Once you decide on your destination, research how to make your marriage legal in a foreign country. Each country has its own marriage requirements. Today’s Bride has compiled a list of what you should know before getting married abroad.
For most destinations, you need to be in the country of a specific length of time before getting married. The residency period varies, ranging from a few hours to a few months. In Mexico, couples are required to be in the country at least five days before the wedding, while in the Bahamas, there’s only a 24-hour wait period. To be legally married in France, the couple needs to have been in the country for 40 days.
Check with the country’s government website to learn about its residency requirements.
When you travel, carry the proper documentation with you. Most destinations require your original birth certificate, your passport and proof of citizenship. You may be asked to provide more documentation depending on your personal status. Some destinations ask for divorce decrees, official proof of single status and proof that you’ve entered the country legally. Aruba requires couples to show their birth certificates, passports and official proof of single status. Also, if it applies, couples need to bring a divorce decree or the death certificate of a deceased spouse.
Check with a government official to ensure you have all the required documents.
Residency requirements and documentation aside, there are other factors to consider:
- Most countries require two witnesses over the age of 18 present at the ceremony.
- Apply for your marriage certificate when you are planning the wedding. In some cases, it takes a longer time to get your marriage license than to fulfill the residency requirements.
- Check if there are additional legal fees that are separate from the hotel’s fees.
- If you’re having a religious ceremony, you may need a baptism record or proof that you’ve been active in your church.
- Make sure it’s legal for a civil officer or clergy member to perform the wedding. For example, in some places like the Cayman Islands, only an official marriage officer can officiate at the wedding.
One way around any of these requirements is to have a civil ceremony at home in a courthouse or a registrar’s office and host a symbolic ceremony anywhere in the world, without any of the hassle.