I know, I know, launching my wedding planning services in Sharm el Sheikh has raised a few eyebrows, mainly with people here in the UK who have been watching the news and wondering if Sharm el Sheikh is safe even just for a holiday, let alone for a wedding… Plus, what I’m offering is a service that, while isn’t new, certainly is something unexpected and new in the sense that you will struggle to find another non-Sharm-based planner offering the same. So, to shed some light on my wedding planning services in Sharm el Sheikh, the logistics and the current situation in Sharm here is a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). Please comment or get in touch if you feel you have any other unanswered question you’d like me to address, and I’ll be delighted to do so!
♥ Why should I hire Linen and Silk Weddings, a wedding planner that isn’t based in Sharm el Sheikh?
For a long time before embarking on this venture I tried to put myself in your shoes by thinking about this question and looking for all the pros and cons of working with a wedding planner who is not based in Sharm el Sheikh. My research into the market and demand has proven to be very fruitful and has given me a very clear answer. If you choose to get married in Sharm el Sheikh, at the moment you have only couple of options:
- find the venue yourself and then rely on the venue coordinator (which many venues inaccurately call ‘wedding planner’) to help you with the planning
- find an Egypt-basef wedding planner to help you plan your wedding
Both options have advantages, but they also have disadvantages:
- In-house venue coordinator: it sounds like a clever, inexpensive idea as this service is usually included in the fee the hotel is charging you. However, the venue coordinator will NOT propose a range of suppliers based on your requirements, or work with you to create a style that is completely tailored to your likes, needs and personality. Most wedding venues have pre-arranged packages and themes (often based on colour schemes), which will then be executed with the help of the venue coordinator. Let’s say you don’t like chair covers (I detest them, by the way… sorry!), chances are, some venue coordinators will not be able to offer you any alternative because that’s all their venue has on offer and your fee doesn’t pay for them to do additional research
- Egyptian wedding planner: being based in Egypt has its pros; however if you are a bride who isn’t based in Egypt or who isn’t Egyptian, what you really want is someone that can offer you the SAME service but who can also fully understand you traditions and cultural background, as well as knowing how to effectively communicate with you and with local suppliers. Many local planners tend to work with couples from their own country or other neighbouring countries producing weddings that might be perfect for Egyptian culture and traditions, but that wouldn’t particularly be suitable for an European couple
So why Linen and Silk Weddings then?
- I offer a service that is ENTIRELY BESPOKE. Unless your budget doesn’t allow, I will always come to you with options and recommendations based on your likes & dislikes and the needs identified during our consultation
- I am from Milan (Italy), live in London (UK), travel frequently to Sharm el Sheikh, and have very close connections with local wedding suppliers and family friends who are based in Sharm el Sheikh, which means I have a very good understanding of both the European mentality and taste, and of the local traditions. I can also bring a very distinctive European flair to your wedding while retaining a local flavour too
- If you are based in the UK, you have the opportunity to meet me face-to-face both for our initial consultation and during the wedding planning process, which is guaranteed to give you peace of mind
- I am a UKAWP Associate Member and while my membership is for my services in the UK and Italy only, I’m still obliged to follow a code of business practice that is designed to give you, brides and grooms, the reassurance that you need to allow a wedding planner deal with such an important event as your wedding. Among others, some of the rules I follow include: respecting client confidentiality, disclosing any suppliers I have a vested interest in, passing discounts and/or commission onto clients, ensuring my Public Liability insurance is up to date, and using legally sound business contracts. If you are unsure what this means, do get in touch with me and I’ll happily take you through our code of practice and explain how this is essential for giving you peace of mind
- Being based in Europe and being a wedding blogger as well as a planner means that I have a wide network of non-Sharm el Sheikh-based suppliers whom I can wholeheartedly trust and who are keen to travel to Egypt to work on your wedding. This means that if your budget allows I can recommend suppliers that will be able to bring something truly unique to your wedding experience. With connections in both Egypt, but also Dubai, Mumbai, Italy and the UK, the range of suppliers who are available for your wedding is huge! And this, believe me, isn’t something a local wedding planner will be able to offer, unless of course they already work with foreign suppliers or your budget allows for a much more extensive supplier search.
♥ Is a wedding in Sharm el Sheikh for me?
Only you can answer this question, but here’s the thing: a wedding in Sharm el Sheikh is a unique experience, one which, however, requires ‘some’ compromising on your part. For example, Sharm el Sheikh enjoys great weather all year round. However, with good weather come high temperatures from mid-May to end of September, or winds in January / February that might lead to last minute changes to the logistics of your wedding, albeit still enjoying the most pleasant temperatures (in the 20s C!). Nothing that cannot be overcome by a professional wedding planner, but perhaps if you were dreaming of a beach wedding, it might be best to choose an out of season date, such as October, November, March, April or May. If you are not from a Middle Eastern country, you also need to bear in mind that you are dealing with a culturally different country whose work habits are greatly affected by this. If you are the kind of person who likes everything to run to absolute perfection, Sharm el Sheikh might not be for you. If, however, you are open minded and you enjoy a friendly, relaxed atmosphere among warm, hospitable people, then Sharm el Sheikh is definitely the destination for you! You just need to hire a planner to deal with the very few cons while you enjoy all the pros.
♥ What kind of wedding can I have in Sharm?
I’ve mentioned some of the options in my Services page, but here is a succinct list for you:
- Beach wedding: either at one of the hotels’ private beaches, or at privately owned restaurants and bars. One of my favourite locations is the latter – a stunning restaurant on the beach overlooking Hadaba with views of the sea and the desert. Its facilities allow for both ceremony and reception to be held in the same place and, because of the fact that it is privately owned, it offers total flexibility (exclusive / non-exclusive / local food / Italian food etc…).
- Hotel wedding: the options here are practically infinite. You will find quite a few well-known 5* hotels offering affordable wedding packages in Sharm el Sheikh. But here’s the thing: taking up one of their packages is often like having a meal at McDonald’s – no matter where you are, they all taste the same. If you want a bespoke day that reflects your likes and personality, then venture out. One of my favourites is a great 5* hotel with indoors and outdoors banqueting facilities (think rooftop restaurant and pool overlooking the desert!) that is super keen on creating events based on creativity rather than set packages. So if this is your type of thing, then get in touch! There are many other 5* hotels in Sharm el Sheikh I liaise with that can also offer bespoke packages at slightly higher rates. One thing is sure, an hotel wedding offers complete flexibility, particularly as it allows you to alter your plans in case the weather should change at the last minute, or because they can generally cater for all size parties, giving you also the convenience of local accommodation.
- Boat wedding: Sharm el Sheikh is famous for its snorkelling and diving excursions. The same companies that offer these services can also offer sunset and dinner cruises on their boats and, of course, weddings! Are you planning for an intimate celebration with close family and friends? Then a boat wedding might be just what you need. Start with a symbolic celebration at at sea in the sunset and continue with a drink reception followed by an on board wedding meal of local delicacies, with music and dancing under the starry sky…
- Trendy bars: I realise many of the people who might be considering a wedding in Sharm el Sheikh are young couples who perhaps regularly travel to Sharm el Sheikh for diving. These couples are adventurous, fun and relaxed, and for them there’s nothing better than celebrating their wedding day partying with friends and family in the kind of places they are most comfortable with, rather than in opulent wedding venues. Sharm el Sheikh offers a vast number of trendy bars that you can book for your celebration while retaining the authentic Egyptian experience you might be looking for.
♥ How much do you services in Sharm el Sheikh cost?
Good question. As all my services are based on your individual requirements; however, my services are identical in scope to those I offer for my weddings in London and Italy, so you can book me for full planning, partial planning, on-the-day-coordination, supplier search or even just for a few hours to go through your plans and advise. One thing to note, however, is that because of the nature of organising a wedding in Egypt, I can only specify the exact cost of the service you require after a consultation with you, where I will get a good idea of the level of involvement you require and the amount of travelling involved. I have provided a cost indication in yesterday’s post, so for more info, please refer to this post.
♥ What is the paperwork to get married in Sharm el Sheikh like?
For the marriage to be recognised, you will have to spend a few days in Cairo to get the legal paperwork done. This is not something that can be concluded in one simple visit, and that’s why I stated ‘days‘ instead of ‘a day’ in Cairo. Sadly this is also why so many foreigners are put off by the idea of getting married in Egypt. Also, if you are a Christian, it can be quite tricky to organise a church wedding in Sharm el Sheikh. So my recommendation for you is that you address the legal side and paperwork in your home country before jetting off to Egypt. You can then carry out a non-official, but nonetheless meaningful symbolic ceremony in a location of your choice in Sharm, either using a family member, a friend or an independent celebrant. Your real wedding, the one everyone will be part of, will be held in Egypt; the only compromise you will have to make is signing the papers in your home country before you leave.
♥ Do I need a visa to get to Sharm el Sheikh?
In short, if you are planning to stay no more than 14 days and you are not planning to leave the South Sinai, the answer is No.
If, however, you are staying 15 days or more, or if during your 2 weeks break you leave Sharm el Sheikh to go to Cairo, Luxor, St Catherine or any other inland resort, then the answer is Yes. Visa, however, can be purchased at the airport upon arrival and costs approx 15USD depending on your nationality.
Please beware, if you bring any of your suppliers from England or another foreign country, they will need to check with the local consulate whether they need to apply for a visa. This should be easily obtained from the local Egyptian embassy in their own country (Egypt embassy in London).
♥ Is Sharm el Sheikh safe?
This is the one million dollar question. Political unrest aside, it’s like asking: is London safe? The answer is YES, of course it is. But like all places, there are things you need to be weary of and security measures you need to adopt whenever you are in a foreign country. The bottom line is, if I didn’t think Sharm el Sheikh was safe, I would never dream of bringing my services to such a place. Years ago Sharm el Sheikh suffered terroristic attacks (but so have London, New York, Boston and many more Western cities!), and as a result security has been tightened up considerably, with check-points every few hundreds meters on all major roads and strict security measures in hotels, so that no one can enter, including locals, unless they are guests or work in or for the hotel.
In terms of the political unrest and violence the country has experienced in the summer, the only effect this has had on Sharm el Sheikh is the decrease in tourism. Cairo and all the locations that have experienced protests are several hours away from Sharm el Sheikh, and because of the importance that tourism has for Egypt, the government has been very keen to ensure holiday resorts remained safe at all times. For your own peace of mind, visit the UK travel advice page. Mainstream media seem to take pleasure in discouraging people from travelling for holiday to the Red Sea resorts, but I can honestly say hands on heart that the unrest the rest of the country has experienced was in no way reflected in Sharm el Sheikh. As of yesterday the government has also lifted both the curfew and the state of emergency, meaning that in just a few days excursions to points of interest, such as Luxor and hopefully Giza (pyramids) will resume. Of course, if you have questions, feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to answer.
I hope this FAQ session was of help, but if you have any other burning question, please ask! Use the comment box below and I will endeavour to reply any of your questions in person!
Come back tomorrow to see the inspiration behind #projectsharm and get a idea of what a Linen and Silk wedding in Sharm el Sheikh might look like.