Getting married in a faraway land outside of your home country is an amazing, unforgettable experience. In 2012, I married my long-term partner in Vancouver, Canada in front of a small gathering of family and friends. The weather was unusually perfect, the locals couldn’t have been friendlier and the ensuing honeymoon criss-crossing this stunning country was pure magic.
When it comes to organising an overseas wedding though, things are anything but straightforward. Of course there are all the usual factors to think about when planning a wedding combined with the details to which you must attend before jumping on a plane to a honeymoon destination. But there is an extra layer of fiddly details needing your attention.
So be sure to consider the following when tossing up if and where you’d like to wed abroad:
What are the local formalities? Every country and even different states/provinces within a country has its own rules about entering into a marriage. You may find you are required to undergo pre-nuptial counselling; reside in the country for a fixed period prior to exchanging vows; hold the ceremony in a particular location; or even rethink who can witness the marriage document.
How do you obtain a marriage licence? We were amused to discover that in the Canadian state of British Columbia, all you need to do is show both your photo IDs at a local drug store! Be sure to check that you know and follow the official process to ensure your wedding is legally binding.
Are you eligible to marry? Different countries can restrict individuals or couples from marrying for many reasons, such as if one or both of you have been divorced; are entering into a same-sex marriage; have undergone gender reassignment surgery; or are deemed to be marrying solely for immigration purposes, to name just a few scenarios.
How much does it cost? Every couple getting married is conscious of price, and planning a wedding in a foreign destination means you’re unlikely to be familiar with what the various aspects of the wedding should cost. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking all aspects are comparable to back home, and avoid paying hefty tourist mark-ups.
Local wedding customs. Every culture on earth has its own traditions when celebrating a wedding, and if you’re going to get hitched in a different land, why not incorporate the local customs into your ceremony. Be aware though that some conservative cultures frown upon unmarried couples sharing the same room, so you may need to arrange separate accommodation leading up to the big day!
Can your guests attend? Holding your wedding abroad is guaranteed to reduce the number of guests in attendance, due to financial/time/family/work and other constraints. Sure your loved ones will want to celebrate your special day with you, but they may rethink going if it will send them broke or take them away from their own important commitments. We got around this by holding a commitment ceremony in Australia with family and friends first, before venturing over to Canada for our nuptials.
Logistics and luggage: Packing a wedding dress in the suitcase may not be the smartest idea, but purchasing your clothes, jewellery and other accessories at your destination can also present challenges – such as whether you have to pay tax on the items when returning home. If you’re not too precious about what you’ll be wearing, look into hiring everything at the other end: it’s cheaper, easier and saves you carting it around on your honeymoon travels!