From remembering your marriage licence to having the right insurance, we’ve got the (I) Do’s and Don’ts for getting hitched abroad
With the average wedding costing around £19,000 in the UK, it's no wonder an increasing amount of savvy couples are whisking themselves away for a cheaper option. Organising a wedding is no mean feat, especially if you're planning everything overseas, which is why we've come up with the ultimate guide to help your day go as smoothly as possible.
Your research - It's easy to get carried away researching beautiful destinations and dream wedding dresses, but you really need to delve deep and do substantial research into the laws and regulations of your chosen destination. Make sure that you understand the rules before you book anything - this is particularly important if you're planning a same sex marriage or civil partnership as every country differs. You can usually find all the information you need by contacting the local Embassy.
Make sure your passport is valid - It sounds glaringly obvious but check that you and your guests all have valid passports before you book your trip. Send out a reminder a few months in advance which should give everyone enough time to order a new one if necessary. Bear in mind that some destinations have a strict six-month validity rule in place.
Have the right paper work - Some countries require that you apply for a specialist wedding visa to be allowed to marry, or have particular rules regarding residency. For example in France the law only recognises civil ceremonies and not religious ones, and you also have to be a resident there for over a month.
Consider hiring a wedding planner - A wedding planning service can be a huge help in navigating the sometimes-confusing business of tying the knot abroad. From ordering flowers to booking the photographer to negotiating red-tape, a wedding planner can be an invaluable resource. Make sure that you enlist a reputable planner who has plenty of experience in overseas weddings. You should also make sure that they have insurance of some sort to protect you in case they go out of business before your big day.
Be wary of tropical locations - White sand, sparkling turquoise seas and waving palm trees might sound idyllic, but be careful when visiting tropical locations, especially if you're booking your wedding trip in advance. The weather can change at the drop of a hat, with strong winds and rain descending quickly - you don't want to blow your guests away! Check out our Honeymoon Calendar for a handy guide of where to go when.
Be respectful of local laws and customs - Some countries such as Dubai have extremely strict rules about drunken behaviour, so make sure that you observe them - nobody wants the groom shackled up in a police cell on his wedding night! Before you purchase your dress, take into account that some religious venues may well have strict rules about how much flesh can be on show, or whether your head must be covered.
Assume the food will be suitable for everyone - Request a sample menu before you begin the booking process as not every country automatically caters for vegetarians and those with allergies. Check with your guests beforehand if they have any specific needs.
Put wedding rings in your hold luggage - Keep them locked in your hand luggage and in sight at all times. The vast majority of insurers will not provide cover for valuables that are lost or stolen from your hold luggage.
Forget your marriage certificate - You only receive one marriage certificate and that comes from the country in which you were married, meaning that you won't be issued with a certificate from your home country. So don't leave it at your hotel as it'll be difficult to replace.
Forget to register - Some countries require that you officially register your wedding with the local town hall or authority a few days after the ceremony. Usually witnesses have to be present so check that they don't need to dash off after the wedding otherwise it won't be valid.
Assume your marriage will be recognised at home - To make sure that your marriage will be recognised in your home country you need to ensure that you've followed the correct procedures. For more information you can always contact your government website which should be able to advise you.
Forget your budget - If you decide to marry somewhere that requires you to stay in the country for a week or so beforehand, factor this into your wedding costs as well. It's also a good idea to add a few scouting trips into your total wedding budget, as you will probably need to visit quite a few times before the wedding.
Forget insurance - Regular travel insurance won't cover things like lost wedding presents or photographs, so make sure that you purchase specialised wedding insurance that covers everything. If you travel without it you may not be compensated.
Forget time zones - If you're crossing into a different time zone, make sure that your guests and your venue (and you!) are aware of what time they need to be ready for the ceremony. You don't want to end up missing your own wedding.
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