So after months of enjoying our engagement, working on our vision for the wedding and finally announcing our bridal party, it was time to set out on finding our venue and meeting our wedding planner! We want this to be a surprise for you all and also our guests so we’ll be revealing the destination closer to the time!
WHY WE CHOSE A DESTINATION WEDDING
One of the first questions our parents asked us was why a destination wedding?! Although these are becoming much more popular nowadays, it wasn’t because of a trend that we decided to.
- Over the last 18 months we’ve been so blessed to visit some beautiful places in the world for weddings of our close friends. From Paris, to Stockholm, to Nice, Athens, Dubai and beyond we’ve got to create some incredible experiences as joined in these celebrations and explore new parts of the world. Each time we visited, we felt that it made the wedding even more magical by having the experience of a different culture and location added into the mix.
- Another reason is that a lot of our friends now live in various parts of the world. While many would be flying over, if we’d hosted the wedding in London, given the size of the wedding, it would have been difficult for us to spend a significant amount of time with them in just one day. With some of the weddings we’ve been to, what we loved most was the amount of time we got to know the other guests and also catch up with the bride and groom themselves.
- We all know that the costs of weddings is increasing. The minute you say wedding – the price of things normally quadruples ha! From chatting to friends and researching, it was clear to us that London was extremely expensive so even with the additional costs of flying over, the value for money abroad was much better.
- We’re Nigerian! This sounds like a strange and obvious reason but it really was a deciding factor. We’re so proud to be Nigerians and a huge part of our culture is celebrating – whether that be weddings, births, or what not and usually everyone in a community loves to celebrate with you. While this is an honour it can also turn out to be extremely expensive! So we knew moving the wedding abroad would be a great way to cut down numbers and ensure that only our nearest and dearest would be celebrating this memorable day with us.
HOW WE CHOSE OUR WEDDING PLANNER
Ayo – now I’m going to leave Ruth to give her thoughts on this as I have to put my hands up I was the least involved with this! So I can’t lie, I’m one of these women who has dreamed about my wedding day and I’m very particular. And while initially I felt like I could go it alone, the more I researched and attended destination weddings, the more I realised how crucial it was to find an amazing planner.
My criteria were – someone who was experienced in the wedding industry, someone who in their feedback was honest rather than just selling dreams, someone who had an experienced team who worked with/under them and also preferably someone who had done weddings for international couples before. Between September-October, I then held 10 Skype interviews with wedding planners based in the region. Now although this might seem OTT (!) I really wanted to be sure that we were working with someone who would really carry the day and keep me nice and calm over the next few months (ask Ayo – that is no easy feat).
I had a set of questions I asked them, including how they’d overcome mishaps at weddings, their knowledge of the different types of vendors in their locations. A lot of it came down to natural chemistry and also how reassured they made me feel. It was crazy that in the end it was the very first wedding planner I interviewed who we went with. Especially when I referred her to my mum – my mum was also convinced she would be a safe pair of hands for the big day!
WHAT IT WAS LIKE TRYING TO FIND A VENUE
So we spent 6 days in the region. Naively before we went we had thought it would be a bit of a break/holiday but in reality it was more like a sunny work trip. Our wedding planner had created a full itinerary before we went made up of site visits to venues, visits to florists (the best bit for Ruth!), meetings with potential caterers and visits to hotels to get a feel for where we would be recommending for guests to say.
The first two days we were a bit stressed as the region we had initially thought (from Google!) that would be our dream turned out not and we knew having been engaged for so long we NEEDED to find the venue on this trip. But on day 3 – everrrrrrrrything changed! We walked into the venue and we just KNEW it was the one! It felt unbelievably like us and like somewhere where our guests would have an incredible time.
WHAT WE LEARNED
So, from the trip, we thought we’d share the top 3 things we learnt from the trip:
- Don’t rush and stay calm – This is something we learnt from the process of choosing the planner to choosing the venue. It can be easy to get agitated especially when there’s a timeline you’re working towards and you have such expectations for your big day but it’s hard to make good decisions under stress.
- In the stress, remain grateful for the gift of finding your husband/wife – This was something this trip really taught us! It can be easy to get stressed about details, budgets, venues, guests lists but in the midst of it all it’s important to remember it’s really a gift to have found the love of our lives and be celebrating this with everyone.
- Be open to being surprised – from the wedding planner, to the venue – things might not always be what you expect – but often these surprises are even better.
We can’t wait for our next update – starting to sort out the clothing and prepare for our traditional wedding too!
Ayo and Ruth
Catch up on their journey here