• Carlie Northwood

Reinventing Your Destination Wedding Amidst COVID-19

I know, I know… another post with COVID-19 in the title.

I promise you, I also internally groan at the sight and sound of the aforementioned literal party pooper and all the other associated buzz words, so I will try my best at keeping them at the minimum!

I’ve sat down to write this blog post on what should have been the one-month countdown to my wedding day. Yep. One month from today I was due to get married in my favourite little town in Lake Garda with just close family and friends in attendance – something that had been planned and waited for since we got engaged in October 2018.

We eventually made the tough decision to cancel this dream and rearrange our plans, mainly because we no longer felt that we could ask our guests to travel to one of the worst affected areas in Europe just for our wedding – this year or even next year.

Plus, I’m far too impatient to wait another year or so! I’ve waited long enough, thank you!

I will admit that I was mentally paralysed for a while. I found the whole situation really hard to accept and it was very painful to think about.

Thankfully this didn’t last for too long. I soon realised that I just needed some time to mourn and feel all the emotions before moving on.

I think this is so important to any fellow couples that have had their wedding plans impacted. Please take the time to process this incredibly traumatic event!

So, what inspired me to arrange a destination wedding in the first place?

I have always wanted to get married abroad, ever since I was little and witnessed a lovely wedding take place when on holiday in Cyprus.

I didn’t really have a set location in mind until we got engaged, but just the idea of having a small, intimate wedding in the sun somewhere with close family and friends seemed so romantic to me. Not to mention the extended time of celebration! (Why have one day when you can have a whole week?!)

We decided on Lake Garda for our wedding as we both love Italy. From the stunning clear waters in Sardinia to the beautiful views of the lake and mountains around Lake Garda - not to mention the fantastic food! There is so much to love about it.

We have frequently travelled to the Lake and were always drawn back to the same town – Sirmione.

Sirmione, Lake Garda

This is one of the few places in the world where I can fully unwind and we have made some wonderful memories here, so it felt like a natural choice for our wedding.

I will let you in on a secret… I thought he was going to propose on our first trip here in 2016 – it was such a romantic trip and I was so gutted when we left (literally empty handed!).

Anyway, screw you ‘rona!

After a while, we both accepted and embraced the change of plans. We agreed that we still wanted to create a destination wedding of some sort – just without the international travel. So we began our search in the UK and found so many amazing locations and venues that we were actually spoilt for choice…

How did I manage reinvent my dream destination wedding in the UK instead?

In a word? Venue.

We knew we wanted to keep the Italian theme so we decided to narrow down our search for venues that naturally provided the perfect setting. From the main ceremony space to the smallest of details within the grounds, we were careful to choose somewhere that spoke authentically to this requirement right from the start.

To complete the destination feel for our guests, we also wanted a venue that provided onsite accommodation in a way that mirrored our original plans in Italy. It was really important to us to create a home from home feel for everyone so that we could have an extended celebration over a few days.

As I mentioned a little earlier – we found ourselves spoilt for choice!

It hadn’t occurred to me before then that it would be possible to have a destination wedding in the UK… but now it seems to be the obvious choice!

My previous blog post introduced them as Staycation Weddings. (Haven’t read it yet? Click here!

You don’t have to travel far to find any type of beautiful space – from whimsical woodlands to majestic manor houses and everything in between. There is definitely so much choice to cater for every taste and preference.

If the UK weather is something that puts you off – consider a venue that offers fabulous indoor space that will not be overshadowed by a rainy day. Tip: Think large windows and light and airy spaces

Manor by the Lake, Cheltenham

Another benefit to reinventing your staycation wedding is that you get to avoid the predicament of travel issues for family members and friends. Unfortunately, it’s highly likely that a few of your guests will be unable to travel to an overseas wedding for various reasons (Covid restrictions aside), and so won’t be there to share your special day.

This was an understandably upsetting realisation when planning our wedding in Italy so for us, this has been a huge comfort when re-booking our wedding in the UK as now everyone can attend!

If you are considering planning a staycation wedding and would like some guidance and support along the way, get in touch to find out how I can help you!

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