To find beautiful summer sunshine in December, or sparkling white snow in July, you will be thinking of getting married abroad. You can guarantee the weather (well, almost), combine your wedding and honeymoon in one stunning location and create a wedding day to remember for the rest of your life. But what do you need to do to ensure that an overseas wedding will run smoothly? Here are some of the main points you’ll need to consider when you are planning your perfect wedding abroad.
With so many incredible destinations to choose from, it can hard to work out where to start!
Popular European destinations include Italy, France, Cyprus and Greece. Those looking further afield might consider destinations such as the Far East, Australia, the Seychelles, the Caribbean and the USA – Las Vegas being a popular choice there!
Booking and budgets
As the costs of a marriage at home increase, it is likely that a wedding abroad will actually be cheaper, even including the cost of flights and accommodation. If you are booking via an agent, remember to check that all of the peripheral costs, such as translating official documents, is included. If you are arranging the event yourself, make sure you do your research carefully, as extra costs can add up quickly.
A wedding abroad will often naturally create a more modest guest list, which for many couples is a simple way of creating the intimate wedding they wish for. Gauge your guests’ interest prior to booking an overseas wedding – would they be able to afford the cost, can they take the extra time off work, and can all of your guests fly (pregnant ladies may not be able to travel, as may guests with flying phobias or back problems). Do all of your guests have passports and visas (if required), and if not, can they get them in time? Is there time for everyone to have any recommended health precautions such as malaria tablets and other vaccinations?
Remember to send invitations to your guests as early as possible, and include family and friends who cannot attend, by inviting them to a wedding party at home when you return.
Documents and paperwork
Research carefully which documents you will need to take, and how long you will need to be in the country prior to your wedding day for any paperwork to be arranged. The following is a guide to what paperwork you may expect to be asked for, but you are strongly advised to check specific requirements with the country’s UK based embassy thoroughly prior to travelling, as requirements vary from country to country and may include documentation not listed here.
You will usually need:
- Your full birth certificates;
- Any divorce/widow/change of name certificates.
Some countries require:
- Certificate of no impediment to marriage (obtain from embassy in the country you are getting married, or your local department of foreign affairs);
- Apostille stamp – a stamp which makes documents legal in the country you are getting married in;
- Certificate of single status/sworn affidavit that you are free to marry;
- Police records from the country you live in;
- Recent passport photos;
- Marriage license application form from the country you are getting married in;
- A letter from your church if you are conducting a religious ceremony;
- A translation, by an official translator, of all required documents in the native language of the country you are getting married in;
- A few countries require some specific medical tests, and you are advised to check carefully if any will be required in the country you plan to visit.
Paperwork for the UK registration of your marriage
In order to create a record of your overseas marriage or civil partnership in the UK, you must apply to have the relevant documents sent from the country you were married in, via the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and deposited with the General Register Office in the UK. You may also need the documents officially translated. For full details of how to do this, read the Government guidelines here.
Insurance for weddings and honeymoons abroad
It is important to compare wedding and travel/honeymoon insurance carefully (our wedding insurance comparison table is a good place to start!), to ensure that you get a policy that suits your individual needs at a competitive price. Make sure that you read the small print carefully before signing up, taking note of things such as the level of compensation for each risk, any excess, the actual details of what exactly is covered and finally the overall price.
It is important to take out insurance that actually covers overseas weddings, as opposed to a policy that only covers UK weddings and therefore will not cover eventualities that may occur abroad. Fortunately, most wedding insurance policies will cover you for weddings taking place abroad, but do check. You may also want to check the following eventualities are covered:
- Loss or damage to dress, rings and wedding gifts while in transit;
- Inclement weather preventing the wedding occurring on the day planned;
- Legal document indemnity, such as replacement of passports and birth certificates;
- Public liability insurance, which covers you if there should be an accident which causes damage to members of the public during your wedding event;
- Needing to cancel or rearrange the wedding due to illness/bereavement;
- Problems with the venue which means that they can’t fulfil their contract to you.
It’s certainly a good idea to take out wedding insurance as soon as you set your wedding date – most insurers cover weddings up to 24 months in advance. Whilst most cover deposits you’ve already paid (so long as there’s no known risk at the time) some don’t so check the policy wording carefully. Additionally, it is advisable to check with insurers if you are travelling outside of the EU, as some policies may vary. For example, public liability cover may not be valid for weddings taking place in the USA and Canada due to the increased risk.
Travel and health insurance
Almost all wedding insurance policies do not cover travel or medical related issues, so you will need to take out separate travel/honeymoon insurance for this. This will cover you, for example, for delays to the flights due to circumstances beyond your control, and for medical costs should you become ill or injured during your honeymoon.
If you’re travelling within Europe, you should apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) as this entitles you to some free medical treatment abroad. Remember, the EHIC is no substitute for travel insurance though, as it may only cover the very basic of medical costs. If you are planning to participate in any sports, such as skiing, diving or bungee jumping, make sure that you take out a policy that will cover this.
As with all insurance policies, read the small print to make sure that you understand what exactly you are covered for, and compare prices to make sure you have a competitive product.
Other things to remember
- Ask your wedding dress supplier to pack your dress professionally, in a bag suitable to be carried as hand luggage. Do your best to ensure that the airline does not stow it in the hold, especially if you are travelling long haul with a stop-over.
- Get all arrangements in writing, especially an agreement with local clergy/celebrant that you can legally get married on your chosen date.
- Check you have a valid passport, and remember that some countries require 6 months remaining on your passport.
- Check if there is a minimum stay requirement before you can get married in the country of your choice.
- Have the time of your life!