Destination Weddings

How to Get Married Abroad

Mr & Mrs Smith give your their top 10 tips for planning your destination wedding

Planning a destination wedding? Dreaming of blue skies, sand underfoot, gently lapping waves, continental cuisine, a historic backdrop? Wherever you’re headed, we know you’re picturing the most romantic day imaginable. But trust us: Whatever your fantasy nuptials involve, the bureaucratic hoop-jumping and organizational headaches that go hand in hand with scheduling an event abroad can be anything but. We’ll be looking into overseas weddings in more detail over the coming months, but to get you started, here’s a time-saving list of tips we wish someone had given us from the get-go.

1. It may be a no-brainer, but let’s say it anyway: Give yourself plenty of time to research and plan your big day and make all the arrangements. Consulates, registry offices, immigration offices, church officials—all institutions take time to process paperwork, and if you submit anything incorrectly, you could delay the process further. A year is certainly not a ridiculous amount of time to allow for planning the most important—and probably most expensive—day of your lives.

2. Make sure all your paperwork is up-to-date and that you have all the documents you need. This could include your birth certificates and any paperwork relating to a previous marriage as well as travel visas. Most important, check your passport expiration date: Double-check to make sure it is valid not just now but for at least a few months beyond your wedding day as well as your entire honeymoon. If you don’t have a passport, get one ASAP!

3. If your wedding is somewhere a little more exotic than Brooklyn—particularly Africa, the Indian Ocean or Asia—check which travel vaccinations you need (or make sure yours are current) and find out if your destination is in an active malaria zone. You can check online at sites such as Passport Health or ask your doctor for advice. Some shots need to be administered a couple of months before travel or you may need repeat injections, so it’s wise to check this out in plenty of time. Can’t stand needles? Ask your doctor what your options are. Or try hypnosis. Or pick a different destination!

4. As soon as you have a date set, send out save-the-date cards to all the people you’re planning to invite, and remind them to check their passports, apply for visas and get any necessary shots too. This will also give the most important people the opportunity to check their calendars, schedule time off work, make any necessary financial decisions and reschedule any events that clash with your wedding. You can send full invitations nearer the date with all the finer details about accommodations, transportation or gifts. It may help with some of the decision-making to have a realistic idea of how many guests are actually going to travel to your wedding before you commit to that 300-seat marquee in the Tuscan hills.

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