Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wedding Transport: 10 Ways To Arrive At Your Wedding

When it comes to planning your wedding there will come a time when you’ll have to decide how to arrive and leave from your wedding venue.  Here's an inspiring list of ten fresh and exciting ways to arrive at your wedding: 

Photo: Air Whitsundays
1. Sea Plane
If you're planning a wedding on an island in the Coral Sea, the most spectacular way to arrive is by sea plane.

2. Gondola
In Venice, it’s practically obligatory to be transported to your wedding by a specially designated bridal gondola via the city’s utterly romantic canals.

Photo: Tukshop
3. Tuk Tuk
In Asia, tuk tuks are commonly used as a means of wedding transport by locals and tourists alike. 
But you don’t have to be getting married in Asia to enjoy a tuk tuk! In the UK, Tukshop has a range of tuk tuks for hire by wedding couples looking for something a little bit different.

Photo: Los Angeles Wedding Photographer
4. Horse
Indian weddings are famous for their elaborate celebrations which traditionally include a colourful parade (baraat) featuring the groom riding a beautifully decorated horse.

You don't have to travel to India, many companies outside of India specialise in bespoke Indian weddings.

5. Bicycle 
A growing number of environmentally aware couples are choosing to jump on their bikes using love-fuelled pedal power to get them to and from the altar.

Photo: Bora Bora Intercontinental
6. Canoe
Polynesian cultures such as those of the Pacific island nations of Tahiti, Fiji, Cook Islands and Vanuatu have a tradition of transporting the bride by water.

Photo: Kombi Limousines
7. Kombi Van
Kombi Limousines in Sydney, Australia help make Volkswagen lovers’ dreams come true with their attention grabbing stretch VW Kombi van. 

Photo: tomKphoto
8. Skis
A winter wedding in the snow provides the perfect opportunity for the wedding couple to hit the slopes!

Photo: Bali Elephant Camp wedding
9. Elephant
In Bali, you can be gracefully transported to and from your wedding aboard Sumatran elephants. 
Bali Elephant Camp Weddings arrange everything from the ceremony, transportation and accommodation.

Photo: Disney Fairytale Weddings
10. Cinderella Carriage
What bride hasn’t dreamed of arriving at her wedding by romantic horse and carriage. 

Disney Fairytale Weddings offers its fantasy Cinderella Crystal Coach as part of its 'Wishes' range of fairytale wedding packages.

Destination: Wedding - A guide to planning the destination wedding of your dreams is available in paperback and digital formats at Amazon (UK), Amazon (USA) and from

Monday, February 20, 2012

Hen’s Party Ideas

Many brides-to-be are choosing from a wide range of activities in place of the traditional hen’s party. In the past, a typical hen’s party often revolved around a girls’ night out on the town or a night at home with female friends and family sharing a few drinks and playing party games.

The modern hen’s party is likely to see the bride-to-be and her entourage taking part in all sorts of creative, entertaining and even skill-building pursuits. The kinds of activities can range from luxuriating at a spa day, learning to paint through to adrenaline pumping adventure sports.

A destination wedding can provide expanded range of options depending on the location. Here’s what some brides have done for their hen’s parties.

Jackie from Sydney invited her adventure loving friends along for an action packed weekend in the Blue Mountains where they did some hiking, abseiling, horse-riding, canoeing and archery.  

Davina from Scotland took her friends along to a yoga and meditation retreat in the Goan region of India two days before her wedding there. Afterwards they feasted on delicious organic vegetarian food before blissfully floating back to their beach huts.

Kayla from London took a small group of friends and family along for a cooking class at the Underground Cookery School where they were greeted with wine and canapés and received instruction from a professional chef to prepare a delectable three course meal.

Julie from Los Angeles who married on the Hawaiian island of Maui, took eight of her closest friends to a local day spa where they indulged in day of pampering that included aromatherapy massages, facials, manicures and pedicures.  They finished off the day with a traditional Hawaiian luau complete with hula dance lessons. 

Hill Place, Hampshire UK

Hill Place, a beautiful Georgian villa in Hampshire, not only plays hosts to super romantic weddings in the English countryside but also runs Domestic Goddess weekends which have proven hugely popular. The kinds of activities included in the master class package include table setting/decorating, flower arranging, cupcake decorating and canapĂ© making. Also on offer are make-up lessons, sailing and millinery skills.

Canape photo courtesy of Milli's Kitchen 

For the men, or women who want to try something different, Hill Place also offers a Country Sports package which includes clay pigeon shooting, deer stalking and falconry. And if all of that wasn’t enough, you can also choose from range of other activities including archery, duck herding, apache racing buggies, ferret racing, axe throwing and cannon firing!

For some more inspiration head to the ChilliSauce  website which features countless ideas for hen’s (and buck’s) party experiences. From pole dancing lessons, perfume creating, cocktail making, rally driving to llama trekking, you’re bound to find something to suit your taste and budget!

What will you be doing for your hen's party?

Destination: Wedding - A guide to planning the destination wedding of your dreams is available in paperback and digital formats at Amazon (UK)Amazon (USA) and from

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Marryoke! The Latest Wedding Craze

Just when you thought you'd seen it all, along comes marryoke! Marryoke is a speciality of UK wedding video company Marryokes who create highly entertaining and totally fun karaoke style wedding videos where everyone in the video lip-syncs along to their favourite tunes.

Although marryoke has been around since 2008, it's popularity seems to have sky-rocketed recently as couples look for new and exciting ways to capture wedding day memories. Some describe marryoke as cheesy yet others hail it as the most exciting new trend in wedding videography. Personally, I think it's just a whole lot of fun!

Couples have created marryoke videos to all sorts of music from the dulcet tones of Etta James' "At Last" and Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart" through to the fast-paced beats of the Black Eyed Peas' "I Got a Feeling" or Maroon 5's "Moves Like Jagger".

The best way to understand the impact of marryoke is to see it in action for yourself!

I Gotta Feeling - Sai and Ally Surprise Marryoke from Marryokes! on Vimeo.

Here's another one from Marryokes:

Moves Like Jagger - John and Nicola Marryoke from Marryokes! on Vimeo.

And for something a little more dramatic from Glasgow based MacDonald Studio:

So, what do you think of marryoke? Share your thoughts below.

Destination: Wedding - A guide to planning the destination wedding of your dreams is available in paperback and digital formats at Amazon (UK)Amazon (USA) and from

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Top Ten Tips For Planning Your Destination Wedding

I am often asked for my top tips for planning a destination wedding so I thought I'd put them in a list to share. If you have planned your own destination wedding or if you are a wedding planner with more tips to share, please comment below I'm sure we'd all love to hear them!

  1. Decide as early as possible where and when you will marry since this will determine so many other elements of your wedding including finances, guests, theme etc
  2. Once you've decided on where and when you'll marry, decide if you'll be having guests and if so, how many you will have taking into account space, guest availability and costs
  3. Think about the climate and weather at the time of year your wedding will take place when making plans. This is particularly important if any part of your ceremony or reception will take place outside. You'd be surprised how many people neglect to do this! Click here for tips on preparing for an outdoor wedding.
  4. If you're marrying abroad, particularly in a country where you don't speak the language, consider using the services of a wedding planner who will be able to bridge the language barrier, navigate local regulations & customs, and bring an insider's perspective to your planning
  5. Ask your guests to either send gifts to your home rather than bringing them along to your wedding or put in place an alternative gift giving arrangement such as a gift registry or wishing well (cash donations). If you'd prefer not to receive gifts or for guests to donate to a charity instead, put these details in your wedding invitation or announcements. 
  6. Make plans for the safe arrival of your wedding dress/gown. No matter the distance you will travel for your wedding, it will be necessary for you to transport it as safely as possible to avoid any damage and reduce wrinkling. Read my previous blog post on the topic on transporting your dress

Destination: Wedding - A guide to planning the destination wedding of your dreams is available in paperback and digital formats at Amazon (UK)Amazon (USA) and from

Monday, January 2, 2012

Wedding Trends for 2012

What will be the biggest wedding trends in 2012? Without a doubt, we will continue to see the economic downturn impact how couples choose to marry. Even those who aren’t greatly affected are likely to tone down their wedding plans to appear less extravagant. We’ll  also see the trend towards eco or green weddings continue along with more do-it-yourself weddings and destination weddings combined with planned holidays.

Here are my predictions for the coming year's wedding trends:

Social Media Broadcasting
As unappealing as it might be to some, many couples are choosing to update their relationship status via social media right at the altar. Initially seen as tacky, it's becoming more  acceptable, particularly for younger, social media savvy couples. Updating your relationship status on Facebook or Twitter typically prompts a wave of celebratory congratulations and well-wishes from family and friends - who could resist?

Social media marital status updates are becoming popular

The upside to tough economic times is that couples might take on more of the wedding preparations themselves. Tough times often spark a renewed interest in home-made arts, crafts and cooking. Couples can make their own wedding invitations, decorations and wedding cakes or enlist the help of willing family and friends. Instead of hiring musicians to perform at the wedding, couples could call upon friends and family to lend their vocal and musical talents. A spin-off of the do-it-yourself approach is that it can make a wedding an even more meaningful and memorable event. 

Less Extravagance
It was well reported that the royal wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton that took place in 2011 was toned down in light of the economic downturn. The couple’s choice to arrive at Westminster Abbey by car was seen as a way to appear less lavish than arriving in the traditional horse-drawn royal coach gilt with gold. An increasing number of couples are questioning the expense of their wedding day and looking for ways to trim the budget. There are many ways to simplify a wedding while maintaining a romantic and celebratory atmosphere. From reducing the guest list to forgoing the stretch limo, couples are focusing on what's important to them rather than putting on a show.

Holiday Wedding
Destination weddings continue to grow in popularity despite the economic downturn. Rather than booking special trips for their weddings however, a growing number of couples will combine a destination wedding with an already planned holiday. We’re also likely to see couples opt for lower key affairs such as elopements and intimate ceremonies and celebrations shared with only the closest of family and friends. Couples might also choose destination wedding locations closer to home to reduce the out-of-pocket expenses of guests they want at the wedding. An Australian couple might choose the Gold Coast or Vanuatu instead of Hawaii or Tahiti and a UK couple might choose an English castle over one in mainland Europe.

Vanuatu is a popular & affordable destination wedding location

Off-the-wall / Unique
As couples seek to break with tradition and make their wedding unique, there’s an increase in the number of couples choosing off-the-wall wedding themes and venues. This is likely to continue as more alternative venues realise the potential market. I reported earlier in the year that McDonalds in Hong Kong had begun offering couples the chance to marry in-store. You can now get married underwater in many locations around the world, and if a ceremony venue with a bird’s eye view of London sounds perfect, why not consider marrying aboard the London Eye? Couples also want to be able to make their wedding unique by incorporating their favourite things into their wedding ceremony. 

Hong Kong McDonalds' menu includes the 'McWedding'

Green / Eco-wedding 
Wedding couples are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental impact of their wedding resulting in a boom in the eco and green wedding industry. Eco weddings embrace the concept of sustainability by consuming less resources, using recycled items, and minimising your carbon footprint in as many ways as possible. Second-hand wedding gowns have become more popular as has choosing wedding wear that can be worn again at other occasions. Serving food that has been produced locally and sustainably, as well as choosing planet-friendly meat-free menus are other ways to go green. 

Which of these trends will you be following in 2012? 

Destination: Wedding - A guide to planning the destination wedding of your dreams is available in paperback and digital formats at Amazon (UK)Amazon (USA) and from

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Christmas Wedding

As Christmas fast approaches, it feels the perfect time to write about Christmas themed weddings. Christmas themed weddings were something I hadn't thought about until recently when I saw a Christmas themed wedding dress in a bridal catalogue. This prompted me to set out to learn as much as I could about Christmas themed weddings.

It seems one of the best things about a Christmas wedding theme is that it’s likely the wedding venue will already have Christmas decorations in place. And given that a Christmas wedding takes place around Christmas (go figure!), guests are already filled with Christmas spirit and cheer.

Choosing between a modern or traditional theme and deciding upon the colour scheme is the first consideration. The most common colours for a Christmas wedding are gold, silver, red, green or any combination of these. Gold or silver themes can be used in a stylish, minimalist way or you can create a lavish look by layering different items and textures. Likewise, with the traditional red and green Christmas colour scheme, you can use it in a simplistic elegant way or opt for a rich, traditional or even cosy rustic style. Modern Christmas colours might include purple, blue or even pink.

Wedding Dress Ideas
Although you might choose to wear a traditional white dress on your wedding day, a Christmas themed wedding gives you permission to choose an alternative. Why not consider a deep Christmassy red dress edged with white faux fur? Or I can easily see how any of the coloured dresses I recently talked about could work beautifully in a Christmas themed wedding.

Photos  © S.A.S.I Corp and 
There are so many beautiful gold and silver wedding dresses just perfect for a Christmas themed wedding. Alternatively you could choose a white dress with gold or silver embellishments. 

Baskets of pine tree cones with pine tree branches, holly, cranberries all provide an instant feel of Christmas. You can also decorate with tinsel, garlands, wreaths, bunches of flowers and foliage.  A gingerbread house, some reindeer, a nativity display or Santa with his sleigh and reindeers can be added to ensure your guests know it’s Christmas. Complete your Christmas theme with a beautifully decorated Christmas tree topped with a bride angel or a bride and groom figurine.

Table Decorations
Crisp white, red or green tablecloths can lay the foundation for your table decorations which might include sprigs of holly with bright red berries, gingerbread men, Christmas crackers, bells and candles. If choosing a silver or gold theme, you can construct a lush, multilayer look by using silver or gold tablecloths dressed with contrasting texture table runners. Use shiny Christmas baubles, garlands and candles along the length of the table or grouped together to provide a beautiful focal point. Try filling a large, glass balloon vases with colour coordinated baubles for showy high-impact table decorations.

For a true Christmas feel you could serve a full traditional Christmas dinner complete with turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, baked glazed ham, roasted root vegetables with Christmas puddings and fruit mince pies for dessert. Instead of a traditional Christmas dinner, you could choose a contemporary alternative with the help of a talented caterer or chef.

If your Christmas wedding will take place in the southern hemisphere where Christmas time is hot rather than cold, you might prefer a relaxing Christmas celebration by the sea. Australia and the Pacific Islands (such as Fiji, the Cook Islands and Vanuatu),  are well known for their seafood which typically features on the Christmas menu. A seafood buffet or multi-course meal can include prawns, oysters, mussels, lobster, calamari and fish. Any number of delectable tropical fruits can be made into tantalising desserts and cocktails. 

Treat your guests with a chocolate or egg nog fountain where they can dip skewered marshmallows or festive berries before devouring. A candy cane tower  laden with candy canes can be placed in reach of children to enable them to help themselves.

Candles make a lovely favour and can be personalised with the date of the wedding and name of the bridge and groom. Personalised Christmas tree decorations are another great idea for favours and something family and friends will cherish year after year as they decorate their Christmas tree. Chocolates either customised or plain, Christmas candies, or little boxes filled with Christmas treats are bound to be received by your Christmas wedding guests.

As you can see, a Christmas themed wedding can be a fun way to combine your wedding with the festive celebration of Christmas. Do you have any other Christmas themed wedding ideas to share? Have you been to a Christmas themed wedding? how was it?

Destination: Wedding - A guide to planning the destination wedding of your dreams is available in paperback and digital formats at Amazon (UK)Amazon (USA) and from

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Getting Married In... Venice!

© Photo courtesy of Venice Events

Venice - One of the World's Most Beautiful Cities
The north-eastern Italian city of Venice has a reputation as one of the world’s most beautiful cities. The millions who visit Venice each year can’t help but fall in love with its striking Venetian architecture, alluring renaissance art and the hundreds of picturesque bridges which straddle a labyrinth of charming canals.

First settled in AD 452, Venice has many captivating stories to tell, particularly those of love and romance. Venice is the birthplace of the infamous master of the art of seduction Casanova, Venice also produced a host of talented and passionate people including renowned adventurer Marco Polo, painters Titian and Canaletto and composer Vivaldi.

Once commonly referred to as the Queen of the Adriatic, Venice is built atop a marshy lagoon, there are no roads only pedestrian ‘streets’ and all manner of boat traffic which navigates the canals. Public transport in Venice is by water and you can also take a water taxi or gondola ride to reach your destination.

© 2011 Photo by Lisa LaRue  

Best Time to Get Married in Venice
To find out the best time to get married in Venice I consulted Jayne Seddon of Venice Events. “I have organised weddings all year round, because each season is wonderful. The backdrop of Venice is beautiful, even in the fog and quieter outside the hot summer season.” she said. Jayne also told me that although the warmer months of May, June and July are most popular, September still offers reasonable weather. She added “I’ve also had some beautiful weddings in January, November and of course close to Christmas for a winter wedding.”

Ceremony Venues
There are many venue options in Venice for your symbolic, civil or religious wedding ceremony including grand palaces (palazzo), lavish hotels, hidden gardens and magnificent renaissance churches. Here’s just a small selection of venues available:

Palaces (civil ceremonies)
The most popular civil wedding venue is the elegant Palazzo Cavalli, a 16th century building in the centre of Venice, overlooking the Grand Canal with views to the Rialto Bridge. Other palaces licensed by the city to host civil ceremonies in Venice include:

  • Sala Degli Stucchi at Ca' Farsetti, a 13th century palace facing the Grand Canal near the Rialto bridge. 
  • Venice Council Hall at Ca' Loredan, is another 13th Century Palace which also faces the Grand Canal 
  • Sala Cuoi d'Oro at Ca' Vendramin Calergi, a stately Renaissance Palace on the Grand Canal that also houses the Venice Casino and the Wagner Museum. 
Hotels (symbolic ceremonies)
  • The Westin Europa & Regina has its own terrace with breathtaking views of the Grand Canal and the beautiful Church of Santa Maria della Salute. 
  • Hotel Cipriani boasts its own beautiful Casanova and Antique Gardens for symbolic ceremonies overlooking the lagoon.

Church Weddings (religious and symbolic ceremonies):
With approximately 137 churches in Venice of various denominations, you’re sure to find a suitable church venue for your religious or symbolic ceremony. Apart from consulting a local wedding planner, you can research churches in Venice at the Churches of Venice web site, a fantastic resource loaded with information and wonderful photos perfect for those researching from afar.
© 2011 Photos by Lisa LaRue
For more ceremony venue options, contact a wedding planner who specialises in weddings in Venice.

Reception Venues
With the exception of churches, many ceremony venues also offer wedding reception facilities. In particular, the majority of hotels and private palazzos in Venice will be more than happy to arrange catering for your post wedding reception. If you are using a wedding planner, they will be best able to advise you on your options based upon the number of guests you plan to host and the kind of venue you have in mind.

Where to Stay
Wherever you stay in Venice you’re certain to experience its enchanting ambiance and old-world Venetian charm. Although canal or lagoon front hotels and guest-houses (pensione) are the most popular and can be expensive, more affordable accommodation options can be found away from the water’s edge. Here's just a small selection of accommodation options in Venice:

  • Danieli Hotel is made up of three palaces one of which, the 14th century Palazzo Dandolo, was once the home to the Doge Dandolo family. The hotel has 225 luxuriously decorated guest rooms and suites some of which overlook the Grand Canal and lagoon.
  • Hotel Monaco Grand Canal overlooks the Grand Canal in San Marco with spectacular views of the Church of Santa Maria della Salute and the island of San Giorgio. It has 100 rooms furnished in grand Venetian style. 
  • Hotel Le Isole has just 16 stylishly decorated contemporary rooms each dedicated to different islands in the lagoon. 
  • Casa de Uscoli is a hosted bed and breakfast with just four rooms, two of which overlook the Grand Canal. This charming 14th century palazzo is furnished in an eclectic classic Venetian meets modern art-house style.

© 2011 Photograph by Lisa LaRue Author of Destination: Wedding

Local Customs and Traditions
It is local tradition for the bride to walk to the church, usually accompanied by father, mother and bridesmaids whilst the groom waits in the church.

There are four wedding gondolas in the city, which are kept purely for weddings. These gondolas are typically manned by two gondoliers, wearing special wedding uniform with coloured sashes. Couples might choose a singing gondolier to sing as they make their way through the narrow canals after the ceremony.

A Venetian Table, a dessert table laden with Italian desserts is a must if you are hosting a reception. Typical offerings include mini sized tiramisu, Napoleons, cannoli, profiteroles, cream cakes, cheesecakes, fruit log and shell-shaped filled pastries known as 

Italian favours (confetti) are small bags with five sugar coated almonds symbolising health, wealth, happiness, fertility and longevity. The favours are also tied onto gifts for the witnesses and close family members and can be quite important gifts, such as vases or silver ornaments. The guests they may receive a small gift (bomboniere) accompanied by their favour. Favour bags can be made from silk handkerchief, tulle or other materials. The favour bag will usually include a tag with the names of bride and groom and the date of the wedding.

The legal requirements vary according to nationality and residence of couples, but Jayne tells me that UK couples require the following:

  • No impediment certificates obtained from local registry office 
  • Full-length birth certificates 
  • Passports 
  • If divorced, original marriage and divorce certificates 
All these documents go to the British Consulate in Milan who issues a Nulla Osta, which is required by the town hall. The benefit of using a wedding planner like Venice Events, is they will handle all the documentation and liaise with both offices, pay the necessary fees, deal with any queries and make sure everything goes smoothly.

I asked Jayne about the recommended timeframe for organising a wedding in Venice, “We have arranged ‘last minute’ civil ceremonies within about two months (but you need to allow time for documentation). Generally six months for civil ceremonies, say a year for religious. Most couples start planning a year ahead, particularly with regard to booking ceremony and venue, hotels and flights.” She stressed that if couples are choosing to marry during the high season they may need to allow even more time to get the venue they want.

Venice Events is based in San Marco, Venice Italy

Destination: Wedding - A guide to planning the destination wedding of your dreams is available in paperback and digital formats at Amazon (UK)Amazon (USA) and from