Romance is in the air, and the Weddings team at Tropical Sky know how to make your overseas wedding or vow renewal into a dream come true.
Well, who knew? Based in lovely East Sussex, there is a wedding guru and he’s not what you might expect either. Fred Harrison of Tropical Sky is not wizened or ancient, however I do suspect he is in possession of encyclopaedic knowledge concerning weddings abroad. Fred heads up a team of 7 who will help you plan your wedding almost anywhere in the world. Whether you choose New York, Bali or Zanzibar (amazing, I know) the wedding team in East Grinsted will guide you through the paperwork, legalities and special requests with the ease of Mary Poppins creating calm in Jane and Michael’s nursery. What I thought was just the best, is that all brides are given a wedding dress box for their frock, what a fabulous idea. And it’s airline-proof too.
So why do people get married overseas? I had thought it was because they’d be on the spot for the honeymoon perhaps, or able to avoid awkward family complications, but no, the answer is far more prosaic: money. Here are the facts: the average cost of a wedding in the UK is an enormous £19,000 so with this in mind, over the past six years, the demand for a wedding abroad (where tying the knot is considerably more affordable, on average £3,000, with some hotels offering free ceremonies) has risen to a staggering 27%, thus one in four UK couples opt for a destination wedding. Of course, being able to guarantee good weather helps the persuade couples too. The romance of a sandy white beach, sunshine, al fresco cake cutting and a laid back atmosphere, Fred assures me, gets a marriage off to a wonderful start. Plus, of course, the honeymoon can begin immediately and chances are, you won’t be surrounded by an odd assortment of ill-gotten relatives.
Fred manages to make it all sound wonderfully straightforward, you need copies of your birth certificate, passport, decree absolute (if you’re divorced), death certificate if you’re a widow or widower, possibly an affidavit to state you are single, with no impediment to marriage and a certified translation of the above into Spanish if you’re planning a ceremony in Cuba, the Dominican Republic or Mexico. However, you will be advised of all this and more by Fred’s team, and they will despatch copies of your documents to the local venue, to check compliance, well in advance of the big day.
Once you arrive in the country of your choice, the hotel wedding co-ordinators and their team swing into action, like a well-oiled machine. For many hotels, weddings are big business, so they work very hard to make your day perfect. Interestingly, weddings abroad are generally civil ceremonies, even if conducted by local ministers. And so they are legal in the UK, so there is no need to register your marriage once back home.
Fred tells me that St Lucia, Barbados, Mauritius and New York are the current popular wedding destinations, with a variety of wedding packages on offer including flowers, photos, spa treatments and a cake, of course. It sounds wonderful and easy, far more relaxed than planning my own bash in the home counties years ago, which involved so many challenges I slept through the honeymoon. And perhaps that is why so many second and third weddings take place overseas: the brides to be are well aware of how wonderful it would be to walk a few yards from their hotel bedroom to a charming gazebo with the planning and preparation done by someone else! If you are in the Caribbean, Fred or one of his team might well be there, checking on venues and ensuring your very special day is totally perfect.
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