Destination weddings are incredibly romantic – and they are also brimming with logistics. From arranging accommodations (and trimming the guest list) to finding a ceremony venue (oh yeah, and finding a photographer!), there are many things to consider for your special day (wait…what about the catering?).

But one of the most important of these is making sure that your nuptials are actually legal. Here are some steps you can take to ensure that your destination wedding is legal… So you can focus on about making sure it’s romantic.

Get Married in Your Home Country Before (Or After) Your Destination Wedding


Many couples opt to get married in their home state (a courtroom ceremony is a relatively quick and easy way to do this) either before or after their destination wedding to make sure that their marriage is legal and recognized in their country of residence. It may seem anti-climatic, but doing so then allows the destination wedding ceremony to be more about celebration and less about legality. A smaller civil ceremony is also a great way to include older family members who are unable to travel or have something more intimate just for you and your spouse-to-be.

Consult with a Lawyer


We can’t imagine how stressful it would be to go through all of the work of planning a destination wedding only to find out you didn’t fill out the required forms or bring the correct information for your big day. This is why it’s a good idea to consult with an expert to make sure you have all of your ducks in a row before heading off to paradise with the love of your life. Especially if you take the route of researching requirements yourself, make an appointment with a family lawyer in your home country and have them review your paperwork to make sure that everything is in order.

Go Through an All-Inclusive Wedding Planning Service


Many typical destination wedding spots (like Mexico or the Caribbean) have services that will guide you through the logistics and legal requirements associated with a destination wedding. Ask around and do a bit of research to make sure that the company you choose is reputable and has a good handle on the legal aspects of your wedding experience. You might even want to ask them for the contact info of previous clients from your area, who you can then ask directly about how the legal issues were handled.

Research the Requirements Yourself


If it’s difficult to find an all-inclusive wedding planning service (or perhaps not in the budget), you can always research that country’s legal requirements yourself. A good place to start your research is on the government website of the country where you will be getting married, that way you’ll bypass anecdotal advice online and go straight to the source. Marriage requirements vary greatly from country to country, so be sure to tailor your research to the specifics of your destination wedding location. Elements to consider can include: birth certificates (including certified translated copies), divorce paperwork, marriage licenses from the country where you will have your destination wedding, another marriage license from your home country, blood tests, etc. If you choose to take this route, make sure to begin your research well before your trip to be sure that you bring everything you need. It’s also a good idea to arrive at your destination several days ahead of the ceremony to take care of logistics.

Did you get married in another country and have some advice do you have for making sure a destination wedding is legally legit? Let us know in the comments section.

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About The Author

An insatiable foodie, art collector, and international literature aficionado, I have traveled throughout Europe, Asia, the U.S. and Canada. For the past fifteen years, I have written about my adventures for various travel and literary publications. I am the owner of Lucidité Writing ( and Bouchard Design Co.