddings that show different packages for the different resorts. One great find was the Outrigger Wedding Facebook page – it had all the information I could want and you could ask previous brides questions. Also, the Outrigger assigned a wedding planner from the resort, Darshita, so I could email with any questions/issues and they were quite prompt with replies.

Where did I have Hens party and stag party?
I had a night out with friendsin Brisbane, which my amazing Maid of Honour organized…. won’t go into too much detail but it was an awesome night! I was then spoiled in Fiji by the MOB, she had organized a manicure/pedicure or all the ladies (MOB, sisters, mother in law and best friend), this also came with some bubbles! Shawn waited until Fiji, he and the boys went and played some golf, complete with a few beers.

How was it planning on across 2 countries?

It was quite easy as the wedding planner from the Outrigger was amazing. They let us know all the options and variety of things and Shawn and I picked what we liked. The package we selected had everything included so we didn’t need to source much. That being said – I did get addicted to Etsy – there is so much out there in the wedding world! Also, my maid of honour is a travel agent, so she booked all our flights and transfers, which made everything nice and easy! As we were getting married in a different country, there was quite a bit of paperwork to be organized, but this again was helped by the resort wedding planner.

Did you have to plan more than you expected to or wanted to?
No, it was quite simple you would have thought it would require more planning but it all came together very easily. It would have been harder for our family, Shawn’s family all required passports, my sister and brother in law in England, were moving to a new house at the same time as trying to organize travelling such a long way.

Were you able to iclude your Australian heritage in the day?
As we were in Fiji we wanted to incorporate the Fijian culture into our day. We had Fijian serenades sing traditional Fijian songs whilst I walked down the aisle. My father wore a Fijian outfit, a bright orange shirt and a sulu! He looked fantastic! My brother in law also wore a sulu and by the end of the trip, everyone was looking very Fijian.

What (if anything) would you do differently?
It was a wonderful day, very relaxing and no stress. The only thing I would change is to have had my mum with me whilst I was getting ready.

Top tips for other couples planning a wedding abroad? 
Do it! It’s a wonderful experience! I would say get organized early if you are planning on getting married overseas – find out the legal requirements for the country so you aware of what needs to be done.

Those that are familiar with our blog or Deb’s World will be aware that our family really loves to travel and I love how this has been a factor in both my sister’s weddings. I’ve recently posted about my middle sister’s wedding here. She and her husband met whilst she was living and working in the UK and they had an Aussie/Pommie wedding incorporating both of their heritage.  You can check it out here. My sisters and brother in laws have set the travel inspired weddings high so I’m going to have to come up with something pretty darn special when I finally get down the aisle.  Did you have a travel inspired wedding or know someone who did? Get in touch or leave a comment below as would love to hear other ways you can incorporate it in your big day.

If your thinking of getting married in Indonesia then our friends at HF Tours have a great post of what you need to think about with your planning.

Pin for later

Travel, Love and Weddings- Planning a wedding with someone from another country

So what happens when you meet the ‘one’ when you’re on your travels?

Obvs take them home and marry them of course. And that is exactly what my sister did.

My middle sister moved to the UK a few years ago and while here she found her ‘one’.  She’s not like me we always knew her time in the U.K. would be for a few years and that she would eventually return. I, on the other hand, have dug my heels in and now drink so much tea and eat copious amounts of Yorkshire puddings that I’m practically British. But she was always going to go back and when they decided to move to Australia my brother in law made the decision to move without him even ever stepping foot on Aussie soil. They were (and still are) crazy in love.

Their love began and grew in Birmingham, they were engaged in Canberra and then the wedding planning began. Where, when, how? Two nationalities and cultures to come together in one place. Would it work? Would people travel wherever they ended up marrying? So many questions and things to consider that normal couples don’t need to think about.  My sister, however, is the super organised one of the family so we knew she would have it sorted before anyone could even ask when’s the wedding.

They married in Australia just near our hometown and had their wedding at a family friends property. We all stayed onsite in cabins and the ceremony was on the lawn with a marquee for the wedding breakfast. I wasn’t at all surprised that the wedding was in Australia but what I did like is how the celebration gave a nod to both cultures. The bridal party had both Aussies and Brits included on both sides. The night before the wedding and breakfast after we all had meals together so that everyone could get to know each other. The favours were a milo sachet and a Yorkshire gold tea bag and the games on the lawn while they were off having photos felt like a British afternoon garden party. The bouquets included my sister’s favourite native flowers and the groom and groomsmen’s suits all came from the UK.

It was a wonderful day and I’d always wondered how they decided and planned the wedding across the two countries so my sister kindly answered some questions and shared her wisdom below in case there is anyone else out there planning a wedding for two different nationalities.

How did you decide where to get married?

It was a really easy decision to get married in Australia. I’m not sure I even thought of getting married in the UK! It just made sense for it to be Australia as that’s where we are living. The main difficulty was choosing where in Australia to get married. We looked at venues near my grandparents’ house on the south coast and also my hometown. We ended up getting married in my hometown as it was easier, cheaper and my parents were there to handle some of the tedious bits of planning.

Was it a hard decision?

Nope! Well not for me! Luckily Ben is pretty easy going. I think it was easy for Ben once people said they would travel over (we had 67 adults attend the wedding and almost 20 came from overseas).

Did it affect the type of wedding that you had?

Not overly but it did impact on what we had to consider. We ended up getting married in my hometown in the middle of nowhere. There is no public transport to the town and there is no public transport to get around the town either. So everyone had to drive and to make it easy, we ended up with a venue that had enough accommodation on site for everyone to stay. It made the whole weekend like a massive family reunion/party.

What was the best part of getting married in Australia?

For me, it was having most of my family attend, including grandparents and cousins. On the other hand, Ben only had his mum, dad, step mum and step brother from his family attend. Plus we had the perfect spring day with lovely weather. Not sure we could have guaranteed that in the UK!

What was the hardest part of getting married in Australia?

Having friends and family who couldn’t attend, especially Ben’s sister and her children. However, we did travel to the UK a few months before our wedding to attend Ben’s sister’s wedding and we at least got to see all the family then. We also had a bridesmaid and groomsman who weren’t able to come over which was sad as we would have loved them to share our special day.

If you had married in England how do you think it would have been different?

It wouldn’t have an outside wedding – you just can’t risk it! I’m not sure it would have been so relaxed. We got married on a private property in the middle of nowhere and everyone could stumble to their room when they were done for the night. There was no one to complain about noise so those who wanted to could keep the party going to 2 am. We also had to provide our own alcohol so that kept costs down.

Where did you have your hen party? Stag party?

We had several! While we were in the UK in August, Ben had a week in a caravan in Wales with his best mates and I had a day out with my girlfriends at an inflatable park. Back in Australia, I had high tea and cocktails in Canberra and Ben had a night out. Plus I had a weekend in my hometown with my mum and two bridesmaids for the wedding trials.

How was it planning across the two countries?

It wasn’t too bad, as we didn’t really need to do much planning for the UK. Ben bought his suits (and the groomsmen’s) while in the UK but everything else was pretty much done in Australia. The only extra planning was organising things to do with our visitors. We spent a week before the wedding in Sydney with friends and family from the UK and after the wedding, we went to Jervis Bay and the Gold Coast. I organised the accommodation and travel which added a lot of planning.

Did you have to plan more than you expected to?

I’m often the organiser of a lot of things so I assumed I would end up planning a lot of things (including the travel above) so that wasn’t unexpected. One of the things I didn’t factor in was how to assign cabins to the wedding guests. The cabins had shared bathrooms and kitchens for 8-10 people. It was hard working out the different groups and who would be compatible to share.

How did you include your different heritages in your ceremony?

Luckily, English and Australian cultures are pretty similar (especially as my grandmother was born in England) so there wasn’t much we needed to bridge in that regard. We just worked with our celebrant to plan a ceremony that worked for us and reflected our relationship.

What (if anything) would you do differently?

It was a perfect day – I wouldn’t change a thing….except for the hair drama. Oh, and I maybe I would have finished my master’s thesis before the wedding.

Top tips to any other mixed national couples planning to get married?

I’m not sure how useful any advice I have would be for couples that have vastly different cultural backgrounds. I just think that you and your partner need to remember that it’s your day and so long as the two of you are happy, nothing else matters.

Those that are familiar with this blog or Deb’s World will be aware that our family loves to travel and I love how this has been a factor in both my sister’s weddings. From my middle sister above meeting her husband aboard and planning a cross-national wedding to my baby sister initially planning an elopement to Fiji but then deciding they wanted the immediate family with them so turned into a wedding abroad. We like to keep things interesting.  A huge thank you to my middle sister for getting involved in this post and keep your eyes peeled as my baby sister is also getting involved so a post on planning a wedding abroad will be up shortly.

As my dad keeps saying 2 down 1 to go. No pressure then!

Maybe one day you’ll get 3 out of 3 Pappa.

Pin for later