Part One: A Guide to Destination Weddings – The Start of Your Planning

By 28th April 2014Wedding Planning
Part One: A Guide to Destination Weddings – The Start of Your Planning

The guaranteed weather, the laid back lifestyle, the scenery and breaking away from the norm; just a few reasons why you might wish to have your big day in a country other than the one you call home.

But the planning of a destination wedding is no mean feat, and there are many considerations and obstacles you’ll need to factor into your choice before you can make a certain decision on where you’ll be saying ‘I Do’.

I am presently assisting in the organisation of a wedding that is to take place in Ibiza, with a trip planned this week to seek out the perfect venue and start making confirmed arrangements for the wedding. It is because of this wedding and having had experience of working on events on 5 different continents that I will be bringing you a series of blog posts on planning a wedding abroad, and everything you’ll need to factor into your plans to ensure a viable, cost effective and achievable occasion for all involved.

So if you’re in the initial stages of your wedding planning and want to consider having your wedding in a foreign country, you’ll need to think about how the following will affect the coming together of your big day:

The Legalities

So you’ve dreamed about a Summer’s country garden wedding in France, a chateau wedding in the snowy backdrop of the Alps, or a beach wedding in the beauty of the Maldives?…… Sorry to burst your bubble, but whilst a ‘ceremony’ or blessing in each of these destinations is quite possible, the actual marriage part is not always quite so easy, if a possibility at all. This may come as quite a blow to your arrangements as many couples want the whole package when it comes to the big day. The reasons for this can include the following:

– Either one of you have to be a National or resident within the country for a particular period of time

– You must have a civil ceremony in a specific venue organised by the local Authority in the town in which you wish to get married

– Simply for religious reasons (such as the Maldives being a Muslim country) the actual marriage part of your ceremony would be non legally binding.

In many cases your compromise option is to have a small, private civil ceremony in your country of residence and hold the celebration and blessing of your marriage in the destination of your choice where you’ll invite your guests.

Your best bet is to ensure you check the individual legal requirements of the country you wish to get married in before making any further plans. Contact your Embassy within your preferred destination to find out the most up to date information on marriage and visa requirements.

The Paperwork


You will inevitably need to produce some important paperwork in order to legalise your marriage in your country of choice. Depending on the country, this can be a long-winded and complicated process, so again, it’s best to check with your Foreign Office as to what the requirements are so you’ve as much time as possible to get organised. The paperwork most commonly required includes:

– A 10 year passport with at least 6 months validity
– A full birth certificate
– Proof of residence
– A Decree Absolute if you are divorced
– A Death Certificate and previous Marriage Certificate if you are widowed
– An Adoption Certificate if you are adopted
– A ‘Sworn Affidavit’, which is a legally signed, written statement stating no legal objection to the marriage
– If you’ve had your name changed by Deed Poll, you’ll need stamped proof from a solicitor

The Extras

Ensure you do your research on some of the additional factors that might affect your budget or overall logistics. It pays to think and plan ahead for circumstances that may take you by surprise!

Think about the time difference in your country of choice, laws on alcohol supply, what the season will be at a particular time of year and how such factors will influence your decisions as well as impact your guest experience.

Don’t forget to check details on any necessary immunisations and also the possible customs duty and VAT on having an item like a wedding dress sent to a particular country. Countries like Mexico even require you to have a blood test, so it really is worth knowing the extras to ensure you can be fully prepared and up to speed before you begin looking at venues and suppliers.

Whilst these additional considerations on planning a destination wedding may feel a little off-putting, as long as you plan ahead and take time to do your research, there is no reason why you can’t find your perfect wedding destination abroad!

Read on for Part 2: A Guide To Destination Weddings – Choosing Your Venue

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