Deciding to get married abroad can be a daunting experience.  There are many reasons that couples may decide they want to tie the knot somewhere other than their home country, ranging from dreams of beach weddings and beautiful scenery to escaping the stress, fuss and all that comes with a wedding. That’s not to say that getting married in another country wasn’t stressful, but from what I’ve heard it was a lot less stressful than it could have been if we’d done it at home in London!

We were lucky. Some couples who make this decision are met with families who disapprove and loved ones who can’t make it for whatever reason. Things can be challenging planning a wedding from a long way away where you can’t see things in person. Culture and language barriers can also be an issue. However, my advice to couples who dream of a destination wedding would be – DO IT! It was amazing and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Here are some hints and tips for any couples preparing to navigate the sometimes complicated business of planning a wedding abroad.

❤️ It’s your day! Please, please remember this every step of the way. It’s so important to have the wedding that you and your partner want; not what everyone else wants. This still applies when the wedding is abroad. You may get a few eyes rolls or grumbles but just politely explain to everyone that this is your dream day and they will soon come round.

❤️ Having said that, you will need to accept that some people won’t be able to make it. Potentially some important people who you would never have imagined wouldn’t be at your wedding. Expense, time off work, children and even more unforeseeable things like health can effect people’s ability to attend. If the idea that every single member of your extended family and friendship circle has to be there then getting married abroad possibly isn’t for you.

❤️ Be sensible. If you’re choosing a beach wedding in a baking hot location then you chose it for a reason – hopefully you are a bride who wants quite a relaxed/beachy vibe?? I wore a loose fitting dress and flat sandals. A ballgown style and pair of Jimmy Choo’s would not have been appropriate. Equally, please don’t force your hubby to be into a 3 peice suit and tie in 30 degree heat!! Same applies for guests. They need to be comfortable so don’t impose a strict dress code.

❤️ Make the most of the scenery. You are in a beautiful place, you have hired a photographer – use the beauty to your advantage! Looking back on photographs is one of the best things after the wedding and you can treasure them forever. In my opinion having something different as the backdrop is truly special. We even went for a photoshoot the next day underwater in our wedding outfits which was truly amazing! I love looking at the pictures.

❤️ Use a planner. I cannot stress this enough! Some, very brave, couples do attempt to co-ordinate their weddings from the UK but I just could not deal with the stress of it! We used Zante Weddings, the longest running and most experienced wedding planner in Zante, and they couldn’t have been better. Having someone who is a) in the country to liase with vendors b) speaks the language and c) actually knows all the best companies on the island was invaluable. I definitely couldn’t have done it myself. Frances, the owner of the planners, was fantastic and managed to get everything we wanted and more.

TRUST YOUR PLANNER. If you are hiring a local wedding planner then you must trust them to organise your big day. I understand it can be hard to relinquish control of the more special day of your life but it’s important to remember that they have done this before. 100 times. They seriously know what they are doing. When having your wedding abroad there are certain things that you just can’t micro manage to the same level as you can in the UK; e.g. you can’t taste the cake flavours, see the exact colour of the table cloths or choose every single individual flower for your bouquet. This isn’t for everyone, but I loved having the stress of a million decisions being taken out of my hands. We gave our planners a vague theme and colour scheme and they delivered flowers, décor and food which was better than we ever could have imagined. Choose your planner carefully and trust them to give you your perfect day.

Relax and enjoy. Chances are, you decided to tie the knot abroad to avoid some of the usual stresses and strains that come with a UK wedding – so make sure you actually chill out and enjoy yourself! Not only are you having your dream wedding day and marrying the love of your life – but you’re also combining it with a gorgeous holiday. I was sunbathing and doing yoga by the pool the morning of my wedding! You, your hubby and all your guests will be on a holiday high and what could be more amazing than a giant holiday with family and friends. Have a ball.

I hope these tips help any couples thinking of taking the plunge and getting married somewhere other than the UK. From one bride to another; you won’t regret it!

I’ve been lucky enough to do quite a bit of travelling, both alone and with others. I love writing about the places I’ve been but some of them are so different and special in their own way they are impossible to compare! So instead of doing a ‘Best Places’ article I am going to do a series of ‘Best Places For…’ something.

My top places in the world for solo travelling.

ONE. Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The coolest city in Europe, in my opinion, and it’s packed full of backpackers, young people, art and culture.  Apart from the obvious draws of partying, cheap drink and the possibility of dabbling in a naughty herb without getting into trouble, the city has an amazing vibe and is extremely beautiful.  I went to Amsterdam alone for a few days and stayed in a backpackers hostel, which pretty much guarantees you meeting some cool people as long as you are a relatively friendly person. It’s also a super safe place if you do fancy wandering around on your own and the local people are really lovely. Dutch people are some of my favorite people in the world.

TWO. Sydney, Australia. I absolutely loved my time in Sydney. I turned up on the other side of the world by myself and checked into the Base Sydney hostel for three weeks wondering what on earth I would do with myself. By that evening, I had met the best bunch of people who all happened to be staying in the same dorm as me! They were the closest friendship group that I formed for during my whole trip because we were all sharing a room and all seemed to be staying for a reasonable period of time. That’s one of the things that makes Sydney a great place to travel alone; a lot of the backpackers there are in it for the long hall, looking for jobs etc so people don’t change too much and you have the opportunity to build some good friendships.  Sydney is a party town too so everyone is there for a good time and is open to meeting new friends.  Also, in terms of the backpackers circuit – literally everyone comes here, all nationalities, all cultures and all types. There is no shortage of people to befriend.  I met some fantastic people here from all over the world and never once felt lonely.

THREE. Thailand Island Hopping.  The south of Thailand is home to more iddylic beach islands than you could wish for. They all have their own merits and some are more well trodden than others, but many travelers take ferries in between and spend a few days on each to experience the different vibes. Again, these are well trodden on the backpacker circuit (particularity the Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Ko Tao side) so it’s easy to meet people, but I’ve selected this one for people who are potentially travelling solo because the like spending time with number one.  I spent a few months on Ko Tao as well as time on Ko Lanta, Phuket and Ko Samui and they are fantastic for travelers who just want to kick back, relax and be alone with their thoughts. Ko Tao and Ko Lanta in particular have a really chilled vibe and as a solo traveler I never felt hassled or out of place. They have everything you need; beaches, bars and places to stay, and something about being on an island makes you feel totally removed and disconnected with the real world. Perfect enjoying your own company and reconnecting with yourself.

FOUR. Anywhere in New Zealand. Good God this country is easy going. I love kiwis they are so so friendly and nice. I traveled the length and breadth of New Zealand (both North and South Island) on a backpacker bus called ‘Kiwi Experience’ and it was literally the time of my life. The Kiwi Experience is famous for it’s amazing bus tours and everyone loves them. It is honestly the best way to meet amazing people and make friends for life. The trip is organised for you, you travel with the same people and stay with the same people in hostels along the way, stopping in all the beautiful and interesting places New Zealand has to offer. You can be flexible about it; spending longer in one place and getting the next bus, but I really enjoyed sharing the whole journey with all my new friends. The bus drivers are brilliant as well and get everyone involved and interacting with games on the bus. I’d thoroughly recommend it to anyone travelling alone. Unless you don’t particularity like other people, in which case, probably not for you!

So they are my top 4 places where I have had the best experiences travelling alone and found it most easy to fit in and meet new people. I have never had a problem with being alone on any of my trips, but these were just my favorites. It also is very much luck of the draw as to the people you get, but generally I have found fellow backpackers open, friendly and hilarious people. My one piece of advice to anyone traveling solo for the first time, or anytime, would be; give it a chance. An example: after having an amazing time in Sydney my next stop was Byron Bay which I had heard fantastic things about. However, when I got there I just didn’t gel with the girls in my room and found myself super lonely and sad for 3 days! I pulled myself together, did some things on my own and before I knew it some new dorm mates had moved in and I made friends with them instantly. You are not always going to be surrounded by loads of friends, but it’s a good time to build your independence and ability to spend time in your own company. Solo travelling is a seriously liberating experience and I would recommend it to anyone.

xox

From my experience, and I would guess that this is the same for many beach brides, one of the most challenging elements of planning a wedding abroad is choosing a suitable outfit for the groom! If, like mine, he does not really have a fixed idea in his head what his wedding ‘suit’ will look like it can prove very difficult finding something which is smart, cooling, comfortable and in-keeping with the ‘beach’ theme all in equal measure. Throw in the fact that our wedding was in early summer and so we had the British Winter and Spring to search for an outfit – impossible.

We ended up leaving it until the last minute and choosing something in mid May so that we could find some summery things in the shops. Paul decided he didn’t want a jacket, which I was completely fine with; firstly because it would be very hot in Greece for our wedding and secondly because the whole wedding had a really casual feel. As an example – I suggested shorts and flip flops to all the male guests and the Best Man was wearing linen shorts and a shirt so Paul would have looked a bit odd in a three piece suit! It’s not his style anyway. With his long hair and tattoos a much more relaxed and toned down look suited him and the venue much better.

Looking back on the pictures I’m really pleased with what we chose. The trousers and shirt make it smart enough for a wedding, with the lack of jacket keeping it cool and dressed down and the pink bow tie (his idea!) and braces giving the outfit a bit of personality! He looked like himself and I was very pleased about that.  The only thing he would change would be the shoes! They were leather and quite uncomfortable on the day, I think he wished he went for flip flops! The pocket watch was a gift from me to open on the morning of the wedding and I was really chuffed that he decided to wear it on the day.

What he wore:

Shirt: Ted Baker

Trousers: John Lewis

Braces & Belt: H&M

Bow Tie: Mrs Bow Tie

Shoes: Bertie

Pocket Watch: notonthehighstreet.com

xox

One of the more obvious perks of being a full time student compared to being in fulltime work is, of course, the holidays! Travel is my passion, so any short holiday that I get I take the opportunity to scrape some pennies together and go somewhere. On this occasion my family were keen to come too, so me, my partner, mum, dad & brother ended up heading to Barcelona for a long weekend.

I’ve never been to Barcelona before and it’s somewhere I have always wanted to visit. As a city break I would thoroughly recommend it although, to be honest, two nights wasn’t enough in my opinion. Due to its harbour location and the proximity of many lovely beaches to the city I would like to go again and actually go for a full length holiday. I think it’s the sort of place you could get a good balance of city sight-seeing and relaxed beaching over a week’s trip.

Having said that I loved to city itself.  I have never really been that interested in ‘buildings’ or architecture, but the Antonio Gaudi buildings that are scattered through the city were truly stunning and even I could spend hours looking at them. His work is so interesting because it looks like a cross between a Dr Seuss illustration and a set from a Tim Burton movie.  Considering he lived 100 years ago it’s hard to imagine how ‘before it’s time’ his structures would have been in his lifetime!

Unfortunately, it was torrential rain for our first day of sightseeing! We managed the ‘Sagreda Familia’; the enormous Gaudi cathedral which is an amazing architectural feat and still not completed to this day, Gaudi’s ‘Park Guell’; an elegant park full of Gaudi’s stunning mosaic sculptures and the slightly less cultural but none the less important ‘NeuCamp’; the famous home pitch of Barca football club!  All of this in the soaking wet resulted in some soggy raincoats and cold feet (I only took flip-flops!!!) but still an amazing day.  The following day we were lucky and had a lovely sunny day. We went up to the MNAC museum to see the amazing view of Barcelona city and went to visit another of Gaudi’s buildings ‘La Casa Mila Pedrera’ which in its day was an enormous house designed by Gaudi for a rich family living in Barcelona and is now open to the public.  Its name means ‘The Stone Quarry’ which has stuck from when it was built the family’s neighbours hated the building and called it that because they thought it looked like an ugly pile of rocks!

For anyone thinking of or planning to visit Barcelona my top travel tips are:

1.  Use the open top tourist bus! A bit cringy for me as I usually like to walk everywhere and it is quite pricy however, Barcelona is very spread out and it would take hours to walk around all the sights! Particularly if you want to get out to the Park Guell, the football stadium and any of the beaches or harbour then the bus tour is a good deal. It includes 3 routes and covers everything and you can by multi day tickets too.

2.  Sagreda Familia (pictured above) – and get there early! My one regret of the trip, we didn’t arrive until lunchtime and all the tickets to go inside were sold out. Even if you don’t want to pay the steep €15 entry fee I would recommend getting there early so you can get a picture outside without thousands of selfie sticks in it.

3.  The view from the MNAC museum (pictured above). A stop on the bus ‘red route’ we actually got off to see the museum and didn’t realise it had a beautiful view over all of the city. A very good picture!

4.  Don’t eat on La Ramblas! The main strip of markets, bars and restaurant with street entertainers and lots of hawkers! Fun and a good atmosphere for walking around at night and having a cocktail not the food = overpriced and yuk.

5.  Eat at La Rosal 34. Seriously, if you do one thing – go here! We were recommended this restaurant by our hotel and you do need google maps to find it as it is out of the way BUT literally one of the best meals I’ve ever had. It has a Michelin star (first time I’ve eaten in a place that has one!) and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg. It’s a lovely traditional restaurant serving tapas and main meals and very yummy. We went there two out of our three evenings!  Also not a tourist insight (apart from us).

Have you been to Barcelona?

xox