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How to Plan a Destination Wedding – Interview With Spanish Wedding Planner Tara Chapman

© All images courtesy of Fiestasol and subject to copyright

Are you planning a destination wedding? Then this is a must-read for you. From organising a two-day villa wedding, and buying drinks for your guests without breaking the bank, to stopping your cake from melting in the Mediterranean sun – this week Tara Chapman, Head Planner (and bridal fairy godmother) at Fiestasol in Marbella shares her wisdom.


Hi Tara! Thanks so much for meeting us. What makes a great wedding?

“Good food, lots to drink and fantastic entertainment!”

How do you make that happen for couples getting married in Spain?

“Well I’m the Head Planner at Fiestasol and I also handle the decor styling for the weddings. We offer all wedding services under one roof, from wedding planning to catering to styling your day.”

How to Plan a Destination Wedding - Interview With Wedding Planner Tara Chapman at Fiestasol, Marbella, Spain

© All images courtesy of Fiestasol, subject to copyright

What makes Fiestasol stand out to couples who want a wedding in the sun?

“We create bespoke weddings that don’t feel the same as all other weddings in Spain, yet we have the foundations and formula to plan these big events anywhere. We’re extremely flexible. Our main desire is to keep innovating so our clients keep recommending us.”

What can couples expect, when they travel out to meet you?

“To start the process, we do a morning of site viewings to choose the couple’s dream venue. During this visit we talk through all the booking processes, costings for the various parts of the day, and what will happen on their next visit, which is a food tasting and supplier meeting trip. The clients love that one as they get to eat lots of yummy food and cake!”

Why do you think it’s important for couples to hire a wedding planner abroad?

“I would definitely recommend a local planner for couples coming down here. While Google has made searching for what you need so much easier, the experience in the area and the shortcuts which your planner can supply are invaluable. Then there’s also the emotional support in the lead up to your wedding. I think reassurance from someone who does this all the time is key in keeping everyone calm.”

How to Plan a Destination Wedding - Interview With Wedding Planner Tara Chapman at Fiestasol, Marbella, Spain

© All images courtesy of Fiestasol, subject to copyright

What are your top 3 tips for couples planning a destination wedding?

“Firstly, you must feel you can trust your suppliers, especially your planner. Secondly, some couples book their own venue, but if you do, make sure that it has had weddings before, that the owner is aware you’re planning one there, and check thoroughly the restrictions on numbers and music curfews. Finally, remember it’s your day. As much as everyone wants their guests to have an amazing time, stay focused on your wishes.”

How do you plan the decor and style of a wedding?

“I use Pinterest a lot to get an idea from my clients as to what they like. It’s a vital tool for me as we do so much of our preparation long distance.”

How do you create your beautiful styles, while keeping the budget achievable?

“We specialise in villa weddings where our clients can stay and have two-day weddings without breaking the bank. They can bring in their own drinks from a wholesale supplier which brings costs down hugely and gives couples much more choice on the brands we serve.”

How to Plan a Destination Wedding - Interview With Wedding Planner Tara Chapman at Fiestasol, Marbella, Spain

© Images courtesy of Fiestasol, subject to copyright

How many weddings do you plan each year at Fiestasol?

“We average around 60 to 70 weddings a year, as we have more than one team.”

Why is Spain a good location for celebrating a wedding?

“Aside from the obvious – sunny weather – Spain has a huge variety of amazing suppliers like photographers, florists and DJs who are fluent in English. It puts our couples at ease when they can communicate with them in their own language over the different aspects of their wedding. You do get much more value for your money here. It’s also not far to fly, so guests can pop over for 24 hours if necessary.”

How was Fiestasol born?

“Fiestasol was started by Alex and Heather, a husband and wife team on the back of a scooter providing canapés for parties over ten years ago. It’s now grown to three warehouses, a large team, and Heather and Alex have thankfully now got their driving licences!”

What about you? How did you first get into wedding planning?

“I first started planning weddings in 2008 when a friend asked me to get involved with her events company in Gibraltar. It’s a little like Las Vegas there. So we did a huge amount of weddings of all sizes and faiths. I then started working at Fiestasol in 2012.”

How to Plan a Destination Wedding - Interview With Wedding Planner Tara Chapman at Fiestasol, Marbella, Spain

© Images courtesy of Fiestasol, subject to copyright

What’s your favourite part of the job?

“Being like a fairy godmother on my clients’ happiest day. It sounds corny, I know, but we spend a year working together closely and you get to know them so well. So that moment when the first dance is done and everyone is so incredibly happy to be there, I always get this feeling of contentment. I have to say I also love the speeches!”

What’s the hardest part?

“The hardest part is probably trying to source new and amazing venues that don’t have too many restrictions and are close enough to the local amenities.”

We wanted to ask you about trends… What wedding decor styles are in this season?

“I think this year it’s the boho bling trend that’s coming through the most. Blush, nudes and rose pinks with a lot of wood, and beautiful destructured flower arrangements with lots of trailing greenery. We are seeing a lot of mismatching bridesmaid dresses, cross back chairs, plenty of candlelight and twinkle.”

Any fun or quirky decor items that stand out to you?

“We had a few requests for gold pineapples last year and that is carrying on in 2017, but with a tropics theme, which is a lot of fun.”

If you had to choose one piece of bridal jewellery that matches this year’s trends?

“This is a tough decision as there are so many lovely items and it’s such a personal choice. I think people can get carried away thinking about the dress, but jewellery is like the cherry on a cake. I love this love bangle because it’s quirky.”

Diamond and rose gold L-O-V-E bangle | TheDiamondStore.co.uk

Diamond and rose gold L-O-V-E bangle | View it here

What about cakes? What will they look like this season?

“We had a lot of naked cakes last year, whereas this season it seems to be the year of the cheese, as in stacked cheeses to form a cake. This was a trend a few years ago so I was surprised to see it back. However our clients feel that people are more likely to eat it later on than a cake. I personally will always love cake, rocky road is one of my favourites!

“I’ve seen a recent trend for watercolour cakes where the fondant is done with watercolour washes, but generally people are still going for the sugar flowers vintage look here, with each tier in a different flavour. Since it gets so hot here in the summer and the cakes suffer if left on display, we often recommend having artificial tiers so that they don’t subside in the heat.”

We imagine that wedding planning is quite an intensive job, working long hours and weekends. What do you do to “decompress” after the busy wedding season?

“Yes! Last year I went off to Lisbon with a great group of girlfriends for five days of fun, which was perfect. It’s important for me to draw a line between last season and the next so that I can empty the boxes in my head. However, we do have a 6 month winter period here which is when we do most of our prep. This time of year it’s more nine-to-five and the normal routine of school runs and family weekends, which keeps us all grounded!”

A huge thanks to Tara Chapman at Fiestasol in Marbella, Spain for this fascinating interview full of expert tips. Enjoy this? Follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter and visit TheDiamondStore.co.uk.