My wife and I had a destination wedding in Koh Samui, Thailand. I also shoot weddings internationally so I thought I’d share some things we learnt during the planning process. I’m by no means professional wedding planners but hopefully you’ll find some use from it too 🙂
1.Location, location, location:
First thing’s first – where are you planning to get married and when? For us, we already knew we wanted to get married in Koh Samui and we had a rough idea that it would be around September. Problems we faced were:
a. How we were going to get everyone there
b. The monsoon season
c. What hotel/location to have the actual ceremony
a. Once you’ve figured out where, consider how people are going to travel there. We checked flight routes for our guests as well as ferry routes (most guests flew into Bangkok then took a connecting flight to Koh Samui airport. Some took the local ferry from the southern mainland). We also took it upon ourselves to supply guests with a list of hotels nearby the ceremony venue as well as checking hotel facilities to ensure they can be picked-up/dropped-off from the airport/ferry port.
b. With regards to the weather, we were blessed to have had sunshine for that entire day despite it raining days ahead of the event. We did however have a back-up plan organised with the hotel just in case. Also, don’t forget to consider the wedding when choosing your outfits. From the thickness of your outfits to the appropriate footwear. Consider outfit changes too if you’re going to be in contrasting environments throughout the day.
c. For the actual ceremony itself, we googled all the hotels on the island, narrowed down the ones we liked, went to their websites and had a look at all their wedding packages.
2. Planning is key:
Hotel picked, it’s a case of contacting them via Skype or email. Prior to this, have a list of your requirements/questions ready. Consider questions like: how long does the entire ceremony take? What start time is recommended? Will they pick-up/drop-off at the airport? Will they provide speakers/microphones? Do they have a list of recommended DJ’s? What happens if something doesn’t go to place? Etc. Luckily my wife speaks a bit of Thai so we were able to make an initial call to get the ball rolling. The hotel assigned us with their own wedding planner and throughout all the planning, we would email back and forth what our requirements were. We went for one of the wedding packages but paid extra to have things adapted to our needs and they were more than happy to customise the day to suit.
To give the planner a better idea of what we wanted in terms of themes, colours, decorations etc. we had a Pinterest board set-up which we shared with the planner. That ensured there was no miscommunication when it came to describing the various decorations; especially when language is a barrier.
4. Be prepared to bring some things:
Our ceremony took place on an island where obviously some things weren’t readily available. With careful, advanced planning, we made a list of things we needed to take with us that the hotel wasn’t able to provide and asked family and friends to help bring them along in their luggage. Such things were: wedding favours, name cards for table setting, blackboard marker pens, card box. TIP: check duty-free for a wider variety of champagnes if your hotel isn’t able to supply your favourite brand.
5. Additional vendors:
For photographer, we made sure to check with our venue if they allow destination photographer. Some venues only permit their own photographer to take photos. I then looked through the photographer full gallery to get an idea of his/her style. For the DJ, we made a playlist on Spotify which family and friends could add to and we asked the DJ to add that into their mix throughout the night. That way, everyone got to dance to something they liked.
6. Wedding celebrant:
To avoid all the complicated legalities of marrying abroad, we chose to legally marry in the UK and just have a simple celebrant to conduct our ceremony where we simply exchanged vows and rings in front of our loved ones as more of a symbolic ceremony. If you’re intent on having a marriage legally recognised in a country abroad, do some research beforehand as requirements vary from one country to the next and you may need to get all the legal requirements done ahead of the actual ceremony itself.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.