Louise Jess & Craig Millar
17th February 2020
“Craig and I always laugh when people ask how we met, as there’s no whirlwind romantic story: we met at a house party when I was 16 and he was 18. We’ve since grown up together and know each other inside out.
We got engaged in Iceland after being together for seven years. Craig got down on one knee in the hotel room before we went out for dinner on our last night there. I wasn’t expecting it, so I was wearing a huge snow jacket and gloves. Needless to say, I swiftly removed the gloves so he could pop the ring on my finger!
From the beginning, we had both dreamt of getting married on a beach abroad. We certainly had times when it definitely seemed ‘easier’ to get married in Scotland, but we’re both glad we didn’t stray from our plans. We knew it was important to see the idea through.
Thailand is a special place for us (we’ve visited lots), so we knew we wanted to get married there. As soon as we saw The Sarojin we knew it was the place for us. It’s absolutely stunning. The ceremony was on a white, sandy beach under a ‘wedding tree’ that was decorated with lots of hanging flowers. It had a serene, tropical feel.
One of the most emotional points of the day was reading our vows. We had both spent a lot of time writing them privately and it was a truly special moment to be able to tell each other all the things you don’t say everyday, such as how much we mean to each other.
After the ceremony, our guests showered us in petal confetti. Then, we spent time taking in the views and mingling with prosecco and canapés. For the reception, we had exclusive use of the beach area. It was set up with hundreds of candles and fairy lights, and a jazz band performed. We had a huge seafood BBQ buffet, complete with chefs’ cooking stations and our very own beach bar.
Timescales for planning a wedding abroad are different from planning a wedding in Scotland. Here, the sooner you book the better, as venue and suppliers diaries fill up quickly. When getting married abroad, flights aren’t released until 12 to 14 months in advance, so you need to make sure that you can fly for the date you wish before booking everything. I would advise other couples hoping to marry abroad to pick their venue ahead of that and start the process of asking questions. That way, when the flights come out, you are ready to book.
In our case, we informally notified family and friends about 18 months before that we were planning to get married abroad. This allowed them time to save if they were considering going. We then sent our RSVP invitations 10 months in advance. Don’t feel bad if someone can’t make it abroad – you will have plenty of time to celebrate with everyone once you’re back, so do what’s right for you.
We definitely spent less money getting married abroad than if we got married in Scotland. Our venue included so much more as standard than many venues here would. Remember: if going abroad to marry, you are not only paying for that one day, you are also getting a holiday/honeymoon for that price.
If you want a proper, legal wedding rather than a symbolic ceremony, check out the requirements for the country you are getting married in. We had to stay in Bangkok for four nights and schedule an appointment at the British Embassy, so the necessary documents could be sent to the venue. That meant we could legally sign our wedding papers there with no need for a ceremony in Scotland.
All our guests said that our wedding was like a scene from a film. We specifically asked them not to have their phone switched on, so they could completely relax – a great decision as it meant they were watching the ceremony with their eyes rather than through a mobile screen.
At the end of the night, everyone ended up stripping off and running into the sea for a swim – myself and Craig included! The water was warm and all the stars were out. It really was the perfect end to the perfect day.
We had planned to have a party on our return for those who couldn’t make it, however coronavirus put a stop to that. We spent three weeks in Thailand after we married, so when returning on the flight we had our masks on and were straight into lockdown back home.”
Top tip: “If you are planning a wedding abroad, go directly to the venue and deal with its wedding co-ordinator (if possible), rather than booking through a travel agent. It will save you time and money,” says Louise. “We chose to book through a well-known travel company initially and we had so many problems and additional expenses with them that, in the end, we cut them out and dealt with our venue directly.”
Bride’s dress Unbridaled
Groomswear Moss Bros
Cake, catering, flowers and decor All provided by The Sarojin
Stationery TavernCreative on Etsy
Wedding rings Ernest Jones
Hair and makeup Neil Donkin and team