A Bride's Guide to Getting Married Abroad

There's a lot to figure out when you decide to have a destination wedding, particularly if it takes place outside the country. While it has an adventurous appeal, you need to be aware of the differences and unique steps that it takes to plan such an event. Have no fear, KAT IS HERE!

I've done a lot of research on getting married abroad, and I'd also like to think of myself as a travel pro. So I wanted to create a step-by-step plan with details that you should be aware of, or things you should look into when getting married in another country. Logistics is so important with this type of wedding or elopement, so don't forget to check the details!

1. Start by checking the country's marriage laws

Contact the embassy or tourist information bureau of the country where you plan to get married and learn about the specific requirements/laws for a valid marriage. Also plan to contact the Attorney General in your state of residence to make sure the marriage will be recognized when you get home! Gather all the paperwork and make sure you cross this step off as soon as you know all the information. You don't want to come home to find out you're technically not married!

2. Find a wedding planner familiar with the area

Finding a planner aware of the location and venues is so helpful when planning a wedding in another country. Sometimes the venue provides someone who can be an extremely helpful resource. This is of course more important if you plan to have a wedding with guests. If you elope, the key vendors to find would be a photographer ;), an officiant, and witnesses for the marriage license. Securing the vendors is the biggest part of the planning process and should be done well in advance. Plan to keep tabs with them during the time leading up to the wedding as well. Communication is key with destination weddings. Check out my destination wedding FAQs for more info on how I handle weddings abroad. Open communication is one of my BIGGEST pieces of advice.

3. Gather the travel details

Grab flight information and make sure you know the luggage rules for the specific airline you'll be using. This is especially important if you plan to bring the dress with you from the U.S. I'd advise that you don't check-in the important items in case the luggage gets lost. I typically try to get all of my camera gear in a carry-on piece of luggage. Or at least have a back up plan. You can find some amazing and unique dress makers within the country you're planning to get married. Try flying out early and getting a dress there. Otherwise make sure to make a detailed checklist of everything that needs to be packed and how you plan to pack it. 

4. Develop clear timelines

I make this suggestion almost selfishly. I'm a sucker for a well thought out timeline. Plan the days leading up to the wedding and the day of with room for travel upsets. It's more important for these travel weddings to be flexible rather than rigid. But a good timeline helps organize everyone else to be where you need them to be!

5. Budget 

I'd make this suggestion for any wedding, but basically determine a budget well in advance to keep things on track. I have a budget worksheet you can use in my free planning guide -> just head over here to get it. Keep costs of flights and other travel details in mind. All inclusive packages are helpful, but sometimes planning differently can lower expenses. Costs not typically associated with at-home ceremonies that do come up with destination weddings include flights, transportation, and tourism fees. But most of the time you can get a cheaper wedding by eloping abroad or creating  destination wedding. 


I hope this helps point you to some details to be aware of in destination weddings, but if you have questions or more thoughts REACH OUT to me! I'd love to help out and talk about it.

Don't forget to check out my FREE complete wedding planning guide with worksheets to help you organize. Just sign up here!

The Case For Elopement

I'm sure everyone's thought of it at least once in their wedding planning history. Why can't we just elope?! It would make things a whole lot easier. And the truth is that it really is a lot easier. 

While having friends and family join you for your union is tons of fun, there's something to be said for an intimate session between you and your significant other. When you add family, the drama can get overwhelming. I've had screaming matches that needed to be broken up and that's just not what a wedding is about. Family adds a whole new dynamic including opinions that are not your own, traditions that you might not agree with, and a whole mess of other difficulties. If your family is super chill then forget I said anything! But most of us have at least that one dysfunctional relative that we really don't want to invite anyway. Save yourself the guilt and problems by just eloping.

The costs are significantly reduced when you just have a few people attending your marriage. Or you can use that money to afford to have the wedding of your dreams in Italy! I know people have budgets that necessitate certain boundaries on their wedding day, and one of the best ways to penny pinch is to reduce the guest count. Our wedding had a total of 25-ish people. It afforded us the ability to hire the photographer we wanted and pay for THE officiant (who was a close friend and role model). We were also able to make it a trip to central California instead of trying to get married at venues that we didn't necessarily have any connections to. 

There's also something to be said for my shy couples out there. We (and I include myself in here because as a professed introvert, I can sometimes have a hard time showing my affections in front of others) tend to find it easier to say our vows personally in front of very few people. This, to me, is what a marriage is about: professing our love together in a close intimate setting and vowing to be with each other. I don't need to share it with my twice cousins once removed. They can check my Facebook for the photos. There's no real need for them to be present for that. 

Overall, I'm a huge fan of elopements. I get to know my couples more that way, and I personally understand the reasons for having one. The couples are more relaxed and the atmosphere is focused on their love. That's the meaning of marriage.

Looking to elope? Let's Chat! 

Or check out my destination wedding FAQs.