Take me with you!

Destination: Abroad

I just returned from a vacation in Spain and was so excited to see ‘love locks’ on a bridge in Seville. I’ve reported spotting them in many places on trips over the years. It’s become a habit to look for them, and I seem to find them everywhere!

I’ve also written about wedding traditions in various countries, how do the locals do it? But what if an American couple wants to get married abroad?

I recently spoke with a couple thinking about just that, but they changed their minds when they researched it a bit. I understand both the appeal and the change of heart. If you are dreaming of a destination wedding abroad, it can be a reality, as long as you do your homework. Lots and lots of homework!

While imagining yourself on a tropical beach, in an ancient castle, or the tree-tops of a rainforest, you will definitely need to get practical with the planning process. Every country has their own legal requirements, but the good news is, if done correctly, it will be recognized when you return to the United States.

Once you know what country you’re considering, contact the office of Attorney General in your state to be sure that it will indeed be recognized here. Then you can proceed with your exploration of the that country’s requirements.

Some very exotic places to get married make it relatively easy to tie-the-knot, but are quite far away: Mauritius, the Seychelles or Thailand for example.

I love Europe, but European destinations differ in their requirements. France, for example, has a 3-month residency requirement, but it can be bypassed through obtaining permission from a local church. No easy task. Most other countries in Europe, have no residency requirement at all. Some have laws requiring a translator along with the always required documents such as passports, visas, birth certificates, divorce papers if relevant, and some even require that the copies have be issued within the last three months. England requires that either the bride or the groom be in the country for at least 15 days before the ceremony, but a recent rule change makes it so at least you don’t have to get married in the district where you fulfilled your residency requirement.

Mexico is another great destination, but it can also be a bit complicated with health certificates required in some cities, or sending translated documents to government offices in advance.

The Caribbean is great for U.S. couples. Most of the islands have only a 24-hour waiting period and you can find the exactly requirement for all 32 nations of the Caribbean on the Caribbean Tourism Organization website.

Costa Rica is another good choice. They have no waiting period at all, and very few legal requirements – but you need to hire a lawyer there who will make sure you have all the necessary documents, paperwork and fees. Because their economy is based on tourism, there are many specialists to help guide you through the process. They’ll connect you to that lawyer!

If you are eloping, fine, no problem. But please remember inviting guests to travel to be with you may be a financial burden to them, whether you realize it or not. Be aware of this before embarking on a destination wedding, even one within the country.

Maybe you are marrying someone from another country. International marriages, sometimes called transnational marriages, between people from different countries is a complex issue. A U.S. citizen is free to marry a foreign national or non-citizen immigrant, but you’ll want to take a close look these days when considering immigration when your new spouse is moving to the U.S. permanently. But that is a topic for a lawyer, not me!

One final reminder – we have beaches and even castles (well, grand mansions) right here in America.  As to having your wedding abroad – it can be exciting and a wonderful experience, but it may also be a lot of paperwork. Perhaps your efforts would be better spent on a honeymoon in the destination of your dreams. Elope here in the Poconos (or in your hometown, or anywhere in the U.S.) and then go see the sights. But if you do go abroad for your wedding, can you take me with you, please?

thank you Lisa Rhinehart for the continued use of your  beautiful photography!

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