Dublin-born Rosie Meleady is a wedding planner who specialises in destination weddings abroad. Here, she reveals the benefits and realities of getting married overseas, when you need to start planning your big day and the most common mistakes Irish couples make!
What destinations do you offer couples?
I used to offer destinations all over the world. However, about 5 years ago, I fell head over heels in love with Italy and now specialise in weddings there. I also mentor people who want to start their own wedding planning business. Many of my graduates offer other great destinations so I can put couples in touch with a good wedding planner for most parts of the world.
What are the benefits of getting married abroad vs Ireland?
The weather! You can nearly always rely on the weather being good enough in Italy to eat outside and dance the night away outdoors.
Why Italy in particular?
Every region offers something different. Tuscany and Umbria have the rolling hills and private villas and castles. The Amalfi Coast offers beautiful sea views and the lakes, well, they speak for themselves!!
What’s the difference between a wedding planner and a wedding stylist?
A planner looks after the logistics and management to ensure your day runs the way you want it to. They source vendors and help find the right venue to match your needs. A stylist creates the vision to ensure your day is visually unique. I offer some styling guidance to couples and I am a big fan of Pinterest and Instagram, but I prefer to bring in a stylist to look after the details.
What advice would you give to couples who are planning on getting married abroad?
Get to know the legal requirements. Don’t expect services to be a lot cheaper as they are often the same cost as services in Ireland. However, people often save money due to the fact that the wedding is usually smaller. Also, embrace the differences! Don’t go to a different country and expect everything to be the same. For instance, wedding ceremonies in hot countries usually happen around 5/6pm and not 2/3pm like in Ireland, as it is way too hot then!
How far in advance should a bride contact you when planning for the celebration?
10 -14 months is fine for a destination wedding. However, if you want a bank holiday weekend or have over 180 guests then you need to book further in advance. Brides-to-be sometimes contact me 3 years in advance and I always gulp! There is more to life than your wedding day and you should enjoy your engagement. Also, trends, as well as your taste and style will change from year to year.
Are there any current trends emerging from the Irish wedding industry at present?
The DIY bride is fading – that era was quite painful to watch.
When is the best time to book the venue?
When you find the right one!
What mistakes do couples often make when it comes to choosing the wedding reception?
They underestimate the cost of certain things. I generally recommend allowing €100 per guest and then €6,000 for everything else. Yes, you can get menus for less than €100, but when you add in the little things such as a drink for the toast, wine, a favour, the cost of stationery per person etc., it all adds up. A lot of couples are currently trying to cut costs by getting a friend or relative ‘with a good camera’ to capture the day. However, this is a huge mistake! There is a lot more to wedding photography than just the camera. Also, keep in mind the distance that guests have to travel. For a destination wedding, I would recommend staying within a 2-hour drive of the airport.
Where is your favourite venue in Ireland and abroad?
I love an old manor house for an Irish wedding or a villa in Tuscany. We have some beautiful houses in Ireland such as the Dunbrody House Hotel in Wexford or Hayfield Manor in Cork.
Have you ever had any outrageous requests?
To be honest, most Irish couples are very rational when it comes to their wedding. Their main concern is that guests enjoy themselves. The most common request I get on a daily basis goes something like this;
I just want a simple wedding. Low budget with lots of fairy lights, candles and flowers everywhere with guests seated on hay bales in a forest setting. Great food and wine served buffet style – no fussy tables. Attached are some Pinterest pictures of what I have in mind.
When I look at the pictures, I can instantly count the thousands of euro the decor will cost alone. Simple does not always mean cheap. Hay bales for instance do not magically appear in forests. They have to be bought, delivered and set up. Also, lighting, candles and flowers cost a lot of money! People underestimate these costs big time. It’s all very well saying you want a simple buffet served on a beach or in a forest, but the food still needs to be made by chefs, kept hot and brought to the location, set up and cleared away afterwards. And guests will expect tables with cutlery and toilets! It’s these logistics a planner puts together to make your dream a reality!
For further information, visit theweddingplanner.ie