Walking down the aisle of a chapel or a castle in some faraway land is no longer such an unattainable fantasy.
A destination wedding – or one where marriage rites are held outside the Philippines – is getting to be an increasingly popular alternative to the typical Filipino kasalan. Especially since more couples have come to realize that with proper planning, they can still have that dream event at almost the same budget as a local ceremony in a huge cathedral followed by a fancy hotel reception attended by hundreds of family and friends.
For Pam Gella and her fiancé, a wedding in a medieval castle in Tuscany, Italy, is the perfect alternative to such a cathedral-hotel event. The couple wanted an intimate gathering of family and friends, and believed that this would best be achieved with an out-of-the-country affair.
“It’s more intimate, private, and even if done abroad, can be simpler than a Manila wedding,” says Pam, a businesswoman and events consultant.
For her own event, Pam combined professional skills and personal “feel” to plan the perfect day. Here, she shares how that is achieved –what to look and plan for.
Ambience is clearly one attraction of a wedding abroad. Pam and her betrothed toyed with the idea of exchanging vows in Paris, France or in California’s Napa Valley, but finally picked Tuscany for its rustic scenery and magical, old-world charm. It’s also a perfect place for fun and adventure for the couple’s guest list of 50 that includes immediate family members, some very close friends, and their children.
The wedding day was set within a week of arranged activities for family and friends: Day tours at the local market, tours of the nearby towns and wine tours at the castle which makes its own wine.
An ideal destination wedding, says Pam, “depends on what you want your dream wedding to be and how you want to remember it. And this should stem from the fact that your wedding has to be one of the best memories of your life.”
Another come-on is price. Compared with a church wedding in Manila followed by a hotel reception, a destination wedding in Hong Kong, Singapore, or even Italy, can actually cost the same, if not less.
“Check out the Web for great flights and accommodations and you might actually be surprised at what you’ll find. There are now value roundtrip tickets to Hong Kong for only $49 plus travel tax, which is very affordable for guests. Singapore flights might cost more than $100, while roundtrip fares to the US and Europe go for $1,000 up” says Pam.
Of course, every dream wedding comes with its own particular set of realities. Paperwork is crucial and must be very precise. From the Department of Foreign Affairs, Pam needed to secure a Red Ribbon Document, legal papers attesting to your Filipino citizenship and proof that nobody is objecting to your marriage in your country. This then becomes your ticket to getting married abroad. There are various other requirements for different countries, so it’s best to check with a wedding consultant for these.
Then there’s the matter of visas. While no one is guaranteed one, Pam says “it definitely helps if your documents are in order, so your guests can supply information like the date and venue of the ceremony and which hotel you will be billeted in. The bride, meanwhile, should establish a network of people at her destination of choice, individuals who can vouch for her if and when the embassy asks.”
The forthcoming destination wedding is the second for both Pam and her fiancé. This time around, the couple has chosen to go out of town – and out of the country – for their special day, surrounding themselves with family and their closest friends.
But one thing Pam is looking forward to, no matter where the wedding is held: Spending her life with the man of her dreams after the big day.