How Ina and Helge secured their dream wedding abroad
More and more people want to get married abroad. In fact, a survey shows that every fourth couple chooses to experience their big day in another country. This is how Ina and Helge did it.
How do you make your dreams of a foreign wedding come true? And is it really worth it? For Ina and Helge, their dream became reality in the summer of 2022 when they exchanged vows in Mallorca in front of 80 guests.
This is how they made it happen.
Mallorca became the scene of their dream wedding
Ina and Helge chose to get married in Mallorca, a place that was already filled with fond memories for both of them. Ina has family on the Spanish island, and the couple saw it as a golden opportunity to gather friends and family in slightly different surroundings, while getting to spend more days with their loved ones than just the wedding day itself.
"It's also a completely different atmosphere when people are on holiday in warmer climates," says the bride and with a twinkle in her eye.
The groom adds: "We arranged the wedding in the lush part of Mallorca, since we think it's the most beautiful part."
It's not hard to see why the couple chose Mallorca. The island offers far more than tourist-filled towns and beaches. Majestic mountains with sharp cliffs plunging into the turquoise Mediterranean Sea. Fields full of olive trees and vineyards that stretch across the landscape.
The big city, Palma, shows Mallorca's rich history, and it's a dream to wander around in if only to look at its architecture. In addition, the cultural history is clearly visible all over the island – castles and ruins, cathedrals, monasteries, magnificent manor houses, and museums are scattered all over Mallorca. In other words, a wide range of experiences for both guests and couples who are tying the knot.
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But how did Ina and Helge manage to realize their dream so far from home? The couple, who live in Bergen, Norway, planned far ahead of time and were united in what they wanted. "Helge was at least as committed as I was," says Ina. "We had slightly different roles in the planning. Helge was probably mostly responsible for the budget and set limits when our imaginations ran wild," says Ina with a smile. "I took more responsibility for decorations, colour tones, flowers and furniture.
Decisions on the music, food and drink, and what the atmosphere itself should be like, were made by the couple jointly.
Here are their experiences and best tips for having your dream wedding abroad.
How to choose a wedding venue in an unfamiliar place
Depending on how many guests you invite, it's important to think about accommodation, activities, and distances to different locations, including on the days around the wedding day. Then comes what is perhaps the most important part – the wedding venue itself. This can be a difficult decision to make. For Ina and Helge, the wedding planner player a key role.
"After looking for wedding venues on our own for a long time, we got in touch with a wedding planner who had a portfolio of venues for us to choose from. She had pictures of the various venues that she emailed us. It made the job much easier," they say.
The couple says that going for a wedding planner was the best choice they made in terms of simplifying the planning process. "The planning went surprisingly well, but I think that's thanks to the wedding planner. It has helped a lot to have another person involved to give us tips and advice when we have been uncertain about something. She also helped us narrow down the options," says Ina.
"We had regular contact with her along the way, and we started the process about a year and a half in advance, so we had plenty of time. We travelled down to Mallorca to look at the venue about six months before the wedding, and we were very pleased."
The couple recommends sharing inspiration on how you want things to be with your wedding planner. "We got a lot of inspiration from Pinterest. We sent over pictures on decorations, furniture, table settings, colour tones and flowers. In the last few months before the wedding, we talked to the wedding planner more often to get all the details in place. Our toastmaster also participated in a couple of meetings to set the program for the day itself," say Helge and Ina.
The wedding venue the couple ultimately selected in called Son Berga. A finca, which is a lovely old farmhouse with a property surrounded by orange trees and mountains. A place that could just as easily be in Italy, France, or, not least, mainland Spain.
Include the country's culture in your party
When choosing to host a wedding abroad, it's both fun, and a nice gesture to the place, to include a bit of the local culture on your big day. For Ina and Helge, they were already clear that they wanted a finca wedding, rustic, but with a modern style in scenic surroundings.
"We wanted food with a focus on local roots and a Spanish touch on the design of the wedding, but with elements from Norwegian traditions."
The couple chose tapas as appetizers, served while the guests were mingling and exploring more of the lovely venue. They chose to set the mood with Spanish guitarists playing while they were welcoming the guests and the appetizers were being served.
Add a buffer to your budget
"We must admit that things quickly became more expensive than planned," say Ina and Helge. It's rarely cheap to host a wedding abroad, and it's important to pay attention to local currency versus your own. In addition, you can be locked into using certain suppliers based on the venue you choose. "Most fincas have agreements with suppliers of lighting, sound, food/catering, childcare, and so on. In this way, there may not be as much flexibility in who you can choose. But that said, the suppliers they have agreements with are usually very good at what they do," says the couple.
A good tip is to check this out in advance, so you are aware of what expenses are coming. It is also an advantage to choose the venue before you have finished drawing up the guest list. This is to get an overview of how many people you actually have room for.
"What has been most difficult, and where we have perhaps been most frustrated, is in discussions about how many guests we should have and who to invite. We were given a limit of 80 guests if we were to arrange the wedding as we wanted at the finca. We had actually listed over 100 guests we wanted to invite, but which we now had to curtail," say the Bergen couple.
Provide information early
It is always important to give guests proper information about the wedding – time, place, and venue. When arranging a wedding abroad, this is crucial. Guests should be able to book accommodation and flights well in advance without doing much research themselves. You should make it easy for them.
Helge says they were early in providing information about the wedding. In fact, two years in advance they informed people that they wanted to have their wedding in Mallorca. "We had both a Facebook group and our own website. We sent out "save the dates" early on since we wanted to have our wedding abroad. This was important so that guests would have time to plan childcare, budgets, time off from work and other things. Although we posted a lot of information on our website, we mostly communicated through Facebook.
According to the couple, information reached guests more quickly via Facebook.
"Using Facebook, you also get feedback and input, and we got questions if anyone was wondering about anything. We received music requests, information about food allergies, etc. there too."
They also used their Facebook page to share information on hotels, transport, beaches, restaurants, and things to see and do in Mallorca.
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Remember to apply for a certificate well in advance
You must remember to apply for a certificate of no impediment a little in advance. The certificate is valid for 4 months. Ina and Helge wanted a minister to officiate. "We contacted the Norwegian Seamen's Church well in advance and received information from them about what we needed to do in advance. We had a chat with the minister a few days before the wedding. If you want to be married by a minister, a good tip is to check with the Norwegian Seamen's Church if they can officiate in your desired location. Some churches require the wedding ceremony to take place in a church.
Bonus - wedding and honeymoon in the same place
By hosting a wedding abroad, you can also have your honeymoon there, too. After all, it's a place you know you enjoy. Ina and Helge took advantage of this opportunity and went straight on their honeymoon after the wedding.
"We arrange the wedding in Mallorca for a reason. It's an island we love very much. That's why we thought that once we were in a beautiful, warm, and sunny place, we didn't need to go far. We both like to travel around a bit and explore new places, and therefore wanted to take the opportunity to explore some new spots on the island and islands off Mallorca," says Ina.
The couple travelled to the lovely island of Formentera, then back to Mallorca, and spent the rest of their holiday in superb hotels. The 5-star Cap Vermell Grand Hotel was their favourite.
"Having both the wedding and the honeymoon in Mallorca also saved us some time and money in terms of travel," they say.
Three quick questions for Ina and Helge
What are three tips you have for couples who want to have wedding abroad?
"Do it! Engage a wedding planner, send out the invitations early, and pay a visit to see the venue and to sample the food and drink."
What's your fondest memory?
Helge: "When Ina came walking towards the altar."
Ina: "Besides the first time I saw Helge and all the guests at the wedding ceremony, I would like to highlight the moment after the first dance, when things really took off on the dance floor."
Any other things that are important to consider?
"Focus on creating a good atmosphere, and less on the material content at the wedding. When things get really intense during the wedding planning, take a little break. Turn the planning into something positive - create a good atmosphere with some music and a good glass of wine."
About the couple:
Ina and Helge met in 2011 when they were both studying physiotherapy in Denmark. In 2019, Helge proposed in spectacular surroundings when they were on holiday in the USA. Standing atop a mountaintop in Yosemite National Park overlooking Nevada Falls, it wasn't hard for Ina to say yes.