Getting married abroad: How to prepare for your dream destination wedding
Rain on your wedding day can really dampen the mood – although it won’t make the day any less special, no one wants to wake up to cloudy skies and rain on the horizon. Perhaps that’s why destination weddings are becoming increasingly popular with British couples. Good weather is an obvious plus to getting married abroad, but it’s also much cheaper. Surveys show that the average cost of a wedding in the UK now exceeds £27,000, compared to just £7,500 to get married abroad.
Before you book anything, it’s a good idea to read up on the laws of the country you’re heading to. Angelic Diamonds, retailers of custom diamond rings, have put together this helpful list on how to prepare for your dream destination wedding.
Tips for getting married in Spain
Spain has always been a firm favourite with British holiday makers. Most British couples will choose to have a civil ceremony at a registrar’s office in the UK, then travel to Spain and have their ceremony. Having all the necessary paperwork is a given, but you might be required to obtain proof that both parties are able to marry provided by your home country’s embassy. It could also be worthwhile to check how long the processing of documentation will take. If you are having a civil ceremony in Spain then there is an application process to account for and some Spanish registrar offices will require that you are in the country for as much as a month prior to your wedding day!
Spain has a few wedding traditions that you should be aware of – for example, orange blossoms are worn by the bride as a symbol of fulfillment and joy. Mantilla’s are also the headpiece of choice, a lace garment to consider adding to your outfit on the big day. Make sure you have enough room in your luggage for wedding favours, as it is customary for the new couple to greet guests after the ceremony with a little something to say thanks. Also, grooms heading off to marry in Spain shouldn’t be too precious with the tie they choose, as Spanish tradition dictates that the tie is a symbol of good luck and should be cut into pieces at the wedding reception, auctioned off to guests in the crowd.
You should also keep some spare change handy, as it is a Spanish custom for the husband to gift his wife with 13 gold coins. These represent Jesus and the apostles, as well as symbolizing the promise of the groom to look after his bride.
Tips for getting married in France
In France, you can only get married legally if you have a civil ceremony at the mairie (local council office) first. A religious ceremony can follow this but getting married in France can be difficult if you don’t have clear connection to the country. The paperwork required for non-French nationals to marry in the country involves applying for a special dispensation, but without a clear connection to the country this can be difficult to secure. Common requirements are that you or your partner have a link to the area by either living there or having a parent who lives there (since 2013).
You’ll also have to stay in the country for at least 30 days before you can wed. You can’t avoid paperwork with weddings abroad, and in France you’ll need an Affidavit of Law, stating that you are able to marry and that the union will be recognised at home. At least 10 days before you wed, you’ll need to contact the mairie and submit a marriage application, where documents will be supplied and stamped with an Apostille stamp. After the application passes, you’ll need to marry no less than 10 days and no more than 1 year after the application has qualified. Remember to apply to the mairie again to receive your official wedding certificate! Alternatively, some couples choose to legally marry in their home country at a registrar’s office, then hold a religious or symbolic wedding in France at any venue.
In terms of French custom, the tables turn in France and the groom walks his mother down the aisle before greeting his wife-to-be! There are also no bridesmaids or groomsmen in French tradition, with only witnesses required. Keep the drinks flowing and opt to have a classic French champagne tower — we’re sure your guests will enjoy this! The French also have a way to help fend off that impending hangover, and the solution is by serving onion soup to your guests later in the night.
Tips for getting married in Italy
It’s easy to see why Italy is such a popular wedding destination. The Italian countryside and guaranteed sunshine makes for a magical and picturesque ceremony. The Amalfi Coast, Umbria and Venice are all popular choices for couples looking to add a quintessentially Italian charm to their special day.
The country has relaxed rules on what type of ceremony you can have, allowing spiritual and symbolic weddings as well as traditional weddings. Although Catholicism is the dominant religion in Italy, weddings of all faiths are acknowledged. In non-Catholic cases, a civil ceremony must be an element of the marriage ceremony in order to confirm legality. There are no residency requirements in Italy, but as per the required documentation is mandatory — the Affidavit is a standard requirement, stating that there is no legal impediment of your marriage in your home country. If your partner happens to be an Italian citizen, then you also won’t need to apply for a visa in order to get hitched. An Atto Notorio is required in Italy though, and this will need to be signed by two witnesses.
You will need to give notice at the town hall at least three weeks before the big day. After you have done so, you can officially set the date! Once again, an Apostille stamp will be used to verify your marriage license in law, and you can then relax and enjoy plenty of Italy’s finest produce — wine! In terms of traditions to follow, take heed of the Italian’s belief that Sunday is a day of good fortune, perfect for weddings! Pack a satin pouch and invite guests to exchange money for a dance with the star of the show, and then get everyone up and moving to the ‘tarantellla’ a notorious ‘dance of the spider’. Vase breaking is also a part of custom in Italy, as the number of pieces it breaks into are regarded as symbols of many happy years of marriage.
The UK will always be popular as a wedding destination and there’s certainly still room for traditional countryside ceremonies. If you fancy something a little different though, getting married abroad is both achievable and affordable. Just ensure that you’ve planned in advance — and if you want to feel like a local, then add a unique twist to your big day by following one of the traditions of the area!