TRAVEL: Vietnam becomes destination wedding

PLANNING a wedding can be a daunting task. When you throw in the fact that you’re planning it by email, communicating with people whose first language is not English, in a country that you may not have visited before, it’s a whole different kettle of fish.

The risk of things going wrong dramatically increase, and suddenly the colour scheme’s importance is thrown out the window when you’re asked questions about how you’d like things positioned in a setting that you’ve never set eyes on.

And yet destination weddings are fast becoming a popular choice for Gen Y. Let me tell you why. They are affordable alternatives to dropping an entire house deposit on one day in your life that seems to rush by in an instant.

You can choose to get married anywhere, and it has the added benefit of a forced holiday for yourselves and your guests. They are easy to plan and you’ll create an unforgettable experience for everyone involved.

Destination weddings truly are a fantastic way to go. However, you have to be willing to let go of the element of control, put all your trust in the hands of someone else throughout the whole organisation process, and just go with the flow, which certainly is not for everyone.

When I mentioned we were getting married overseas a lot of people called us crazy. It was even harder to explain to people why we decided on Vietnam to do it.

We chose a destination that was different to typical destination weddings (Thailand, Fiji, Bali), as we wanted somewhere that meant something to us (we backpacked in Vietnam eight years ago and loved it).

We wanted somewhere that most of our friends and family had not travelled to, yet somewhere that was still affordable for them to make the trek with us for the wedding and make a holiday out of it. In the end, we decided to get married in Ha Long Bay, on a traditional Vietnamese junk boat (through Bhaya Cruises).

Planning the wedding itself was really not all that difficult. After we decided where we wanted to tie the knot and found a company that communicated well, everything just fell into place.

Bhaya Cruises has a fleet of junks. The largest has 20 cabins and so there is a maximum of 40 people. That gave us a number of guests to work towards inviting, and deciding the guest list was probably the hardest part.

Bhaya Cruises also proposed that they take our photos and some videography of the day and night. They would provide these to us, and in return use the photos and videos as their promotional material.

This was a fantastic alternative to providing our own photographer, which would have proven to be very expensive ($2000 and we’d lose a room on the boat).

At the end of the day we had to remember that we were doing this for ourselves and not for anyone else, and the most important thing was that the two of us were happy.

The wedding went off without a hitch, we had an amazing time, and the backdrop of Ha Long Bay was simply breathtaking. It actually exceeded my expectations far more than I could have imagined.

And the best thing (aside from getting married of course) was that we got to incorporate our honeymoon into the whole trip.

Well, in our case as we had 30 family and friends travelling over with us we coined it our “groupie-moon’’ and had a few people travelling down the coastline with us for four weeks. Highlights included trekking in Sapa, scuba diving in Hoi An, learning how to drive (and crash) scooters, and relaxing on various beaches on the south coast, including Mui Ne and Phu Quoc.

It was the experience of a lifetime, and I would not change one thing.

Of course, all weddings are a memorable and magical time, but if you have the constitution to do something for yourselves and want to create a truly unforgettable memory then I would definitely recommend a destination wedding.