Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Legality of Destination Weddings

The first question we had in planning our destination wedding was whether the marriage would be legally recognized in the United States.

The U.S. State Department actually has a website for U.S. citizens interested in getting married in a foreign country.

You need to follow the legal procedures of the country where you will be married. Most countries have residency requirements (the length of time before the wedding you need to be in the country). In the Bahamas, the residency requirement was one day. However, Tahiti has a residency requirement of 30 days, essentially eliminating it as a potential location for destination weddings.

You will need to produce legal documentation (usually your passports), but could also include birth certificates, death certificates (widow/widower) and/or divorce decrees. Since this was the first marriage for both us, we only needed our passports and copies of our birth certificates. In the Bahamas, we also needed to go through a brief interview with a local official (about 10 minutes). We did not need to do a blood test, which can be a major issue for some people getting married in some countries (including Mexico).

The other major issue that people encounter is getting their marriage certificates/licenses translated into English (which is required for your marriage to be legal in the U.S.). The official language of the Bahamas was English, so we did not have any troubles. We wisely obtained multiple notarized copies of our license, which came in handy when we got home. We needed extra copies of the license for the name change.

Destination weddings can introduce some additional hopes you might need to jump through with respect to legal issues, but it is not a major problem.


Bride's Advisor Charleston said...

With all the stress of planning a destination wedding, I always suggest that my brides get married legally married in the states by signing the license and then have the ceremony performed overseas..... Less stress. It's legal. Not the most romantic thing but much more practical.

Ultimate Destination Weddings said...

We are definitely NOT a fan of doing this. Courthouse marriages to get it "over with" are not romantic and totally defeat the purpose of destination weddings. If you do the marriage in the US, why bother with the destination part? Doesn't it just become a honeymoon?

We understand why some couples might consider this, but is a destination wedding any more stressful than a traditional wedding? We actually found it to be far less stressful than a church wedding here.

It's an option for couples to consider. But there are many locations that might it easy, so there's no need for redundant ceremonies (or costs).

Gemma said...

With this issue, I do respect it. Each one of us has its own perspective the way their wedding planned to be. The location of the wedding is also important as long you will handle all the circumstances along the way. God bless for both of you!

Courtney Smith said...

I found a great destination wedding website with marriage requirements in the Caribbean and Mexico: Destitination Wedding Link Just wanted to pass it along!