A wedding abroad, whether in the beauty of Italy’s Lake Como, the informality of Las Vegas or the fun of Marbella, can be not just more special and exciting than a UK wedding, but less expensive too. Charles Purdy, CEO of Smart Currency Exchange, highlights some potential savings, and how using an FX specialist can take the risk out of large overseas currency payments.
A wedding abroad can be the best way to keep everyone happy, including your accountant. Let me highlight a few of the potential savings, and then explain a few need-to-knows from a currency perspective.
An overseas wedding tends to be limited to the very nearest and dearest. You can use the smaller numbers to your advantage by not only saving money on numbers, but also choosing a smaller venue at a more affordable time.
Rather than a Saturday, why not opt for midweek? Rather than the heat of a summer wedding, a spring or autumn wedding may not just be cheaper, but more comfortable too. If you’re chipping in for flights too, these will be far, far cheaper in the ‘shoulder seasons’ of October/November and April/May. Do bear in mind, however, that if you’re hoping for a glorious outdoor wedding in the sunshine, autumns even in the Mediterranean can be as soggy as the UK’s (if you’re very unlucky!).
An overseas wedding also takes you out of the traditional UK wedding ‘industry’. Just mention the word wedding in the UK and watch £££ signs appearing in the eyes of everyone from the caterer to the photographer to the hairdresser. Not every country automatically adds a premium to every wedding service.
An overseas wedding also has that super-exciting, exotic dimension baked in, leaving you free to avoid some of the extras in a UK wedding, from wedding favours to over-elaborate cakes.
Whatever you do, however, weddings tend to be pricey affairs, as befits their special status in our lives. So, the cost of a wedding abroad, frequently extending well into five figures, means that couples should make serious considerations as to how they deal with currency and payments.
Using a currency specialist
When planning your wedding, you probably wouldn’t use the same caterer as you buy your lunchtime sandwich from, or the same clothes shop as where you buy your socks. You shouldn’t use your usual bank either.
A foreign exchange specialist won’t just give you a great rate, although as a currency ‘wholesaler’, they normally will. Where a specialist like Smart really scores is in being available at the end of the telephone to answer your questions and queries too. You can ask your trader the best time to change your money, the different types of contracts you can take and also, crucially, how to avoid opening an overseas bank account, with all the fees that may entail.
Between FX specialists, you’ll find the exchange rate on offer doesn’t vary very much. What does vary is service and approachability, so choose a service that has strong recommendations, such as an ‘excellent’ ranking on Trustpilot.
Lock in your exchange rate.
During 2021, the pound was worth between €1.10 and €1.19. That means that if you were spending €20,000 on a wedding abroad, due to changes in the exchange rate alone it would have cost you anywhere between £16,800 and £18,200.
Moreover, those changes in exchange rates can come quickly and without warning. At the start of the pandemic the pound lost 15% almost overnight, and after the referendum and 2017 election also saw the pound collapsing in value. Gains in sterling strength, on the other hand, tend to be more gradual.
One option, therefore, is to lock in your exchange rate with a forward contract. This fixes the rate for up to a year, so whatever happens to the pound, your budget in euros or dollars is safe.
At Smart we’re there for the best things in life, such as paying for a wedding, buying a holiday home or retiring to the sunshine.
Give Smart Currency Exchange a call on 0808 163 0102 or check out their website at www.smartcurrencyexchange.com. And good luck in your future married life from all of us here. We look forward to hearing from you.