Throwing a party is a big deal. Throwing a wedding party is a much bigger one. Now, throwing a wedding party in another country, well… you can imagine! But, thanks to a great wedding planner, we managed to have the wedding of our dreams. My husband and I met in Ethiopia but moved abroad and our wedding was held in Phuket, Thailand. Many have asked us why Thailand?! It’s because we fell in love with Thailand from our first trip there, which was where we got engaged too. We both have always wanted to have a destination beach wedding and the islands in Thailand are to die for. The sparkling-clean blue-green sea, the white sandy beaches, the food, the culture – it is all to die for. I know, I know, Zanzibar has the same thing and so does Mombasa, and both are much closer to Ethiopia. There was another truth to why we had it in Thailand – Shopping! We can all agree that Bangkok (which is probably where you pass by) to get to any of the islands in Thailand. And we all know about shopping in Bangkok. It’s cheap, with plenty of options. So, in addition to having your wedding one of the most beautiful islands in the world, you open the door of shopping to yourselves and your guests! Recently I was able to learn a bit about Italian culture and history. And I started a saying that goes “let the Italians build, let the Italians cook, and let the Italians bake!” After meeting Ilaria and her team, I now say, and very proudly, Let the Italians plan your wedding! If you want to have your wedding in Phuket, trust me when I say, ‘The Wedding Boutique- Phuket’ would be your second best decision! We were lucky enough to have a wedding planner who is absolutely amazing with her creativity. Lord knows how many times we changed our minds while planning the wedding. The theme kept changing as we came across new ideas that could glow the wedding with minimum cost. We had booked her a year prior to the wedding, (since it was a destination and we needed to make sure we secured her before other couples did), but the actual detailed planning started about 6 months prior to the wedding. She sent us a list of vendors with links to their social media pages or websites to see their works. Based on the information she gave us we chose our photographer, videographer, makeup artist, wedding celebrant, and DJ. One of the issues we heard from other couples who have had destination weddings were the culture clashes they didn’t anticipate beforehand. For example, the DJ would simply play an ‘Ethiopian wedding Song’ that s/he searched from the internet. The song maybe good, but not AT ALL suitable for a wedding. Another example would be a celebrant completely mispronouncing your names. Therefore, in order to avoid these issues, Ilaria linked us with the celebrant and DJ. The celebrant was able to come 30 minutes before the ceremony so he can talk to my then fiancé on how to properly pronounce our names. As for the song selections, we picked a few good songs we would like to dance to and sent the links/songs to the DJ. He was very happy to be immersed in a new culture and thanked us for introducing him to songs he has never heard of! It was so much fun to dance to Hayil loga. The song went ‘Ya hoooooooooooo belu’ (ያሆሆሆ በሉ) and the DJ was smiling ear to ear when everyone started pointing to the floor. Let’s talk a bit about make-up! Now, if you have a black make-up artist- very well! If not, make sure your MUA is used to the color of our skin and they have the right shades. I picked a MUA who has worked on a black bride before. The one thing that worried me, and was, in fact, a bit of an issue during the wedding day was my hair. The stylist came to do mine, my 3 bridesmaids and my mother’s hair. He was only able to do mine and my mom’s (and my mom’s doesn’t count because it’s short and soft and doesn’t take a lot of time). To the brides who plan to have a stylist that is not familiar with your hair type- make sure you deal with it halfway before s/he starts working on you. My bridesmaids and I were in Phuket for 1 week prior to the wedding and so our hair wasn’t ‘done’ because we swam and the humidity would destroy it anyway. My stylist took hours to dry my hair with a blow dryer and then flat iron it. My bride’s maids went with their natural hair because we didn’t have time to do theirs and in fact were late to the ceremony. (Habesha weddings, right?) But the natural look worked well with the theme of the wedding and the beach. I should’ve planned to go natural too. Or I could’ve dried my hair the night before and flat iron it (curl it) on the wedding day. That is my only regret because it stole about 1 hour from the wedding. Otherwise, it was perfect! I would do it again, and again! It was so much fun to be with the closest people in our lives! Before I conclude, I want to give you a bit of advice. If you plan a destination wedding and keep worrying about your guests, where they are if they made it, who picked them from the airport, who drops them off etc… my dear you’ll be so stressed you’ll see it on your face on the wedding day. Your friends and families are there because they love you and they want to be there on your big day. Relax! They’ll be fine. And your wedding is going to be intimate and BEAUTIFUL. Don’t stress. Communicate with your planner/vendors and all will be okay. Congratulations and Have the Happiest day of your life!