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The Ultimate Guide to Getting Married Abroad

When it comes to getting married, where to celebrate your big day is a very important decision. Gone are the days where weddings were a simple affair. The brides and grooms of today are constantly searching for a more exciting and exuberant way to toast their union, and this need for a once-in-a-lifetime occasion is sending many people abroad for their nuptials. A world of choice means that anything from a wedding in the hype and buzz of New York City to a ceremony incorporating an elephant ride and exotic rituals are now available, and they are very, very popular. And even though the idea of organising your wedding in another country may appear daunting, getting married abroad is often easier than you might think. But if you are as yet unsure about committing to a marriage abroad, consider the following pros:
  • Even a wedding in the most luxurious property will often work out cheaper, meaning you get to spend the extra cash on lots more honeymoon pampering!
  • Your wedding will certainly be a unique occasion.
  • The fact that you get to enjoy a holiday with your loved ones will add to making your wedding the best time of your lives.
  • Rather than having to worry at work in the lead up to your big day you can, instead, enjoy the peace and relaxation of being abroad, and benefit from the ability to make your wedding perfect, at resort, with the help of your wedding coordinator. 
  • Your wedding celebrations can continue over a few days, truly making it a time in your life that you will never forget.


Choosing your destination

  • Be Flexible! There are numerous things to consider before you finally make your choice of destination. You may have your heart set on something specific, but being flexible can make the process a lot easier. For example, it may be your dream to wed on a beach in the Maldives, but as they cannot offer legal marriages, you will need to organise a civil ceremony in the UK before you can head out to celebrate. 
  • Decide On A Setting! Consider what sort of wedding you would prefer. Have you always dreamed of getting married on Safari amongst the landscape of the Serengeti? Perhaps a wedding in the Eternal City of Rome has captured your hearts? In any case, writing down a few options as a guideline for yourselves will give you a chance to explore and see what is possible before you decide. 
  • Beware Of The Weather! Use our weather page to help determine the best time of year to visit the destination of your choice. Doing this means you will be able to avoid hurricane/rainy seasons and colder times of the year, which could mean a better experience for the whole party! If you cannot be flexible with dates then countries like Dubai, Cyprus and particularly Bermuda generally have warm to hot weather all year round and good, all-round climates to go with the temperature. Destinations with hotter climes will usually arrange for your wedding ceremony to occur late afternoon/early evening so that the temperature is not uncomfortable.
  • Numbers! Note down how many people you would like to invite to your wedding. If you want a larger wedding then, generally, the further you go from the UK the less likely that everybody you want there will come, and the less likely that the hotels and resorts will allow larger guest lists! 
  • Avoid The School Holidays...If You Can.. Try and arrange your wedding around peak holiday seasons. Deciding to go abroad during the UK school holidays will inevitably have a knock on effect on both the price of your wedding and how busy the destinations, hotels and resorts are. It is also important to consider the holiday seasons of other areas of the world – the beginning of May, for example, is a big Russian holiday, making the first ten days or so in May a generally busier and more expensive time to travel. Going to America around Independence Day or Thanksgiving will also affect your plans in a similar way. However, there are, of course, fabulous private villas, residences and adult only resorts as well as many top-end luxury properties available on this website that can keep things wonderfully relaxing and private for you at any time of the year!

    The Legal Part...
  • It is very important to look into whether the destination where you wish to marry offers a legal wedding and, if so, whether there are any limits to it. For example, a wedding in Indonesia must be of a religious kind, so you will need to belong to one of the religions detailed on the ‘Wedding Legalities’ page for Indonesia. You can find information on legalities for every country on this website by clicking on the ‘Wedding Legalities’ link. 
  • There are also cases where a country will offer a legal wedding to British Nationals, but getting to the stage where you will qualify to marry there can be quite complicated. For example, to marry in France you will need to be resident for 30 days before the ceremony. In circumstances like these, while you may be able to comply with the residency period, not every property will offer legal weddings because of their complexity, so it is important to check.  
  • Some destinations and properties may offer a wedding blessing rather than a legal ceremony. Generally, in these cases, you will be required to marry legally in the UK before going to your destination for your blessing. More often than not you will also be required to take your marriage certificate with you to prove that you are already married. For further information on marrying in the UK, click HERE.


Validity of your marriage in the UK

Generally, as long as your wedding is legally recognised in the country where you wish to marry then it will also be valid in the UK. However, this is not always the case – there are situations where you are required to do something to register your marriage in the UK after your ceremony, so please check the legalities we provide on the website for the relevant procedures and contact the local British Embassy or Consulate in the country you wish to marry for up-to-the-minute advice.

VISA requirements

It is important that you check our information on VISA requirements to determine if you will need to apply for one before travelling to your chosen destination. Usually, you are responsible for obtaining the relevant VISAs. The cost and time needed for the VISA to come through varies, and it is very important to check what the requirements are for your chosen country, if any, before you make your wedding plans so that you do not come across a stumbling block after everything is organised. For example, it is highly unlikely that you will get a VISA to travel to the USA if you have a criminal record of any kind.
If you are unsure as to where you stand regarding VISAs or if you need to apply for one, you should contact the relevant Embassy of the country you wish to marry. Usually, you will be able to apply for VISAs and find information about them on the Embassy internet sites. It is recommended that you do this at the earliest opportunity.

Q & A: What you will need

What documents will I need to marry legally abroad?
Although the specifics are generally different with each country, you will more than likely require the following documents to marry abroad:
  • Both of your valid, 10 year, passports. These should be valid for at least 6 months after your date of travel, as many countries have this as a requirement. 
  • Both of your birth certificates.
  • The relevant Decree Absolute should either of you have been previously divorced.
  • The relevant death certificate should either of you have been previously widowed.
  • Proof of adoption, if applicable.
  • Proof of previous name change by deed poll, if applicable.

I am required to produce an affidavit confirming my legal status – what is it and how do I go about getting one?
An affidavit, in this case, is a sworn statutory declaration that you are free to marry. You will require one affidavit EACH, and they can be obtained from a solicitor who is authorised to authenticate oaths (i.e. a Commissioner of Oaths). 
The affidavits should include your names, addresses, nationalities, passport numbers, occupations and any religion to which you both belong. It must state that you are single, divorced or widowed and are thus free to marry, then stamped and signed by the solicitor. 
I need to produce a Certificate of No Impediment in order to marry in my chosen Country. What is this, and how can I obtain one?
A Certificate of No Impediment is an official certificate that proves that you are single and free to marry. You can obtain one from your local Register Office. To do this you must give formal notice to marry, just like you would were you to marry in the UK. After contacting your Register Office, you will be given an appointment that you will be required to attend, where you will need to give your details. Explain, when contacting them, that you will require your Certificate of No Impediment as you wish to marry abroad. Twenty one days after giving notice you will be issued with your certificate. Please bear in mind that it does take that long to come through when organising your dates.