"I'm getting married in the morning..."
Well, I'm not really getting married, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are, of course. The former ‘Suits’ actress is marrying the UK’s most eligible bachelor on Saturday, 19 May - and we can’t wait to see them walk down the aisle and say their ‘I do's’. The ceremony is set to take place at the beautiful St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle and will be broadcast all over the world.
However, if you are not a member of the Royal Family, your wedding will be unlikely to be seen by millions, but it doesn’t make it any less special. To celebrate the new Royal couple’s nuptials, three couples who decided to get married abroad and make a holiday out of their big day, have shared their wonderful stories with RCI.
Whether it was in the sun or the snow, these couples all had their perfect wedding day by combining it with a holiday with their nearest and dearest...
I do's in stunning Sorrento
It was the stunning Sorrento views that attracted holidaymakers Tiffany and Tony to get married in Italy.
I had always imagined that I would get married abroad somewhere hot, and as Tony and I knew we only wanted a small and intimate wedding, going away to tie the knot was the perfect option for both of us.
Tony had been to Sorrento on holiday before and always said he thought I would love it just as much as he did. So, when we began looking at destinations to get married, Italy was one of the first places we looked into. I fell in love with Sorrento straight away, with its dramatic coastline, pretty streets and warm weather. We decided to start planning straight away for our big day in the Italian sunshine.
I thought it would be really easy to just hand over most of the organising to the wedding planner in Sorrento, but when it came down to it, I really enjoyed doing most of it myself from the UK. I did leave some of the details to the planners, such as the flowers, but I decided I wanted to sort out something really different for the transport to the wedding.
I organised for me and my dad to arrive at the venue in a gorgeous horse and carriage, which was one of the most special moments of my wedding day, to get that time with him before Tony and I exchanged vows. Though unfortunately my dad does happen to be terrified of horses, but I did manage to persuade him to get in the carriage, thankfully!
We decided we didn’t want to hold our wedding in the hotel where we were staying, as we wanted it to be even more special by arriving there in a more traditional way.
After doing a lot of research, we found the perfect place that was in walking distance from our hotel - Villa Fondi - it had everything we were looking for. It had a gorgeous view overlooking the sea which gave us the perfect backdrop for photos, and we could get married outside, which is one of the best benefits of getting married abroad!
The wedding service was a really unique experience, as it was performed in Italian with a translator to help us out - that made it all even more special. But, it was the view that really topped the day off. We got married overlooking the sea, with the rugged hillside peeking out like it was framing the moment. The impressive Mount Vesuvius looked on in the distance - thankfully there were no volcanic eruptions during the service!
The evening reception was originally going to be inside the 'O Parrucchiano restaurant nearby, but as the weather was so warm, we decided to move it outside in the restaurant’s orangery, which was a great decision. It was so picturesque, with the fruit trees and lush green plants surrounding the tables, as well as the warm weather. It was perfect!
As for the speeches, they went down very well!
The Best Man’s speech was very funny (as it should be!) - but he made up for all the embarrassing stories with a really thoughtful gift. He made a lovely scrap book for me and Tony, filled with photos of us when we were younger and first started dating, up to more recent snaps. It really meant a lot and we will keep it as a special memento of our day.
We had already booked our honeymoon to Florida for later on in the year, so we originally planned to go to Capri for a few days after the wedding as a mini honeymoon and to recover from all the fun.
Some of our family and friends decided they would like to explore Capri too, so we asked them to join us and all go over together, and make it a day trip instead. We hired a private speedboat to take us all over to the island, which was quite an experience! The scenery is absolutely breathtaking and I would highly recommend it!
Capri is a beautiful place to explore, especially the coastline by boat. Weather permitting you can take a boat into the sea caves and see the famous Blue Grotto, but we decided to explore Capri on foot instead. We took it easy when we got there rather than trying to fit lots of things in, and spent the day wandering around with our family, taking in all the sights and beautiful views. We stopped for a long, leisurely lunch at a pretty Italian restaurant and people watched. It was a really relaxing day.
Sorrento is such a beautiful place and is perfectly located to explore some of Italy’s most beautiful places. Our wedding party did lots of sightseeing while they were there and visits to Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius both came highly recommended by them.
Tony and I spent a lot of time after the wedding relaxing, and ambling around Sorrento's charming streets, but when we return to visit in the future with our sons Cohen and Caleb, we will definitely get in some more sightseeing and visit some of the beautiful sights the Amalfi Coast has to offer.
We had 17 guests join us in Sorrento for our wedding. It meant that we could have our closest friends and family with us on our special day, but still had a big party to celebrate with everyone else when we got home. We had a perfect wedding and a fantastic holiday, and hopefully all our friends and family enjoyed it as much as we did!
Ich Mache - An Austrian Wedding Adventure
Shelley, RCI staff member and her now husband JB got married in the beautiful Austrian Alps.
The proposal, came eventually, after a few hilarious false starts. False starts in that I was wishing for it to happen, but it came when I was least expecting it, making it feel all the more magical. It was from that moment - T minus 334 days - that we started planning. Whilst that sounds pretty full on, that was as Bridezilla as it got.
We both have a passion for skiing, something we developed together three years earlier and we were committed to combining that passion with our big day.
Quick internet research ruled out France as a possible wedding venue due to strict legal requirements of having to reside there for 40 days. With no such condition in Austrian law and a love of the country that developed on a school trip, we chose Austria, and the hills became alive with the sound of wedding bells.
We picked up a ‘Where to Ski and Snowboard’ guide and selected a list of resorts as potential wedding venues, then four weeks later embarked on a road trip that took in the following regions; Vorarlberg, Ötztal, Zillertal, Zell-am-See and Gasteinertal. The latter being the last stop and fortunately the one that impressed us the most, suiting the wedding party of skiers and non-skiers alike. Read more about the Gasteinertal region in our Alpine Holiday Adventures blog here.
Scouring TripAdvisor for advice on weddings in Bad Hofgastein, we settled on one positive review as the basis for our booking. Hooking up with the wedding planner, Patricia, in London when she was over on holiday, we gave her our wish list and that was all we had to do, except for a couple of emails between June and December.
We flew over in December to check the hotel existed. We talked flowers, where we provided Patricia with a swatch of the bride’s and bridesmaids’ dress fabric, and left her to it. We chose the photographer through a recommendation from Patricia.
We also got to explore the area as a ski resort and test out the slopes, as it had just opened for the season! Fortunately we fell in love with it straight away due to its wide and quiet slopes, imposing mountain scenery, friendly locals, Austrian charm and rustic mountain huts serving local delicacies.
Fast forward three months to wedding week, forty of our friends and family descended on Salzburg Airport, the gateway for our wonderful wedding adventure. First day, we hit the spa, which was a relaxing start to the week in the hot tub enjoying bubbles with bubbles. The area is famous for its healing waters and radon baths that are said to cure many ailments.
Four days to go before the big day, the skiers hit the slopes and hit them hard. We were spoilt by the weather gods, we thought 'life doesn’t get much better than this', and we were on cloud nine. For the non-skiers in the group (mostly parents, aunts and uncles) there were plenty of other activities to get involved in. They enjoyed a trip to Salzburg on the train for a ‘Sound of Music’ tour, to a day out in Bad Gastein soaking up the Belle Époque architecture, enjoying coffee and cake in the many konditoreis and sledging with the kids down a 3.5km toboggan run.
A combined stag and hen do was held at the local casino, an impressive building that wouldn’t look out of place in a James Bond film and we had so much fun. Who knew that my mum is a closet roulette addict, coming out the biggest winner of the evening?
We also followed a very old Austrian tradition called Brautraub (stealing the bride). Friends steal the bride, going from bar to bar, buying drinks along the way. The groom has to find the bride and pay the ransom to get her back! Jägers all round.
Our wedding day was a relaxed affair, the most beautiful bluebird day after a night of epic snow fall, that unfortunately neither me or my groom got to enjoy. We had the wedding at 3pm so our guests could enjoy the slopes in the morning, however I vetoed my future husband’s time on the slopes, not for fear of him breaking something, but fear of getting stuck on a chairlift!
We wed in the local Kuursaal. Our wedding was a unique and wonderful experience, conducted in German, with help of a translator, we had a history lesson about the local area and we were thanked for choosing the town to celebrate, finally culminating in the cursory ‘I do’s’ and the signing of the register.
Then it was time for the wedding breakfast. Traditional Glühwein was served as the welcome drink, it pays to be traditional as it helps with the costs! Keeping with Austrian fayre we had local delicacies such as tafelspitz, käsespätzle, apfelstrudel and, for the wedding cake, sacher torte, a delicious rich chocolate cake originating from Vienna.
Upon finishing the wedding breakfast, DJ Max took to his decks playing an eclectic mix of the usual English wedding hits, peppered with awesome Austrian Apres Ski Anthems - Europop at its best!
RCI doesn’t do weddings, but if you are looking for a honeymoon or anniversary experience, then look no further than our range of Exchange or Extra Holidays.
A wedding in the Florida sunshine
RCI staff member Hayley and her husband Lee had a dream holiday and honeymoon in Florida.
I could never have imagined getting married anywhere but Florida. My father is American and we lived on US airbases when I was growing up, and my parents regularly took us on holiday to Florida. It has since become a favourite holiday destination for me and my now husband, Lee.
Lee and I knew we wanted an overseas wedding ceremony because we thought it would be a lot of fun for everyone attending; it would be a fabulous setting with great weather and lots of holiday extras to be enjoyed. It also meant we could have our honeymoon at the same time. We stayed in the RCI resort - Vacation Village at Parkway (4940) for a week. Then we had a 3-night cruise to the Bahamas, before spending a week in Daytona just chilling on the beaches.
Our wedding was in Cypress Gardens, and at that time it was America’s oldest theme park - it had a very pretty botanical garden and a few small rides. It actually closed down just a week after our wedding - thankfully that wasn’t a bad omen! It is now Legoland, although the beautiful wedding gazebo and wedding arch is still there for couples to return to. For the wedding day, we had 22 guests there and the whole day was perfect.
Cypress Gardens arranged for a limo to collect us from our RCI resort, which was such a special way to start the day. The reverend who married us was brilliant - he was from the south of the States and very charismatic. It was still a religious ceremony and very moving, which is just what we hoped it would be.
After the ceremony, we had our pictures taken in the gardens which was a perfect setting. One thing I remember very fondly was that people in the park kept stopping us to ask if they could have their picture taken with the bride and groom! We didn’t mind, we loved it. There was such a friendly party atmosphere, lots of laughter, chatter and everyone was simply so happy.
After our wedding meal, the fun really started…
All the wedding party dashed back to their rooms at the resort, grabbed an overnight bag, and then headed off to the Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Studios for a night of partying. The City Walk is packed with bars and clubs and comedy clubs, and for those with children, there was so many other activities for them.
We then went off on our cruise with Royal Caribbean International and enjoyed three nights around the Bahamas. Knowing we were honeymooners, Royal Caribbean laid on caviar, truffles and champagne. It made us feel quite special - though I don’t like caviar, it was good to be able to give it a try!
Lee and I then chilled out on our own for the second week on the fabulous beaches of Daytona. We were so tired from all the fun we had in Florida and the cruise, we needed that perfect place to relax. Back at our resort, our parents had stayed on and taken up residence on the beaches there, and my aunts and uncles spent the week exploring Orlando.
I was happy that I had none of the stress of organising our wedding. No worries about the chair decorations or matching bridesmaid dresses to cake icing, as my friends getting married the UK had had before me. It was all out of my control and I put my trust in the hands of the Cypress Gardens’ fantastic wedding planner.
It was a fantastic day with the sun shining from sunrise to sunset, and it cost us just a fraction of what we would have paid in the UK for a wedding of a similar scale.
Now I am all grown up and living in the UK with my own family, my love affair with Florida continues. We are happy if we get to holiday there every four years with our two children now - aged 9 and 13, Jack and Annabel. Last year, we repeated our wedding trip, with our children. We stayed in Orlando for a week, did a 3-night cruise and then spent our last week in Daytona. Florida has everything - fabulous weather, beautiful beaches, theme parks, and the shopping - it’s amazing, love it.
Our whole wedding and honeymoon couldn’t have been any better, and even now, our friends and family talk about what an amazing time we all had there. Florida was the perfect destination for Lee and I to get married in, and I can't wait to plan our next family holiday to the Sunshine State.
If you are planning to say your ‘I do's’ abroad, make the RCI Resort Directory your first planning step. You can choose a fantastic timeshare resort for you and your family to stay in to celebrate your wedding, or even as an escape on a romantic honeymoon as newlyweds...
If you own a timeshare and have routinely returned to your home resort year in, year out, why not think about the whole wide world of holidays that you could be enjoying with RCI membership? If you want to start seeing more of the world, and you have a timeshare, click on the button below and follow the simple directions to join RCI and start your adventures...