Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Legal Considerations

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 website is a good resource for U.S. citizens interested in getting married in a foreign country. Basically, the short answer is yes, it is legally binding in the United States.

In order for your marriage to be legal, you must follow the local laws and 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.

In nearly all cases, you will need to produce legal documentation (usually your passports), but could also include birth certificates, death certificates (widow/widower) and/or divorce decrees. We got married in the Bahamas, which also required that we had 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).

Couples can encounter difficulty when returning to the United States if their marriage license is not in English. To be valid in the U.S., you must have an English translation of your marriage certificate. If you get married in a former British colony (Bermuda, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, etc.), that won’t be a problem. However, if you get married in a country where the official language is other than English, be sure to investigate what it will take to get an official translation.

Also, before leaving the wedding site, you should consider getting multiple official notarized copies of your marriage certificate. When you get home, you’ll need extra copies of your license to change your name.


NuFlaiir - Planning a Destination Wedding said...

I am planning a destination wedding and just found out about your blog !!
I am already a follower.


Glenn S. Ferguson @ Bahamas Destinantion Wedding said...

This is a very important article about destination wedding and one that every couple considering a destination wedding should read as the legal requirements for getting married is different in each country.

While in the Bahamas it is really simple there are requirements that are quite different such as your wedding officiant must be a licensed Marriage Officer of the Bahamas. So a cruise ship captain or even your minister would not be able to marry you in the Bahamas

Online RSA said...

Great advice. I just got my certificate in the States and had the ceremony abroad :)

AC said...

All very good points. THANK YOU!

Amber said...

Getting married in St. Thomas is a great option. You can have a destination wedding in the Caribbean without the worry of dealing with a foreign country and your guests don't need passports to go there.