More and more couples from the UK and Ireland are choosing to get married abroad these days. With good weather pretty much guaranteed and a chance for your nearest and dearest to enjoy a holiday either side of the main event, it's easy to see why.
Wedding on the horizon? Get planning your dream destination wedding in Europe with these tips from 10 leading wedding experts…
“The Amalfi Coast is a really special place to hold a wedding that’s often overlooked due to its popularity as a honeymoon destination – it’s absolutely stunning, ideal for wedding photos. The weather is mild throughout the year, so you’re guaranteed sun but not overbearing heat in this part of the world. Obviously being an Italian location, the food and the wine is exceptional. Also, unlike other parts of the Italian coast, it’s not as expensive as you might think. The Italians also pride themselves on their service. Expect to receive warm hospitality from all the people along the coast, just to add that extra something special to your wedding day."
As recommended by Tilly Wilkinson, ukbride.co.uk
“With its crystal clear waters, beautiful blue skies and volcanic location, the Greek island of Santorini is a picture perfect setting to say "I do". It really is one of the best wedding destinations in Europe.
The views are truly breath-taking with stunning white washed houses cascading from the hilltop to meet the vast expanse of the Aegean Sea at the foot. There are a multitude of venues to wed in Santorini, each one as unique and individual as the next.
Enjoy fresh Greek delicacies for your wedding breakfast - from souvlaki to spanakopita, and indulge in the renowned Assyrtiko wine which is famous to the Santorini region.
The people of Santorini are also one of the reasons why it is a popular destination wedding location with a service that is second to none.
'Philotimo' is the Greek concept of unconditional love and respect, and there is an abundance of this in Santorini.
When your wedding day is done and dusted, there is no better way to celebrate than watching one
of Santorini's spectacular sunsets with your new husband or wife - a memory that undoubtedly will last a lifetime.”
As recommended by Sarah George, bridemagazine.co.uk
“With over 3,000 hours of sunshine a year, it’s no wonder couples from northern Europe regularly jet off to the gorgeous Algarve for their big day! Just a short 3 hour flight from the UK and Ireland, the Algarve is Portugal’s southernmost region and is renowned for its sun-filled days, making it a perfect setting for destination weddings.
April to June is an ideal time for weddings – couples can expect warm weather, less crowds (a big plus if you’re after a beach wedding) and cheaper prices than during the busier summer months. Don’t overlook our autumn months either, temperatures are lovely in October and you can avail of great offers whether you’re after a traditional Portuguese quinta in the countryside, luxurious private villa with pool or beach-side setting.
Civil ceremonies and catholic weddings are legally binding so you can tie the knot in the Algarve or opt for a blessing if you’d rather do the legal side of things at home. One breath-taking ceremony location that pops up time and time again in weddingsonline real weddings is the idyllic Lady of the Rock clifftop (Senhora da Rocha) where many couples choose to say ‘I Do’. Praia da Luz also has a picture perfect church, right beside the sea!
Tip: We highly recommend enlisting the help of a local wedding planner who can help you with everything from suppliers to paperwork!”
As recommended by Pamela Mahon, Weddingsonline.ie
“The Canary Island of Lanzarote is known for its year-round sunshine, and with a mere four-hour flight separating it from the UK, it’s pretty much the perfect spot for a destination wedding, whatever time of year you choose to tie the knot. The perfect family destination, if you have a few younger guests – or maybe children of your own – you will find Lanzarote safe and relaxed. There are lots of things for you and your guests to enjoy round the island including a trip to Timanfaya National Park, which houses a volcano, surfing in Famara or simply soaking up that sun on one of the island’s 90 great beaches. We recommend staying at Princesa Yaiza, with its endless views of the sea and unique Thalassotherapy Centre that will leave you the most chilled out couple ever! Situated in Playa Blanca, a pretty, tranquil spot on the island, it has perfectly manicured gardens and gourmet dining options."
As recommended by Rachel Southwood, weddingideasmag.com
“It’s hard to choose just one region of Italy to recommend for a destination wedding - Italians sure know how to throw a party! - but if we had to pick just one, it would be Tuscany. From the spectacular food, the flowing wine, the breathtaking scenery, and the incredible choice of wedding suppliers, Tuscany comes out on top every time.
We can almost taste the limoncello already!
Because of the vast selection of venues and vendors, a couple can have an incredible wedding here, whatever their budget. Choose from a vineyard villa or a pretty hilltop town surrounded by rolling countryside. The photo ops are unrivalled - so make sure you invest in a great photographer!
Among our favourite venues in Tuscany are Villa Diulignano for laid-back luxury, Castello di Modanella to give your guests the royal treatment, or Borgo di Tragliata, closer to Rome, this one has a fantastic location and is hugely popular with Irish and UK couples tying the knot in Italy.
The best time for a wedding in Tuscany is May, June or September to avoid the peak of the heat! And while it may be balmy, Italy is not immune to downpours, so make sure you chat to your venue about Plan B, just in case!”
As recommended by Claire McGowran, OneFabDay.com
“In recent years, Malta has become an increasingly popular wedding destination and for very good reason. With its fabulous Mediterranean climate, stunning scenery and beautiful architecture, couples are completely spoilt for choice with the number of breath-taking backdrops on offer for a unique wedding day.
Along with its natural beauty, Malta has a diverse range of ceremony and reception options. It has an impressive selection of luxury 5 star hotels, all with their own individual character, historic castles, such the 9th century Castello Zamitello which is located in a peaceful country setting with beautiful gardens and spectacular views. Romantic villas, such as the elegant Villa Bologna, which is perfect for couples who love the idea of a relaxed vintage or garden style wedding and unique beach venues like the Hola Beach Club which is casual, hip and modern and has everything for the couple wishing to have a laid-back beach wedding.
One of the greatest advantages about getting married in Malta is that couples from all over the world can legally marry, with no need to be residents and it is a gay friendly marriage country. Also - due to English and Maltese being the official languages, by default the wedding ceremony is performed in English.”
As recommended by Natalie Wingrove, weddingsabroadguide.com
“A short two-and-a-half-hour flight from the UK will transport you and your wedding guests to the Mediterranean paradise of Mallorca, a beautiful island with year-round sunshine practically guaranteed, which is perfect for destination weddings.
Brides Abroad magazine highly recommends Mallorca, as it offers a diverse choice of spectacular wedding locations to suit all tastes: The more popular resorts along the south west coast boast sandy beaches, pretty coves and bustling marinas. Our favourite wedding venue in this area is the beautiful boutique Hotel Villa Italia, overlooking Puerto de Andratx with terraces boasting panoramic views of the bay, the luxury marina and the bars and restaurants on the quayside of this bustling up-market resort.
Further up the west coast, tucked away on the hillside, a wedding at the luxurious Hotel Belmond La Residencia in the artist’s favourite village of Deia, is bound to impress guests. Its timeless setting offers an elevated Mediterranean backdrop and spectacular sunsets.
Another Brides Abroad favourite, set within the farmlands of the south east coast, is the Hotel Hilton Sa Torre, which simply oozes rustic charm, with an intoxicating blend of luxurious facilities including an ancient chapel, a historical windmill providing unique photo opportunities, a cobbled courtyard and a barrel-vaulted hall for an idyllic wedding reception - not forgetting its two fabulous swimming pools!”
As recommended by Terri Cody-Owen, bridesabroad.com
"Crammed with beaches and enchanting seaside towns, wild mountains and towering pine forests, and with hundreds of islands waiting to be explored just a hop away, Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast is one of Europe’s hidden gems for destination weddings.
Any couple torn between a beach or city destination to say ‘I do’ will find their answer here. Hugging the entire coastline are ancient walled towns, rich in romance and good wine. The hub of this is the trendy city of Split, nestled at the foot of the Marjan Hill, which offers as many secluded spots to tie the knot as nearby islands to hop.
Each island has its own special charm: Brac is best known for its postcard-perfect white beaches and hidden coves, while couples looking for glitz and ritz can do no better than the A-list favourite Hvar, where you’ll find a great party at every turn.
But the crowning jewel is the Medieval city of Dubrovnik at the southern tip of Dalmatia. From your first glimpse of the town’s terracotta rooftops (instantly recognisable as the real-life location of King’s Landing in Game of Thrones) to the quaint cobbled alleyways leading to the port, this breathtaking city is unrivalled as a wedding destination and an unforgettable one for wedding photos. Few places offer such atmosphere, beauty and romance just a 2.5-hour flight from the UK."
As recommended by Helen Pye, Hitched.co.uk
"Blessed with oscar-winning good looks, beautiful beaches and elegant, refined villas, the island of Sicily is a dream destination for a wedding.
In terms of spectacular photo opportunities, there is no shortage of beautiful back-drops. From the pure white salt plains of Marsala, to medieval palaces, volcanic landscapes and the romantic vineyards of western Sicily, inspiration is everywhere.
Furthermore, Sicily's excellent wine and cuisine needs little introduction - guests will certainly enjoy a feast to remember.
Featuring a romantic old town, complete with a UNESCO-listed Arab-Norman cathedral, Cefalú, known as the 'pearl of Sicily' is one of the island's most charming and picturesque locations for a wedding. Classic movie fans will recognise Cefalú from Giuseppe Tornatore's Academy Award winning film Cinema Paradiso. These days, couples getting married in Cefalú can incorporate elements of the movie into their wedding by hosting a civil ceremony at the Theatre of Cefalú and reception at the pretty port which also featured in the film.
Other unique locations in Cefalú include 'La Rocca', the rock of Cefalú which offers stunning panoramic views of the town and sea, Cefalú's wonderful beach with its medieval back-drop and civil ceremonies in the Museum of Mandralisca, known as the little jewel of Cefalú, with receptions taking place in the beautiful surroundings of a restaurant-art gallery."
As recommended by Angela Macaluso, wedding planner at Sicily by Experts
"The South West of France offers exceptionally good value for weddings. The Dordogne area in particular boasts a huge array of magnificent chateaux, vineyards and manor houses. The scenery is nothing short of magical. With medieval villages, bastide towns, prehistorical sites and rolling countryside, it makes for a phenomenal setting.
The area is also renowned for its gastronomy and wedding menus are created by fantastic local chefs using the best of the region's products and delicacies. Wine is exceptionally good value and many venues offer bring your own drinks services with no corkage attached.
There is so much to see and do. Canoe down the Dordogne or Vezere rivers, visit a bustling local market, go wine tasting, spend the day in one of the regions famous towns and cities."
As recommended by Beth Stretton, wedding planner at Marry Me in France