Getting married abroad not always easy

vito arcomano/fototeca enit


A view of the cathedral in Siena, looking out into the Tuscan countryside.

The destination wedding is the dream of many would-be brides and grooms and for good reason — staging nuptials away from home offers the opportunity to combine a vacation with the big day, as well as a memorable experience for all involved.

When my fiancée and I decided to stage our upcoming wedding in Italy’s Tuscany region near the historic city of Siena, it was with these similar points in mind.

But such a decision isn’t to be taken lightly.

Planning a wedding in a foreign country takes time, effort and sometimes patience in researching legalities and organizing from a distance.

Italy, as it turned out, has fairly simple marriage laws and, paperwork aside, planning the event has been relatively easy. But other jurisdictions can be more problematic.

Heavily visited England and Wales, for example, have residency requirements of about 23 days in total before a wedding involving foreign nationals can occur, according to Visit Britain spokesperson Valerie Schroder. Scotland does not and — with its abundance of castles and lavish country houses —is a hugely popular wedding destination in the United Kingdom.

vito arcomano/fototeca enit

A view of the Italian city of Siena, in the region of Tuscany.

planning ahead

France, in comparison, has 30-day residency requirements, while the Caribbean country of St. Lucia requires a four-day residency before any marriage ceremony involving foreigners is staged.

But as The Wedding Planners’ Tara Murney explains, a huge number of factors need to be taken into account to plan a couple’s day of days. She offers this advice when planning any destination wedding:

  • “When deciding on a destination and budget, you must consider whether you would rather (have the wedding) be cheaper for your attendees or yourself,” Murney says. Avoiding travel during peak seasons or celebrations such as Christmas or Mardi Gras can help keep costs under control — destination weddings can range from $4,000 to $60,000 depending on location, guest count, season and how elaborate the wedding will be.

  • “Researching seasons and weather conditions of the location is important as you definitely don’t want to find out while on the destination that accidentally you booked during hurricane season. The Caribbean region, for example, typically experiences hurricanes from June to November, September being when most take shape.”

  • Carefully research vaccination requirements for exotic destinations and pass that information along to your guests well in advance.

  • Keep in mind that you won’t be able to invite as many people as you would to a conventional wedding and you’ll need to prepare your list accordingly. Also remember that not everyone will be able to attend due to various reasons (cost, lack of vacation time, etc.).

  • Unable to travel back and forth to the locale, some couples will find it difficult to rely on resort staff or their wedding co-ordinator at the destination to plan their event.

But for those in the market for a potentially cost-effective, intimate, memorable wedding, destination nuptials are becoming an increasingly popular and viable option according to Murney, who says the category has grown by about 400 per cent in the past decade.

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