How do I start to plan my wedding abroad?
Start by thinking about the type of ceremony you’d like. If you’re looking for something different from the “norm” then consider finding a wedding provider in an unusual country, or one that offers ceremonies in unusual locations (underwater, bungee jumping etc).
Also consider the time of year when you wish to marry. Many tropical countries have hurricane or wet seasons so make sure you know what the weather will be like before you travel (and buy your dress).
Can I get married in ANY country?
No. Some countries have residency restrictions which mean that you can’t get legally married there. Although you can always have a blessing in any country and legally marry at home (you don’t have to tell anyone!).
For example, in France you have to be resident for at least 40 days, and in Spain resident for at least 2 years before you can legally marry.
Will it be expensive?
It’s really up to you. The wedding itself doesn’t need to be expensive, although you will have to pay for travel and accommodation of course. Getting married abroad can be as expensive or as cheap as you like. (just like a holiday).
Will it be difficult to arrange, as I’m in the UK?
It’s usually easier to hire a wedding planner in the country in which you wish to marry to take care of all the local arrangements, as it can be difficult to find suppliers and ensure quality when you are hundreds or thousands of miles away. A good wedding planner is like an accountant, by employing them you should save more money on the wedding than their fee costs you. And they also take care of the stress so you can enjoy the build up to your wedding even more.
Will I need to go to the country BEFORE the wedding?
It’s really up to you, and how far away the country is. Most couples do visit their wedding location at least once before the day in order to meet the wedding planner personally and to take a look at venues. It’s easy to do this in Europe as budget airlines are plentiful, but if you’re planning to marry further afield you may prefer to rely on Skype to “meet” your planner and see venues.
What legal stuff do I need to do?
Legalities vary per country, but generally you will need the following:
Full birth certificates showing both parents’ names
If divorced, show your original final divorce papers
If widowed, show the death certificate of your former spouse
If you have changed your name then show legal proof of the change
(Bride and groom must not be related by blood, marriage or adoption) and you may also need to obtain certified translations of all documents if you are marrying in a country where English is not the official language.
And you may need to also provide some of these documents
Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage
This can be obtained from your local department of foreign affairs, register office, or your embassy in the country in which you are getting married.
Some countries require foreign legal documents to be stamped with an apostille which then makes them legal documents in that country. A solicitor can do this for you for a fee.
Certificate of Single Status/Sworn Affidavit that you are free to marry
These are similar to a Certificate of No Impediment, but instead you have to swear you are single in front of a legal representative (solicitor/notary).
Will it be legally binding in the UK?
Generally if the wedding is legal in the country in which it took place, then it is legal in the UK too.
Will it be the same as a wedding here? Church, speeches, cake etc? Or can I do something bonkers??
It’s your wedding, you can do whatever you wish! Bonkers might be easier in some countries than others, and if you are religious then you may wish to marry in a church in your chosen country – it’s totally up to you!
What are the pros?
have your wedding, your way, without pressure to do what your relatives want
invite less people
have a truly unusual wedding that isn’t just like every other one you’ve been to
cost – keep your costs down by going away (and combine wedding and honeymoon)
weather – choose a country with good weather and you won’t be worried about rain on your wedding day
What are the cons?
some people may feel offended that they can’t afford to come (this does sometimes happen)
you will have to trust your wedding planner more as you won’t be there in person until the actual day
Stephanie is Director of Marry Abroad, she will be sharing her expert tips to help you if you are thinking of planning a wedding outside the UK.