Getting married is easily one of the most exciting, nerve-wracking and magical things you’ll ever do. The memories of your wedding day will live with you forever; two sets of family and friends gathering to celebrate your love for one another as you make the commitment of a lifetime.
But more so than ever before, couples are opting to say their marriage vows on faraway shores. Not quite content with traditional proceedings, destinations from Iceland to India have suddenly found themselves as nuptial hotspots, hosting thousands of foreign weddings each year.
If you’re considering a destination wedding, there’s lots to consider. Though incredibly rewarding, it isn’t always a straightforward process. Here are our top tips and some important advice for any newlyweds-to-be looking overseas for the big day.
Check the law
Marriage laws, particularly in relation to the wedding of two non-nationals, vary from country to country. Before you start booking anything it’s vital you get an understanding of the law of the land, and what’ll be required of you in order for your marriage to take place over there. Provided you follow local law, your marriage should be recognised when you arrive back in the UK, but it’s always a good idea to clarify things with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. Their step by step guide will tell you exactly what you need to do for your country of choice.
If you’re a same-sex couple, it’s important to remember that many countries around the world don’t recognise same-sex marriage, while others may only offer an alternative form of union.
If your heart’s truly set on a destination, but the local laws won’t allow you to marry there, you could always go through the formalities in a low-key ceremony at a UK registry office; before hosting your blessing abroad.
Check the climate
Just because you’re booking for July doesn’t mean you’ll get a ‘summer wedding’ in your location of choice. July marks the middle of winter in the southern hemisphere, while some region’s rainy seasons might mean your wedding will be more wet than white. Always investigate the climate data for any destination you’re eyeing up. You might be tempted by great prices at particular times of year, but these could be being offered because the weather may not be perfect. You’ll need to weigh up what’s more important; getting a bargain or guaranteed sunshine for your big day.
No matter where you marry abroad, you’re likely to find that not all your friends and family will be able to make it. Choosing to get married abroad will cost your guests both more time and more money, so you have to be realistic with your expectations. The further you travel, the smaller your list of attendees is likely to be. Of course, a more intimate occasion may be exactly what you’re looking for.
When you’re marrying here at home, you’re free to go around looking at venues, hiring in some entertainment or catering – basically pull the whole event together yourself should you wish. But if your wedding venue is thousands of miles away, this isn’t really an option.
Many hotels and resorts will offer you wedding packages. These will still give you plenty of freedom to put your touch on your big day, but will take away the stress of planning out every little detail. Many will assign you a dedicated wedding planner, who’ll be on hand to answer your questions and manage your requests once the booking’s been made.
Look into flights
Before you sign up for anything, check that flights to your desired destination are available. Bear in mind the size of your wedding party; if flights are infrequent, you may find you’ll be booking up an entire block of seats on a single flight. Get in touch with the airline to check that your group could be catered for.
It goes without saying that you should never jet off without valid travel insurance. But if you’re getting married abroad, you’ll need to go one further than the usual packages offered by insurers. High-ticket items involved in your big day, such as the wedding ring or dress, may not be covered by standard travel insurance. You’ll need to take out specialised wedding travel insurance, or pay to add this to your existing coverage. This will probably cost you a bit more, but it’s well worth it for one of the most important days of your life.
Don’t forget the honeymoon
If you’re already getting married in your own version of paradise, it’s easy to leave the honeymoon out of mind – but it’s a vital and much-deserved part of the wedding experience. When it comes to your honeymoon, you’ll have two options. Either stay at, or local to wherever your wedding took place – or hop over to somewhere else. Just bear in mind that if you choose the former, your wedding guests may be lingering around for a few days and you might not get the alone time you were hoping for. And if you choose a new destination, you may have to transport all your wedding gear with you.
It may seem like a big and brave leap, but getting married abroad will make the most important day of your life more special than you could have ever imagined. Whether you say “I do” by torchlight on a white sand beach, from the slopes of an Icelandic glacier or down in the streets of the Big Apple, it promises to be a moment you and your guests will never forget.
Make the wedding of your dreams a reality, when you choose flights from Manchester Airport.