Next year, I'll be one of the 25% of brides (or there abouts) who will be having a destination wedding overseas. And while a destination wedding isn't just about exotic beaches (I've heard of other brides-to-be getting married in Tuscan villages, European cities and the bright lights of New York), I'll be living out my wedding dream on one of Jamaica's quietest bits of sand (fingers crossed for the quiet bit).
More and more brides and grooms are swapping the big white English wedding for a destination wedding. And when the average cost of a UK wedding falls just under £25,000, it doesn't come as much of a surprise. You can bag a wedding package abroad for a couple of grand. And if you reduce the guest list down to closest family and friends (or if you're brave enough, just elope, the two of you), you can save a huge chunk of money on your big day.
Either way, if you're thinking about having a destination wedding, here are 10 reasons why you and your hubby will be thankful for taking the plunge:
You can buy an all-in-one-package
If you go for a traditional UK wedding, chances are you'll pay for all sorts of added costs, via the florist, venue, transport and caterers. Tie the knot abroad and you can often shrink these bills into one single fee by purchasing a wedding package through your holiday company or hotel. They'll have good relationships already with trusted suppliers and you can spend less time number crunching and more time on the more fun stuff. Don't want to go for a combined hotel and wedding package? It's fairly easy to find a reputable wedding planner by searching online and in wedding magazines. If you are getting married in the Caribbean for example, a company like Dreamy Weddings will often provide a range of wedding packages to choose from. Plus, they'll send you a recommendation of hotels and places to stay.
It's a good excuse to have a small, intimate wedding
If you're not the type to revel in being the centre of attention, then a destination wedding is perfect. The bride and groom are more likely to be selective about who they invite, which will keep guest numbers down to close family and friends. That way, the whole affair stays informal and relaxed. So you won't get so many jitters when you walk down the aisle.
Your bucket list gets a tick
You know that trip to Bali you've always dreamed of doing? Or the picture-postcard beaches of Belize that you marvel at on Pinterest? Well, since the average destination wedding is at least half the cost of a UK wedding, this is the perfect opportunity to turn those dreams into a reality. Bucket list ticked.
You don't have to spend so much on the décor
If you choose a naturally stunning location such as a vineyard or beach, you won't need to fuss over fancy chair covers, extravagant props and marquees for your wedding (if you don't want to). Add some fairy lights and a few simple flowers (your organisers will often pick local blooms which can cost much less than your usual bridal florals in the UK) and you can let Mother Nature do the rest of the work.
The legal stuff is actually pretty simple
Many countries make it very easy for couples from overseas to tie the knot. Greece, the Caribbean and South Africa for example, have no residency period once you've submitted the legal paperwork. And in the Caribbean, the legal fee can be as little as £32. Providing you research this and complete your marriage application in advance, the whole process will be pretty easy.
If the idea of a traditional English wedding makes you feel a bit underwhelmed, a destination wedding could bring a whole load of quirks to your nuptials. Research the cultures of different countries to find unusual traditions that brides and grooms can embrace. You might add some plate smashing to your wedding in Greece, or invite your congregation to carry palm blossoms in Malaysia. It will make your big day way more memorable.
You can follow the best weather
It goes without saying, if you're flying to a county that has an average of 200 days' sunshine a year, the odds of having a sunny wedding are greater than if you wed back in the UK. Research the season of your chosen destination before you book, as many tropical countries experience heavy downpours during their rainy season. Time it right though and it will be absolute bliss.
Your wedding day lasts longer
I'm not saying you can freeze time overseas, but from the moment you step on the plane, your destination wedding has begun, right? Most brides time their foreign wedding so it falls a few days into their stay. That way, you can factor in a couple of days on either side, relaxing, exploring the place you're in and catching up with family and friends. Your wedding will feel like a four or five day event rather than one day, and there'll be so many more memories to share.
Guests will be more relaxed
There's always one last job to get done when you're at home isn't there? But as soon as you jet off on holiday, those daily stresses seem to disappear. Choose a destination wedding and that's (hopefully) what will happen with you and your guests. When you don't need to worry about feeding the cat, picking up the wedding dress (it's already done) and you're all in one place, everyone is naturally much more relaxed. Stress-free wedding? Yes please!
It makes for an even better honeymoon
If you and your partner are flying long-haul for your wedding anyway, it makes sense to island hop or do a multi-centre stopover, combining your honeymoon with your big day. Always fancied combining Cape Town with a safari? Or maybe you'd like to marry on a Thai island before you jet off to Singapore. You can - the world is your oyster.