If you are planning a wedding abroad, you are in for a bit of extra planning, and a bit of extra informing. But, the extra work will be worth it when you are looking at wedding albums of your nuptials. Before you pack your suitcases, here are three things that you should tell your guests about your out of the country wedding:
Laws, Policies and Cultural Norms
This starts with a gentle reminder to make sure that everyone has an up to date passport, as a passport is required for traveling abroad in most cases. If you know that a passport is not required, let your guests know as well, so that they do not have to worry.
When having a wedding abroad, it is also important to be aware of the laws in that specific country – especially if the laws are different back home. This includes the legal age of drinking and smoking, as well as certain drugs and medications that are legal in your home state but may be prohibited in the country where you plan to get married. Your guests should also be aware of social norms – especially ones that are regulated by law. For instance, in some countries, modesty is considered very important and certain behaviors that are perfectly acceptable in the U.S, may be considered a criminal offense in other countries.
In some cases, breaking cultural norms may be considered rude, but not punishable as a crime. Your guests should still be aware of said norms, especially if you want to have your wedding in a place of religious or cultural significance such as a temple or shrine. Make sure that your guests are aware of any religious and cultural customs that are associated with your wedding venue, and that they remain respectful of the local customs. This is especially crucial if you know that some members of your wedding party may not be familiar with the new country and its traditions. You don’t want your ceremony interrupted because one of your guests has made a major faux pas and then must be escorted from the venue.
Location nuances include weather, health risks, climate, and forecast. It’s always a good idea to know what to pack when you are going on a trip. Your guests should be aware of what the weather will be like at the destination, and have an idea of the area’s general climate. Some climates can exacerbate health conditions like allergies, asthma, or even arthritis, and your guests should be prepared ahead of time to deal with the change.
In some cases, a doctor’s visit may be required prior to travel due to conditions that are endemic to a certain area. For instance, if you are planning to travel to South America, you and your guests risk encountering the dreaded Zika virus. Make sure that you visit a doctor prior to traveling to ensure that you are up to date on your vaccinations, and to take precautionary steps against climate aggravated conditions- and advise your guests to do the same.
Knowing the forecast for the big day is also important for you, as well as your guests. Not only will the weather affect wardrobe choices, but it may also require alterations to the venue if you are outdoors and there is a chance of rain. Even if your wedding is indoors, the weather may affect photography and traffic, which means that you and your guests will need to make extra time to accommodate any unexpected weather changes.
Any recent changes to the area also fall under location nuances. These can take the form of a street being blocked off due to flooding, or a closed route due to a political demonstration, or national holiday. Make sure that your guests check the news in the region to ensure that they are able to get to the venue on time.
Photo credit: Ben Pan Coast
The Address and Directions
Make sure to have the address and directions to everything associated with the wedding, and probably in several languages. It is not uncommon for couples to decide to get married in one place, have pictures in a park or near a historical monument, and have the reception at another location all-together. Make sure that your guests have the complete itinerary if you want them present at every event. Conversely, if you need a little privacy, consider leaving a venue off the itinerary.
Anything that you do include must, at the very least, have the address listed correctly. You will not have time to look for lost guests on your wedding day, so warn your guests to be prepared with directions. Since the wedding is in another country, and some of them may not be familiar with that country, they should be able to easily look up any venue that is associated with the wedding, and have clear directions ahead of time.
Should your guests get lost, it is always good practice to know a few words in the regional language. English speakers, especially Americans, are often taunted for being monolingual in a multilingual world. It is true English is a popular language worldwide and many people do speak English as their second or third language. However, assuming that everyone simply must speak English when one is in a country where English is not a major language, is simply untrue and can be rude. Therefore, it is always useful for yourself and your guests to know basics such as “hello”, “thank you”, “Do you speak English?” and “Where is this place located?” The locals will quickly understand that you have a very limited command of their language, but they will almost always appreciate the effort and will be much more likely to go out of their way and help.
Photo credit: Wedd Book
Much of what is mentioned above is common sense and your guests should know to be prepared on their own. However, between the excitement of traveling for a wedding abroad, and making arrangements for the trip, some of your guests may forget the basics. Therefore, it is always a good idea to include a few gentle reminders in the itinerary.