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The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Wedding

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Weddings are joyous occasions that help celebrate love and the blending of not just two individuals but also their families and sometimes cultures. While the ceremony only lasts a couple of hours, it takes months of planning and execution through collaborations between vendors and the venue. While weddings are described as a bride’s special day, it is important to involve the groom or your partner to help plan and organize the big day.

A marriage is a partnership, and the involvement of both partners helps make it easy to shortlist the theme, guest list, and destination. Wedding planning can be a high-stress situation sometimes, but working together and using Trip101’s guide can help make it an effortless journey. To ensure that the wedding day is as stress-free as possible, couples need to plan minutely and delegate responsibilities leading up to their big day.

Significance of the wedding venue in creating memorable moments

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The wedding venue is one of the most important factors when it comes to wedding planning. It is dependent on many factors, such as budget, number of guests, and theme. If your budget does not allow for a destination wedding, you can consider a venue in the countryside or even a nearby national park.

There are a variety of venues, such as a day-use venue that is booked for a few hours or up to 12 hours to host the wedding and the reception. Another option is booking a self-catering venue that offers accommodation. Moreover, couples can choose from an experienced venue that offers in-house wedding planning services.

While some venues only charge a booking fee, others charge an additional tiered event fee depending on the number of guests. Venues can also have restrictions regarding noise and parking. These minute details need to be taken into consideration when finalizing a venue. However, remember to get everything in writing and have your plans approved before making any payments.

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Planning your wedding is a practical yet significant task. From choosing a venue to finalizing the menu, each decision contributes to the overall experience. This process marks the beginning of a memorable chapter, focusing on essential details that align with your vision. It's about creating a day that reflects your unique connection without unnecessary frills. Here are some things to consider:

  • Figure out your theme or style

Before you begin venue hunting or even starting on your guest list, you need to decide on the theme of the wedding. Are you thinking rustic chic on a barn, a dreamy beachfront, or a no-expense-spared extravaganza? Once you have a general idea of what you think you want your wedding theme to be, it is easier to set and work around a budget, find a location, and finalize vendors.

  • Create a spreadsheet or get a wedding planning book

Creating a spreadsheet or having a wedding planning book can help give couples an idea of how they envision their big day and the various functions or events they plan on organizing. It can help determine the number of days for the wedding festivities and help couples narrow down the date/season for the wedding.

Pinterest is a great place to start a wedding mood board, or brides can go old school and cut pictures from magazines and stick them in a color-coded binder. Wedding books are also available in the market, and these can help couples keep track of vendors and checklists. Later, it will serve as a memory leading up to the most important day of your life.

  • Pick the date

Choosing a wedding date depends on the theme that a couple is going for. A breezy beach wedding should most definitely take place over the summer, which is also the most popular wedding season in America. Fall weddings are a close second. However, in many Asian countries, such as India, the cooler winter months account for the majority of weddings.

If you are picking a date that falls during peak wedding or holiday season, keep in mind that you will be paying premium rates for the venue and the vendors.

  • Get your marriage license

Once you have fixed the date for your nuptials, remember to apply for your marriage license if you are getting married in the US. If you are planning a destination wedding, check local laws and get in touch with the embassy to help guide you. For a religious wedding ceremony in Spain, for example, couples do not need to register in advance. However, the marriage must be performed by a licensed officer and be registered afterward.

  • Do some research and decide between a DIY wedding or a package

Research and then research some more when it comes to wedding planning. If you are good with arts and crafts or have a limited budget, you could look into planning a DIY wedding. Alternatively, you can shorten your guest list and not carry the stress of planning and decorating the entire event. While hotels are more expensive, booking a rental as your wedding venue can help lower the cost. These also double as accommodation, sometimes for the entire wedding party.

Some rentals charge a basic event fee in addition to the booking fee, while others offer a full buffet of services and include an on-site wedding planner. Sometimes, it might be cheaper to opt for a wedding package than attempting to do all the work by yourself.

  • Plan your budget

Whether you are paying for the wedding or your parents are paying for it, there is a general pre-determined budget. Before finalizing vendors, it is important to plan the budget. Do you want to spend the most on decor or food? Is there an open bar or a coupon system for drinks? If you have a list of must-haves, prioritize those. It could also be a band or a photographer.

Couples also need to be realistic with their budget.

According to The Knot, the average American wedding ceremony and reception costs 30,000 USD. While it is possible to plan a wedding for less, couples might have to differentiate between wants and needs.

  • Create a guest list

Once you have a theme and a budget in place, it is time to work on the guest list. If you are thinking of a micro wedding, you have your work cut out to determine 20 of your closest family and friends. Small weddings with up to 50 guests are easier to plan without offending near ones.

Couples need to create a guest list that they can do justice to while maintaining their budget. You do not want to be one of those couples who ask their guests to pay for their meals and then be blasted for it on Reddit. If you have a limited budget, invite immediate family and your closest friends.

  • Scout for wedding venues

So far, it has been a smooth ride. Wedding planning becomes an adventure sport when you have to find and book a venue within your budget that is unique yet accessible and permits your required number of guests. And this is just within your city. If you are planning a destination wedding, hiring a local wedding planner might be best. However, if your budget does not account for a planner, read wedding blogs specific to your destination to get a clear idea of the best wedding venues.

Once you have narrowed it down to your final favorites, compare the wedding packages and services that each property offers. Some of the rentals on Airbnb and Vrbo are experienced wedding venues that have a one-stop solution. These places have wedding packages that can take care of everything from the decor to the catering in-house and include accommodations for a certain number of guests. You can usually find this information in the property descriptions or “House Rules” sections on Airbnb or Vrbo. Look through the venue’s website and only book them if their style and aesthetic match what you have in mind.

On the other hand, some rentals charge a venue fee in addition to the booking amount charged on the rental platform. The venue fees can include tables and chairs, linens, and the use of additional spaces on the property, such as restrooms, a dance floor, or a renovated party barn. Some properties charge a small venue fee along with the booking amount but do not provide complimentary services. However, the host may be able to recommend vendors that have catered to weddings on-site before.

If a package or any wedding-related service is mentioned, make sure to email the host and get the details in writing. This will make it easier when you’re booking vendors or planning events.

  • Book your vendors and accommodation

This is where your spreadsheet and wedding book will come in handy. If you are planning a DIY wedding, you need to purchase raw materials and then work on the final product that can otherwise be delegated to a vendor. These are decorators, caterers, photographers, choreographers, and florists, among others. It is also possible to DIY certain aspects of the wedding, such as decor, and allow a professional to work their culinary magic.

If you book a venue with in-house wedding services, then it eliminates the need to search for independent vendors. This especially comes in handy when planning a destination or out-of-town wedding.

Couples need to book accommodations for themselves if it is an out-of-town wedding. If you are having a South Asian wedding, tradition dictates that couples will also need to book hotel rooms or rentals for wedding guests.

  • Hire an officiant

Couples can hire a minister, a priest, or even an ordained friend to solemnize their wedding. After the ceremony, the marriage license needs to be submitted to the issuing office for the marriage to be registered.

  • Consider pre- and post-wedding ceremony entertainment/activities

You might consider organizing icebreaker activities or a cultural program that highlights the destination if you are planning multi-day functions or a destination wedding. Couples can also plan group excursions or leave a welcome packet that introduces nearby attractions that guests can visit.

  • Find a wedding planner/day-of coordinator

Hire a wedding planner who can shoulder much of the responsibility and stress of planning a wedding if your budget allows. If not, hire someone or request a close family member or a friend to be the coordinator on your big day. This will allow you to truly enjoy your wedding day without worrying if the canapes are being served to all the guests.

  • Have backup options for last-minute emergencies

Always have a backup option ready if you feel certain features might be dependent on the weather. An alternative indoor venue will be handy in case of a sudden downpour before your grand outdoor wedding.

Mistakes to avoid when planning your wedding

  • Not reading the contracts thoroughly

Make sure to read everything carefully before you sign. These contracts will include information regarding payment, cancellation policy, and refunds.

  • Overloading the schedule with too many activities

You want to be able to recall your wedding and not have it be a blur of outfit changes. So, instead of bombarding yourself with too many activities, you can schedule a spa day leading up to your big day and keep someone in charge who will help coordinate with the guests, venue, and vendors.

  • Miscommunication

It is easy to lose your cool when emotions are running high, so make sure everyone is on the same page before you make payments. You can also request cake and venue decoration designs and ask for a copy of the final menu before you finalize the vendor.

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While a wedding celebrates just two people in love, it is a collaborative effort that takes months to plan. If you are going big, the list of vendors for specialized services is extensive. Think live painters and customized desserts. However, some services remain consistent no matter what the budget.

  • Attire

Everyone wants to look their best on their big day, whether donning a pantsuit or a hand-embroidered dress from Valentino. The dress does not have to be expensive, but you still need to browse through racks of clothes to find the one. Once the wedding day clothes are finalized, brides need to find complimentary shoes and jewelry. They also need to book hair and makeup artists for themselves. A drape artist is another vendor to consider for South Asian brides.

And then there is the groom. A tux can only have so many styles, but the groom still needs one tailored to perfection. Couples need to have enough time between selecting their wedding day attire and the big day. You do not want anyone doing a rush job here. Remember to also pencil in time for alterations and dress fittings.

Unless you are a laidback bride (that might be an oxymoron) and are only specifying a color theme to the bridesmaids and the groomsmen, you need to also find a vendor for their wedding day outfits.

  • Venue

Whether you choose to elope or throw a grand wedding reception, you need a venue. The venue is one of the most important decisions that couples need to make when planning their wedding. It could be the ballroom at The Plaza in New York or a scenic Airbnb wedding rental in Australia. The venue is dependent on your guest list, theme, and budget.

  • Photography and videography

Everyone wants to capture their tender wedding moments: the groom who is overcome with emotion when he sees his bride for the first time, the stoic dad wiping away a tear, and the joy of the bridesmaid who caught the bouquet. Couples can browse through Instagram and wedding websites to shortlist the best one for their budget.

Other than the mentioned vendors, you can also consider the following:

  • Catering

- Catering/bar

  • Entertainment

- DJ/band
- Entertainment for cocktail hour/reception (e.g., acoustic performers)

  • Floral and decor

- Florist
- Decorator
- Lights

  • Stationery

- Invitations and RSVP cards
- Save-the-date cards
- Programs, menu cards, place cards
- Calligrapher

  • Cake and desserts

- Cake designer

  • Transportation

  • Rings

- Jeweler

  • Accommodations

- Hotel for the wedding night
- Room blocks for guests

  • Registry services

- Gift registry coordinator

    Types of wedding venues

Indoor venues

  • House of worship

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  • City halls/courthouse

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  • Hotels/resorts

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Outdoor venues

  • Beaches

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  • Lakeside/hillside

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  • Gardens, forests, and greenhouses

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  • Country club

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  • Barns, farms, and vineyards

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  • Own backyard

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Other unique venue options

  • Local, state, or national park

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  • Boat or yacht

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  • Libraries

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  • Museums/art galleries

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  • Chateau or castle

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  • Restaurants/cafe

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  • Bed & breakfast or inn

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  • Vacation rentals (villas, Airbnbs, mansions, etc.)

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How to select the right venue for your dream wedding

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No one wants a generic cookie-cutter wedding, so brides are opting for unique venues where their Pinterest mood boards can come to life. Couples can book from countless exotic and stunning properties around the world where you and your beloved can tie the knot in style. But before you go on a real estate shopping spree, be sure to set your date, budget, and destination. Once you’ve determined these, you can decide on a theme and begin hunting for properties that match the vibe.

Additionally, your choice of wedding venue can also help provide natural backdrops, thus eliminating the need to spend thousands on decor.

Finding a wedding venue is hard work that includes making plenty of decisions regarding themes, budgets, packages, and more. So, allow us to help ease the process based on the factors listed below.

  • Pick your vibe

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Before picking a venue, you need to decide on a theme. The theme will help lay the framework for the wedding, from the venue to the song you pick for your first dance. You can even create a mood board on Pinterest to get an overall feel of how you want your wedding to turn out. Once you have the vibe decided, you can begin searching for the perfect rental.

Are you looking for a city or a country wedding? Do you want it to be indoors or outdoors? Airbnb and Vrbo have a wide range of exceptional rental options, such as barns, lakeside lodges, and even castles. Once you decide upon a theme, it will be easier to narrow down your search according to the type of property you need. Be sure to check the property descriptions and photos to get a good idea of what you can expect from each location.

For example, a cowboy-themed wedding will be best hosted on a farm with a party barn, while a Midsummer-themed wedding can take place surrounded by a towering grove of trees on a 100-ac (40.47-ha) state.

  • Check the guest capacity

Make sure you have at least a rough idea of the number of people you want at your wedding before booking an Airbnb or Vrbo rental. Not all rentals allow events, and they all have a maximum number of guests welcome on the property at any given time. Some venues even limit the number of event attendees to the same number of overnight guests, which works perfectly for couples planning a micro-wedding.

But when your guest list includes more than 20 people, you’ll need to consider their accommodations as well. If the venue is close to where you live, most of the attendees will be able to travel by private vehicles. However, if you’re thinking of a destination-style weekend getaway, you need to book several nearby properties or hotel rooms in the closest town.

For Airbnb rentals, the number of bedrooms and overnight guest capacity are mentioned under the photos. Meanwhile, the number of guests allowed for events can be mentioned in the property description or under the “House Rules” section at the bottom of the page. Vrbo lists the number of overnight guests under the “About this rental” heading, while additional details regarding the event can be found under “House Rules” toward the end of the listing. These are critical details when booking a wedding venue, so check them out!

  • Figure out the budget for the venue

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It’s natural to want to splurge for your special day. That is why it is pertinent to set a budget and stick to it. Once you have a budget in mind, you’ll need to look at how much you want to allocate for the venue, which will take up a big chunk. After that, you’ll need to put money aside for catering, decor, photography, flowers, cake, invites, and your dress. Because of this, a DIY wedding can be a smart choice for brides looking to save money.

Having a smaller wedding with select guests is another way to save costs and help you filter out venues. Couples should also look for venues with additional features, such as a gazebo, a barn, or even a permanent tent to bring down the cost of individual vendors. You can find these in the property descriptions on the Airbnb and Vrbo platforms.

Furthermore, be sure to play around with the check-in and check-out date features, as the booking prices can vary depending on when your affair is and how many guests you invite. You may also find discounts if you plan to extend your wedding weekend to an entire week.

  • Make a note of the features and amenities

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Make sure that the property you pick matches your theme and can adequately host the number of guests you have in mind. If you have members in your wedding party who require wheelchair assistance, double-check the venue’s accessibility. In this case, it will be important to have bedrooms on the lower level for elderly guests or elevators to make it easy for them to reach the upper levels.

If your invitees will be driving to the venue, make sure there is ample parking on the property or plenty of off-street parking. Depending on the parking situation, you might need to hire a shuttle to transport guests to and from the venue. This will also need to be budgeted for.

Additionally, while outdoor weddings can be dreamy and whimsical, they are dependent on nature’s temperament. If the weather gods decide to get moody on your big day, have a backup option in your venue. This could be a covered deck overlooking the property grounds or a double-height living room with a statement stone fireplace.

A surefire way to determine this information is by reading the property descriptions. If you’re booking an Airbnb, check out the “Things to know” section too. Meanwhile, Vrbo often lists this information in the “Amenities” or “House Rules” sections.

  • Be mindful of the limitations and restrictions

Weddings can be a stressful affair, and no bride wants to be haggling over noise levels or chaotic parking in the lead-up to one of the most important days of her life. To ensure there are no hiccups on your wedding day, have your wedding plan approved before booking a property. This includes going over something as simple as additional charges for last-minute overnight guests to any noise restrictions the property might observe.

For example, you can learn more about restrictions under “House Rules” on Airbnb and Vrbo. It is best, however, to contact the owner and have approvals in writing.

If booking an outdoor venue such as a public lake or garden, make sure you have all your permits before the big day. Public spaces can have a restriction on the number of guests or the activities allowed during the ceremony. For example, fireworks and throwing of flowers will be a big no in national parks.

  • Check for activities offered to guests

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Many large rentals that double as wedding venues usually have outdoor activities for guests. If it is a lakefront venue, kayaks and boats might be available. In some instances, the host offers additional outdoor activities that could be booked for the wedding guests at a discount. Booking barn rentals can also come with a petting zoo, horse riding, or a farm visit.

  • Make sure to schedule a site visit

If your wedding venue is locally located or within driving distance, you should schedule a visit before putting down a booking amount. If you are planning a destination wedding, fly down if possible and check out venues in person before committing to one. Even if you have a wedding planner who can send you hi-res photos and videos, seeing it in person and visualizing yourself can make all the difference.

Wedding venues around the world

Wedding venues in the USA

  • California

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Even though it is one of the most expensive places to plan a wedding, with pleasant year-round weather, California is also one of the most popular destinations. Couples can choose to get married on the beach, in a vineyard, or even in a redwood forest. Since California has no waiting period, couples can marry as soon as they receive their license. However, keep in mind the license is only valid for 90 days.

Airbnb wedding venues in California can host small to medium-sized weddings, with many large enough to accommodate the wedding party. Couples have the choice of barns, ranches, and mansions to say their “I dos.”

  • Florida

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If couples are thinking of a laidback beachfront wedding, then the 825-mi (1,327.71-km) coastline in the state is sure to have the perfect venue. Obtaining a license is a relatively easy process in Florida and is valid for 60 days. Couples flying in from out of state do not need to observe a waiting period either. Airbnb wedding venues in Florida range from specialized wedding rentals with grand outdoor spaces to small venues for an intimate wedding.

Most venues are directly on the beach or by the canal with acres of private gardens. The layout of most of these wedding venues makes it possible to host a mix of indoor and outdoor festivities

  • Colorado

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With a landscape defined by the Colorado Rockies, rolling plans, and striking desert, couples can skip decor costs when planning an outdoor wedding in Colorado. For couples who prefer a private ceremony, with just the two of them and the photographer obviously, Colorado is one of the few states that allow couples to self-solemnize. Airbnb wedding venues in Colorado celebrate the rich vistas of the state and offer unobstructed panoramic views.

Arizona is another state that comes to find where dramatic surroundings make for the most stunning natural backdrop that no decorator can replicate. If Colorado is too far, VRBO wedding venues in Arizona can be an excellent alternative.

Wedding venues in Canada

  • Ontario

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The most visited province in Canada can make all bridal dreams come true. Couples can choose to get married at a Lake Huron-facing venue or a historic farmhouse. Most venues are sprawling rentals that can also accommodate some of the wedding guests. Moreover, the vast outdoor space makes it easy to plan fun bride-versus-groom activities leading up to the wedding. For couples who cannot take too many days off from work, the stunning Airbnb wedding venues in Ontario provide a destination feel without leaving Ontario.

If you are dreaming of a city wedding, venues are available in and around major cities such as Toronto and Ottawa. These venues are preferred for single-day events and are convenient for guests to drive to.

  • Alberta

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With the highest number of natural UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Canada, Alberta is defined by its majestic landscape. It is even possible to host your dream wedding within a protected national park such as Dinosaur Provincial Park or the remote Wood Buffalo National Park. If you do not get permission for a UNESCO site but your heart is set on getting married in Alberta, Airbnb wedding venues are the best alternative. Surrounded by acres of open space, this place is perfect for couples to exchange their vows in serenity.

The venues make it possible to plan activities on-site, or couples can curate interesting top things to do packages for wedding guests to enjoy during their time in the province. It is easy to gain a marriage license in Alberta, and it is issued on the same date. Since there is no waiting period, couples can get married on the very same day. However, note that a civil or religious ceremony needs to be performed for a marriage to be recognized.

  • Quebec

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The picturesque Canadian province offers activities and places to visit all year. Visitors can walk the cobbled stress of Quebec City during the summer and race down the slopes of Mont Tremblant during the winter. If you fell in love in Quebec or took your first weekend trip here with your loved one, celebrate the occasion by returning to get married here. Airbnb venues near Montreal are popular places to get married in the province. These spectacular venues are ideal for multi-day weddings and offer guests a chance to familiarize themselves with the scenic surroundings.

If you want to integrate a Québécois tradition, ask the caterer to prepare La Soupe, which is a special soup cooked with meat, vegetables, and spices. This is served to the happy couple and symbolizes the harmonious blending of their lives.

Wedding venues in Europe

  • Ireland

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Maybe you have Irish roots or want to do an Irish whiskey-trail-themed bachelor party. Whatever your reason for picking Ireland for your wedding, common features of the top Airbnb wedding venues in Ireland are stunning estates, landscaped outdoors, and memories to last a lifetime. Couples must remember to give a three-month notice to the Registrar and meet with them five days before the ceremony. That gives couples and guests enough time to visit some of the best places in the country.

Couples can also celebrate their Irish heritage with Celtic symbols embroidered on the dress for the bride, while the groom dresses in an Irish kilt. Moreover, it is possible to include traditional Irish Uilleann Pipers to welcome guests and walk the bride down the aisle.

  • France

Source: David Henry on Pexels

With a glittering Eiffel Tower in the background, Paris is one of the top cities in the world for proposals. If you are lucky enough to say yes in Paris, a wedding on the French Riviera or in an award-winning vineyard is just what you need to make your big day extra special. While it might not be possible for all couples to reside in their wedding destination for 30 days before their nuptials, couples can hold a civil ceremony in their home country and only plan a symbolic wedding in France.

The dreamy Airbnb wedding venues in France allow couples to plan medium to large weddings against breathtaking backdrops. Wedding pictures are sure to spark admiration and joy as soon as they hit social media.

  • Italy

Source: Elizabeth Cullen on Unsplash

Rich in culture, tradition, and history, while at the same time offering intimate island retreats and charming little towns, makes Italy one of the top destinations for romance. The best part about choosing an Airbnb wedding venue in Italy is that couples can head off for their dream Italian honeymoon afterward while someone else is in charge of ferrying guests to the airport for their return flights. Couples can plan small excursions with their wedding party leading up to the wedding or plan activities for the guests on the lavish estates.

Foreign nationals choosing to get married in Italy need to prepare an Atto Notorio or a sworn affidavit from their embassy in Italy.

Wedding venues in other destinations

  • The Philippines

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Everyone wants their wedding to be unique and memorable and talked about for months, if not years afterward. The Philippines has emerged as a major contender for destination weddings for couples residing in Asia. It offers delicious cuisine, exotic locales, and jaw-dropping backgrounds that could rival any Caribbean or Mediterranean island but at half the price.

Airbnb wedding venues in The Philippines are available for small to large weddings and include a private island. Some venues offer wedding packages, making it easy for out-of-town couples to coordinate with vendors. Couples can rent the venues for a few extra days leading up to the wedding to enjoy activities and excursions with their closest friends and family before they tie the knot.

  • Australia

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Australia offers a diverse landscape as well as culture and is one of the most interesting places to exchange your vows. The sheer size of the continent might make it difficult to narrow down a wedding venue here, but couples can search by theme, accessibility, and budget. A destination wedding in Australia can be on a remote ranch in Tasmania or a private forest in Melbourne. It is also quite easy to find vacation rentals near popular wedding venues for your guests.

Each state has its own set of rules and paperwork before you can legally be declared husband and wife. It is best to hire a wedding planner to take care of the legalities if you are not Australian nationals.

  • New Zealand

Source: Tyler Lasovich on Pexels

Adventurous couples must not miss their chance to exchange vows in New Zealand. They can begin a new chapter of their lives by trying thrilling activities such as hiking Mount Ruapehu, an active volcano, or sandboarding on the Te Paki Sand Dunes. The gorgeous landscapes on the North and South Islands can help transform any wedding theme into reality. Airbnb wedding venues in New Zealand include self-catering properties and venues offering in-house wedding packages, making it easier for foreign nationals to exchange vows in the country.

Plan your perfect wedding

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Most brides have envisioned their dream wedding for years before their big day. But there are several steps, vendors, and paperwork involved before the happily ever after. Wedding planning can be a stressful time for the bride and groom, but our detailed wedding guide will help ease some of the burden. Allow Trip101 to help plan your bespoke wedding, celebrating the power of love.

Wedding venues in the United States

Wedding venues in Canada and Mexico

Wedding venues in Europe

Wedding venues in Australia and New Zealand

Wedding venues in Asia and the Caribbean

FAQ's about The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Wedding

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