Destination weddings are an increasingly popular option, offering fairytale settings, guaranteed sun and a holiday to boot.
And for some couples, getting hitched abroad even turns out a little cheaper than a wedding at home thanks to a smaller guest list.
But with everything from venue fees, catering, entertainment and drinks to pay for, choose the wrong way to pay and you could end up shelling out hundreds of pounds in fees to send money abroad.
Plus, with so much at stake, you will want to make sure you are protecting your spends as much as possible. We take a look at the cheapest, and safest, ways to pay for your big day abroad.
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Wedding insurance: Your first step
Taking out wedding insurance should be your first step before you book any part of your wedding abroad.
These policies are designed to cover you should the worst happen and you need to cancel or rearrange your big day for unforeseen reasons.
They pay out for things such as suppliers failing to deliver or bad weather preventing your wedding from happening.
Other features may include pay-outs to restage your wedding pictures if they were lost or damaged or the photographer doesn’t turn up.
According to Debenhams Personal Finance, a common reason for claiming is because of the venue going into bankruptcy or cancelling due to closure or damage.
So make sure to check your chosen venue’s cancellation policies and the terms and conditions of your insurance policy.
How much does it cost?
When This is Money checked a wedding abroad with a budget of £30,000 cost from £170, top levels of cover cost £344.50 with John Lewis.
Cover through Debenhams Personal Finance on a Platinum policy would cost £102.03 for a wedding cost up to £25,000. To cover a wedding abroad up to £35,000 you would need a Ruby policy costing £156.72.
Can you use a credit card?
Using a credit card comes with some positives and negatives, the plus side being it gives you extra protection even when used abroad.
Depending on the type of card you use, it may also help to spread the cost of paying for your wedding if you opt for a card with 0 per cent interest on purchases.
The downside is that the average credit card comes with hefty foreign usage charges.
Andrew Hagger of Moneycomms.co.uk explains: ‘If you’re going to be making some big purchases in connection with the wedding, then paying by credit card is a smart move as you get the valuable extra protection of Section 75 on any transactions between £100 and £30,000 – and it doesn’t cost you anything.
While not a legal requirement, the Chargeback scheme can help if you pay by debit card or you make a credit card payment under the £100 required for Section 75 protection.
Again it applies when when you buy something and it arrives damaged, not as it was described, or it doesn’t turn up at all.
Unlike Section 75 rights, you won’t be claiming from the credit card company or bank themselves, Chargeback attempts to get the money back from the trader’s bank.
‘I’d recommend using a credit card for the big ticket wedding items such as rings, wedding dress, flights, accommodation and car hire.’
Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act gives you the power to get a refund from your credit card provider if you purchase goods or services on your card and things go wrong.
This is because under these rules credit card providers are held jointly responsible with the company you are dealing with. They have to cough up if a supplier goes bust, fails to show up, you don’t receive an order, or if what they deliver is faulty or isn’t up to scratch.
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The rules apply even if you use the card for just part of your purchase or you pay only the deposit by credit card – so long as the total cost is over the £100 mark.
Remember though, you don’t get section 75 protection on goods payed for in cash even if the cash was withdrawn from your credit card or on debit cards.
Using a credit card? The best options for use abroad
‘When you’re abroad most credit cards are expensive with a 2.75 to 3 per cent mark-up on purchases and ATM withdrawals plus a further £2 to £3 fee for taking out cash,’ warns Hagger.
These credit cards won’t charge you for either purchases or withdrawals from an ATM abroad. You can read more about them in our guide to the best cards to use abroad.
There are a few credit cards which won’t charge you overseas fees on purchases made abroad which also offer 0 per cent interest on spending.
Without interest, all of your repayments go towards clearing the balance which is particularly helpful of you need a little time to spread the cost of expensive wedding purchases.
Remember, after the promotions ends the costs can quickly spiral, as standard interest rates kick in. You can also read more about these cards in the guide here.
What about a a prepaid currency card?
Prepaid currency exchange cards are a great tool for spending abroad too.
The major benefits are lower fees, the ability to pre-load money onto the card when the rate is at its best and near-perfect exchange rates.
Most specialist currency exchange firms offer them these days but remember to shop around as not all are created equal and some come with sneaky fees. Remember also, they don’t come with extra Section 75 protection.
Make your budget stretch further: A quick comparison will get you a better exchange rate
Hagger says: ‘If you’re opting for a prepaid currency card then I’d suggest looking at Revolut which has excellent exchange rates (although it does charge 2 per cent on any ATM withdrawals over £200 per calendar month).
‘FairFX is another good option – there is a 1.4 per cent mark up on the exchange rate and a flat £1 fee for cash withdrawals.’
Don’t ever use your bank to transfer cash
There may be some payments that require you to transfer cash to a supplier rather than pay by card.
The number one rule is never use a high street bank to do this as it will cost much more.
If you transfer money abroad with your existing bank account chances are you will be slapped with hefty fees, adding unnecessary cost to your wedding, particularly if you want the cash moved quickly.
For example, Santander charges up to £25 for same day transfers, Nationwide charges £20 and Barclays charges up to £40.
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SEPA payments within the European Economic Area typically cost less but are not made the same day.
If you do choose to use your bank, you should always check the fees first; often you can save money by making sure you make payments through online banking rather than in branch or over the phone.
There are several online-only companies offering cheap rates compared to your bank.
Andrew Hagger says: ‘If you need to make a large payment to a bank account overseas, don’t use a high street bank – instead use a currency transfer specialist such as Transferwise or FairFX – even on a transfer of £1,000 worth of euros or US dollars you’ll save £20 to £30 compared to using a bank.’
The below table shows a few examples of the rates we found with several online currency specialists.
The rates were correct at the time of writing, so make sure to run your own search. You can compare the top offers yourself here.
|Company||Euro amount||Dollar amount||Fee deducted|
|Azimo||€11,179.60||$13827.70||£1 (first transfer free)|
|Market rates at time of comparison: GBP -Euro= 1.12912, GBP to USD = 1.38997. Rates correct as of March 12.|
The top destinations to make your cash stretch further
Exchange rate fluctuations can have a huge impact on how much money you have to play with.
Getting married in Europe when the pound reached a peak against the euro in 2015 and a £25,000 budget would have given you €35,994.50 compared to just €28,228 today.
According to research from FairFX, there are some top destinations where the pound has strengthened dramatically over the past five years, getting you more bang for your buck.
|Destination||How much rates have improved (past 5 years)||How much more you’ll get for £1,000 exchanged|
Brits exchanging their Sterling for Argentine Pesos are the biggest winners, according to FairFX, with rates improving by 269 per cent over the past five years.
A £25,000 budget today, gets you 706,452.25 pesos, compared to 192,345.5 pesos five years ago.
Ian Strafford-Taylor, chief executive of FairFX, said: ‘With the average wedding cost in the UK topping £25,000, the appeal of eloping overseas for a more intimate and affordable celebration is easy to see.
‘As well as picking idyllic locations for a wedding abroad, savvy planners will want to make a sound financial assessment too. Choosing a country where exchange rates work in your favour is a smart way of getting more wedding for your money. The savings you can make simply by planning ahead can be put towards extra luxuries for the big day, to extend your honeymoon or banked for a rainy day.
‘When it comes to making international money transfers for your wedding, don’t default to your bank or you may find you’ll lose out with poor rates and unnecessary fees. Shop around to make sure you’re getting the best deal and exchanging money when the rates are at their highest.’
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