Thursday, 3 April 2014

Getting Married In Cyprus?...

Image courtesy of Colin Cowie Weddings.

As a bride to be this year, I know getting married can be a whirlwind of excitement and nerves with a tad of stress thrown in here and there. The first question often thought about is: where do I start?!

Me and Simon are getting married abroad. We love travelling and after much deliberation (see my first wedding post here) we decided we wanted to get married at The Elias Beach Hotel in Limassol, Cyprus. We fell in love with the place and the recommendations couldn't be better in regards to the venue as a whole, the individual locations to get married within the hotel (including the sunset pier, which we have chosen), the wedding co-ordinator at the hotel (who has so far been fantastic and I can't wait to meet her), the staff, the food, what's on offer etc. We had been saving for a little while so it was perfect for us and there were plenty of other highly recommended hotels near to us that our close family (who will be our guests) could stay in.

Through looking on the Internet, speaking to our wedding co-ordinator and finding our own suppliers we have come across several people and sites that have been fabulous in terms of helping us to organise our big day. I wanted to write this post to help people who are thinking of getting married in Cyprus and provide some general information along with a little guidance and some recommendations of people/sites that I have come across myself that have helped me massively. I know first hand it can all be a little overwhelming whether you have a wedding co-ordinator to help you out or if you are doing it all on your own. These people/sites have helped me a lot and when you have no idea where to start, the world wide web can be a daunting place so I hope this post helps!

A good place to start is with the legalities of getting married in Cyprus. We booked our whole package with Co-op Travel. Our holiday is with the provider First Choice and we are flying with Thomson. When booking a wedding holiday like this you are informed of any paperwork you'll need or any legalities that you'll need to follow in order to be able to get married in Cyprus. When doing it on your own from scratch you will obviously need to find out this information yourself. If you start by using the Cyprus Wedding Advisor website you can find all the legalities that you need for your specific situation on there. The website is free to use so if there is something that isn't stated or isn't clear to you, then you can contact them and they are really good at getting back to you quickly (the team do have a lot of emails and work on replying to them in date order, so you might have to be a little patient but rest assured they will get back to you. I think the longest I've had to wait for a reply is a few days). You will see that there is a wedding login section, but don't worry that you are missing out on anything with this. I was given a wedding login when we booked our wedding, with the lovely ladies there being our point of contact but they are phasing this out as they find that people prefer to find out info, ask questions etc via Facebook mainly but also Twitter. I am in regular contact with them as they are my first port of call when it comes to booking extras we want for our wedding. The wedding co-ordinator at The Elias Beach hotel is who I sort out my ceremony/reception options, food and drink with.

Image courtesy of Cyprus Wedding Advisor.

After you know the legalities, I guess the next main thing is deciding where you want to get married. If you have already decided you want to get married in Cyprus then you may already have an idea of where you want to have your big day but if not there are lots of options. We didn't initially know we wanted to get married in Cyprus, we had so many wedding brochures from the travel agents and we fell in love with the hotel, their ceremony/reception locations and their packages. I would recommend getting some brochures from your local travel agents, even if you don't book through them. It's lovely having a flick through when you have some time, getting a feel for destinations, their legalities, their hotels, their venues, their packages etc and it really does make you even more excited. Alternatively if you are computer savvy, have a look at hotels in your chosen destination and those that hold weddings should have their own wedding section where you can see what they offer, their packages etc. You can always send a few emails out to hotels/independent locations/unusual venues etc and see what they can offer you based on what you are looking for. The Cyprus Wedding Advisor website is available for those that book through a tour operator/travel agent or for those that want to book directly themselves. I would recommend this site as it has a lot of helpful information and the ladies on the team are so obliging and will tell you everything you need to know and assist in any which way they can. You can use this page as a starting point for looking at areas of Cyprus and their options when it comes to where you want to have your big day. If you have found this page because you are looking for info on having a wedding at The Elias Beach hotel, then here is some info from their website which will give you an overview of what they offer at the hotel for weddings, what's included, info on banqueting, any wedding offers they have and what documentation is required. You can enquire about anything else you might want to know if you wish. They also have some beautiful photos for you to look at and get some inspiration. It's great to imagine yourself in a picture and relate everything to your special day :).

Elias Beach Hotel Sunset Pier ceremony location in Limassol, Cyprus (Image courtesy of Paphos Weddings Made Easy).

The Medieval Castle ceremony location in Paphos Harbour (Image courtesy of Exclusive Weddings Cyprus).

Grecian Sands Hotel Sea View Deck ceremony location in Ayia Napa, Cyprus (Image courtesy of Trip Advisor).

Agios Nikolaos Church ceremony location in Protaras, Cyprus (Image courtesy of Apartment Joanne).

You will also find information on wedding receptions in Cyprus, photography and wedding extras. Not all the information is in your face on the website you may have to contact them. However, if you join their Facebook page, they often display a lot of information and ideas for you to see there and then and you can contact them if you are interested in anything or require any further information. Like I said though, nothing is too much for them and if you want to know something that hasn't been mentioned, just ask, they'll do all they can to help!

Elias Beach Blue Paradise Restaurant reception location in Limassol, Cyprus (Image courtesy of Kanika Hotels).

Country House reception location in Paphos, Cyprus (Image courtesy of The Wedding Counsel).

Olympic Lagoon reception location in Ayia Napa, Cyprus (Image courtesy of Med Weds Ltd).

San Antonio Yacht reception location in Protaras, Cyprus (Image courtesy of L'amour Cyprus Weddings).

When it comes to the little bits and bobs for your wedding like the menu, drinks, decorations, photographer, hair and make-up and DJ it can again be a bit much knowing where to start. Cyprus Wedding Advisor's (website and Facebook page as above) have lots of information on each of these. They often have offers on so keep your eye on their Facebook page or just contact them through their website or Facebook page asking for any offers they may have for the specific thing you are looking for. You can of course source your own suppliers, which may be cheaper for you. I would recommend though that you put a lot of research into any suppliers that you choose as you need to be able to trust them if you are booking everything away from Cyprus (which we are as we live in the UK). If you have chosen a different venue/hotel to the one we have chosen if you type said name into Facebook it will often come up with groups which you can join and see other people talking about the venue/hotel in general and also about weddings there. I say this because I have joined the Elias Beach Hotel Cyprus Facebook group and it is full of brides to be or brides that have married there previously talking about their past/forthcoming wedding and basically giving out advice to future brides. I gathered ideas for so many suppliers from there that an endless amount of people were recommending and I jotted them all down and either looked at their website or Facebook page, checked out reviews, contacted them to see what they offer, prices etc and it was such a massive help when it came to sourcing suppliers myself and seeing what else was out there other than the package prices that the wedding co-ordinators were giving me. The wedding co-ordinators don't mind you booking your own suppliers, they just obviously advise you to look into anything you are booking thoroughly, check out reviews, advice from other brides etc. This is understandable as when booking anything through them if something was to go wrong they would be liable and sort it all out etc, where as booking suppliers yourself is your responsibility so to say.

Using the Elias Beach Hotel Cyprus Facebook page, I found a highly recommended British DJ who I approached and have actually now booked for our big day. Booking this myself means we have paid a small deposit directly to him and them we will pay him the rest on the wedding day itself. Our DJ is Mike Peers who couldn't be recommended highly enough. He lives in Pathos but comes from Liverpool and he is travelling to our hotel in Limassol to DJ for us. He has a website but also takes enquiries through his Facebook page, which is where I have been communicating with him. He is mentioned numerous times on the Elias Beach Hotel Cyprus Facebook page and everyone has said what an amazing time they've had with him DJ'ing and that he provided a real party! You can read some testimonials here. He said he has played at our hotel several times and that he loves playing there, with the staff etc being fantastic. I feel fully comfortable with the reviews, comments and his communication that he will turn up at the time we ask him to and provide us with a fantastic evening. He has said he is available any time we want to ask anything and has provided us with a blank play list to fill in up to just before we fly to Cyprus, which has spaces for our first dance, songs and era's of music we'd like played throughout the night, any special/specific dance requests by us/anyone else at our wedding and any songs that we don't want played during the evening. He also said he can take requests on the night we just need to give him an array of music we'd like to be played so that he can get and keep people up dancing. We can't wait for it, we love a good party so it's really exciting! He ended up being just under a couple of hundred euros cheaper than the DJ's that were offered to us by the wedding advisor's.

DJ Mike Peers (Images courtesy of Sounds Superior).

When it comes to photography, hair, make-up and decorations, we have booked these through the wedding advisor's. We didn't think the prices were too bad and we didn't want to have to make sure/put our trust into everything/everyone turning up. This way in regards to what we want and people turning up etc the wedding advisor's will sort all of this so we don't have to think about it and it's a weight off of our shoulders. Our photography package consists of 40 photos of our choice in a wedding album, along with those photos on a CD and one enlargement photo of our choice. We don't know the company/people who are doing our photography yet as it's all sorted out through our wedding advisor's, but they are photographers who have been approved by the wedding advisor's and are some of the best out there. We have been told we get our proofs the day after our wedding to choose the photos we would like. I can let you know the company name/any contact details after the wedding :). Included in our package (booked through First Choice), we get a round carnation bouquet and buttonhole that fits in with our colour scheme but when I booked the above photo package the Cyprus Wedding Advisor team had an offer on where if you bought any of their photography packages you could get a free bouquet and buttonhole upgrade to roses and/or gerberas to match our colour scheme.

With my hair and make-up for the wedding, I was initially looking at sourcing my own people to do this and was even contemplating doing my own make-up. Using the Elias Beach Hotel Facebook page I found that a name kept being mentioning and that was Alisha Owen who is part of Tips and Toes in Cyprus. I contacted her via Facebook and we ended up chatting, where I said exactly what I was looking for and she asked where we were getting married in Cyprus. It turned out that she was actually the approved hair and make-up person/company for our hotel and when booked through our wedding advisor's it would be Alisha who I would get. I was unsure about having my make-up done professionally and she gave me a few tips and basically reassured me about a lot of things that I was worried about which was mainly having too much make-up on and it looking cakey when I'm not used to wearing that much. She said if I wanted to do my own make-up to bring a lot of it and different colours when it comes to the base, as obviously in a hotter climate your skin tone can change a lot over the days that you are there prior to the wedding. She also said that the natural look is best but they use enough to ensure the photos can pick up the 'look' and it stays in place all day. She actually made me feel at ease and I decided to go with the hair and make-up package that the wedding advisor's were offering which included a free hair trial which will be organised with our wedding co-ordinator when we arrive at the hotel. I have a few ideas of how I'd like my hair to be and have been gathering ideas together and we are going to have a chat on Facebook again soon so I can show her some images and talk over what I like and don't like when it comes to my hair and make-up, so I'm looking forward to that and you'll see my hair and make-up after the wedding :). If you have a look at the links I've provided you will see lots of different hairstyles, make-up and nails that they've done in the past, great for ideas and inspiration!

Image courtesy of Tips and Toes Cyprus.

I am currently still choosing my decorations to book with my wedding advisor's. Again I'm using a company that has been highly recommended on the Elias Beach Hotel Facebook page and is also the approved company used by my wedding advisor's. I had a look at the Facebook page of the company, which is Cyprus Wedding Touches and contacted them for a brochure of what they had to offer. I have been liaising with them directly as to what we'd like and whether they can provide it for us. I had to ask whether they were able to not go by their minimum of 6 items which was stated on many items, mainly the centrepieces as we have a total party of 20 people including me and Simon, so it's not like we have loads of tables and need loads of centrepieces. We are having a table plan like the one below, so we will only need so many. Dawn who runs the company with her husband Tim did say that if I'm ordering several things from her then it's definitely something she can do but it's understandable that if brides are just ordering two centrepieces for example, as she has to travel it isn't quite worth her while, which I totally understand. Anyway, we are hoping to order some vintage birdcages with flowers and candles from her, table runners, chair sashes and maybe some topiary trees (we haven't decided yet). Then other finishing touches for the tables such as sprinkles, gems, disposable cameras, our favours, menu cards and other lovely little things that I might come across we are going to sort out ourselves and take with us. Basically things that are easy to travel with, cheaper to buy ourselves and won't weigh down our luggage. Dawn's Facebook page is full of ideas for weddings, perfect for when it comes to different colour schemes and general themes. She is constantly coming up with different ideas, so you are sure to find something to suit your wedding. When we properly decide what we want from her, I will find out the price from her and then book it through our wedding advisor's so it's together with our photography and hair and make-up and we can just pay to one point directly, rather than having to pay different people, I prefer to keep it all in one place if possible :).

Image courtesy of Cyprus Wedding Touches.

Regarding our wedding menu, we have booked this with the hotel wedding co-ordinator, Viki Koufari. They have several menu's to choose from, ranging from buffet's to set menu's, so if you are looking at this hotel and want to know what food they offer for weddings, it's probably best to get in touch with Viki at the hotel on this email address: She will be able to give you the most up to date information based on when you are looking to get married and she will advise you on the perfect menu and drinks package for your needs, tastes and budget. When I make my menu cards, you'll get a glance of the menu we've chosen but in regards to the drinks, as our guests are staying in a different hotel, they have to pay for a day pass upon coming into our hotel which is currently 45 euros. This includes all drinks, so their drinks during the wedding will be included. A day pass for food and drink is currently 70 euros, but we are providing the food, so there is no need to buy that day pass. Me and Simon get free drinks as we are staying all inclusive at the hotel and if you were getting married at the hotel and your guests were staying there too, if they were staying all inclusive too then of course their drinks would be included. If you were to be in the same situation as us, then day passes would have to be purchased. If you book 10 or more rooms at the hotel for 7 nights or more then a free cocktail reception will be offered and this will include a glass of sparkling wine per person and 3 canapes per person. This is an offer being held currently, so based on when you are reading this, if this appeals to you, I'd get in touch with the hotel to see if it is still valid. I think it's something the hotel offers continuously though, but it's better to check.

There are lots of groups on Facebook, so sometimes it's best just to have a little explore, as all of the groups above I found myself via Facebook or via other groups on Facebook. Just try typing in some keywords depending on where you are getting married and see what comes up. The same with any websites I've mentioned, so far these are ones I've been given or found myself that have been really helpful with our wedding planning. If I find any more as I go along, I'll let you know :).

I haven't mentioned any specific prices as obviously prices change from season to season and from year to year, but I have provided means of contacting such suppliers/companies, so you can always get an up to date price :).

If you do want to ask me any questions feel free and I'll help where I can :). In the meantime, I'll keep you posted...

Thanks so much for reading!
Gem XxOo
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