Wedding destinations in Europe seem a bit of a hazy memory right now as I write this in lockdown. But thankfully restrictions are gradually relaxing throughout so fingers crossed all you wanderlusty couples will soon be back to planning your day with confidence, whether it’s a micro wedding or a huge knees-up! And I’ll get back to photographing them! In the meantime I thought I’d do a few posts on destination weddings in Europe. It’ll be no surprise that, as a destination wedding photographer, European locations for a wedding or elopement are pretty close to my heart. For so many reasons, not least of which is that I got married in Italy myself a short while back.

So what’s a destination wedding all about?

Usually a destination wedding means you guys are planning to get married in a different country. More often than not it’ll be a smallish wedding, in a dream location, with just your closest family and friends by your side. It’s the perfect excuse to combine getting married, with a dream holiday and well let’s be honest…throw one big party lasting anywhere from a few days to weeks! Very often the wedding destination is also your honeymoon location. Hmm it’s hard to understand why destination weddings are so popular!!

Why have a destination wedding or elopement?

Topping the list of reasons for getting married abroad is that many couples see wedding locations abroad as more of an adventure, more relaxed and exciting as well as a romantic alternative to staying closer to home. If you’re willing to travel abroad for your wedding celebrations or adventurous elopement then the world really is your oyster. You can literally find the perfect setting for any kind of wedding imaginable. And with some of the best places to get married in Europe just a short flight away a dream wedding suddenly becomes very achievable!

Destination weddings are often also a bit ‘alternative’ in the sense that they can be a perfect fit for couples wanting to throw wedding traditions and formalities out of the window for an uber-relaxed affair. Some couples might not even see their wedding venue or destination before arriving or meet suppliers in person before the day if they haven’t been able to fly out for recce beforehand (which I highly recommend to steady any nerves). Not doing a recce isn’t for the faint-hearted mind but it adds to the excitement! Destination weddings also also typically quite a bit smaller than might be possible with a more traditional wedding closer to home since getting married abroad is likely to naturally reduce your guest list, making your day not only more intimate but very often more affordable.

Why are wedding destinations in Europe so popular?

Why go for a wedding destination in Europe? There are many reasons but topping the list has to be the endless variety of stunning wedding locations Europe has to offer couples. The choice can be bewildering…I know this first-hand! How about getting married in Santorini, with the Caldera as your backdrop? Or is a laid-back rustic wedding in France more your vibe?

Italy…well where to start but who could resist the thought of an Amalfi Coast wedding or if the sea isn’t your thing then Italy still has you covered. Perhaps a Tuscany wedding set amongst the rolling hills and vineyards or maybe a wedding in Umbria at intimate Abbey high-up in the Umbrian hills sets your heart racing. Europe has it all, from sun-soaked summer destinations like these through to the rugged terrain and nordic wanders of Iceland for an elopement or wedding. I could go on forever but if you’re looking for culture, breathtaking locations with a relaxed vibe for your day, just a short flight away, then the joie de vivre of wedding destinations in Europe is very hard to beat!

Can we have a legal ceremony at a destination wedding?

Unfortunately there isn’t a simple answer to this since it depends on the marriage laws in both your chosen destination country and also your home country. This aspect that can get quite complicated and making sure all the legal requirements have been satisfied can become one of the main stress-points for couples planning everything themselves and hoping to have their wedding officially recognised. Aside from legal requirements add to this a possible language barrier and it can become unnerving pretty quickly. I mention this a bit more below but this is the most important reason to bring a destination wedding planner into the picture from the start.

That said, you might not be too bothered about your legally binding ceremony taking place in your chosen country or even want a legal ceremony full stop! It may not even be possible at all. To avoid all of this lots of couples alternatively opt to have a legal ceremony in their home country before heading off for a symbolic wedding ceremony at your chosen destination without any worries. Ultimately whether you have a legal or a non religious wedding ceremony, or both, is a personal decision for you guys.

Hang on, what about wedding destinations in the UK?

Of course a destination wedding abroad isn’t the only way to go. Your home country will have plenty of beautiful locations to get married with that destination wedding venue vibe. Being a UK wedding photographer I know first-hand that there are endless options on our doorstep to head somewhere a bit further flung to get married without needing call upon on Ryanair to satisfy your wanderlust!

When thinking of elopement weddings in the UK the first destination that often comes to mind is of course Scotland. Especially the Scottish Highlands and the magic of an Isle of Skye wedding for example. Scotland weddings and elopements are just as lusted after here as they are throughout the rest of the world. With so many breathtaking locations it’s deservedly one of the best wedding destinations in the world. A little heads-up though, you just need to be open to the possibility of some challenging weather on your day if you’re planning an outdoor Scotland wedding or elopement. It’s part of the charm of a Scottish wedding! My advice is just factor it in to your planning, embrace it and on the day it’ll be incredible no matter what!

I’m straying into the topic for another post now, just on wedding locations and places to elope in the UK (but hey the UK is still in Europe so it’s fine), but a few other wow-worthy UK wedding destination ideas that come to mind are to celebrate your wedding or elopement in the Lake District with its ribbon lakes and mountains for the backdrop. How about a Peak District wedding at the foot of the Pennines? Or you could hop over to the east coast to beautiful Norfolk. Few could resist a Norfolk wedding location with its unspoilt beaches and coastline but an equally magical alternative is the south coast of Cornwall for that laid-back Cornwall beach wedding vibe. There are just too many amazing places to mention here so I’ll crack on with another post that’s a guide for outdoor wedding destinations in the UK very soon.

Not sure where to start with planning a destination wedding?

Even if you know your destination country well, my advice is to bring a professional destination wedding planner on board to ensure everything goes smoothly. It’ll make planning your day so much more enjoyable by removing all the potential stresses that can build up doing it all yourself. The best destination wedding planners will have a detailed knowledge of the legalities, locations, venues and suppliers for your chosen location. They’ll hold your hand every step of the way and make sure everything…and I mean everything, is just perfect. We certainly thank our lucky stars for finding our own amazing wedding planner in Umbria, Italy. Your planner doesn’t need to be based in your destination country either. So if you’d prefer a UK destination wedding planner then just drop me a line, I’ll send over some great recommendations for planners that specialise in destinations weddings in Europe.

Are you researching wedding destinations in Europe and need a wedding photographer who’ll travel far and wide to capture your story? Well if so…just drop me a message!