8 things to consider about getting married abroad

Getting married abroad is an exciting proposition, but there are a few things to consider to ensure it all runs smoothly. Here’s LIVING‘s top tips

married abroad
What should you be considering before taking the plunge to get married abroad?

If you’ve always dreamed of getting married abroad, you might think there is no decision to make. You get to marry in an exotic location, with guaranteed sunshine and stunning scenery after all. But there are some things you should consider before taking the plunge and booking up. LIVING‘s guide to getting married abroad is here to help! 

1. The destination

ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents) says the most popular places for getting married abroad, according to its members, include Mauritius, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the Caribbean. But you could also follow in the footsteps of A-list couples like the Clooneys and the Kardashian-Wests and opt for the stylish scenery of Italy, or the chic shores of Ibiza.

Secondly, it’s likely that you will have to be in residence in your chosen country for anything from a few days to a week or even longer. This may not sound like too much of a drawback, but if you have work commitments (and a not very understanding boss), you might find it more difficult. France, for example, requires at least one of you to have been in residence for at least 30 days prior to applying to get married there.

Most importantly, decide on the right place together. Think about an unforgettable holiday you’ve shared or a place on your bucket list. These destinations are good places to start when you are making the choice.

Read more: What to consider before buying a holiday home

2. Be meticulous in your planning

You might decide to plan the wedding yourself, but there are also tour operators and specialised wedding planners who can help. Either way, there are going to be a few things you’ll need to sort out before jetting off.

The HMRC has a handy guide on getting married abroad, which will help you identify the documents you’ll need to take with you, and how to obtain these if you don’t have them already. Check with your destinations’s local authority to make sure the marriage will be recognised in the UK and any specific processes you need to complete. 

Before making any additional plans, check that you are able to get married on the date of your choice too. 

3. The numbers 

Getting married on a tropical island is nothing short of idyllic, but you are likely to have a much smaller wedding than if you were saying I do at your local church. Unless you can afford to fly out all your family and friends yourself, you are going to be relying on them forking out for air fares and accommodation themselves. As well as being able to afford the time off work. So once you have decided to get married abroad, try and be realistic about the size and type of wedding you can achieve. 

4. A word about your wedding wardrobe

Your destination and the type of wedding you go for is ultimately going to determine your wedding attire. And that goes for you, your partner and your wedding party. Try and choose outfits that are suited to the weather and circumstances of your day. You don’t want your groomsmen sweating it out in in full tailored suits in sweltering temperatures. Make sure you let guests know too. 

You may have already chosen and possibly brought your dream dress. And now you are wondering how to transport it across the continents. Well, short of paying for another airline seat just for your dress, you’ll still have to abide with the airline’s baggage regulations. It might be worth a call to the airline to see if they have any specific guidelines on travelling with large and/or delicate items like a wedding dress. And always check that the resort or hotel you are staying at has a good steamer – just in case.

5. Packing everything else

When it comes to packing up your dream wedding into your suitcase allowance, then try not to worry. Of course, you are going to need a few extras to your usual holiday prep but try not to let yourself get out of control. Remember you are doing this differently for a reason and your day is going to be sensational – with or without the boxes of personalised confetti – so allow yourself to be a little more relaxed about things.

Write yourself a list of everything you need and want to take and check them off as you go so you are less likely to forget something. Some important things to remember of course are the rings and any specific music you want to play. And don’t leave home without thoroughly checking you have all the documents and information you need for the marriage, including travel and wedding insurance and a valid passport.

6. Think about local touches

Adding local touches to your big day is a brilliant way to merge your family and tradition with the uniqueness of your location. You could buy your wedding favours locally, for example. Or why not buy your wedding rings from a local jeweller. Incorporating local produce within your wedding menu and serving local cocktails as a welcome drink is another good idea. Furthermore, why not research any local customs or traditional wedding dances and weave these into your special day too. 

Read more: Look inside the Staffordshire wedding of Sarah and Craig

7. For those who can (and can’t) make it  

One of the great things about getting married abroad is turning your nuptials into a holiday and having twice the fun.

Most of your guests will tie your wedding in with a short (or longer) break for themselves, so you could even run your celebrations over a few days. Your hotel should be able to accommodate a dinner or beach barbecue the day before or after your special day to give your wedding that something extra. And it’s also another chance for you to thank your guests for joining you.

And what about those that can’t make it? If your venue has a good internet connection, invite your UK guests to log on and join in to your special day via a video web link!

8. The finer details  

Don’t forget to organise a local photographer or videographer to capture your special day. This can be a daunting task, especially if you have a language barrier to deal with. Checking in with your tour operator or hotel is a good place to start as they are likely to be able to recommend one. 

When it comes to gifts, it’s a good idea to organise this at home either through a cash donation site or via a department store gift list. This will save your guests having to transport heavy items in their luggage.

And finally, be sure to enjoy it all from start to finish – getting married abroad is a once in a lifetime experience in more ways than one! 

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