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Advice and Tips on Getting Married Abroad

With the typical big white wedding in the UK averaging approximately £20,000, the idea of getting married in the UK can be expensive and overwhelming.
It is generally less expensive overseas; one of the main reasons is that you will have less guests. More economical tour operators can probably do it for around £3,000 – sometimes this can include your honeymoon. Some resorts even offer free weddings if you take a certain number of guests or stay a certain number of nights.

Be prepared

When you are getting married abroad, obviously you are going to a different culture and so you will want to prepare things as much as possible.
Be aware of the pitfalls, which include not having the right documents when you turn up, not knowing who will be performing the service or not having looked into the finer details of the morning of the wedding, for example, where you are going to get dressed and whether or not you are going to have a private room.
Think about how much of the organisation you wish to hand over to someone else and factor that into the costs.
It is usually advisable for you to get involved in the organisation:

Plan well in advance: Ideally, a year, but at the very least 3 months prior to the wedding
Consider your destination thoroughly and whether the formalities required made it easy to get married there
Find a well recommended tour operator or point of contact at the hotel, for example, a wedding co-ordinator
Make sure you know what documentation is required and have all your documents sorted in advance – send off copies of them and take them with you on the day
Think about how your day is going to unfold and if you want to add any extras, make sure that they are all in place.


Be aware that compulsory requirements differ from country to country One of the main issues is how long you need to be in the country before you will legally be able to get married there.
The places to look out for will be in countries that only require couples to be resident there between one and seven days prior to the wedding ceremony – for example, Italy, Cyprus and Greece. If you are looking further afield then consider the Caribbean, parts of the Far East, Australia and Indian Ocean destinations such as Mauritius, the Seychelles and Sri Lanka.
If you are considering France as a destination, be aware that you must be a resident there for at least 3 months and that there are complicated legal requirements to contend with. One solution is to get married in the UK and then have a blessing at your chosen destination, for example, in the Maldives where it is not legal for UK couples to get married. However you will be aware of recent publicity surrounding a couple whose blessing in the Maldives was not all that it seemed – consider asking for the ceremony to be conducted in English.
Remember that you don’t necessarily have to get married in a seaside resort; you can choose a beautiful venue outside the resort, such as gardens and mountain tops. Think outside the box.

Tour Operators and Wedding Co-ordinators 

If you go to a reputable tour operator, they will suggest resorts that offer tried and tested wedding packages. But remember if something looks too cheap that may be for a reason so check the deal out thoroughly before committing to it. It is a good idea to select a resort that has a wedding co-ordinator based on the premises, so you can actually talk to the wedding co-ordinator, and ask to talk to couples who got married at the resort and find out about their experience.
If you do book with a tour operator in a particular resort or hotel, they will probably have packages: Look very carefully at what this includes. Often these packages include flowers, food and champagne but you might want to top that up with other things.

Recce Your Venue 

When you are marrying abroad, a big factor is the resort or the hotel, especially if you are going to base yourself there with all the guests, so you may want to recce it beforehand.
Obviously this is cheaper for a shorthaul wedding in Cyprus or Greece, but some resorts in the Caribbean have been known to reimburse some of the cost of going out beforehand to recce it over a weekend – as long as you choose to book the wedding there, especially when booking for a large number of people.


Although requirements vary from country to country as a minimum you are likely to need to produce the following documents at least 3 months in advance:

Valid 10 year passports
Birth certificates
If you are adopted, your adoption certificate
If you are widowed, you need a death certificate and previous marriage certificate
An affidavit signed by a solicitor stating that there is no legal objection for your marriage
If either of you (or both) has been married before you will need evidence of a valid divorce.

Check - some destinations will need a blood test from you, but you can ring the tourist office or the consulate of the country you want to get married in and they will give you the exact details according to that country’s laws about what you need to do in advance

Make sure you also bring all these documents with you on the day of your wedding.
When you get married abroad, you will get a wedding certificate but it is always a good idea to ask for a few copies because it might be more difficult at a later date to go back to that resort and get more. Quite often certificates are posted on after the ceremony so make sure you have given them your correct post marriage address.

The Dress

Remember that if you are going for an exotic beach wedding it will be hot, so ensure you buy a light dress; Go for something floaty in natural fabrics. Some airlines actually will hang your wedding dress in the cabin so you don’t have to pack it – but make sure you check with your airline first.
Cake and Flowers
For the flowers and wedding cake, research the local florists and bakers. If there is a wedding co-ordinator at your chosen resort, contact them and ask them to send a list of local business recommendations.
You could contact the business and ask them to send pictures of what they can do so you can get a good idea of what they can do for your wedding.
Consider the climate: check out the weather at your destination at the time of year you want to get married.
Obviously one of the great attractions of getting married abroad is sunshine, so don’t go to an area that has a monsoon or hurricane season when you want to get married.
Ceremonies abroad can be short – much quicker than a church ceremony in the UK, so you might want to organise something extra. For example, you could arrange a sunset cruise – or something else to make the day extra special.
If there will be children at your wedding, make sure the resort you have chosen is family friendly. A lot of resorts offer help looking after kids and can really involve them in the wedding.

To sum up advance planning is key and remember in particular to be sure that all the legalities are sorted well beforehand so that nothing can suddenly happen to spoil your big day. But bear in mind that however well-planned an event such as this is there are many different elements to think about and you should always expect the unexpected!


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