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How to Plan a Destination Wedding – 9 Tips by Wedding Planner Tara Chapman

Featured image credit © We Do Unique Weddings and Olmo del Valle Photography

Wondering how to plan a destination wedding? Check out these 9 top tips by pro wedding planner Tara Chapman who owns and runs We Do Unique Weddings in Marbella, Spain. You’ll find the answers to all your big questions here.


1. Thanks so much for meeting us! What do you think are the key ingredients for a successful destination wedding?

It’s lovely to see you and talk about my favourite subject!

The two main factors here have always been great food and entertainment, they’re what people remember.

However, more and more it’s about the styling these days and making an impact with ideas that are not the standard ‘rustic, vintage or bling’ themes.

“Great food and entertainment, they’re what people remember”

Image © We Do Unique Weddings and Olmo del Valle Photography

2. How long in advance should a couple plan their wedding abroad?

A year is a good start if you’re looking to do a church wedding.

However, sometimes the enquiries come in really early, and I ask the couple to wait a little, as so much can change in that much time.

“RSVPs should be back three months before the wedding”

3. What about the guests? What should a couple take into consideration?

Save the Dates are great for notifying people, with plenty of time to book time off and possibly make a holiday of your destination wedding.

These give couples breathing space to then finalise details, such as the available hotels in the area and transport pick up times – as well as any special dietary elements, such as menu choice – before sending their invites out six months in advance.

Then RSVPs should be back three months before the wedding so the couple has time to do their seating plan.

Image © We Do Unique Weddings and Nacho Ibañez Photography

4. Now, about hiring a pro wedding planner abroad. Can you tell us about you and your company, We Do Unique Weddings? What sets you apart? 

Firstly, I think it’s vital having a wedding planner if you’re getting married abroad. We don’t only save couples money, but we also act as problem solvers.

I used to work in TV production running large film crews all over Spain and I like to think 11 years doing that trained me well for weddings!

Image © We Do Unique Weddings and Olmo del Valle Photography

When my son was born I felt reluctant to always be on the road and gradually made the move into events. This will be my eleventh season doing weddings and I truly love what I do.

It has all the excitement, every wedding is different, and I get to be a part of the happiest day of people’s lives.

I think this passion I have for what I do is what sets me apart, but certainly having done Production is the best training anyone could have.

“We don’t only save couples money, but we also act as problem solvers”

Image © We Do Unique Weddings and Olmo del Valle Photography

5. What are your thoughts on choosing the venue? 

It’s important to think about factors such as nearby accommodation, and outdoor or indoor music allowances.

You can also consider second-day plans; destination weddings mean you are not limited to one-day weddings and can have events on various days.

I would say keep an open mind and see as many venues as you can and make sure you meet your planner, who will be with you throughout as it’s an important relationship.

“Destination weddings mean you are not limited to one-day weddings”

Image © We Do Unique Weddings and Olmo del Valle Photography

6. How do you plan the decor and style of a wedding? Any hot tips on trends?

I ask my couples to send me photos of things they like. I only need a few to know exactly where their taste is going. But that’s just a starting point because over a year or more of planning, ideas evolve and change, as do trends.

“2019 is still very much about colour”

2019 is still very much about colour here in Spain. Thanks to blogs having such a strong influence, brides are loving coloured glassware and plates, natural wood chairs and abundant colourful flowers and greenery with hints of metallics.

Image © We Do Unique Weddings

Cakes are getting more colourful too with designs painted on, as well as big sugar flowers in bold colours.

I’d say in 2020 we could head more towards a paler version of this and have a hint of Provence coming in, more pastels and natural materials mixed with clean industrial lines… Whichever way it goes will be exciting!

Image © We Do Unique Weddings and Olmo del Valle Photography

7. What about the suppliers – the catering, the bar, the band? What’s your advice?

“It’s important to match the supplier to my clients”

Catering is vital, but with so many amazing companies around, it’s hard to choose, which is where I think planners can be invaluable in giving you advice.

I like to work with different caterers as I have clients from all backgrounds with different tastes and budgets. So it’s important to match the supplier to my clients.

This is the same for music, flowers, photography and so on. Having a call with my couples right at the start helps to define these choices, so I can send an approximate quote through before getting into travel costs and deposits.

Image © We Do Unique Weddings and Hortensio Dias Claros

8. Why is Spain is a good location for celebrating destination weddings?

It’s a travel time within Europe of three hours, and we have a huge variety of venues and suppliers.

The sun shines non-stop and you get more value for your money. I wouldn’t say weddings are cheaper here, but you do get a lot more for the price.

Image © We Do Unique Weddings and Nacho Ibañez Photography

9. Finally, congratulations! We hear that you recently got engaged. So exciting! What final bits of wisdom can you share with us now that you’re the bride… and could you reveal a tiny bit about your own wedding style?

Ha ha! Yes, the wedding planner is getting married! I am nervous as I’ve never been a centre stage person and prefer to be in the wings but I’m also really excited about doing my own.

It’s been interesting having the shoe on the other foot and I have even more admiration for my couples now as it’s not an easy undertaking.

“I have even more admiration for my couples now”

No doubt there will be moments when I’ll wish we had eloped, but for now, I can say we’ve chosen somewhere on a lake where I’ve never done a wedding so I don’t feel I’m at work.

It’s a venue where we can have a three-day event with everyone staying with us.

Image © We Do Unique Weddings

There will be lots of twinkly lights, long wooden banquet tables and unusual florals.

My fiancé is very much into music so I’m giving him that job, and last I heard, he’s actually putting a band together!

The guest list is going to be the hardest part I think, as it could get out of hand, but it’s important in wedding planning to listen to each other and stick to a plan.

“Listen to each other and stick to a plan”

Thanks again for all the great advice! How can we get in touch with you?

You’re so welcome! I hope it helps couples when they start planning. You can find us at WeDoUniqueWeddings.com and we are also on Instagram and Facebook @wedouniqueweddings.

Tara Chapman, Wedding Planner, at work  –  © We Do Unique Weddings and Olmo del Valle Photography


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