Ibiza is a beautiful Island, with amazing light and simple scenery, ideal for white weddings. For couples who connect with the Island and understand its unique energy, then it makes having a wedding in Ibiza all the more special. Unfortunately, in the past number of years, weddings have become big business in Ibiza and where there is money to be made from gullible tourists, there are always going to to be sharks waiting to take advantage. In my personal dealings with the Ibiza Wedding Industry, I have found some of them, the least likeable people to deal with on the Island. Its a dog eat dog environment and couples have to be seriously buyer aware when dealing with unlicensed operators. I have met some really genuine people but they are in the minority and most are part of the Island community for much of their lives, raising children and trying to make a living on the Island during its short five month season. Mention the word wedding in Ibiza and prices go up faster than a helium balloon. Here are a few tips that a couple needs to know before they start planning a wedding in Ibiza….
Wedding Planners. Anybody can be a wedding planner in Ibiza. They have no qualifications. I know of one person who used to read tarot cards and now is a wedding planner. They are basicily middle men who will add on about 20% to the cost of a wedding as well as receiving 10% kickback from the owners of the venues and services that they spend your money at. Unless a couple has a big budget and dont want to do the organisation work themselves, then they can be useful. But make sure to use one of the more reputable and established operators, not the Trotters Independent Traders variety. For small to medium sized budgets, they are not worth the extra expense, as the restaurant or venue will be happy to organise everything themselves.
Villa Weddings. Sounds romantic and beautiful to have a wedding under the stars at your own private villa but be ready to cough up a lot of cash for the privilege. Do not take a cheap option here. Also be aware that music can not be played outside after midnight, due to strict noise pollution laws. This rule is non negotiable and no Villa Owner will allow it, as the police will be called by neighbours. If anybody says you can, then they are lying. Also be aware of Mosquitoes at dusk, they will almost certainly pay an outdoor wedding a visit. The vast majority of Villa Weddings will have to employ outside caterers. This can be a hit and miss experience. Some catering companies will charge up to 80% mark up on average quality food. They all ask for payment up front, so there is no comeback if things go wrong. Always, always, visit the venue before booking it to check it out. The best villas are sometimes booked two years in advance due to the small amount of suitable ones available on the market. Beware of advice from vested interests on this.
The Wedding Cake. No fresh cream cakes in Ibiza as the weather is too hot and the cream spoils. Also local ingredients and the heat are not conducive to making wedding cakes. So make sure to deal with a person who specialises in making wedding cakes, not a catering company or restaurant, as they understand best the pitfalls associated with Cakes in Ibiza. Hot weather is very bad news for cakes, especially outdoor venues like villas so its vitally important that the cake is kept refrigerated 90% of the time, only coming out to be displayed and served, then straight back into the fridge.
Hairdressers and Makeup. Genuine enough people. The independent operators are best in my opinion especially the ones based in the UK but travel out to the Island to work the summer months. Some of the bigger companies can overbook and end up frantically looking for anybody at the last minute to cover a wedding. My advice, get a friend or family member who is a guest at the wedding to help with hair and make up. Most girls have a good idea of how to apply make up and do hair and a good friend will always do their best to make sure a bride looks beautiful on the day.
Photographers. Again genuine people to deal with. All have their own individual style, so have a look at their portfolios and decide yourself. Local photographers understand the Island best and know the beautiful locations to visit. Some really talented photographers in Ibiza and as the light is so good, some stunning shots can be achieved. At around €500 a booking, a talented photographer is the best value spend on the Island and an area I personally would not skimp on.
The Wedding Reception/Restaurant. We have dealt with Villas above. In my opinion, the restaurant is the best way to go, especially if its for a simple wedding after a blessing at some stunning vista. If you want to save yourself some money, dont say its a wedding that you are booking the restaurant for. Say its for a birthday or anniversary celebration. Agree a price, pay a deposit, but don’t settle the final bill until the meal is finished. Everybody wants a beach side reception but there are very few venues capable of pulling off a professional operation. The ones that do a professional job and are in a good location are booked out a year in advance. The professional, well established restaurants will offer an excellent package when booked as a wedding but do not have the sea views. Depending on the size of the restaurant and your wedding party some will ask for an exclusivity fee to book out the whole restaurant. This fee will have to be paid in advance with a sizeable deposit so that the restaurant can close its reservation book for that day. Expect to pay about €120 per head for 5-6 courses, canopies toast on arrival, decorations, cake and wine included.
Church Weddings. Ibiza is predominately a Roman Catholic culture. All its churches are Catholic. Other faiths do hold services in Catholic Churches which they borrow for the day but there are only two English Speaking Church Of England churches in Ibiza. Here is a link www.theibizachurch.com If one of the couple is Roman Catholic then they are permitted to marry in any of the stunning Churches on the Island. Permissions are required from both the couples local parish priest and the priests whose church the couple are marrying in. Its a slow and laborious process to have all the administrative paperwork in order for the wedding to take place but its well worth it in the end. This is an area where hiring people to process all the documentation is worthwhile as they know the system and the people to deal with.
Celebrants. In the main genuine people to deal with. Prices can differ depending on each celebrant. The good ones will try to understand the personality of the couple and get a feeling for them. Its very important to meet the celebrant before booking so as to establish a connection. They can also give lots of helpful advice and are a good option as a sounding board for who to deal with on the Island. Fees range from €250 to €600. This price may seem steep but as its seasonal work, most have to charge extra to cover the 7 months that they do not have any business. They can suggest the best options available for locations depending on the personality of the couple.
Caterers. Not my favourite type of people on the Island. They treat weddings as a business first and in my opinion the level of professional catering is average at best. Always double check the bill for added extras and make sure when agreeing a price with them that its a Final Price and nothing else will be charged to the bill without your permission. This is one area where checking over the contract and what you get for your money should be forensically examined before signing. There is not one caterer on the Island that I could recommend, such is my dislike for they way they operate. If booking a caterer always ensure that they have the proper licences and work from kitchens that have full health and safety regulations. Personally I would use a restaurant to provide private catering to a venue rather than booking a caterer. Just approach a private restaurant and ask.
DIY Ibiza Weddings. Easily done if you take the time to research and most importantly visit the Island to talk to people, check out venues and ask questions. There is no quick fix option if you want to deliver a wedding within a realistic budget and I mean under 10k. If a couple truly understand Ibiza, they will know that simple weddings using good people are the best weddings. Be aware that people have to earn a living within a 5 month period so a small fee is always much appreciated to field and answer questions. Great deals to be had in the off season months, (30-40% discounts) and I would have no problem getting married in Ibiza in October, April or May. I would also consider Spring Time when the Island is in full bloom as it really beautiful.
The Wedding Couple. Many service providers on the Island can be hurt by couples who expect everything to be done at no charge or for free. The amount of emails I receive about weddings is increasing all the time. Many do not have to courtesy to reply or say thank you and I now understand why service providers charge fees for their advice. Treat people how you would like to be treated yourself, have some simple manners and give back something in return. People will work much better for you if you are genuine and in tune with how the Island operates. I try not to associate myself with bad or nasty people. I just avoid them. There are some really good and genuine people in Ibiza who understand that a couples wedding is a very special day and not just a way to make money from tourists. Use these people to ensure that a wedding in Ibiza is special and one to remember.
I am happy to help point couples in the right direction and introduce them to good people that wont rip them off. To deter time wasters, clogging up my inbox and not even bothering to say thanks or reply to say how their wedding went, even when asked to do so, I have decided take steps to limit the amount of emails I receive. Therefore from September 2012 onwards, I will be asking for a flat fee of €50 before I respond to any emails asking for advice about Ibiza Weddings. The fee is once off and is fully refundable if the couple feel the service and advice provided was not of benefit to them. I apologise for the charge but answering emails to time wasters, means I have less time to deal with genuine people. Please use this link if you require a personal consultancy on Ibiza Weddings. I will endeavor to ensure that you are pointed in the right direction and deal with good people as my guests.