DES­TI­NA­TION: I DO

Plan­ning to es­cape the rain-rid­den North West and get wed in sun­nier climes? We asked Ch­ester wed­ding plan­ner, Lisa Bur­ton, for her golden rules on say­ing I do abroad

Cheshire Life - - Get Wed -

As a cruise ship casino worker in her early twen­ties, Lisa Bur­ton en­joyed plenty of stop-offs in exotic Caribbean des­ti­na­tions. But white sand and turquoise surf aside, one not so picture-per­fect scene stayed with her from her trav­els.

‘I saw my fair share of con­veyor belt-style wed­dings,’ the Ch­ester­based mum-of-one re­calls.

‘We used to go ev­ery week to Ma­gens Bay on the is­land of St Thomas and see brides and grooms lined up with a pho­tog­ra­pher, walk­ing hand-in­hand over this beach, a cou­ple of feet from where we were sun­bathing.

‘I thought, I’m sure they don’t sign up for this when they see beau­ti­ful pho­tos in a brochure.’

Throw in a bad ex­pe­ri­ence with her own wed­ding plan­ner

a few years later – who went AWOL when he was supposed to be or­gan­is­ing Lisa’s Scot­tish wed­ding to now-hus­band Matthew – and her new busi­ness idea was born.

‘I knew what I didn’t want to of­fer. And I knew there was def­i­nitely a mar­ket for peo­ple who wanted to get mar­ried abroad, maybe with a reduced bud­get, but who still wanted that in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ence and to trust that they weren’t go­ing to get there and be sand­wiched be­tween sun­bathers and peo­ple at a bar,’ says Lisa.

‘I thought, all this in­volves is hav­ing clear prices, good com­mu­ni­ca­tion and good con­tacts. I spent three years build­ing up a list of con­tacts and re­search­ing venues.’

In the 15 years since she founded The Bridal Consultant, the pop­u­lar plan­ner has more than 1,400 wed­dings un­der her belt, rang­ing from in­ti­mate New York cer­e­monies to a lav­ish, £100k cel­e­bra­tion in San­torini, Greece where guests were gifted Jo Malone can­dles as wed­ding favours.

Lisa, who re­cently launched the on­line wed­ding plan­ning por­tal Lu­vana.co.uk, has fielded her fair share of un­usual re­quests, in­clud­ing a sur­prise wed­ding in Aus­tralia, a Goth­ic­themed beach wed­ding and even dou­ble nup­tials be­tween two sis­ters and their part­ners. ‘They had to work out who was go­ing to walk down the aisle first!’

This wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence, and the ever-chang­ing na­ture of wed­ding plan­ning, in­spired Lisa to cre­ate Lu­vana, a slick, free-touse por­tal for cou­ples plan­ning an over­seas wed­ding. The site

brings to­gether a directory of more than 2,000 brands, plus prac­ti­cal tools and check­lists.

‘Some peo­ple book a wed­ding 18 months or two years in ad­vance and then im­me­di­ately want to book their pho­tog­ra­pher, videog­ra­pher and caterer. Peo­ple want to do ev­ery­thing now and with the in­ter­net at the click of your finger­tips, there’s noth­ing to stop you do­ing that,’ says Lisa.

It doesn’t negate the need for the per­sonal touch though; as her ex­pert dos-and-don’ts prove… 1 DON’T book any­thing be­fore set­ting a bud­get: ‘Be­fore you do any­thing else, work out how much you’ve got in sav­ings, how much you want to put to­wards the wed­ding, and how much you can save be­tween now and then,’ says Lisa.

‘If your bud­get is £5k, you need to be look­ing for a lo­ca­tion that’s closer to you. If you’ve got a £25- £30k bud­get, ob­vi­ously it opens up a lot more des­ti­na­tions. Don’t go for a lo­ca­tion that’s no­to­ri­ously ex­pen­sive like Italy, and then de­cide once you’ve booked a venue and paid a de­posit that you can’t af­ford what you wanted, be­cause that causes so much heartache.’

2 DO pri­ori­tise lo­ca­tion over num­bers: ‘We have so many cou­ples who choose a venue just to make sure they have as many peo­ple there as pos­si­ble. They want 80 peo­ple to come to their wed­ding, so they choose some­where that’s cheaper. Then half­way through the plan­ning, the num­bers start drop­ping off and they’re stuck get­ting mar­ried some­where they wouldn’t have ideally cho­sen,’ says Lisa.

‘You need to choose some­thing that’s true to you, and the peo­ple that mean the most to you will come, whether that’s 25 or 50.’

3 DON’T pick the wrong time of year: ‘This catches a lot of peo­ple out,’ Lisa warns. ‘For ex­am­ple, July and Au­gust is hur­ri­cane sea­son in the Caribbean. In Mau­ri­tius, their bet­ter sea­son for weather is prob­a­bly De­cem­ber to Fe­bru­ary, but it’s also their most ex­pen­sive time.

‘Although they should, travel agents don’t al­ways di­vulge this in­for­ma­tion to you. And re­mem­ber that in high sea­son, you can get tem­per­a­tures of 40 de­grees or more; in a wed­ding dress, that’s an aw­ful lot of heat.’

4 DON’T let tech­nol­ogy take over: ‘My main bit of ad­vice: there’s a Pin­ter­est wed­ding and a real wed­ding and they’re very rarely the same thing,’ says Lisa. ‘Don’t be fooled by so­cial me­dia – man­age your ex­pec­ta­tions of what you can achieve and af­ford. This is ap­pli­ca­ble with any wed­ding, but es­pe­cially des­ti­na­tions wed­dings. Do your re­search; don’t ex­pect the images you see on sup­pli­ers web­sites to be the full picture.

LEFT: Lisa Bur­ton founder of Lu­vana

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