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!
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.